Juju from Little Fish exclusive interview

Little Fish
Oxford band Little Fish is set to release their new single “Wonderful”. The band has experienced quite a lot in the last couple of years. After making a name for themselves here in Oxford, they signed to Linda Perry’s label Custard Records/Universal, spent some time in LA recording their debut album ‘Baffled and Beat’, received rave reviews, and toured with such acts as Supergrass, Juliette Lewis, Alice in Chains and Placebo.

Little Fish

Oxford band Little Fish is set to release their new single “Wonderful”. The band has experienced quite a lot in the last couple of years. After making a name for themselves here in Oxford, they signed to Linda Perry‘s label Custard Records/Universal, spent some time in LA recording their debut album ‘Baffled and Beat’, received rave reviews, and toured with such acts as Supergrass, Juliette Lewis, Alice in Chains and Placebo.

Lucky for Oxford fans, Little Fish is back in town, releasing their new single as an independent band, with help from local talent, doing as much as they can with the release locally.

Band members are: Juju (vocals/guitar), Nez (drums) and Ben (Hammond organ).

Jenny May: Has Oxford always been your home?

Juju: For most of my life, Oxford has been my home, although I have family in France who I am very close to, so I do consider France to be my home also.

Do you spend much time checking out Oxford bands? Who have you seen play in the last few months?

We have spent the last six months doing lots of small acoustic shows in and around Oxford because although we were recording new material, we didn’t want to be all boxed up in a room by ourselves all of the time. We like to meet people, go out and play. We met a lot of musicians and saw lots of bands on the scene. There is a strong music scene in Oxford. The Blessing Force is making waves, and my personal favourites BF bands are Pet Moon and Chad Valley. Another band who aren’t in the force but are certainly blessed with talent and will undoubtedly go far is Spring Offensive. They are captivating to watch and play beautiful music. I also have a big soft spot for the lovely Family Machine. Oxford is buzzing with great bands. It is a great city for music. I am sure all of these bands will make great records.

Where in Oxford is one of your favorite places to go if you want to just chill out?

We have a great local deli called Jacobs and Field that we love to go to. It just won Deli of The Year. It sources most of its foods locally, which I think is really important to retain a sense of community, keeping local independent farmers and stores alive. The people who run the place are always welcoming and friendly. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

What was it that made you pick up the guitar and write your first song?

I wanted to be part of the music class at school but I wasn’t allowed to join the class unless I learned to play an instrument. The week I was told this by the teacher, the class homework was to write a song and so after school, I went to the music shop, bought myself a chord book, borrowed a guitar from a friend and forced myself to learn some chords. It was then that I wrote my first song. The song was a great success and my music teacher asked me to perform it at a class recital. I never looked back. I have been writing songs ever since.

When Little Fish released the debut album, ‘Baffled and Beat’, you were signed to Linda Perry’s label Custard Records/Universal in LA. How did she hear about you, and what was the time period from meeting her to signing to the label?

Linda heard our demo of the song ‘Sweat ‘n Shiver’ that we had put up on Myspace (we no longer have a Myspace account btw) and within a week of hearing it, cancelled her holiday to Hawaii and flew over to England. She came to see us play in a small rock pub in Oxford called The Wheatsheaf. She then flew us to LA for a week, just to play around in her studio and record some more demos and within a month of meeting her we were offered a deal.

When you went to LA, what was your daily routine like?

When we went out to LA to make the record we were given no free time whatsoever. We were in the studio from morning to evening, most days of the week. We tried to get the album recorded as fast as we could. There was always a big sense of pressure as ‘time is money’.

In the morning, I would wake up early and go for a swim. First thing in the studio would be to decide on a song, then get a drum sound going, then a guitar sound, and then whoosh, record. Sometimes, if I didn’t have a song ready, I would have to write the song in the morning to be recorded that same day. Luck’s Run Out, Bang Bang, You, Me and the TV and Sorry State were all written and recorded on the same day. Recording this way was very high pressure and very intense, especially for a first record.

On the one day off that we had in LA whilst recording the record, we went to see Patti Smith and I got to meet her back stage. Meeting Patti Smith was quite a surreal experience.

Did you meet other bands or artists while you were in LA?

I had the great pleasure of meeting Sierra Swan, a solo artist who has made many records because she was recording in the studio next door to ours. We got on really well. We didn’t have much time to do anything else whilst we were out in LA, although we did get to meet a drunken Christina Aguilera. That was quite an experience.

How did it come to be that you’re no longer working with Linda Perry and Custard Records?

Custard lost their funding from Universal and so they simply couldn’t give us the money that we had signed for. We then had the option to leave the label, which we did. Our time with Custard had come to an end and it was all very amicable.

Do you stay in touch with Linda?

