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
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Little Fish Twitter

Van Hunt interview

Van Hunt
Van Hunt is getting ready to release his new album, ‘What Were You Hoping For?’, and I’ve been lucky to have a listen ahead of release.

Van Hunt

Van Hunt is getting ready to release his new album, ‘What Were You Hoping For?’, and I’ve been lucky to have a listen ahead of release.

The album is refreshingly ‘out there’! Exciting, lush layers of harmonies, excellent guitars, and an interesting – daring, even – mix throughout the album. Risque lyrics at times along with sexy vocals, and the production is top notch.

After listening to ‘What Were You Hoping For?’ – it would be great to check out Van and the band’s live show.

Jenny May: Did you play many of the instruments on your new album ‘What Were You Hoping For?’?

Van Hunt: I did play many of the instruments for this new collection, but there are large portions of the instrumentation being supplied by other performers. Ruth Price handles most of the drums, and Peter Dyer the keyboards.

What was your recording process?

Of my small list of engineer friends, I inquired about the most highly regarded, budget-friendly studio. Surprisingly, one of them was kind enough to suggest his own place 😉 Before the start of those sessions, I recorded some demonstrations at home. Then Ruth and I went into a rehearsal studio, so that I could acclimate her to the fast tempos on the record. She and I began recording her drum parts to my new and old guitars – leaving most of the demonstration vocals on the recordings. I then sent the tracks to Peter who built an ozone layer (if you will) around the music. I then finished the vocals before sending the tracks to Nashville to be mixed.

Did you record the album in one studio?

Yes. Santa Fe Tracking Station.

Do you prefer a certain way of recording/environment/time of day/lighting etc.?

My favorite way/environment/time of day/lighting for recording is when I am working on something that I am convinced will show people I’m serious about what I do. Of course, my least favorite way of recording is when I feel what I’m doing sux. I realize how ridiculous that is 🙂

Did you arrange the songs yourself – your vocal harmonies, the guitars, arrangements and mixes are amazing – or did you work with someone else/a producer?

Thank you! I arranged the melody and accompaniment of the songs, myself, but Ruth and Peter contributed their own ideas during their performances. The mixing process brought yet another layer of creativity to the project via the very talented Melissa Mattey.

How did you work together?

I was in the studio with Ruth for the drums. Peter flew in his parts, and I edited them later. Melissa mixed via E(engine ear) mail.

I think some of your tracks have a bit of a Jimi Hendrix vibe. Are you a Hendrix fan? What do you think of him?

I love Hendrix as much as the next girl. I appreciate your generosity, but I feel Hendrix built a world of sound different from mine. Less immediate, perhaps. I think my songs are in more of a hurry. Hendrix could solo all day and wrote lyrics that sounded like Venusian poetry.

How did you end up with the musicians in the band, when you go on tour? Have you been getting ready to hit the road; rehearsing?

Ruth and Peter auditioned for me in 2007. I liked them immediately. They will be with me on tour. We will add a few more elements to the touring group. I’ve been arranging the show and will commence rehearsing them soon.

Do you plan to tour in the UK?


Why wasn’t your album ‘Popular’ released? That must have been a difficult time.

All sins are forgiven.

What are some differences now, from before, with how you’re handling your new release, ‘What Were You Hoping For?’

Well, I’m much more aware of the shape of the marketing campaign. The collection is being released through Thirty Tigers and my own label, godless-hotspot, so there is a heightened sense of responsibility for me.

Do you like living in Los Angeles? Where are some of your favorite places that you like to go in the area?

I love every crazy inch of LA. It is the reflection of what America is and where it is going. I enjoy being convinced that I am living on the frontline of societal changes. I’m from the Midwest, and many people think of LA as the antithesis of the Midwest’s blue collar grunt. And they are right, but Los Angeles grinds down its middle class as well as any other city. If you arrive in LA with the idea that you will work hard for what you want, the only real difference is the weather and the opportunities that exist inside a multicultural make-up.

Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

Oh, glad you asked! Bach, Thelonious Monk, David Bowie, Sly Stone, early Prince, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and George Clinton.

