‘Someone Who’ll Get It’ #Vogueasakite

Photo: Stian Andersen for Vogue
Photo: Stian Andersen for Vogue

Norwegian indie outfit, Highasakite, are riding high on the crest of a musical wave.  On the cusp of “the big break”, with their sophomore album due mid May, and about to set sail on their biggest and most expansive tour to-date, they have just pulled off one of the bigger PR coups in PressVille.

Yep, they only went and bagged a prime time video prem on THE holy grail of all magazine publications, VOGUE (of which even, Queen Madge was in awe!!).

Premming the video for the bands latest single, ‘Someone Who’ll Get It’, which I reviewed for Ja Ja Ja Nordic not so long ago, and which you can read here, Vogue’s Jacob Brown enthused,  “When we first heard the enchanting voice of Highasakite singer Ingrid Helene Håvik at South by Southwest, we fell hard and fast for the Norwegian band.”

Vogue fell hook line and sinker for Ingrid Helene Håvik’s dark and dangerous vocal, and Highasakite’s exciting sounds, so much so that they invited them to do a live studio session for them (oh to have a studio into which I could invite Highasakite, or any other kite for that matter).  You can view the live sess here, thanks to vogue.com.

unnamed

In the meantime, Highasakite are prepping for the kick off of their tour which kicks off in, would you believe it,  DUBLIN on 22nd May, in Whelans (yes, I’ll be there) followed by dates in Manchester, London, Amsterdam, through Germany until the band land back in homeland, Norway for a deserved break, ahead of their Summer Festival run of Oya (will be there too!) and Pstereo, finishing up on Aug 20th at Parkenfestivalen, Bodo.  (further dates are expected to be added – keep an eye on their social media sites for details).

And to wrap things up, the reason we’re all here, the video for ‘Someone Who’ll Get It’ – a dark, intrepid affair, not for the faint hearted – probably just as well it’s in B&W – shot with more than a touch of class.  Kudos to Ingrid for perfecting the art of pole-dancing and proving that this oft derided art-form can be more tasteful than trashy if performed with the right amount of skill and elegance.

‘Camp Echo’ the sophomore album from Highasakite has an expected release date of 20th May, via Propeller Recordings, but is available to pre-order now, here.

You can follow Highasakite on Facebook, Twitter and their official website where you can find further details of their nearly sold out tour!

Advertisements

News Feature : Palace Winter Launch Vinyl Edition of ‘Medication’ EP Ahead of London Gigs

GUYS

Ozzie-Danish** duo, Palace Winter, have it all going on right now, between single releases, promotional work, signings, non-stop interviews and oh, a bit of music here and there, just to keep the fingers nimble and voices limber.  **(I was going to say Melba-Danish but that’d just bring a lot of Peaches imagery into your head wouldn’t it!! #nom).

Fresh from the launch of the digital version of their debut EP, ‘Medication’,  the guys have been endlessly gigging around Euro hotspots, doing countless radio interviews with National broadcasters, as well as being furiously booked in for some serious live dates in 2016 – name-check #by:Larm – yup, read about it here !

And that’s just the tip of the good news iceberg!  This weekend saw the release of the vinyl edition of the Palace Winter hit EP – sniff it out here.  As only 300 copies have been pressed, you’ll need to get your turbo charged skates on to snaffle a copy.  I strongly recommend you buy now, think later, as this is one seriously rockin’ EP that you don’t want to miss out on.

As if that wasn’t good enough news, those PW charmers have announced that they will be hitting a London near you in December.  Monday 14th sees them doing an in-store at Rough Trade whilst Tuesday 15th has them belting out those rockin’ tunes at the uber trend-monster venue, Birthdays, details here.

And just to get you in the mood, have a play of these two adrenalin pumpers from the ‘Medication’ EP – ‘Time Machine’ (my personal fave) and the SoundCloud busting ‘Menton’ (it’s had over 110k hits to-date and bust the Hype Machine charts out of the stratosphere!).

The EP ‘Medication’ is out via Tambourhinoceros records.  Palace Winter can be followed on Facebook & Twitter.

See you on 15th XX Swerve

.

