INTERVIEW. No No Yeah Okay talk inspiration, niche music scenes and future endeavours

Words: Steph Baker

I myself, do it completely for the ability to perform and find myself in the best mental state possible while doing so.”

The Milwaukee-based sonic melting pot No No Yeah Okay surprise released their latest single ‘What Can I Say‘ off of their forthcoming EP, Cabal. We got to get to know them, to talk inspiration, their local music scene and what’s next in store for No No Yeah Okay.
When it comes to complex sounds, No No Yeah Okay are masterminds. They are “all over the map when it comes to influences”. Some are clear when listening to the tracks which somehow fuse together electronic beats with punk, however there are some hidden treasures that wouldn’t immediately come to mind. “For example, you might not guess that Colin is a huge LCD Soundsystem fan, “you might find Josh wearing out the same Fugazi albums in his headphones, but he’ll be lifting a bass groove idea out of 70s funk”. When it comes to ‘What Can I Say‘, a perfect “coming to terms anthem”, the main inspiration came from the band’s surroundings at the time of writing; “I wrote it on the tail end of an extended stay in Southern California in which everything for me at the time was perfect. I realised in a moment that things might not ever feel this good and was in the moment accepting of this forward progression of emotions but also terrified to lose the zen i was in.” 
What Can I Say - Single Art.jpg
The four-piece kicked off making music in 2014 by Mark (production) and Christopher (guitar) creating an ever-growing library of unique sounds, soon enough vocalist Colin, who was an independent rapper at the time to come on board and add some vocal magic to their tracks just before Joshua (bass) joined to tie all the elements together. “Milwaukee’s electronic scene is really popping right now and seems to be headed in a great direction. Acts like Luxi, Kiings, and a Producer collective that goes by Noh Life are expanding beyond city limits” and No No Yeah Okay have really made their mark on their local music scene and built a reputation for their gigs. We’d like to think we are unique in the local scene. Our live sound is a bit more intense as we are incorporating live drums and the bass and guitar tend to stand out a bit more so it creates this contrast between what people may have heard us record and what they are hearing in person.” Colin explains the best thing about growing as a live act, “for me it is the reaction from the crowd and the introduction to new faces each and every show.”
But now that the local area are familiarised with the mesmerising sounds of No No Yeah Okay, what is next in store for them? For a group that is still in the process of finding their identity, they are non-stop; “we are in the beginning stages of planning out a midwest tour as well as a few east coast stops… aside from that we are continuing to write and after the EP release in June, we will be working on and releasing some singles to wrap up the year”.

While waiting for the release of the ‘Cabal‘ EP, listen to the new single ‘What Can I Sayhere. You can also send them some love on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Baker out

SINGLE REVIEW. The xx – On Hold

Release Date: Out now!

Genre: Electro-indie pop

Rating: ★★★★★

It begins with the graceful, familiar voice of Romy Madley Croft, as it’s been so long since we have been graced with fresh material, her voice instantly brings any fan a feeling of satisfaction. This track is about grasping at the tail end of a failing love, in a desperate attempt of regaining momentum and making it work, “it could be love I think you’re too soon to call us old“. With some almost psych-pop sounds woven in, the song has very romanticized undertones while still keeping to the signature xx chilled-out sound.

 

img_2758In many ways, the xx have not changed, to the relief of many. With the same warm charm brought by the voices of Romy and Oliver Sim, as well as the distinct, simplistic guitar melodies and electro-ambient vibes that can only be constructed with just the right mix of elements. However, after the lyrics “when and where did we go cold, I thought I had you on hold“, there is a drop that reveals a whole new lease of life for the xx. During this energetic segment of the track, inspirations uncovered by Jamie xx during his solo projects of the past year materialise themselves, and the result is a refreshing mix of the chilled out, low-fi vibes expected from the xx, and the electro beats of the house scene Jamie often frequents. It sounds remarkable, and has also worked well live on the few recent performances of the trio on radio and US talk shows.

 

This long awaited new track from the London group has been met with warm welcome, and rumour has it we can expect more surprises such as this in their upcoming album ‘I See You’.


Book tickets to the 2017 headline tour

You can also connect to The xx on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

Baker out.

INTRODUCING. Interview with Danish artist Fjer.

 

Danish artist, Fjer has emerged seemingly out of nowhere. Ever since moving to New York to start her career with full commitment, she has independently released two EPs, and began to catch peoples’ eye (and ear) with her obscure electro-pop sound. We got to get to know Fjer soon after she released the music video for the recent single ‘Her Turn‘ (out now – link below). We talked international influences, life in New York and the question of whether people need formal music training in order to succeed in a career.