Van Hunt – new album + September/October 2011 tour dates

Buy CDs, MP3s, more:

Van Hunt on Amazon.com

Van Hunt on Amazon.co.uk

For music, tour dates and more, go to:

Van Hunt Official Website
Van Hunt Facebook

By: Jenny May

FreeSol exclusive interview

FreeSol is a hip-hop/rock/soulband from Memphis, Tennessee. Shortly after seeing FreeSol perform at a jazz cafe in their hometown, Justin Timberlake signed them to his label Tennman Records. They’ve since signed a major deal with Interscope Records and are now set to release their debut album, ‘No Rules’. Read the exclusive interview on BandWeblogs.com.


FreeSol is a hip-hop/rock/soulband from Memphis, Tennessee. They’ve been together since 2003, playing the live band scene and winning competitions – like the Mid-South Grammy Showcase, Turner South’s My South Rocks competition, The Rock Boat’s Grand Championship show and the BMI Urban Music Showcase.

Shortly after seeing FreeSol perform at a jazz cafe in their hometown, Justin Timberlake signed them to his label Tennman Records. They’ve since signed a major deal with Interscope Records and are now set to release their debut album, No Rules. Producers involved include Cool & Dre (Lil’ Wayne, The Game), Jim Jonsin (Beyonce, Pitbull), Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem), Dave Tozer (Jay-Z, Kanye West), Rob Knox (T.I., Chris Brown), Justin Timberlake and Timbaland.

Free – Vocals/Lyricist
Premo D’Anger – Keyboards
Kickman Teddy – Drums
Elliott aka E Ives – Guitar/Vocals
Charlie White – DJ

I was interested to know more about the band. I’m looking forward to hearing their new album – from what I’ve heard online, this band rocks.

Exclusive: FreeSol interview on BandWeblogs.com.

Jenny May: How did the band members meet to become FreeSol?

Free: I’ve always been FreeSol. Free was a nickname that stuck with me during my religious days and shortly after I added the Sol (spanish meaning the sun). When I met Teddy, our drummer, in a restaurant in Memphis, TN he immediately introduced me to Premo (the keys & bass). We quickly bonded because we shared the same dream, which was to start a hip hop band. A few months later we met Elliott working in a studio we were thinking about using. After a few other guitar players didn’t work, I called Elliott and the rest is history. Mouse (DJ Charlie White), the youngest and the newest member joined us two years ago after we met and signed with Justin Timberlake.

Did entering into and playing competitions help you as a band? Would you recommend them to other bands?

One of the first gigs we had as a band was a competition called battle of the bands created by a local radio station. We came in 1st place out of thousands of bands which gave us a strong feeling of destiny, at the very beginning. After that we were in 5 other competitions around the country and won all of those too! I always wonder if we hadn’t competed with other bands would we have believed in ourselves through the unexpected but incredibly difficult times ahead. I think all bands or artists should challenge themselves to compete with other bands and artist for two reasons: one, to know where you stand with your peers and Two, to build confidence and a bond between your band members like an athletic team in any sport. When you can step up and perform against the pressure TOGETHER then not only will the friendship get tighter but so will the music and performances.

You’ve been together since 2003. You must have quite a dedicated fanbase in Memphis. How have your longtime fans reacted to your continued success as a band, which includes playing festivals and shows around the country and signing to Justin Timberlake’s label, Tennman Records?

Man, our true fans have been increasingly excited as well as frustrated, along with us in the climb, fall, wait and climb journey we’ve been on these last 8, almost 9 years. We were forced to come off the road for two in a half years, for several reasons, which really hurt us with fans and finances. We finally found a sound in the studio that we and Tennman liked a couple of years ago and then after putting together some tunes began to hit the road again. I would say, its been difficult because when we stopped touring we were building a strong fan base but out of sight out of mind. It’s like we had to start all over. Now, it feels like we are building not only fans at home but around the world. I think, our dedicated fans are stoked to see us finally about to get our shot and our new fans are steadily growing and passionately supporting our new success.

How has Justin Timberlake’s involvement impacted the band?