EP Review : There Is Nothing Trying About Emilio Pinchi

EPinchi

A song usually catches my attention because of the beat, vibe, musicianship, vocal, genre, pre-requisite amount of sparkle etc.  Whatever the draw, it’s normally sound oriented.  What held my aural gaze in respect of Emilio Pinchi’s songs was the lyrics … direct, hard hitting, witty, sarcastic, and full off self-deprecation.

His song ‘Naps’ featured on the Fresh on the Net #FRESHFAVES recently, reviewed by ‘Mr Luvva Luvva Sunshine’, Johnno Casson, and here is some of what he had to say:-

“He (Emilio) sounds like an old soul in a young man’s body, and is no stranger to Fresh On The Net after making the Fresh Faves in December last year. Our own Tom Robinson described him thus: “You’d need a heart of stone to resist Emilio Pinchi’s fresh confessional lyrics and low-key throwaway delivery. It’s a beautiful, authentic performance that never sounds like it’s trying too hard, yet carries absolute conviction.” Couldn’t agree more, Tom.”

‘Naps’ is a cracker of a tune with a dry, bluntly vocalised serrated edged lyric. It has a lovely gentle sound which acts as a counterpoint to the sharpness of the words.  The lyrics are sung with telling inflection, while the music casually drifts along in the background with its catchy guitar chords and some light but natty percussion.

This young Liverpudlian guitarist and singer sure knows how to both pen and perform a song in the mould of Bob Dylan, and trust me, that name was cited more than once during the week this track featured on the #FOTN Listening Post!

“I’m taking naps in the day cos I can’t my nerve, and I can’t hold a drink any more, You’re telling me straight, coming up at the party, everyone starting at once, You can’t be this way.  Well evidently I can …”

This week sees the release of Pinchi’s debut 4-Track EP – ‘Trying Man’ – which has already created a buzz within the music media … Quite a bit of a buzz actually, and one louder than the buzzing of the fridge which comes through on the title track if you  listen hard enough!  Yep, this low key, low budget, top class track was recorded in Emilio’s kitchen of all places.  Which just goes to show that with an inspired mind, a lot of talent, a warm voice and a well tuned guitar, you can do as well, if not better than some that have the lavish surrounds of big budget studios at their disposal.

619x300-emilio

Emilio Pinchi’s ‘Trying Man’ EP launches tomorrow evening in the Lantern, Liverpool Doors 7.30pm – be there or be square – details here.

.

You can chase Pinchi’s coat tails around social media – FacebookSoundCloud Twitter

Interview – DreamGaze Dudes Dråpe are more Relax than Relapse

Photo Lars K Boquist
Photo Lars K Boquist

Norwegian band Dråpe have gone through a significant number of changes in the past year, not least of which was having Eirik Fidjeland return to the fold, replacing vocalist Hanne Olsen Solem. By their own admission, they have had their share of ups and downs (and broken ribs), but riding the tide of challenging experiences seems to have not only solidified them as a unit, it has also brought a new depth and maturity to both their lyrics and sound.

Bursting with enthusiasm and showing all the hallmarks of having a seriously wacky sense of fun, the guys from Dråpe happily agreed to spend some time filling us in on the background to their latest album ‘Relax/Relapse’, a masterpiece in melody and a master class in musicianship.

Kick back and enjoy some amusing thoughts on cold guitars, the Beatles and wonky sounds with Dråpe 🙂

For those unfamiliar with Dråpe, tell us a bit about yourselves?

Eirik Kirkemyr is our drummer, Lars K. Boquist is our bass guitarist, Even Hafnor is our classic-rock guitarist, Eirik Fidjeland is our multi-instrumentalist (mainly synth and harp but he occasionally rocks out a noisy guitar solo), and Ketil Myhre does vocals and guitar.

We are trying really hard to have ourselves recognised as an “established” act in Norway; this makes it easier for us to experience the feeling of “being a new band” in other countries.

As for ourselves personally, well, other than playing music, most of us work in a Kindergarten except for Even, who is an award winning director in the movie business, and Lars, who does web/graphic design.

Your album Relax/Relapse, opens with the ‘Relax’ element, which isn’t particularly ‘song for a hammock’! Why did you give this track that name, and, do you think your fans will be expecting your long awaited new album to open with an instrumental??