Where did you start out and how has your experience of coming from Denmark to the American and British music industry been? 
I actually started Fjer in New York. This is where I came up with the name, released my first EP, found the people to work with and really started to believe in my self. It was so inspiring being here, around people speaking English, because I quickly learned the language fluently and began to get accepted in a different way. The UK audience came more recently and I’m so happy about that. England reminds me more of home – things like the weather and culture are way more similar to Denmark. I miss those things.
What country would you say most of your musical influences come from? 
I’m inspired with Danish music in the sense that SO many great artists come out of there and it’s where I grew up. You can hear the cold, nordic sound in my music, I feel. The American/British music scene inspires me a lot too, because everybody does everything ALL the way, 100%. Nobody’s afraid to be an artist, and that’s something we struggle with in Denmark, where it’s kind of frowned upon to be super ambitious.
You studied at the Royal Academy of Music, how has that experience impacted your musical endeavours?
When I got into the Royal Academy, it was one of the best days of my life. It was so unexpected, because I was only 19 years old, there were hundreds of applicants and it’s just so hard to get in. Going there for the years I did, was a great experience and I learned music theory, producing and just being a better singer. But it was a very elitist school and the constant competition (especially between the guys there – it was a total ‘boys club’!) eventually broke me down. So I took a year out to go to New York and I haven’t looked back or regretted that decision for a moment. School will teach you so many valuable things, but there’s nothing like going out and trying on your own. You’ll learn everything faster.
 
How did you find releasing your two brilliant EPs completely independently? Is it something you want to continue to do?
It was lucky that I met producer and indie label-owner of Quintic, Peter Anthony Red, who believed in me from the very start. Fjer, has been us building together from day one and he released my two first EP’s with me. It can be super scary but also very freeing not being on a major label, fitting into budgets and ads. It’s like.. I have the freedom to do whatever I want. Nobody’s trying to change me or put me in a box.

 

Watch here and listen here:

 

You can also connect with the lovely Fjer on facebook and twitter

 

 

Baker out.

SINGLE REVIEW. AFFAIRS – ‘Runaway’

Label: Yellow Brick Music

Genre: 80s electro-pop

Rating:★★★1/2

Lads from Hull have been anything but complacent in their efforts to bring back the 80s and take over with their authentic electo-pop. Since meeting at university and moving their base to Manchester, they have shared the stage with the likes of Alt-J and Circa Waves in support, and produced a debut EP oozing with charm and self-assurance in their niche sound.

Runaway‘ is the lead single from AFFAIRS’ debut EP, ‘Stained Gold‘ (Out now, link below), this is a risky debut to release due to the seemingly uncompromising 80s-esk style and obscure synth-heavy foundations. However, it seems as though it might just pay off, especially when looking to this track. It’s no wonder AFFAIRS are gaining a respectable reputation for delivering considered lyrics and theatrical live performances harrowing the kind of fringe/indie-pop curated by The Smiths. The dreamy guitar melodies, and obscure use of synths demonstrated in ‘Runaway‘ creates an ageless 80s-esk vibes with an authenticity that is rare to find as they tell melancholy tales of the rises and falls experienced within youthful nightlife. This is then brought not to the present but to the future with electro-pop type drums and the harrowing, intriguing vocals. Although the vocal range sounds at times slightly strained, it is balanced out by the intrusive, pounding chorus vocals that would probably do very well live.

This band could be summed up as the love-child of Depeche Mode and Morrissey, born today. Is the world ready for that child to develop and grow adventurous in its endevours? Only time will tell, but AFFAIRS will likely be doing their thing either way.


Check out ‘Runaway‘ here:

 

Listen to the full ‘Stained Gold‘ EP here:

AFFAIRS are also on facebook and twitter

 

 

(Image: Clash Magazine)

Baker out.

 

INTRODUCING. ArchiveX with single ‘Hard Times’

Regardless of tastes and preferences, ArchiveX will prove to be one of the most intriguing and alluring artists on your radar right now. You will understand why when you listen to the anonymous artist’s most recent single (released last week), ‘Hard Times‘ (link below).
This California-based artist is a tough cookie to crack: is he a gospel angel? Is he hip-hop? Is that a bit of mowtown thrown in there? No one knows. But we want more. The most recent single, ‘Hard Times‘ is making its rounds and being picked up by people all over the place, it is the perfect introduction to the powerhouse of soul that is ArchiveX. We begin with a very old-school piano melody being set down as the foundations of this track, it’s then continuously build upon with bass bringing the depth needed to suck us in. Then all of a sudden, just when you start to fall into a daze due to the artist’s irresistibly soulful vocals, telling us heartbreaking tales we get thrown into a reverb-heavy bass drop out of nowhere as the vocals go to the next level of crazy.