Justin has been like a guru for us. At first it was difficult to make both the “boss” and ourselves happy. But one night in Miami, we all participated on a song called “Fast Car” and everything clicked. After that night, we all knew what sound FreeSol needed and our purpose became clear. JT has overseen the whole project. Some songs we completed and then he would add a few things that would take it up 10 notches, just like that. Others he contributed from the beginning. He is such a talented performer and song writer that it was easy to listen to him or follow his lead. Basically, it was like an 18 month class on music writing/production from arguably the biggest pop star of our generation.

Since signing to a major label, how have things changed?

Man, I wouldn’t say many things have changed. The one major change is just the excitement level, I guess. You know millions of people dream of being signed to a major label like Interscope or to have someone like Justin Timberlake or Jimmy Iovine know your name and we achieved that. Many signed bands dream of a release that never happens but we are moments away from achieving that. Sometimes it just feels good to know I had a dream and followed it no matter what anyone said or did to stop me.

What was it like working with Timbaland? How many tracks did he produce on your debut album?

At this point, I haven’t actually “worked” with Timbaland. Justin had some songs Timbaland produced that were concepts but incomplete ideas. I immediately fell in love with them, probably cause they were Tim’s and it’s a dream to be in the lab with him, and we finished writing and then recorded three of the ideas. Now, I’m scheduled to actually work with the Master himself in August to revisit those ideas, hopefully in time to make the record release!

It must have been interesting working with a variety of producers on the album – did you record in many different locations? If so, where? How was it adjusting to each producer’s individual style when recording?

Man, we’ve been in studios from NYC, Philly (The Studio), Miami (Hit Factory), Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, Austin, to Los Angeles (Jim Henson studios, Boom Boom room). We’ve met and worked with so many different producers with different styles. Honestly, it can be nerve-wracking at times. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a while to make it click and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Sometimes you click immediately. For instance, I like to smoke weed when I work, as a matter of fact, it’s a must. So, if the producer doesn’t smoke weed or like to be around it then you know it’s probably going to be a difficult session. Not impossible, cause we’ve had some of those, but difficult.

Who have been some of your influences, music or otherwise?

Individually, I love Prince, 2Pac, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, U2, 30 Seconds To Mars, Big Sean, Rick Ross, Miles Davis, Sade, and so on! As a band, we all dig Outkast, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, and many more diverse bands and artists.

What makes for a great show for you? What do you want your fans to ‘take away with them’ after seeing you play?

A great show is fused with originality, intelligence, style, passion, and talent. I love when people perform and get into it. You can see them living each word or note, helping the audience believe and feel what they are playing. Swag is cool but it takes more than Swag to have a good show. You have to be committed! When people see us play I want them to walk away saying those motherf**kers are talented as hell and love what they do!

Your YouTube Channel has some short video clips – you guys are good on camera. Lovin’ the The K-Mart video. Have you started shooting music videos yet for your new album?

We have actually shot two videos, “Hoodies On, Hats Low”, and “Role Model”. Two songs that will be on the LP, No Rules. Both were directed by Justin Timberlake. I’m pretty excited about both of them. I think JT is going to blow people away with his directorial debut!

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

I gave you my list of my fav bands earlier but I’m probably playing Kanye, Pusha T, Big Sean, Rick Ross, Adele, and some old TuPac more then anything else in my car and Ipod.

Good questions.


Buy CDs, MP3s, more: FreeSol on Amazon.com

For information about the new release, tour dates, music and more, go to:

FreeSol Official Website
FreeSol Twitter
FreeSol YouTube

By: Jenny May

Guillemots – Greig Stewart interview (Walk The River)

Guillemots have released their third studio album, Walk The River. Their latest single “I Must Be A Lover” is set for release July 3, 2011.

Drummer Greig Stewart took some time out from his busy tour schedule to answer some questions for our readers.

Guillemots have released their third studio album, Walk The River. Their latest single “I Must Be A Lover” is set for release July 3, 2011.


Greig Stewart took some time out from his busy tour schedule to answer some questions for our readers.

We seem to be collecting quite a few exclusive interviews with this talented drummer – Guillemots drummer Greig Stewart interview; Greig Stewart EXCLUSIVE interview (Red album)!

Jenny May: You recorded your latest album Walk The River in Wales. How was the experience recording there different from recording your other albums (Through the Windowpane, Red)?