Hehe that’s true, it’s not the most soothing tune. This is the “intro” track to the album and the second song, “Replica”, uses the same chords but with a very different approach. Our album starts with Relax and ends with Relapse to tell the story behind the album from start to finish as to how it came to be named ‘Relax/Relapse’.

‘Replica’ has an almost new wave feel to the guitar sequences at certain points (I hear a touch of the Undertones) and there is also a trend of unconventional shifts in tempo and genre throughout most of the songs. Overall the sound is heavier, more mature, more random. Is this a deliberate consequence of your trying to be more experimental and organic in approach, whilst moving away somewhat from the “shoegaze” tag?

We wanted to make something very different from the first record. We also wanted to keep our options open sound-wise, to help us get the best out of ourselves, just to see what that sounded like.  We wanted it to just happen, rather than deciding on everything beforehand. The one thing we did deliberately decide to do, was record the whole album on a 24 track tape recorder. That element really made a difference for us as to how we built the songs. It was really nice to be limited to only 24 tracks.  We could remove unnecessary things that would otherwise cover up important sounds if we had had access to an unlimited number of tracks. From that, together with using a lot of amazing vintage amps and guitars/synths, we got a more mature sound.

We have always played with tempos and shifts in time signatures from our first EP to now. There are a lot of time signatures going on in our music but to us they never feel weird to play, it is more to make it feel “more correct”.  On this album we actually recorded every song live without a metronome, ON TAPE! This really made us throw away anything that didn’t have an important enough place in the soundscape, as well as making us play tighter, better.  We got into a better groove without a click track stressing us out.

“One of the goals on the album, sound-wise, was to find the perfect out of tune guitar sound. An electric guitar sounds a lot better when it’s a bit out of tune rather than a clean one. But if its too much of out tune, or worse, if its calculated out of tune – it doesn’t work. It must be a slightly, but random, out of tune. Some of the methods we used were to put guitars out in a cold parking house next to the studio so the wood would get cold and the pitch would change. This would usually work quite well. However, our new guitar player Eirik had his own method which definitely isn’t appropriate to mention here.”

You say you wanted to find the “perfect out of tune guitar sound” – (well you found it) … “Some of the methods we used were to put guitars out in a cold parking house next to the studio so the wood would get cold and the pitch would change.”  Discuss! 🙂

If we promise to publish after 9pm will you let us in on Erik’s secret??

Yeh hah, we did that. Usually we don’t have the right umbraco key or money to correct the truss rod to intonate our guitars so we just tune to the song we play. That combined with cold guitars made some nice sounds through old amps.

You’ve been quoted as saying that Beatlesesque psychedelia was a major inspiration for the new album. Which albums//songs influenced you most, how and why?

It’s hard to pick out one particular song/album, but we’d been listening a lot to Revolver whilst we were in our tour van. The way the Beatles experimented in studio, with different sounds and weird noises, and how innovative they were, is probably the main inspiration. Of course we were inspired by their music, as well.

You name a song on the album ‘?’ – this isn’t the first time a song has had this title?? Did you name it ‘?’ because it’s so sonically random that you just couldn’t put a label on it?

The lyrics reflect questions we ask ourselves everyday about people’s actions, society and it’s trends, narcissism, self-obsession. Also we were poking fun at ourselves as well, because we are no better than anyone else. We are not above others when at the same time there are still awful things happening in the world.

Even edited the video for My Friend the Scientist – are you going to use his “award winning film making” skills for future videos 🙂 ? Who came up with the concept for this video and what is your approach to videos in general?

We sure are! Just keep an eye out for something soon!! Some hints: old, homage, 16mm, awkward. It was Even’s idea for “My Friend The Scientist” video and it was made while we filmed our next project.

DRAPE_541_384

 It’s 30 years since A-ha released ‘Take on Me’ and changed Europe’s perception of Null Points Norway. How do you guys view A-ha? Did you take any inspiration or influence from them in any way, and do you think they, more than any other Norwegian act, opened up the doors for Norwegian music to be more acceptable to Euro ears?