On the other side of the spectrum, upcoming single ‘Drink The Water‘ is a whole different story. With classic blues vocals reminiscent of the likes of Percy Mayfield and Ray Charles, and a sharply contrasting bassy undertone to the whole affair, you begin to wonder how one artist is capable of plucking themes and sounds from a melting pot of influences to create such a varied repertoire. If these completely distinct singles are anything to go by, ArchiveX’s debut album ‘Some Ungodly Hour‘ set to be released later this summer should be something very interesting and distinct from anything else.

 


 

Give ArchiveX a listen and make up your own mind here:

Music Video of latest single ‘Hard Times‘ here

 

Some more ArchiveX magic:

ArchiveX is also on facebook and twitter

 

Baker out.

SINGLE REVIEW. Slaughter Beach – ‘Glaze’

Rating:★★★1/2

Danish trio, Slaughter Beach are steadily making a name for themselves across Europe. With a sold debut EP, ‘Love/Venice‘ being met with delight two years ago, the boys are back, with their biggest and boldest endevour yet.  

Opens with a psychadellic riff, brought down to earth with a low electro-bass line before immursing you into an intense dreamy state. The chorus is huge, with the sort of peculiar voice that would make for a memorable night at gigs and festivals. The undertones of imperfect youth that excude from the likes MGMT are pleasantly balanced out with levels of careless elation and freedom that create a sort of indie bliss.

Salughter Beach are a mysterious bunch to say the least, with singles popping up every now and then, and sporadic influences from both their homeland and the likes of Elliot Smith and Smashing Pumkins from America and the UK. ‘Glaze‘ is certainly a step up from their debut EP, but you still get the feeling from listening to it that this trio still have a few surprises up their sleeves, and we’re just going to have to wait for them. This is the sort of band that could explode on the alternative scene in no time, and this single shows that perfectly.

 

 

Listen to Slaughter Beach‘s massive new tune below:

Also check them out on facebook and twitter

(Feature image: Third Outing)

 

Baker out

INTERVIEW with YELLOW SHOOTS following single ‘Stormy Weather’

Following his emotional and elusive single ‘Stormy Weather‘ (out now, link below), New York artist, YELLOW SHOOTS has been experimenting, planning and exploring other musical influences. We got to hear all about it in this interview.


stromy weather single YELLOW SHOOTS
Image: Yellow Shoots soundcloud
How does this single differ from your past releases and how have the reactions to it been?
Stormy Weather‘ was a really comfortable song to write for me. I actually completed it in less than a few hours, which ultimately made the process extremely honest and personal. The overall reaction to the song has been great. People seem to connect to it and understand it.
You have worked with features artists in the past such as Mayo and Faja, do you enjoy collaborating?
 
Yes. I really do. I feel that in order to grow you need to collaborate. Collaboration isn’t easy, so it forces you to work with other people’s work styles and values.
How do you find the music scene to be in New York? 
 
I think the music scene here is pretty awesome from an international perspective. There are some many people here from all over the world following their dreams. That really makes NYC a place where you’ll see something out of the ordinary quite often. I really like popping into an unknown bar and seeing a band play.
 
Are you looking to move or travel any time soon?
 
Moving- no. Traveling-yes. I’ll be heading to LA to do some writing soon. I’m also planning to do some shows in the UK and Australia.
What are your main influences and inspirations for your unique RnB sound? 
Actually most of them are non-RnB groups. Bands like Radiohead and Yes. Tame Impala has been a great influence lately.  A lot of jazz influences like Wayne Shorter and Robert Glasper too.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently working on a few music videos and my live show. I’ll also have a new EP for you in about a month or so.

Give YELLOW SHOOTS a follow and a like now on facebooktwitter and instagram

Check out and download the new single ‘Stromy Weather‘ below:

 

Baker out

INTERVIEW. BIG ZERO with new EP – ‘Mainstream Propoganda’

Following the release of their latest EP ‘Mainstream Propoganda‘, we got to have a chat with the previously BBC Introducing backed group, Big Zero about their music style, somewhat old-school recording process and exciting future plans!


So your latest EP, Mainstream Propaganda is now out, how does this EP differ from your earlier releases? What ideas are the EP based around?

Our last EP, “Escape from Uncanny Valley”, was our take on how humans are utilising technology in the modern world and what the future held for robotics. With ‘Mainstream Propaganda’, BIG ZERO has turned their safety-goggled attention to the way society is using communication, the media and advertising to create a conforming consumer culture; these themes are most prominently felt in ‘Buy Synthetic’ and ‘Turn Up Your Radio’. Interlaced within the EP is ‘Disco at the End of the World’, a jovial tune discussing the apocalypse as described by a mixture of scripture and thermodynamics, and ending with ‘Mental Arithmetic’, a historical look at the impact of the number 0 on human progress; as Tobias Danzig said “In the history of culture the discovery of ZERO will always stand out as one of the greatest single achievements of the human race.”

 

big zero promo
Image: facebook

 

How did the recording process go? I heard you guys do something quite different when recording and shooting new material…

Here at ZERO HQ we like to resurrect dead formats. Starting with the recording process, we like to record everything played live directly into an 8-track cassette recorder. The limitations of the 8 track really work for us and force us to focus on capturing the best full band performance.

From there we transfer the recordings into the computer for extra production and mixing, but by starting on the tape it gives the tracks an extra level of analogue magic.

 

BIG ZERO have always concentrated their efforts on making their music videos distinct, often shot on old school VHS cameras, what got you started you off on this tradition?

We’re huge fans of old sci-fi/horror movies, and really wanted to bring some of that texture to our videos…but with no budget.

The way we see it, everyone now has access to a high quality digital video camera on their smartphones, so for us to present something different we look to obsolete technology.

Using VHS cameras and tape takes a lot longer, and we’ve suffered from tapes snapping and getting chewed up in the camera (we kept some of the damaged footage in the video for ‘Hardwired’ right at the very end) but it’s totally worth it.

 

The lead single ‘Tear It Up and Start Again‘ was released on Record Store Day, do you guys feel that their is a significance in the recent rise in vinyl as a form of listening to music?

As avid cassette and vinyl collectors ourselves, we believe the rise of vinyl was inevitable; humans can only handle characterless functionality and clinical ease of use for so long. There’s nothing sexy about a CD, it’s just a glorified USB stick; you can hold a piece of vinyl, you get no such comfort from a download. Art is what made us distinct from our hominid brothers and sisters, and the comfort of holding and owning something is a basic human desire. The reanimation of ‘dead’, physical formats was inevitable.

 

Tell us about the abstract television mini-series that is being released right now, reminds me of something out of the Mighty Boosh! 

Towards the end of last year we were driving to a show and listening to ‘Please Please Me’ by The Beatles. We started talking about how great that record sounds and how quickly it was all recorded. So we challenged ourselves to write and record a BIG ZERO Rock N Roll album in three weeks (two weeks writing, one week recording). We met our deadline and the next logical step was obvious; book flights to the Spanish Tabernas Desert and shoot an episodic, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, future-western adventure series. It was just the three of us, 3 vhs cameras, a tripod, a rental car and a whole load of ideas. We stayed in a cave in the middle of nowhere and sneaked into different desert locations everyday. We didn’t realise until we arrived that the locations had been used to film scenes from Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones.

 

What’s in store for BIG ZERO next then?

Our new EP ‘Mainstream Propaganda’ was released on iTunes on May 20th through Do Yourself In Records, and we’ll be releasing a limited cassette shortly after on Tapeheads Recs.

In May and June we have been invited to open up at a couple of shows for one of our big influences – weirdo pop legends Bis!


 

big zero live poster.png
Image: instagram

Live Dates

 

  • May 27th – The Deaf Institute, Manchester (with Bis)
  • June 10th – Sub89, Reading (with Bis)
  • July 16th – Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading (with Bennet)

 

 

 

 

New EP ‘Mainstream Propoganda‘ is OUT NOW. Give it a listen on iTunes.

Make sure to give BIG ZERO a follow on twitterfacebook and instagram

 

 

Baker out

ALBUM REVIEW. DOLLS + Fauxplay – ‘EAT IT UP’

Release date: May 20 2016

Rating:★★★★

We recieved a sneak peak into the booming, 80s-romantisised world of DOLLS in the form of EAT IT UP. This is an album that deserves to be heard, at least due to its background. The story behind DOLLS is an interesting one. Her journey began in Canada, after signing to Warner and gaining commercial success (even to the point of touring with Flo Rider), DOLLS decided it just wasn’t right. So she sacked it off and started from scratch in London with new-found friend and producer, Fauxplay. And it’s shaping up to be her best decision yet.

 

These two solo artists have united and created something distinct from anything they had done independently before. It took less then half a year for this duo to find their sound and their place in the world, and here it is: unapologetic, 80s fuzz-pop.

 

f065f4d4-adcb-4935-94e0-011ad6523502.jpeg
image: dollsxx.com

Vocalist and songwriter, DOLLS, is perhaps best described as the musical lovechild of Depeche Mode front-man, Dave Gahan and Gwen Stefani. After living the high-life of Warner-funded success, she is now approaching the music industry from a different perspective. In fact, DOLLS is currently completely self-funded, and running off word-of-mouth promotion which definitely involves more risk, and will hopefully end up to be more rewarding to the DIY sensation. It is really refreshing to see a strong female independent artist do her thing off her own back.

 

 

 

Despite having ‘commercially viable’ music that could easily be swept up and supported by the larger corporate labels, knowing this about DOLLS, this album holds an almost humble vibe throughout, while listening.

 

This album demonstrates the sort of confident, unrepentant lyrics that you normally see in a groups second or third album, not on their debut (even if it is her second debut). DOLLS knows what she is, she knows what she wants, and she knows how she’s going to get it. This is emphasised especially in the tracks ‘In Control‘ and ‘Doing It Correct‘. She has the sort of iconic voice that I could easily see booming off the walls of underground London clubs following its release. She glides through the album with fiesty lyrics, surrounded by hypnotic synth lines and 80s-esk beats that take you straight into a modern party vibe, but with a sinister undertone.

 

 

So get your claws around DOLLS + FAUXPLAY’s EAT IT UP this Friday, it will do exactly as its title states – Eat you up and not let you go. 

0bf1f363-f59f-4f3a-a6f9-af2a6dfd9f3d.png
image: dollsxx.com
DOLL’s website is an experience in itself…dollsxx.com
You can also check out DOLLS on InstagramtwitterFacebook, and soundcloud

Also, give Fauxplay a follow on twitterfacebook and soundcloud

 

Baker out.

INTRODUCING BLEACH – Guildford band making their mark on the local scene with new single ‘See’.

BLEACH consists of vocalist Sam and guitarist/keys player Ben.
They are fresh onto the local music scene with their ambient/alternative sounds and the kind of vocals you can imagine reverberating around the room eerily during a gig. They’ve got a growing online following and have just released new track ‘See‘ (link below)
I got to catch up with the Guildford boys and learn a bit about what they do.

So what’s your band’s background? Where you guys from, how did you get together? 
“We’re just over a year away from getting out of school, so we’re kind of trying to balance work with producing our own music. The two of us started doing music together a couple of years ago, but the sound we have developed now has come about relatively recently in the last few months. We’re from Guildford, so that’s where we’re targeting our gigs at the moment (the Boileroom and such), mainly just trying to find promoters and venues in the area that like our kind of material.”
Well, Guildford is a good creative community so it’s a good place to be at the moment. So, where does the inspiration behind your image come from?

“Our musical inspirations are varied, we’re inspired by alternative artists such as Radiohead but also the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club. Our guitar driven influences come from the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen and Ben Howard – That kinda style. In terms of our image, we’ve got most of our creative ideas all from a picture of a half finished self-portrait my friend was working on (see below), and for some reason, I really liked its fragmented image so I just kind of went with it, so that idea is probably something with stick with in the future.”

BLEACH2
Image: Soundcloud

 

How’s recording going? I loved the demo of “in place” when will this single be released? 
“In terms of recording, we’ve got demo singles on Soundcloud at the moment, hopefully going to get an EP out in the coming months, just to get a general sense of our musical style out there. I’m also sure once we get more exposure we’ll re-release some better quality recordings- although it’s worth saying that ‘In Place’ is the roughest recording we have and the ones coming after it will be much better. We’re in the process of writing quite a few songs, but after we’ve made them it’s a matter of sorting through them and deciding which ones will represent us best.
What’s the main composition of BLEACH then and how have you grown musically over time? 
“We split the live instruments between the two of us. Ben plays most of the guitar and keyboard parts, and Sam plays the drum machine and sometimes synth and guitar. We’re quite diverse like that. Our focus is perfecting how it sounds in the studio, and then we tend to work out the live way of playing afterwards. We’re looking into using new samplings and electronic sounds to mix in with the guitar. Y’know, something different.”

BLEACH‘s new track  ‘See‘ is certainly not your typical first single release. The seamless harmonies continue to flow, creating a calm as a layered guitar riff continues to build throughout. The perfect track to showcase what this band are all about, and pull you in just in time for what’s to come.
Rating:★★★★
Listen to it now below:
Don’t forget to give these guys a follow on Twitter too!

Baker out.