Greig Stewart: A vast difference from Red. Red was written in the studio, over 9 months. While Windowpane was 3/4 already written before we went in the studio. Also both of these records were mostly self produced. Walk The River was firstly written over a year by the whole band and we had a producer (David Kosten). Also it was the first time we went residential to record (Bryn Derwin).

Is there someone/something that you, as a drummer – and also the band as a unit, “channeled” (or were inspired by) when writing and recording Walk The River?

For me as a drummer, it’s still always the same. I’m always on the hunt for the great undeniable drum riff. As a band, we were going for as much playing live together in a room, feel. As other artist influences go, I don’t think we had anyone specific in mind.

Guillemots - Walk The River album cover

Who did the artwork for the album? How did you come up with the concept?

Lots of arguments until we all saw Susan Burnstine photographs. Her photographs really summed up the album mood.

You have a busy festival season this year. Dot To Dot, Glastonbury, Hop Farm, Wilderness and more. How would you compare playing festivals to a strict tour schedule? Do you prefer one over the other?

Both have pros and cons. So I wouldn’t pick one over the other. Festival shows are really cool because you get to see other bands and hang out with them after. Also you get to play to people who would usually not come to your gigs. On the negative side, if it rains at the festival then it can be quite depressing. Also the toilets are usually not very good at festivals. If it’s our own tour, we get to have our own lighting tech and lights. We can play for longer, get a sound check, decent toilets.

Guillemots recently covered the Beatles and The Who during performances in Paris. Have you covered many artists? What was it like covering these legendary bands – and what songs did you play?

It’s just a recent thing for the band. The two different shows we were on in Paris asked us to do a cover. The Who was a surprise as I never knew Fyfe was into them. As a drummer, it’s great to play (I Can See For Miles) and try and be Keith Moon for a moment. Though also quite scary as he was such a crazy drummer. Think I may have passed the test when one of the Friendly Fires crew came up to me after and said not many people can get away with doing Keith, but you pulled it off. The other cover was Tomorrow Never Knows, by the Beatles. Again another song with a great drum part. This was the hardest one for me due to the band not getting to rehearse it and then doing it live. I had to transpose the part I had practiced on my knees onto the drum kit live on air. Scary!

Your song “Get Over It” from the ‘Red’ album appears in the Simon Pegg film How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. Did you get to go to the premiere or any parties? Did you meet any of the actors?

It was quite embarrassing as we went to the premiere, did the red carpet thing. Then the song was only in the film for the last 10 seconds at the end of the credits. Afterwards we played at the aftershow party and Simon Pegg joined in playing percussion with us. That was fun. He really got into it. The party ended up the whole of Guillemots being in the swimming pool. Great night overall.

What is one of your all time favorite music videos and why?

I like dancing videos where the people in the video/band aren’t professional dancers, but dance. Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim; Fatboy Slim – Praise You; The Housemartins – Happy Hour; Beastie Boys – Sabotage.

What would be the combination to make for a perfect night – e.g., what food would you be eating while listening to what album, in what location anywhere in the world?

It all comes back to Greece for me. So it would be the balcony of my old apartment in Rhodes, eating fresh Calamari, with a bottle of Retsina and listening to ‘Astral Weeks’.

In our first interview, you mentioned Sandy Denny as an artist that you like. Which song was it of hers that first caught your attention?

The first time I heard her I was on tour with my old band Bohinta. We were on tour for a long time and I was pretty knackered. I think we were travelling over night from Aberdeen to do a London afternoon gig at the Barbican. Someone put on Sandy Denny, in the van. I was totally transfixed and blown away by such beauty. The song was called No End.

If you could arrange for an artist to sing any cover song, who would the artist be, and what would they sing?

‘Into Dust’ by Mazzy Starr sung by Mary Margaret O’Hara. Or for comedic value get Michael Bolten to sing ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’, by The Smiths.

Guillemots – I Must Be A Lover video:

How has your gear/kit changed over the years? Do you experiment much with new gear? How do you decide what’s best for you?

Always trying out new gear. I know the guy at Roland, so am always tinkering. But at the moment we are downsizing our tour gear so that it doesn’t cost so much to fly. So we have to take this in for consideration when choosing what to use. For the tour, if the equipment is essential and can withhold being battered about on the road then it’s in.