We wouldn’t really have A-ha in mind when playing music to be honest.  One thing they keep doing that we’ve taken on board as something NOT to do, is to have a 2 year “A-ha is quitting” period, milk that with tours and new albums..? Then after a month. “A-ha COMEBACK TOUR, new album!!” again.. Feels like they have done that like 4 times now.

If you could do a cover of any song with any other artist – what and who would that/they be?

It would probably be ‘Young Folks’ by Peter Bjorn And John. Such a catchy and laid back song. Love it!

 What are the challenges facing Dråpe playing this album live, if any? And how do you relate to your audience – do you prefer an interactive experience that can potentially feed back into the creative process??

Because we already recorded this album live, it is not a very difficult transition to a concert. We really enjoy playing live in smaller spaces and venues where it fills up fast and people can get a more intimate connection with us. Then we can see their faces and those who sing along to our songs, rather than a sea of heads and some cellphones. But playing big spots has its own vibe, and can be really cool of course.

Do you have any good new music tips to share with us? Norwegian tips are particularly welcome!

Gold Celeste. Eirik Fidjeland’s band, have just released their second album “The Glow” which is really good. Also, another band that Gold Celeste will be supporting, the really coolly named Mild High Club. They make really great, weird songs. Other Norwegian bands we enjoy are Psyence Fiction and Foamm, who really should have a lot more fans and people listening to their music.

 Any finally, what does the rest of the year hold for you??

Our album ‘Relax/Relapse’ was released on 9th October, and we’re currently midway through a promotional tour of Norway with gigs coming up in:  Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsø, Kristiansand, Kongsberg and Stavanger. At the moment we are planning for 2016: we really want to play in London and do more shows in Germany. Click on ‘promotional tour’ for dates folks.

Dråpe’s second album ‘Relax/Relapse’ is out now via Riot Factory:  you can sample some sounds & if you like what you hear, you can buy it here. You can follow the guys on Twitter and Facebook.

And to end in their own words….

Vinyl: goo.gl/CsjYf5
iTunes: goo.gl/1ViGMQ
Spotify: goo.gl/TQs974
WiMP: goo.gl/4SiUv5
GIVE US MONEY”!”!

You are my ‘Sunshine’ … or… Johnno Casson, Filmic!

(Johnno aka Snippet

Allow me to let you in on a secret….shhh!

The Fresh on the Net Mod team has it’s very own #TOWIE … yup, we sure do, and it comes in the form (BIG FORM) of H.R.H. Johnno Casson aka Snippet Cuts of  Warm and Toasty Club fame and Le Roi Lion of the #FRESHFAVE reviews!

The difference between our Towie and the original of the species, is that not only is ours tall, dark and exceedingly handsome (oh yes you are you devilish hound….bursts into The Smiths ‘Handsome Devil’), he is also witty, wordy and wonder-musiliciously uber-talented!  This man could script and soundtrack an Academy Award Winning Film a lui tout seul (if anyone knows how to do an accent on a UK keyboard, pray, do tell!!).

Which leads us seamlessly into the topic in hand…music for films!  Snips (as he shall be known from here on out!) has only gone and got his super sweet n sunny ‘We Love the Sunshine’ plucked out of the sky by a US movie mogul….more of which anon.

Torr-O You Handsome Devil
Torr-O You Handsome Devil

Clapperboard…..#snap                         BACKGROUND – a wee Snip.

Baby Johnno was born and raised in “multi-cultural” Hackney, N.East London, and as a ‘wee Snip’ was surrounded by the sounds of “British Pop music, Lovers rock (lovers rock?  what exactly is lovers rock?), SKA and Funk”, which were deeply absorbed into his multi-coloured soul, thereby producing the Rainbow Music Warrior we have all come to know and love.  Life and love brought Snips out of the city and into the Essex enclave of Colchester, wherein he has been ensconced for the past decade.

Clapperboard…..#snap                         DRAMATIS PERSONAE – more Snips n Cuts.

Johnno the Snip creates music under various guises…..Johnno Casson, Snippet, Old Tramp, Cuddly Toy…oops no sorry, that’s his mascot.  Snips is also an erstwhile band member, having previously musically masqueraded with such luminaries as ‘Corrosive’, ‘Pyjama Party’ (quelle surprise), ‘Back to Base’ and ‘Deep Joy’.

