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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Maius Mollis

Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
I always find this a hard one to answer! I would say tonally and texturally that my sound is sparse and intentional finger picked guitar accompaniment, and restrained vocals. Restrain is a theme with my music- never quite giving it all away punctuated by brief release- either with straight to the point lyrics, or musical builds. My foundational musical influences are in folk revival artists- and though I still honour these subtly, I find myself moving more and more being drawn to and swayed by contemporary pop influences.


You’ve just released your debut single titled “The Tide Turned”. What is the story behind the song and its lyrics? Furthermore, what themes and ideas influence your music and writing?
I wrote ‘The Tide Turned’ following attending a Hudson Unearth songwriting workshop led by Emily Portman. The topic of the workshop was writing influenced by ballads and fairy tales, specifically siren stories. Emily recited a siren story, depicting a tale of a mythical creature stolen from the sea by a man, forced to marry him and bring up children in a foreign land. She lives this way unhappily for years, before finally stealing away secretly and escaping, but with the bittersweet taste of leaving her children behind. From there we were set an automatic writing task- to reflect on the story and write freely for a matter of minutes. At the time I was processing a lot of grief in my own life, something about the story resonated with me and words came pouring out. It was a fast turn around, the words coming together with melody and chords that same week. When arranging the song to record, I was inspired by cumulative builds in songs- particularly as seen in ‘End of the Affair’ by Ben Howard. This is also seen in ‘Saved These Words’ by Laura Marling ‘I Know The End’ by Phoebe Bridgers. All pieces that start off unassuming before cascading into emotion and sound.


We have seen the music video that accompanies your single. What ideas went into the video and how was it filmed? How did you find the experience of recording the song and filming the video?
I was fortunate to be selected to work with brand new label, Both Sides Records on this release. BSR is a Brighter Sound project aiming to support women and marginalised genders in the music industry. One of their aims was also to ‘demystify the recording process’, meaning essentially to reveal what goes into making a record. I loved this ethos and decided to take influence from this when approaching videographers, and sketching out the final product. I specifically chose to work with videographer Megan Savage because I knew her passion around creating transparency in content creation. The school of thought behind this is improving accessibility to the arts. If young artists/emerging artists, and particularly people of marginalised intersections can see what goes into making a record/creative product, they might feel like it is more possible to do it too, know what to expect- what the challenges might be and how to approach them. The music video is an impressionist reflection of this- in the sense that it shows my process from start till the end of the day; warming up, the more intense parts of recording, and the lighter moments in between too. The day was emotionally charged, and being filmed while recording certainly added a layer of pressure, but not an unmanageable one. This is part of the balance of recording for me- just the right level of pressure, and the right types of pressure. I fully trusted Megan which made it objectively a breeze.


Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
I have plans forming to release a kickstarter to fund an EP, so keep an eye out for this! I am also hoping to apply for funding/residencies/call outs and keep growing my following and developing my sound.


What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
For Northeast artists, link in with the local resources, they are invaluable! My personal faves are Generator and Sage Gateshead. There is also a growing scene of excellent promoters in the Northeast. Show face, stick your neck out, and if you are booked by promoters ask how you can help them out, either by promoting shows, recommending other acts etc. There is nothing more satisfying than a symbiotic promoter-artist relationship. And for artists in general – create yourself a support network. Despite performing being a social environment, the behind the scenes upkeep can sometimes be isolating; the admin, the late nights coming back from gigs, writing blocks. This could be in the form of starting a regular meet-up to do admin, a writing group, or session. And most importantly, create space in your life for things in your life that are not music. Being freelance can be a roller coaster, so it’s important to have other sources of joy. Trust me, in the long run this will also improve your relationship with creating and performing!


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
I am currently a huge fan of Lovely Assistant, Martha Hill, and Me Lost Me – all performing prolifically in the Northeast. 