What gear/kit are you using now?

Yamaha drums and Zildjian Cymbals.

Are there any bands that you’ve heard recently that stand out particularly because of the drumming?

Lady GaGa live. The drummer is amazing. Big Society, Superman. Drums by Darren Hasson-Davis…love the baggy beat he plays on it.

If you could only add five songs to your iPod, and you were going to be away from all other music for a week, what would they be?

The songs would be: Mazzy Star – Into Dust; Bonnie Prince Billy – I See a Darkness; Billie Holiday – Solitude; Sandy Denny – Who Knows Where the Time Goes, and Leftfield – Phat Planet.

Buy CDs, MP3s, more:

Guillemots on Amazon.co.uk

Guillemots on Amazon.com

Be sure to check out Guillemots’ latest album, ‘Walk The River’ as well as their highly recommended live show!

Guillemots Official Website
Guillemots Facebook

By: Jenny May

Toploader EXCLUSIVE interview with Dan Hipgrave

British band Toploader release their album ‘Only Human’ in May 2011.

When I first heard their new single “Never Stop Wondering”, I played it about four times in a row. By the second play I was singing along to the melodic chorus like I’d known it for years.

British band Toploader release their album ‘Only Human’ in May 2011.


When I first heard their new single “Never Stop Wondering”, I played it about four times in a row. By the second play I was singing along to the melodic chorus like I’d known it for years. With this being the band’s first new material in eight years, it’s great to see Toploader back with such a strong lead track.

The band has announced a short series of dates around the UK at the same time as the single’s release in March.

News: Toploader release new single “Never Stop Wondering” from Only Human

Dan Hipgrave from Toploader EXCLUSIVE interview

Jenny May: How did you come up with the band name Toploader?

Dan Hipgrave: Seems so long ago now. To be honest it was a bit of an in joke between us when describing something Joe used to do. Probably not worth getting into. We thought about changing it back when we got our first deal but names stick don’t they.

Is the band made up of all original members? Who are the original members in the band?

We are now a 4 piece consisting of myself, Joe, Matt and Rob. Our previous guitarist isn’t with us anymore.

How long did it take to write and record your latest album ‘Only Human’?

With the exception of the tracks ‘Only Human’ and ‘Paradise’, the album was written from Feb – Aug 2010, we spent September working on pre production, October and November recording then December mixing. Everything fell into place naturally on this record, there was no indecisiveness about tracks and both the studio and the producer we wanted were both available when we wanted them. That doesn’t normally happen so we felt positive going into it and I think that comes across on the record.

Do you write together? Where did you spend time writing – and where did you record the album?

Joe writes the songs – he has a gift for melody. He trained classically on the piano so is a great player too. In years gone by he overcomplicated stuff but now, through experience I guess, he has an amazing balance of simplicity and melody. The rest of us aren’t bad either, we add our touches that give the band its sound. I guess it comes with years of playing together but everything we do we do to compliment the songs. We recorded the album at Hook End Studios – the best residential studios in the country. It was a privilege to record there.


It’s great to see you back with a new release. What have the band members been up to for the last couple of years?

All different things. I think we all did things related to music in the main. Joe spent a few years living in California where I think he really developed as a song writer. I started up a travel company focusing on music travel called Original Music Travel (www.originalmusictravel.com).

With ‘Only Human’ being your first new material in eight years, why did you decide to start writing and recording again? What prompted the process?

We all got back together socially on my stag night a couple of years back. A few beers later we were hatching plans together. When you have been through what we have together I think you will always be a band whether that is just in spirit or making music.

Will you have a new video out soon for your single “Never Stop Wondering” – or for a different track?

No Never Stop Wondering is the first single out in March so we made a video. It was fun. Everything is more fun the second time round as you realise how lucky you are to be doing it.

Do you like making music videos? How do you come up with video concepts? Is there someone who normally takes the lead with ideas?

Kind of. They are long days, keeping up performance levels for hours on end is taxing but videos are like time capsules, they are around a lot longer than we are. Actually we all had a vision of what we wanted from this video, so much so Joe wrote a treatment that the video is very faithful to.

Your version of Dancing in the Moonlight is top notch! Why did you choose to cover that particular song?