Snippet Mascot
Snippet Mascot

Clapperboard…..#snap                         SUNRISE – getting an accidental groove on

Snips has produced a piece of sonic sunshine in EP form, called oddly enough, ‘The Sunshine EP’, In plain speak, he bottled happiness, and let it loose in song.  So how did all of this come about…….why don’t we let the man tell us how it was?

Snip away Johnno…

“The whole thing came about by accident.  One afternoon I was in a really good mood, just loving playing around with ideas in logic. I quickly knocked a groove together and within 20 minutes I had most of the bones of ‘We Luv The Sunshine’.

I thought-“hold on-this might be good,this might be very good”, so I checked in with Mrs Snippet and a few trusted friends to hear their view, and they all agreed that it was a wonky pop corker, including our buddy Tom Robinson (of ONLY THE NOW fame) who said “it’s a little gem, and it does have the potential to bust through your current bubble into the wider world” and proceeded to give me all sorts of wonderful advice as always.”

Clapperboard…..#snap                         HIGH NOON – the beat goes on – (2 – 6)

“So I now had the lead track, but what about the rest of the tracks? 

Well, within an evening of cheap cider and an even cheaper casio keyboard, I had carved out track 2 –This way Up, in which every part was played on a £5 casio keyboard that I had just picked up at the local charity shop.

Track 3, Can I Love You, was a tune I had kicking around for a little while and as neither The Beach Boys nor Edwyn Collins were available, I decided to put it to tape myself.

Track 4, Misplaced Youth had been trailed on Soundcloud to universal positive feedback, especially at the time from bearded hipsters keen to shake off their Hot Chip obsessions, so I only went and mixed it into shape- I know,what a flippin’ mental!.

(RUN DMC : “could someone please remove images of Matthew “Hot Chip” Horton from my mind!!!”)

.

Track 5, Run For The Life had The Streets begging to use it the year earlier, and had attracted lots of interest from free style street dancing troupes so it was a no brainer to include it.

(Er, which Streets would that be Snips, Where the Streets have no name? Sesame Streets? Love Streets?  Oooh right….THE – past tense – STREETSWell there’s no accounting for artistic licence and yoga-stretching the imagination eh!)

Track 6 fLIP (not a mistype) had received a more than decent coverage as a soundtrack to disenchanted youth across Europe and South Americaso (also not a mistype).  It just felt right to include its synthy itchiness on the EP. Tom Freshnet even used it as the backing track for the Freshnet Soundcloud Dropbox to delight listeners earlobes https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/use-upload-to-group-above

(did he?  observation not one of my strong points!)

So the EP was released on Folkwit Records and remains available via all good stockists (including iTunes ) and We Luv The Sunshine has been signed up to appear in the U.S movie The Space Between in 2016!!!

Celebrate good times come on....It's a Celebration
Celebrate good times come on….It’s a Celebration

Et maintenant il est temps pour la musique

But this being Snips, the story doesn’t end there….

Clapperboard…..#snap                         SUNSET – musical mixololgy at cocktail hour

“In pure Snippet style my alter ego decided to have the EP tracks re-imagined by great emerging artists that he rated and often had championed on Fresh On The Net as part of his Prick and Ding feature:

http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2014/04/prick-and-ding-81-martin-case/

“Martin Case is not only a wonderful guy, he is also an hugely talented writer /producer with whom I’ve worked in youth music workshops. I love his work and thought he would be the ideal man to remix the lead track.  He did not disappoint!”

http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2012/08/prick-and-ding-17-mylittlebrother/

“mylittlebrother – I love what this band do (including this remix).  They were the perfect fit.  They tickle my fancy, float my boat and caress my under carriage(in a virtual sense you understand…..filth you lot!!!)”  (Makes note to publish after watershed!)

http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2014/05/prick-and-ding-85-the-lake-district/

“The Lake District – Probably the most re-imagined I have ever been but what a job they did!!”

http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2012/08/prick-and-ding-16-wim-oudijk/

“I have worked with Wim Oudijk for about 5 years, during which time he has been  producer, confidante and saviour.  I love him like the sun, and as a sign of how brilliant the internet is, we have never met each other face to face (though a trip is planned).