Follow Maius Mollis on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Nomad Anthem

Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
I like to think we’re a bit like pop punk and modern day rock meeting up to party together. We draw a lot of inspirations from bands like Green Day and Foo Fighters. Our shows are high energy and filled to the rafters with hooks.


You’ve just released your latest single ‘Smile’. Is there a story or meaning behind the song?
It’s the story of that last summer you have with your buddies before parting ways and making your way in to adulthood. Absolutely living on the upside with lots of good times, drinks and memories made. I like to relate it to that end scene of American Pie where the guys are sitting around the table at Dog Years reflecting on their last summer all together.

As a band, what have your musical highlights been? Have there been any particular gigs, festivals, or other music-related experiences that you treasure?
We’ve been lucky enough to play some great shows in our time so far. The Great British Alternative Music Festival has been by far the highlight so far. It was an honour to play for such a large and engaging audience. I’ve also been a huge fan of The Wildhearts since I was a teenager and to rock out and then get to see some of my heroes play was pretty special.


Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
We’re currently in the middle of our SMILE tour and we’ve got some very exciting news coming imminently. Keep checking our socials! We do have plans to release more music this year. We’re currently sitting on a handful of songs so you might see a few more singles or possibly even an EP before the year is out. I think the latter would be our main goal to achieve.

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
Simply play the music you love to play and don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of that. Music has always been a passion and for me personally, I’m very fortunate to have been playing on the North East and parts of the national scene for over two decades, and we certainly have something very special up here. We all just need to stick together and keep supporting each other and we’ll see more local names make their way on to peoples stereos and in to peoples hearts.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
There are so many! Sticking to our punk routes, we’ve had a lot of fun playing with and following the journey of Filthy Filthy (Hull). They’re so much fun and they’re taking the northern punk scene by storm. Slightly more locally, Prince Bishop are in the midst of making a name for themselves on the local scene. I was lucky enough to drum on their recent singles and their song writer (Ben Trenerry) is something very special. If you like Spacey, catchy prog rock, be sure to check them out!

Follow Nomad Anthem on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Philip Jonathan

Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
In a nutshell, it’s cinematic folk – or Ben Howard at the front and Sigur Ros at the back! I spend a lot of time in the hills or on the coast and this inspires a lot of my writing. So I tend to like these earthy, organic folk sounds sitting on top of wide open spaces and atmospheres created by orchestral and electronic sounds.


You’ve just released your debut EP titled “Pluma”. What is the story behind the EP and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing?
Pluma” (‘feather’ in Latin) is about searching for hope in the highest, lowest and most mundane moments in life. The tie for me between a feather and the concept of hope goes back some way. Chokehold came about through the grief of losing a close friend who passed from cancer a few years ago. As he got more unwell, he kept on seeing feathers everywhere, and this prompted him each time to remember things to be thankful for and to live in the moment – that things were going to be okay. He was someone of faith and for him, existence was bigger than the life lived here so he had a different perspective. I worked the feather into most of the music videos – leading the woman to the shore in Seafront, behind the sunflower at the end of I, Hope, and all the bird-feeders in In the Garden. The artist who made the cover art, Goutham Tulasi, had shared with me how Seafront had accompanied his journey making peace with his father’s death. He suggested having a flower bursting from the end of the feather. Even after the feather has fallen from the bird: its story isn’t over yet. 

I couldn’t pin down any one thing that influences my music and writing. Often I find writing songs is a way to authentically examine some of the questions I ask myself. But a recurring theme in that process is a search for some kind of redemption – to find meaning and beauty in the middle of some of these struggles.

We really enjoy your music and had the pleasure of seeing you play at a Sofar Sounds event in Gateshead. What have been career highlights for you so far?
The day I released my first track, Seafront, stands out for me – the amount of messages I received from friends and total strangers about it was totally overwhelming! It took me about a week of near-constant messaging to reply to them all. That was a huge moment for me after years of not sharing so much of this music to realise that people actually valued what I was making. After that, another big milestone has got to be the gigs around the “Pluma” release. I played Sofar NE, sold out my first headliner for the launch gig and played to a packed room in Berwick the week after. It was both humbling and surreal to realise that so many people were coming out to support me! I’ve always wanted to play at Sofar – they have the best audiences, so that was really special. At the launch gig, the crowd started singing along to In the Garden – Alicia (my backing singer) and I were so surprised that we forgot all the lyrics! We had a good laugh about it on stage and managed to carry on though.


Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
The next few months are about taking time to allow creative ideas to bubble up again. The last year has been so intense learning how to self-promote, use social media, send out press releases etc. that I’ve had almost no time for the most important bit – songwriting! But I’ve already been back in studio getting started on the next EP. I hope to be finishing off that through the Summer and Autumn, whilst getting out and playing as many gigs as I can in the meantime! Expect some new releases towards the back end of the year/early 2023.

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
I recently wrote a piece on just this for the fantastic local music Zine ‘Every Day is a Rhythm’ – you can read it here: https://t.co/8JuMtQ62v2. But in summary: Figure out what drives you and what your internal metrics of success are – the things which aren’t dependent on anyone else. Don’t make art about numbers or what other people are saying, make it about what moves you or you’ll probably burn (or sell) out. Second – and I’m still on the learning journey here – don’t compare yourself up or down. Celebrating and championing those around you is a great antidote to the urge to compare yourself to others.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
There’s a few most established artists who massively inspire my sound that I’d love to plug. The Staves are phenomenal live. Also, if you like any of my music, I thoroughly recommend Roo Panes, Matthew and the Atlas, the Paper Kites, the Oh Hellos and Francis Luke Accord.

However… locally (as I’ve recently been discovering!) we have some phenomenal talent. I’m a particular fan of Benjamin Amos live (so much energy!), Tom Joshua (can’t wait for him to release more music), Jodie Nicholson (a rising star + beautiful vocals) Matt Hunsley (cracking vocals and interesting arrangements) and Ceitidh Mac (some serious music there). I also saw Faithful Johannes live recently and I can say it was a unique and truly extraordinary experience.

Follow Philip Jonathan on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Elephant Memoirs

Hello, Elephant Memoirs. You’re a north east trio: how would you describe your sound and style?
I would say our sound is that of a trio playing heavy, raw, guitar based music. We would like to think that we have a powerful sound which comes from playing as a tight unit and often structuring our songs to emphasise power when necessary. We do have a softer side too and our new single “Done In” showcases this along with the power mentioned above. Being from the north east is a big part of our identity too and we don’t hide away from this. We sing and play naturally and try not to be something that isn’t authentically us.


Your latest single – “Done In” – is doing very well. What is the story behind the song and what does it mean to you?
Done In” is a song about growing up and realising the adults you looked up to and learned from as a kid just become other people as we become adults ourselves. We see them not as indestructible idols but as flawed individuals just like us and we no longer require their teachings.
On the musical side this is a song that starts very gently and builds to a hard hitting middle-8 and final chorus. “Done In” is a perfect example of the different sides of Elephant Memoirs tied up in a single song.


You’ve been very active as a band, releasing several singles and even hitting the road with a mini tour, playing in Glasgow, Stockton, and Newcastle. Where do you find the energy and what keeps you all motivated?
We’ve always had a good work ethic in our band, so as long as we are all fit and healthy (and we aren’t trapped at home due to a global pandemic) then we want to get our music out there. We genuinely feel like we are getting better as a band, so we want to get out and show people what we can do. Motivation has never been a problem for us. We love playing in this band and if we ever stop enjoying it, we will knock it on the head. At the moment we feel like we have a good creative buzz and we want to keep that going.


In terms of playing in other cities, what was the experience like? Would you like to do more of this with even more tour dates in the future?
We really enjoyed getting out and about in 2021 (leaving the house seemed like an adventure after 2020). We love playing Newcastle, so it was great to headline back at home. But to play some places that we’ve never been was really special. We love the opportunity to play in front of people who have no idea who we are and try to win them over. Meeting other bands and making new friends is great, although obviously not everyone could understand what we were saying in Glasgow.