Why thank you! Actually it came through a producer friend of ours, George Drakullious, he had a vision for this old classic and it turned out better than we all expected. We still get a kick out of seeing people enjoy our old material but we prefer to move forward as a band.

How did the Dancing in the Moonlight video come about – the idea, location – also, where was it filmed? Are the people in the video friends…or actors?

The video was a lot of fun to make. We rented a house for the day, hired a load of pretty extras, got drunk and made a video. Couldn’t tell you where it was, all I remember was the owners turning up at the end and finding drunk people and leaves, motorbikes and flame throwers in their house.

Toploader – “Never Stop Wondering”:

What has been one of your favorite concert experiences as an audience member? Who did you see/where?

It would have to be Glastonbury in 1996 (I think this was the year), Radiohead headlined and played Ok Computer in its entirety before it was even released. They played an unknown album to 90,000 people and blew everyone away. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Buy CDs, MP3s, more:

Toploader on Amazon.co.uk

Toploader on Amazon.com

Dancing in The Moonlight video

Toploader Official Website

Party Dark EXCLUSIVE interview: J-Rock and Randy

Party Dark is J-Rock and Randy, former members of the R&B / Hip hop chart toppers Big Brovaz.

Party Dark
Recently signed to Champion Records, Party Dark hit the UK Dance charts with their debut single “Is That You”. Set to release their latest club hit “Let’s Go”, the video is already being played on MTV, Kiss, Smash Hits and The Box. Read the exclusive interview!

Party Dark is J-Rock and Randy, former members of the R&B / Hip hop chart toppers Big Brovaz.

Party Dark

Recently signed to Champion Records, Party Dark hit the UK Dance charts with their debut single “Is That You”. Set to release their latest club hit “Let’s Go”, the video is already being played on MTV, Kiss, Smash Hits and The Box.

Party Dark interview with Jenny May

Jenny May: Is J-Rock from the States? How did you end up living in England?

J-Rock: Yes, I was born in Washington DC to parents of Ghanian descent. I ended up in the UK because of my parents deciding to move to this country to be closer to my Dad’s family who are actually Liverpudlians (from Liverpool).

What would make for the perfect party?

J-Rock: For me the perfect party consists of a great DJ line up, alcoholic beverages and all my best friends being in attendance. I love to party hard all night till the sun comes up!!!

Randy: Vibes always makes the party, so a good DJ playing Party Dark music is a must. Then you have to have the ladies. About 3-1 women to men ratio is about right. Good friends around is always better. Then last but by no means least the ah ah ah ah alcohol.

Where do you go to unwind?

J-Rock: If I can’t get away I love going to Alto, which is a night club just off of Carnaby Street in the West End. The vibe is always good in the club, and there is always a good mix of people who all come for one thing…to have a GOOD TIME!!!!

Randy: My mom’s place is the place for that. Always good food and friends round so it is really nice there.

What is your songwriting process? (Do you write lyrics together?)

J-Rock: Our song writing process is different in the sense that we love to come up with lyrics on the spot, which I guess comes from having a strong hip-hop/freestyle background. Sometimes we write individually and bring the ideas to the table, but usually we write together and bounce ideas off one another. It helps for consistency and holds us all together on the same wave length.

How and when did you first start performing music?

J-Rock: I’ve always wanted to be a performer, so I’ve always taken it seriously!!! I started performing at the age of 8 doing school talent shows and local events, and soon developed a passion for writing rap music and rhymes in general. I got my first break in music rapping on re-mixes for Damage, MN8 and Beverly Knight in the early 90’s when I was a teenager.

Randy: I used to mc as my friend dj’d on his bedroom equipment. He thought I was really good and told me. Started writing my rhymes down. I started writing, then the rest is history.

Watch “Let’s Go” video:

Do you enjoy video shoots? Do you have any input in the filming of your videos – location/concept etc.?

J-Rock: I absolutely LOVE doing music videos!!! There’s a certain satisfaction you get from putting images and movement to a song, even when the two don’t necessarily coincide. I love the videos when we get to have sexy models walking around in next to nothing the best, they always keep our spirits up (as well as other things).