What a guy.  What a blinding remix!”

http://freshonthenet.co.uk/2014/04/prick-and-ding-80-old-tramp/ 

“So sometimes you have a remix planned and at the eleventh & a half hour, some fecker suddenly says he can’t do it – so what do you do?  You turn to an Old Tramp, thats what you do.  Knowing he will never let you down, he will always twiddle your knobs for food and alcohol (and probably hang around your house for weeks, possibly months).”

Everyone should have an old tramp in their life!!

 And NOT forgetting…. 

“Disappointing Birthday … they were an unknown, unknown, but they had a way with sound collages that made my mind bristle with freaky loveliness and their take on This Way Up turned the tune into a Ealing comedy mash up of gaelic love affair with whisky vs vintage synths.”

Warm & Toasty Snips
Warm & Toasty Snips

 

Clapperboard…..#snap                         NIGHTFALL- the curtain comes down

There you have it folks…a short-CUT to the how, what and why of Snips new The Sunshine EP.  Do we like it, NO. We love it!  You can catch onto Casson here on iTunes or you can Snip up a FREE download of The Sunshine EP – Remixed courtesy of Folkwit Records and the wonderful collection of remix artists.

https://folkwitrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunshine-ep-remixed

We hope you’ve enjoyed our parley with the King of Les Bon Mots.  We shall be reviewing The Sunshine EP here on #THESWERVE in the near present.  In the meantime, we wish you Bon Nuit and leave you with the sweet sounds of the track ‘This Way Up’ –  Fais de beaux rêves xxx

You can follow Johnno aka Snippets here, there and everywhere!

Twitter               Website           Soundcloud           Old Tramp       

FolkWit Records       The Space Between

(I’d give you his FB account but I think even that would be step too far for our Snips!!)  🙂

Full review coming soon………………xxx

The providential finding of Cortney Tidwell

Cortney Tidwell

Life is full of weird coincidences, fateful happenings, providence and the whole “stars aligned” lark.  Sometimes, the most bizarre things occur, or, the most amazing gifts arrive without prior warning and present themselves in a predestined packaged, tied up with a ribbon called kismet.

The song I am listening to right now, is one of those very unexpected, but much welcome, karmic delights.

Somewhere along the white lines of the internet highway, I came across this musical pourbouire – a melodious thank you to me from the music-verse for services rendered (that’s my take on it!!).  I gratefully accept: it’s not every day that life hands you something as special as this captivating work of art.

The work I am referring to is the song, “Oh, Suicide”, by Cortney Tidwell.  I know nothing about Cortney Tidwell; sad to say, I’ve neither heard of her, nor of her music.  I have no idea how I came across this track: it was lying there in a bunch of bookmarked links on chrome.  I only happened upon it, when I went searching for something else. #Chance.

This is a song that snaps it’s fingers at you from the moment the first bar opens with it’s scratchy guitar and quivering synth.  After a flash melodramatic flourish, the airy lightness descends to a darkly shrouded drone.  It feels like the music is lumbering along, dragged down by the heavy burden of the lyric, hauling itself slowly forward until finally, Tidwell’s vocal lifts, allowing the song to take an upward musical trajectory to a very theatrical crescendo.  Electrifying strings, bolstered by some pretty intense synth sequences, create an emotionally explosive soundscape throughout which the lyrical lament continues to opine.  For a song based on such a sombre subject, it’s heady stuff.  Musically hard-hitting, it is a captivating and accomplished composition, with an altogether intoxicating vocal performance by Tidwell.

Things happen for a reason;  to put a smile on someone’s face, to lift their spirits out of the depths of their shoes, or, to give them an awareness of self that may somehow have become lost during their material obsessed daily grind.  Who knows?  I don’t yet know why Cortney Tidwell happened.  All I know, is that I’m very glad that she did.

Right now I’m busy with stuff….too busy to investigate, dig, unearth, unravel.  But when ‘the stuff’ is done, I will unleash my inner beagle onto the search engine of the music-verse, and I shall bring you more, on the story and music, of Cortney Tidwell.