What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?

The advice we would give to other bands would be to try new things out. Go to new places, try making music videos and get interesting photos and develop your sound. Also send your music to different radio stations, magazines and blogs. Advice for north east artists would be that there are a lot of good people in the north east music scene who aren’t there to rip you off. Find them, work with them and enjoy yourself.


In terms of industry infrastructure, are there any organisations in or around the north east that you would recommend that other artists reach out to for advice and support?
There are many good people around in the northeast. There is loads of good promoters and PR folk. Along with people such as Generator. However, we haven’t had to use many. Picking a lot up as we go over the years, along with having good reliable folk to turn to. You have Jay from Pillar Artist, who does a lot, not just for the local scene but a wider field and does put on some great gigs. He also has a great roster of bands too. You also have Afterlight Management ran by Snaz Craigm again offers great things to the northeast. They are always around to help bands out however they can and have a vast array of knowledge within the industry. You also have newer people such as Rebel Rose, who again look to do what they can for unsigned bands.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
Some of our local favourites are Ten Eighty Trees, Pave the Jungle, Cat Ryan, One Million Motors, Beachmaster. To be honest the list goes on haha. We can’t recommend these enough, and we’ve had the pleasure of playing with most. Definitely check them out if you see them playing. We would also encourage though to support all local music and get along to gigs as often as you can; for one it supports the artists and venues but also you might just find your next favourite act!!

Follow Elephant Memoirs on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Catch their next gig on 23 April at Central Bar, Gateshead: Event | Tickets

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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Keiran Bowe

Hello, Keiran. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
I always find it difficult to answer this one, I like the lyrics to stand out, I’m writing about my past and what I’ve learnt in such a short space of time but at the same time, they are lyrics that I think people can relate to. It’s then about creating a sound around those lyrics, either a catchy riff/beat people can move along too or just chords that allow for people to be able to sing words back.


Big things have been happening to you since the release of your latest single: “Hinny”. What is the story behind the song and it’s title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing?
I tend to write my songs in an almost chronological order, of events that have taken place in my late teen years and having to grow up quick. “Hinny”, in particular, comes at one of the most difficult times of my life, where things could have panned out a lot different to what they did. Without going into detail, it’s almost a reassurance message to a mother worrying about her son, as if to say “Look I know it may feel like the worlds crumbling around you but he’s gonna be alright”.


You’ve been busy, playing a steady stream of live shows around the north east. What has it been like playing gigs through the year and what gigs do you have in the diary for 2022?
It’s the busiest me and the lads have ever been, as hectic as it’s been it’s definitely been the best few months we’ve had as a band. Seeing packed out venues, seeing new faces and meeting some incredible artists, you can’t beat it. We’ve a load of stuff booked for 2022 some of which haven’t been announced so I’ve got to keep hush about those. We’ve a one off close to home gig at the Thomas Wilson social club on 11th Feb, The Green Room in Stockton 5th March and a headliner at The Cluny 2 on 2ndApril.


Have you had much of a chance to look ahead to the new year? If so, what plans do you have and what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
Now we’ve got mgmt, everything is a lot more organised. Credit to them they really have worked wonders for us so far. We plan to keep the ball rolling, a new single 25th February, which is, probably the best yet. Following on from that it’s literally gigs gigs gigs, graft and gigs.


What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
The north east scene is something I’m so proud to be part of. The talent is insane. Network would be my first advice, get to know those on the scene, get to know venues and the guys that run them, there’s people who can help you on your way. Then it would be just to take every opportunity you’re able to take, and at the same time, go watch other local artists and show them the support. It goes a long way.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
I need to get out and tick a few people off the bucket list, we’re talking BigFatBig, Club Paradise, A Festival A Parade, Lizzie Esau. Those who are a must see live, Motel Carnation, Kate Bond, Elizabeth Liddle, Palma Louca and Don Cayote.