Randy: I love video shoots. Especially the ones that involve us wearing costumes and doing some acting. It’s just a chance to have a bit of fun and have pretty girls dancing around me all day. We do have input but I usually like to get the director to get his vision across coz if I did get too involved there would just be half naked women everywhere.

You’ve recently signed to Champion Records. How has that been going?

J-Rock: Signing with Champion Records has been all good so far and I have no complaints. I think right now we’re helping each other in the sense that we’re both building our profiles at the same time and everything we do together has been mutually beneficial. We both (the label and the group) come from successful backgrounds, and we’re both passionate about getting back to where we were in terms of success, and we’re both making positive steps towards that.

Randy: I love Champion records. They allow us to be us and back us 100%. We both understand that this is a building process so nobody expects it to be an overnight success which allows us to be passionate about our music without worrying about single sales. We work well as a team.

Watch “Is That You?” – Official uncut video:

Your debut single “Is That You” is a great dance track. What was it like the first time you heard it played in a club? Where were you?

J-Rock: The first time I heard “Is That You” in the club, I brought it with me to the venue and insisted the DJ play it!!! It was immediately after we had recorded it and I was really excited and I wanted to see the crowd’s reaction when it came on. The place went crazy and everyone was bubbling to the tune!! I knew from that moment we were on to something special and potentially BIG…

Randy: We was in a club in Colchester when we first heard our track played. It was good to just see people going crazy not even knowing that it was our record. That’s the best way to gage a record. We just hide in the back and watch how people react. It is really fulfilling when your hard work is felt on the dance floor.

Do you miss Big Brovaz? Do you stay in touch with the other members? Will you ever reform?

J-Rock: I miss Big Brovaz immensely and more and more each day. I still talk to the girls who went on to become “Booty Luv” quite regularly. I think the fans might be pleasantly surprised to see a collaboration on the “Party Dark” album, and yes, maybe in years to come we will reform. Big Brovaz was more than just a group, we were like family and we always will be!!!

Randy: I do miss big brother in some ways and not so much in other ways. I miss the fans and the love they showed but I don’t miss the restriction imposed on us by the label creative wise. We all still stay in touch and as for a reunion you know what they say. Never say never.

Are you going to be on a TV show on Channel 4 soon? Which program and when will it air?

J-Rock: At present we are working with Maroon Productions and Channel 4, on potentially 5 new programmes which will be starting to air in 2011. I can’t go into the premiss of these shows yet, as they would like to keep that information secret for now, but as soon as possible I’ll be the first to spill the beans… 😉

Randy: We have written our own programme for C4. This is still in negotiation stage so can’t say too much about that but I can say this: “it’s amazing”. 🙂

Party Dark have done a mixtape with Choice FM’s DJ Hotsteppa which also features Bradley from S Club 7 MC’ing (full tracklisting/details on www.partydark.com).

Party Dark Vs. Hotsteppa MixTape:

Here are J-Rock and Randy’s top ten artist lists:

J Rock

10. Snoop Dogg
9. 50 Cent
8. Kanye West
7. Drake
6. Pharrell
5. Diddy
4. Notorious BIG
3. Lil Wayne
2. Eminem
1. Jay-Z

Ok Randy top 10 fave artist. Hard. Mmm…

10. Otis Redding
9. Stevie Wonder
8. 50 Cent
7. Biggie Smalls
6. Lauryn Hill
5. 2Pac
4. Jay-Z
3. Jodeci/H-Town (tied at 3rd)
2. Eminem
1. Michael Jackson
I prob forgot some people who I really love but that’s the jist of it. I love so many tracks so fave tracks is a lot harder. Let’s just say any song from anyone in my top 10 artists. 🙂

Buy CDs, MP3s, more:

Party Dark on Amazon.co.uk

Party Dark Official Website
Party Dark Facebook
Party Dark Twitter

Graffiti6 @ Soho House, London review + exclusive interview

Last week I went to see Graffiti6 play an exclusive acoustic showcase at Soho House in London. It was well worth the trip.

Jamie Scott and producer TommyD, aka Graffiti6, played acoustic guitars – along with Pete on acoustic bass.

Last week I went to see Graffiti6 play an exclusive acoustic showcase at Soho House in London. It was well worth the trip.