That’s a promise, and those that know me, know I always keep my promises. X

The Real Mc Coy

Debs 2

I am blessed to have the friendship of Debs Mc Coy.  Ask anyone who knows her, and like me, they will tell you that she is one of the loveliest, gentlest, funniest and gorgeous people they know.  “A beautiful spirit”, I think is how one mutual friend recently put it.

I know Debs for a while now; we’re ‘Derbs’, the ‘twin-gal-pal, mad mod’ moderators forFresh on the Net‘, the ever expanding website resource for emerging artists, set up by Tom Robinson some years back, to run in tandem with his weekend gig at BBC6 Music.

One afternoon, during one of our regular #Dropbox conversations, we got to talking about Debs’ own music.  She happened to mention that both she and Jon Cox had reworked an Oli Arnalds track, ‘Only The Winds’, by weaving McCoy’s ‘Black Winged Taker’ composition through it. The result, as you will shortly attest to, is nothing short of stupendous.

I knew Debs’ work was good, VERY good, but it wasn’t until I came across this certain piece, that the enormity of her un-presuming talent began to dawn on me.  I now felt compelled to tunnel down through crust and mantle, until I reached the inner core of her work.

Yes, feeling sure I had only just scratched the surface, I took a lengthy meander through the works of this wonky tonk woman, a surreal stroll that left me stunned by the extensive diversity, and seemingly endless scope, of Debs’ portfolio.

Due to the voluminous size of  the McCoy musical library, it is impossible to showcase everything here, so I’ve selected a few varied samples of her work to reflect and indulge upon.

First things first though….just who is Debs McCoy?

Debs3

Debs is a Geordie lass and, as if that wasn’t enough (woah!), she is also an artist, photographer, poet/lyricist and multi-instrumentalist.  Jealous?  Too bloody right I am, aren’t you? No? Liars!

Debs obviously queued up more than once when the talents were being handed out.  So what does this uber talented, chatty mod have to say for herself? Take it away Debs….#armflourishthingy

“I started taking classical guitar lessons when I was 6, followed by piano a few years later, but I stopped playing both for a long period of time, as I felt that I was really struggling to marry my lyrics with the music I’d written. Funnily, I could successfully write poetry and instrumental pieces separately. Some years later, after a fractured period in my life, somehow both lyrics and music were easily coming together, in a way they hadn’t in the past, and I’ve continued to write music ever since.!”

Therapy Sessions 1

If you could put music to the endlessly bleak moors, the isolated loneliness, and the tragic sense of loss and despair in Wuthering Heights, Therapy Sessions 1, would be it.  I can imagine #TS1 as a musical backdrop to the scene in which Heathcliff is buried next to Cathy (the side of his and Cathy’s coffins removed so that they will forever lie together side by side).  With hints of a Scottish lament, it is a brooding, doleful, yet somewhat tender piece, given to intermittent bursts of uplifting, almost sparkling, piano sequences.

It opens with a low drone which pervades throughout, providing a tense, forbidding undercurrent, continuously murmuring underground.  Dark minimalist piano erratically dots a melancholic string sequence; it’s almost as if the piano is conveying a sense of someone having lost their way.  There is a feeling of confused desperation about it’s presence in this section, leading us awry amidst dusky shadows.  Even when the piano does lighten, it still doesn’t illuminate the way.  There is however, a subtle change in the soundscape, as the piano becomes suggestive of ripples of water.  Droplets of rain splish down onto a bubbling stream, a warm ray of light filters across the sky.  The mood fleetingly lifts, but too soon the clouds close over, and the lonely darkness once again falls.  We are covered in by a rising blanket of tormented strings, shadowed by skeletal bass piano, until that too fades into the grey, flat-lines, and slowly disappears into another world.

More about Debs!

“I studied Fine Art for 4 years at university then went on to do a post-grad for 3 years in Art Psychotherapy. I’ve always been fascinated with inner and outer experience; music and visual art bridges the gap between the two, tapping into the unconscious. Music helps me to make sense of my experiences and the world around me. If others can also find some connection and personal meaning from what I create then that’s lovely and a bonus.”

Revolver

When I was selecting tracks to feature here, I asked Debs to make some recommendations and the next piece – ‘Revolver’ – was one of her suggestions.