No I haven’t, because she is doing her new thing and I wanted us to get away from her world. We were in it for a while but now we want to do things our way and find our own independence and voice. I think being in a big industry wheel, for me, made me lose my way a little. I want to get back to earth and walk the path that I create rather than the one I am told I have to walk down. I do think that Linda is an exceptionally talented woman and I wish her nothing but more success as she continues to make great music. Since the label breakup, she herself formed a band and hit the road. Check out Deep Dark Robot. I love how times change. That’s life. We all move on.

Little Fish – Wonderful video:

I’m sure your fans are excited to know that you have a new single coming out. “Wonderful” sounds GREAT – along with the excellent animated video. How are you handling the release of “Wonderful” – what’s different from before?

This time, we are fully independent. We have been recording in cellars and garages and doing everything as locally and independently as we possibly can. Gaz Coombes recorded Wonderful for us in his cellar and Valeska Hykel, artist of Blessing Force has been doing all of our artwork. We have also been working with Miranda Ward, a local writer, as we are in the midst of writing a book called The New Original Little Fish Paper Club Handbook. Oh, and we make our own jam…

What was the writing process for the album? Did the band write together, or do you bring the songs to the band?

I write the songs and then bring them to the band. This has mostly been the process but now, having Ben on board we are starting to write a little more together.

Little Fish Wonderful

Gaz from Supergrass recorded “Wonderful” (whole album?). How did you meet him? What was it like working with him?

We have only recorded “Wonderful” with Gaz. We met Gaz a few years ago when we toured with Supergrass. They gave us our first big tour. Over the years we have got to know each other as we are pretty much neighbours. We often end up at the same parties. Working with Gaz is a lot of fun as he is pretty chilled.

Who are five bands/artists that you’re listening to now that you would recommend?

Islet. About Group. PJ Harvey. She keeps Bees. Pet Moon. All of these bands/artists will give you soul. I love them.

“Wonderful” is out on the 26th September only as LIMITED VINYL and Wonderful T-Shirts. There will be a digital download available of the track with a COMIC BOOK. You can find all the information on our website littlefishmusic.com.

Little Fish Official Website
Little Fish Facebook
Little Fish Twitter

Celine Dion Taking Chances album + DVD review

Celine Dion - Taking Chances

Sometimes it can be difficult having an open ear for all genres of music. Especially when it comes to explaining to my hardcore rock, metal or indie friends that I do indeed like Celine Dion … Read the ‘Taking Chances’ album review!

Celine Dion - Taking Chances

Sometimes it can be difficult having an open ear for all genres of music. Especially when it comes to explaining to my hardcore rock, metal or indie friends that I do indeed like Celine Dion. It’s even more difficult for me to keep my feelings to myself about how great an entertainer and singer she is. Luckily there are some people in my life who do appreciate her as well, and considering she’s sold over 180 million albums, I suppose there are some others out there who understand her talent as much as I do if not more.

I was really hoping that one day I would be able see her show in Vegas during her five year stint at Caesars Palace. She’s at her best when performing live and is such a character. Unfortunately I won’t be able to see her in Las Vegas since her last show will be this December, and then she’s off on a world tour which starts February 14th, 2008 in South Africa, to the delight of her fans around the world I’m sure.

‘Taking Chances’ is Celine Dion’s latest album, set for release November 12th, 2007 in the UK. I’ve got my hands on it and have been enjoying it. Let’s just get this out of the way: ‘Taking Chances’ is full of pop with elements of modern country, soul and power ballads and if that’s what you’re after, then this full 16 track Deluxe Edition CD + exclusive sneak peak DVD (with Vegas footage!) is for you.

Recently I reviewed opening track “Taking Chances”, written by Kara DioGuardi and Dave Stewart and I still feel that it could be the best pop ballad I’ve heard all year.

When “Alone” came on it took me by surprise and I was singing so loud along with the track I had to play it again to hear Celine’s singing – which of course her “punchier” version of Heart’s pop ballad hit from ’87, produced by Ben Moody, sounds great. I especially like the intro – it’s gorgeous the way the bass comes in and then the cello and Celine’s voice.

“Surprise Surprise” also written by Kara DioGuardi, is a stand out track with a contemporary/country/pop feel. I wouldn’t be surprised (no pun intended) if it gets released sometime around Christmas and reached #1, but I’m just not sure if the lyrics would suit for Christmas, though. I am sure that when Celine performs “Surprise Surprise” live during her tour, it will be one of the big crowd pleasers of the night.

There’s a Barbara Streisand “No More Tears” feel to Celine’s vocal performance on the emotionally driven and atmospheric “This Time”, with the determined lyrics about being “another victim of poison love”.

It’s good to hear two Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes) songs included on the ‘Taking Chances’ album. The piano-lead “My Love” and the superb gospel number “New Dawn”. Linda Perry not only wrote the songs, but she also plays electric and acoustic guitars, organ, mellotron and piano on “My Love” and she plays piano, acoustic, sings background vocals on “New Dawn” and engineered and produced on both tracks.

“A World To Believe In” could have been a Faith Hill song, but it’s good to hear Celine Dion singing on such a beautiful and modern-country tinged song. There’s quite a change of pace when the upbeat and big production of “Can’t Fight The Feeling” starts up and I can’t believe that Shaffer Smith aka Ne-Yo co-wrote, co-produced and sings background vocals on the ballad “I Got Nothing Left”, another great vocal performance by Celine. It’s easy to forget that it’s Celine Dion singing to the waltz beat of “Right Next To The Right One”. It sounds quite different from what I’m used to hearing her sing – and I like it.

I’m not so sure about “Just Fade Away”. It has a Kelly Clarkson/Eurovision feel to it, which isn’t the best combination in the world. Then again, Celine Dion did win the Eurovision Song Contest when she represented Switzerland in 1988. There’s obviously a market for “Just Fade Away”, but not for me.

Blues number “That’s Just The Woman In Me” makes up for it, though. It has a Sam Cooke “Bring It On Home To Me”/Aretha Franklin feel with Celine Dion’s soulful vocals – and a Janis Joplin like scream at the end.

Let’s not forget about the additional exclusive sneak peak DVD! It includes the trailer for Celine Dion’s “A New Day Live In Las Vegas” with interview clips. There are also four exclusive songs, including one of my favorite Celine cover songs, “I Drove All Night” originally recorded by Roy Orbison and then Cyndi Lauper.

I highly recommend this Deluxe Edition CD/DVD for Celine Dion fans everywhere!

Celine Dion ‘Taking Chances’ album track listing:

1. Taking Chances
2. Alone
3. Eyes On Me
4. My Love
5. Shadow Of Love
6. Surprise Surprise
7. This Time
8. New Dawn
9. A Song For You
10. A World To Believe In
11. Can’t Fight The Feeling
12. I Got Nothing Left
13. Right Next To The Right One
14. Just Fade Away
15. That’s Just The Woman In Me
16. Skies Of L.A.

DVD track listing:

1. Trailer for the DVD “Live In Las Vegas – A New Day”
2. The Power of Love
3. I Drove All Night
4. I Surrender
5. I Wish

Celine Dion – Taking Chances album on amazon.com

Celine Dion Official Website

By: Jenny May – Band Weblogs

Alicia Keys As I Am + No One review, watch video

Alicia Keys - As I Am

Alicia Keys has once again come up with the goods with her new video for hit single, “No One”. The single is off of her third studio album, ‘As I Am,’ set for release on November 13th, 2007 on J Records […]

Alicia Keys - As I Am

Alicia Keys has once again come up with the goods with her new video for hit single, “No One”. The single is off of her third studio album, ‘As I Am,’ set for release on November 13th, 2007 on J Records. ‘As I Am’ features collaborations with John Mayer, Linda Perry, Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosius and Timbaland.

Ever since a friend handed me her debut CD, ‘Songs in A Minor’ and I heard “Fallin'” for the first time, back in 2001, I knew we were on to something good – and it seems Alicia Keys has just been getting better as the years go on. On stage she’s grown from being the girl with braids, sitting behind the piano to a now more glamorous woman who can dance and “work” the stage more comfortably.

It’s too bad that Britney Spears walked away with the most publicity after the 2007 Video Music Awards. After watching Alicia Keys at the VMAs, it’s amazing that this talented singer and performer wasn’t all the rage after the show. Luckily, though, there’s still plenty of time to savor a fine performance, like a fine wine. Maybe in the long run, it’s best that Alicia’s hype is more subtle.

Watch Alicia Keys perform “No One” at the VMAs

When I was growing up, Irene Cara and Donna Summer were two of my favorite singers to sing along with. Alicia Keys has captured that feeling with “No One” along with a current and modern vibe. Since her voice naturally sounds the way it does, there’s no need for the flamboyant “trills” that have become the norm for so many singers. The video for “No One” is a new window into the world of Ms. Keys and it’s great to see true talent once again, hitting the airwaves.

Watch Alicia Keys – “No One” video (debuted on BET):

Track Listing for ‘As I Am’:

1. As I Am (Intro)
2. Go Ahead
3. Superwoman
4. No One
5. Like You’ll Never See Me Again
6. Lesson Learned (featuring and co-written by John Mayer)
7. Wreckless Love
8. The Thing About Love
9. Teenage Love Affair
10. I Need You
11. Where Do We Go From Here
12. Prelude To A Kiss
13. Tell You Something (Nana’s Reprise)
14. Sure Looks Good To Me

“No One” video link

Alicia Keys Official Website
Alicia Keys on Myspace

By: Jenny May – Band Weblogs