Jamie Scott and producer TommyD, aka Graffiti6, played acoustic guitars – along with Pete on acoustic bass.

The set was short but sweet, consisting of a handful of songs including the new Graffiti6 single “Annie You Save Me”.

Their three part harmonies were refreshingly tight. Acoustically, “Annie You Save Me” has a rustic feel about it, circa Crosby, Stills and Nash. Jamie’s soulful voice in amongst the harmonies and steady acoustic guitars was spine-tingling.

They also played “Stare Into The Sun”, another song with a soulful, old school feel. It was chosen to soundtrack a TV ad campaign for The Sun. The track is also being used in major sync adverts for Dutch beer brand Heineken whilst US clothing giant Hollister are using the epic “Stone In My Heart”, released earlier this year.

“Annie You Save Me” is released on July 26, 2010 and after its first play on Radio 1, Fearne Cotton commented, “A really chilled song… I don’t think anything else really sounds like that out there. A different slant – really, really nice!”

TommyD and Jamie Scott from Graffiti6 exclusive interview with Jenny May:

Jenny May: How did you come up with the name Graffiti6?

Graffiti6: We invented a game called pass the book. Basically you each open a page of any random book and the first word you see, you pick. Cos there’s two of us we always came up with double names. We could have been called Suitcase Announced or Felix Beast. Thank god Graffiti6 came from that. It’s a good game to while away a rainy morning. That and knitting.

What is your songwriting process?

Alcohol, chocolate, crisps, cigarettes, Hulk Hands and The Sun for lyrical ideas.

Are you working on an album? Where are you recording it?

We’re always working on music. You can make music wherever now even on your phone. We have a studio where all these ideas come together called the Lab O Luv. You can get lost there so it’s good to get out and wander the streets to clear you head. I like playing ideas in cabs. Cab drivers have great taste. If a cabbie likes it you’re onto a winner.


How have your past musical experiences affected your decision making with Graffiti6 (like not signing with a label)?

It’s the modern world. Major labels have their place but we’re opinionated buggers and we wanted to be the master of our own destiny. It’s amazing to be able to embrace the opportunities the internet have opened up and just deal directly with the fans.

Your voices sound great together and your harmonies are tight! Who are some of your favourite singers/bands when it comes to creating harmonies?

Eagles through to the Mighty Diamonds. Harmony is the key to life. We get really carried away with stacking vocals and sometimes it ends up sounding like the Bulgarian women’s choir which actually is no bad thing.

Can fans look forward to seeing you play at festivals any time soon?

We’re gonna start our own called Mudfest. Basically we’ll perform in a shower with our wellies on while someone throws mud at everyone.

What is artist Jimi Crayon’s role in Graffiti6?

We saw Jimi’s work and it just clicked with the music. I love the idea that he can grow with us, that you’ll look back and see how the visual aspect of the band developed as the music did. It seems strange that bands or artists will have the same drummer or bass player but will be quite happy to chop and change the person who designs their record sleeves.

How did the 6 At The Vibe Bar club nights come about?

We wanted a venue we could showcase the music and showcase Jimi’s amazing artwork. It’s important that people see as well as hear the music. People completely lose it in front of the projections it’s amazing.

Who are your musical and/or non-musical influences?

Hendrix, Page, Beatles, Stevie, Marvin, Buckley, Drake, Hathaway, Dury, PE, Lil Louis, Gaga and jaffa cakes.

What is it about Jimi Hendrix that you like?

He’s the most complete artist. Great musician, songwriter, producer and entertainer. He was never afraid to push his ideas but at the heart he understood that you have to be funky as f*ck.

Who would you want to work with that you haven’t yet and in what capacity?

David Cameron. I’d make him understand that the music business is one of the best exports we have and the support and investment we get from a succession of governments is criminal. You don’t hear of anyone bailing out the musicians do you.

Where would you recommend a great party spot – anywhere in the world?

Barcelona and Buenos Aries are the best places I ever DJ’d.

Buy CDs, MP3s, more:

Graffiti6 on Amazon.co.uk

For the latest music and information, go to:

Graffiti6 Official Website
Graffiti6 MySpace
Graffiti6 on Twitter