‘Revolver’ is exactly three and half minutes of rich, sumptuous musical velvet.  Utterly captivating, it is a luminous composition made up of intricately woven threads of strings and piano, in which a wondrously warm and mellow shot of single malt cello, counterpoints a looping Philip Glass-like crystalline pianissimo reverie.  The music envelopes the listener with it’s cyclical chord sequences, delightful as a spring morning, arousing as youthful love, spirited as a musical merry-go-round.  It is an exquisitely executed keyboard carousel – enchantingly hypnotic, hypnotically enchanting – exuding radiant hope.  It exemplifies the beauty within Debs’ soul; only the pure of heart, could compose something as innocent and beautiful as this.

It’s Debs again…(she is a chatterbox innit!)

”We’ve all got our own histories and experiences so different stuff taps into ‘us’ in a different way, sometimes with great immediacy.  It’s like when you go into a gallery and look at a painting you know nothing about, you just accept it for its aesthetics, and have an instant reaction to it, whether that’s positive or negative. BUT then if there’s a title to the painting, a little piece of text or, a little bit about the artist and how they came to make the work, it takes on a completely different meaning.

You can look at the most spectacular modernist painting, in the most beautifully vivid colours and think “wow, that’s a really skilled bit of painting”, even if it’s not really your bag.  Then you read that a 5 year old child painted it in 2 hours, and has produced hundreds of similar works, or a blind person has created it, or, someone who’s in prison – it turns everything on its head.”

Rose Madder

And by way of introduction to our next track…

“‘This is a Jon Cox rework/remix of my track ‘Rose Madder’ with Underworld’s ‘Capa Meets The Sun’ for USA record label Nuova Forma for a podcast he curated for them.”

When you hear a song as wondrous as this, with such vocal fragility, is there a need to say anything?  I think I’ll let this one sing for itself.

Magical…!  A sonic web has been spun!!

The Weight

My penultimate choice is another collaboration – this time with cellist Leah Coloff, who has played with such heavyweights as Damon Albarn and Nancy Sinatra!

‘The Weight’ in Debs’ speak is ” … improvised piano, guitar, and cello, with some other instruments (synth etc) … “

It has an eery intensity, an almost Gothic feel of Usherian restless spirits and “The Others” other worldliness.  This is music by which to read Poe (and spend the subsequent early hours awake because every creak terrifies you!).  Aside from #thedark , there is a cross continental sound to the string sequences of this song.  At times Russian, at times Spanish, but at all times Bohemian, gypsy even, the string arrangements (both guitar and cello), add an eclectic flavour to the plaintiveness of the piano arrangement.

This piece is the product of a perfect collaborative synchronicity and, I really do hope that Leah and Debs get together in the not so distant future, to create some more spectacular pieces of music. #hinthint

And so, to the piece of musical genius that brought us here….

Only The Winds // Black Winged Taker

There are very few times in life when you have what I call a ‘Radiohead’ moment – that moment when you hear a voice, a song, a piece of music and you just know, this is a titanic moment in your musical life.  Few artists have given me those shiver filled moments – obviously Thom Yorke with Radiohead has obliged, Mark Hollis likewise. Kate Bush was the first to hit a nerve, and has since been followed by the Manics, Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm, Dvorak and most recently, Cortney Tidwell (tbc!).  Few then, have roused such passionate emotion or violent reaction within, for my world to screech to a musical halt.

But, it happened again the other day.  Not with another big name, not with an high profile super group, legendary lyricist, or, even a toilet brush impresario.  Nope, it happened with Debs…which, to be honest, made it all the more stupefying.  And it happened when I played this final piece, which sprang into the music-verse when Debs Mc Coy, beautiful dreamer, took this divine instrumental by Olafur Arnalds, and along with Jon Cox, turned it on it’s head.

There really isn’t anything to say after that is there, so I’ll leave you with some final words from Debs….

“I once had a tutor at art school.  He made us make a three minute film, which we had to show to our fellow students, but, we were not allowed to say anything about it.  Nothing!  When we complained, he got really angry and said …

“…ART should speak for itself…it doesn’t need words”  “

You can learn more about Debs McCoy’s music via the following links:-

Bandcamp

Soundcloud

Twitter

You can find out about her collaborators here:-

Jon Cox

Leah Coloff

Olafur Arnalds