Follow Keiran Bowe on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Artist Interview: Crux

Hello, Crux. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
We often describe our sound as alternative rock, but that’s quite an umbrella term. Though, we’ve recently been described as prog rock mixed with punk which I think accurately describes our sound. Our bassist, Hallam, cynically thinks this is the sound we’ve developed as we’re not technical enough to write actual prog rock!


October 2021 saw you release your debut EP: “Death at the Cash Machine”. What is the story behind the EP and, generally, what themes does it deal with?
The EP has been years in the making. It started with the release of Bigg Market way back in 2019 – this was a real turning point for us as we’d never really been comfortable in the recording studio beforehand and we were really pleased with Kyle Martin’s work at The Garage Studios on the track. The single had local success, featuring on a documentary about the street, as well as receiving radio play. The track also helped us get in touch with acclaimed producers, Jim Lowe and Max Heyes. So, in the October and November of 2019, we recorded Slaving Away and Living in Dystopia in London. These singles were due to be released at the start of 2020, then covid happened… 

Resultantly we didn’t release the tracks until October 2020 and February 2021. As soon as the recording studios started opening again, we got in touch with Andy Bell at Blast Studios and recorded the remaining three tracks, Incel, Radgie Gadgie, and Agent Orange (+erased), and we finished recording in April 2021.

Despite the fragmented timeline between all of the songs, they encapsulate our varied sound and themes. Our lyrics usually comment on social issues, and the EP looks at the death of collectivism and the rise of individualism, and the pressures this puts on people. One pressure we really dissected in the likes of Bigg Market, Incel, and Radgie Gadgie is toxic masculinity, one of humanity’s worst diseases. 


You’ve managed to remain active, despite local, national & international circumstances. What has it been like playing gigs through the year and what gigs do you have in the diary for 2022? 

We’ve been very lucky to play quite a few gigs from July to the end of this year. They’ve been really exhilarating – I think so many people were cooped up for so long that as soon as people were back in their local venues, there was just a massive release of energy, so they’ve almost been cathartic as everyone just goes mental. We have noticed as soon as cases go up again, gigs are less well attended, which is no surprise!

We’ve got a few gigs scheduled in for 2022 so far, we’ll be playing the NE Volume Music Bar on January 21st, The Globe on February 25th, and Teeside Student Union on March 11th.

Crux (Photo Credit: Chris Ord)

Have you had much of a chance to look ahead to the new year? If so, what plans do you have and what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
We’ve just received confirmation that our EP vinyls will finally be shipped to us in April 2022, so we’re thinking of hosting a vinyl release party then, and potentially releasing Radgie Gadgie as a single to help gain some momentum.

We’re also rehearsing four new songs at practice at the minute, and we’re really excited with how they’re sounding. It’s likely we’ll get these recorded this year and released.

We’re hoping to play a few festivals in the summer also, as long as they don’t all get cancelled again!


What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
The things I’d do to go on a time machine back to 2014 when we were first starting to give myself a lecture on the do’s and don’ts. I’m still learning though, that’s one bit of advice, no one in the music industry knows exactly what’s going on, it’s a bit of a free-for-all (good old free market capitalism), so you’ve just constantly got to be on your toes and learn from every experience.

The main things I’d recommend for local artists and artists in general would be to make sure you get a really good recording of your track, and make sure you’re very prepared for a release. Beware of sharks too because there’s plenty of them, but in the same sentiment, never burn bridges. Connections are one of the most efficient ways to make headway in the industry.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
I recently saw Lanterns on the Lake and black midi live; both were unbelievable experiences and I couldn’t speak highly enough of them. We also played with Goodsprings in December and they put on an unbelievable live show, Sam’s a cracking front man, and it’s brilliant to see how much they’ve progressed as a band over lockdown. We’re also playing with Alex James at Teeside Student union in March, and we’ve always been a fan of his, we’d definitely recommend anyone giving his music a listen!

Follow Crux on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter