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Thursday, 26 August 2010

MidiMidis Interview [full article on its way]

Describe your sound through a wonderful image...
We've been described as sounding like Sonic the Hedgehog bumping into The Strokes by the BBC, like Speak and Spell with a broken heart. Ant and I were chatting about this last summer and if you could imagine two chaps from 1970's living in New York or Northampton imagining what the music of the future would sound like ... then actually trying to make that 'future sound' - that is MIDIMIDIS. It's like an alternative reality of what music would sound like if new romanticism hadn't come along in the 80s. If you can think of what people in the 1930s/40s and 50s imagined the future would be like, with jet powered cars and trains in the sky- that is kind of like what our sound is like visually. We use the most cold and basic electronic sounds- MIDI and 8bit, chip-tune tob sculpt modern-day songs which are layered with heartfelt conversational lyrics and warm but edgy sexual sounding guitar licks.

Catchy 8-bit pop with vocals from the past - what inspired you with the idea?
The idea is a natural progression from punk. It came about because I was (and still am) frustrated with the regurgitation of almost every style and form of song craft. Everything just sounds the same, everything has musically and I believe artistically been done. Most things in music are driven by imitation and copying others. In my opinion, one of the main shortfalls in the music industry is the sheer desperation to seize talent and rehash the already successful artists. I find this utterly boring and don't understand why most people aren't bothered about it. I find it insulting to our intelligence as music lovers and art/fashion lovers. The reason why music sells is not down to familiarity, although that is what most sales are based on- but on fashion which like many things is just a cycle. With the contrived confines of the 8-bit and MIDI sound that we restrict our song writing to, it just seemed like a perfect medium to illustrate the banal state of music today. We both love and have loved computer games, and the simplicity of the sounds in old video games and constraints that composers had back in the day meant that the melodies were fantastic. We wanted to use this limited palette to do the same. There is so much melody and texture missing from most music these days and as a post-modernist I thought that by using 8bit in the way we do- we could write whatever style of song we wanted but never lose our identity. Which is ironic, but fun! That and the fact no-one yet has done or moreover mastered what we do.

 When did you form as a band and what's it like working together as brothers?Well we're actually ex-brothers-in-law. So we knew that straight away there was an 'issue'. We like to jump in at the deep-end. Nothing can hurt us, we're so close to each other, we just click and finish eachother's sentences, so no matter what emotional or personal obstacles come our way- nothing can interfere or destroy our bond. We look out for each other, we've been through so much together in the 2 years since we formed that nothing can affect us at all. We both know each other more than anyone else and he puts up with me and I put up with him- we're too similar. I come across as the confident chatty one and him, the shy one but we're both the same really. One's a depressive and the other a manic-depressive. But again- we're a right barrel of laughs...!! Our relationship and emotional well-beings make no sense whatsoever, but I've learnt that some things in life 'just work'.
I see you were doing a live session up at the BBC Maida Vale Studios not too long ago, how was that?
We were hand-picked by BBC Introducing out of thousands of bands to record three tracks live at Maida Vale in February. The looks on people's faces as we brought in our Amstrad CPC 464 and PSP into Studio 5 (where the Kinks, The Beatles and Libertines recorded) was just priceless. It genuinely felt like we were becoming a part of history.
The engineer's and producers were just so unbelievably enthusiastic about what we did and one of them even brought his laptop in and linked it to my battered guitar and old vox amp to make the most insane digital distortion effects. We are a band that likes to involve our audiences and we have nothing to hide and love feeding off others so this was just such a wonderful experience. Seeing everyone's faces light up as we ran through the tracks. They knew we were doing something unique and different. You see we take what we do for granted but it's when you get people in the industry or even punters at gigs who just look amazed-that's when it hits home! We had about 4 hours but did the tracks live in 1 take.. It went pretty quickly. Everyone was surprised about how effortless the whole thing was. It just felt so natural and organic so we wrapped up in under 20 mins and spent the rest of the time hanging and chatting with the engineers and producers about stories of other past artists for 2 and a half hours! So much fun.

You’re also playing at Reading & Leeds festival in a few days – how are you preparing yourselves for that? Feeling pumped?
I've been waiting 6 years to play Reading Festival and now it's finally happened! We both have never been to a music festival before as we've always been so poor so I vowed that my first festival to go to has to be the one I that I first play at.. This kind of became more of a challenge as the years rolled by and my dream came true after Eddy Temple Morris invited us to play Tignesfest in The Alps with FrankMusik, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool and Losers. We've played around 10 festivals now over the past 18 months! Its insane, but its all apart of the bigger picture. Reading and Leeds for me is a big personal achievement and I'm so grateful for the powers that be at BBC Introducing to finally recognise our sound as being as innovative as it is, and giving us the opportunity to share that with bigger audiences. We haven't practiced for over a year. Usually what happens is that we 'practice' at shows and in peoples houses at house parties, but we have some new songs which we have practiced in our front room.

What generally happens in the music making process, and what crazy things run through your head during that?
The music making process is very organic and natural. We spent a whole summer in 2007 in our rooms and in the garden recording individual notes on game-boys and Spectrums, also taking the chips out of the BBC console and programming our own notes on the Amstrad CPC 464 so that when you tap individual keys it will generate notes. We then spent ages coming up with songs purely in MIDI and 8-bit. Ant would make about 40 demos and I'd sit through them all and say what sounded cool and what sounded shit. Sometimes there'd be good bits, hooks in some songs and cool bits in others. We'd pop them together- I kind of arranged them and then Ant would come up with some art-rock or velvet underground/Television inspired guitar parts. The things we focused on were purely melody and texture. The 'sound' was already there- in 8bit but our 'identity' would come through the style of our songs and through the song writing. I have far too much running through my head at once and write down so many thoughts, rhymes and ideas on post-it notes (hence why the cover of our demo is a burnt post-it note) and I'd write so many pages of different lyrics and versions. I woyuld often not end up using any.. The reason being is that im inspired by the likes of Q-Tip and MC's of. I love the conversational poets like Lou Reed and David Sylvian I am fascinated by syllable placement and melody rather than cheesy repetitive pop lyrics and throw-away 'oh-oh-ohs' multi-tracked with vocoda and auto-tune. The 8bit music is always reeeeally fast- 285bpm, and the melodies really happy, but the lyrics are mostly depressing and conversational to balance the overall feel and texture of the songs. I like to think our music is like watching Ben Stiller's 'Dodge-Ball'. Multilayered and re-listenable, you can pick up so much on many listens.

What do you do to get your mind off things?
I like painting and kissing girls. We both like watching Star Trek, and going for walks along the canal with a couple of beers and chatting to ducks and swans. We also like watching live videos of old-school bands like Def Leppard, Human League and George Michael at Live Aid... Things like that really. Oh and obviously playing Resident Evil! You will never be able to contact us if we have a Resident Evil session. It lasts days and hours, we even have our own Resident Evil drinking game whereby you have to take a swig of beer every time you walk through a door. Let me tell you, that is the reason we never completed Resident Evil 2 because we came up with the game in the last few levels and there's like a million doors...! We were much more sensible for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
Breaking down in public possibly, but then that must have been more embarrassing for others who care(d) about me rather than me. Im not really sure. I used to get embarrassed at school, especially with girls I liked. Once our PSP - no- it was an iPhone... We ran a gig through an iPhone once as our PSP had broken. We got through 2 songs and just as we were about to hit the chorus of 'nemesis' it died. It completely died.
It was at Proud galleries over a year ago in front of a few labels and a huge crowd and EddyTM jumped on-stage and said 'oh bugger- where's your back-up?' to which we replied 'this IS our back-up!!'. We since returned and played with David E Sugar infront of a packed room and now have 3 back-ups! Hehe that was embarrassing... I also had the worse hangover in my lfe the next day, and had to play another show in front of 2000 people. I wasn't embarrassed then though. Just fucked. Good show though! There's YouTube footage up there somewhere.

What’s your opinion of The XX winning the Mercury Music prize? It was obvious they were favourites to win and support for them was huge in comparison to the other bands on this year’s shortlist.
I didn't' even know they won, it doesn't surprise me to be honest. There's only ever been 3 worthy winners anyway, Dizzee Rascal, Gomez and Elbow. The awards are not something I or Ant care about to be honest, I thought all the entries were pretty dull. I like the simplicity of the XX, I like them, I like the breathy girl/boy vox and melodies, even if they only have about 2 melodies. After 2 songs it just bores me a lot im afraid. They deserved to win though for sure, they've achieved so much and sound a little different. Worthy of the hype though? No. Not at all.

Finally what artist / band are you definitely keeping your eyes on for 2011 and any tips for bands just starting out?
Looking forward to the new Strokes album, the new Cribs album, Killaflaw's album is looking to be a corker as is Run Toto Run's album. Losers album comes out in September (eddyTM and Tom Bellamy ex- Cooper Temple Clause) so I'm looking forward to the touring that will ensue and their future material. The Horrors are working on a new album too so that's going to be interesting, they are a wonderfully fascinating band. I just like seeing new interesting artists who don't wear their influences on their sleeves too obviously but make you smile when they play because you can identify them. Im looking forward to seeing more new live acts in the next few months. It's a very very exciting time for music at the moment and it's only going to get better the more DIY and innovative and creative future artists become. My advice to new artists would be don't bother re-hashing contemporary music - it's already been done. If your lucky, you'll be picked up by a label- made to develop and water down your style even more so, in order to make you shift units like the last watered down incarnation of a previous artist. This is not why you started in the first place. Remember why you started, and remember what you wanted to do- if its just fame you seek then fine, just re-hash everything that sells, but in 15 years time no-one will care and in 3 years time you'll be dropped. So my advice is stick to your guns- don't be afraid on trying different things or ideas, don't worry too much.

New Music - a multipack of divine videos.

Dog is Dead - Young

Backseat Dreamer - February Fires

Ra Ra Riot - Boy

Tropics - Soft Vision

Still Corners - Wish

MGMT - Congratulations

Crocodiles - Sleep Forever

Ghost Animal - Through your Eyes

Coma Cinema - Only

Winter Gloves - About the people

Gold Motel - Safe in L.A.

Toro Y Moi - Low Shoulder

The Bravery - Hatefuck

Blackbird Blackbird - Summer Heart

Justin Beiber - slowed down 800%

JUSTIN BEIBER... this is the name of an interminable pop act (fuelled by 12 year old girls) who thinks he's all that and makes seriously irratating pop songs about girls he's obviously never going to get. Well slow his shit down 800% and it sounds pretty damn awesome. It sounds like a climatic score to some kind of historical epic or something like an ocean...but only an ocean you'd hear in heaven. You feel enlightened from hearing the trippy shit.. What's even better is it's 35 fucking minutes long.

Time to jam, but for a seriously long time.

This is all thanks to the musician Nick Pittsinger and the free programme he used called Paulstretch. There's other programmes like this out there such as the free iPad app called Mugician which lets anyone with the vaguest musical ability have the chance to sound like Hendrix raping a Mellatron.

Be prepared to be flown off to some far off alien planet or something (in your mind) as you have a listen. I'd post the normal song for comparison but I don't think I'd be able to sleep tonight if I did...

J. BIEBZ - U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Heartbreaks [full article coming soon]

Describe your sound in three amazing words.
Galvanised, actualised, vital

When did you guys get together and how? Do you think the place you grew up in influenced this at all?
Oh Katia… I can’t pin-point exact dates. We were drawn together and find ourselves thus. The dramatic has no place on the streets of Morecambe and so four dramatic people who live there will always be brought together in one way or another. Deaks was the final piece of the puzzle. Meeting him was like discovering you had an extra limb; and although that limb may occasionally owe you money, he is part of you and you are part of him.

How did you get to where you are now? – Any interesting stories down the line?
Well I’m currently on my sofa watching Motown 25 so nothing out of the ordinary there… In terms of music, I’m reluctant to disclose too many through fear of sounding like I’m bragging. Enjoy the mystery, Katia.

Have you always been working within the sphere of music and determined to someday be a musician? – Or did you start off as something totally different?
I did have a lingering sense I was going to do something different… But does everyone have that? I always wanted to be a musician yes, and even a two year detour as an Ice Cream Man didn’t distract me from that. If anything it fuelled it. I’m fuelled by hundreds and thousands.

What generally happens in the music making process?
Joseph will come to us with an idea for a new song, we’ll all add our two cents and that West Coast sound is born. It’s like Hitsville U.S.A but with more hundreds and thousands.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band so far?
Putting up with the disaster that is Radio 1.

What advice can you give others just starting out in the music business? Anything to particularly watch out for/avoid?
Shake the hippies up and don’t do Pay to Play gigs. Those promoters deserve the firing squad.

What’s the strangest, weirdest & most wonderful venue you have played to date?
We shot some footage playing in a boat for the video to our second single. It was a bit like Duran Duran’s Rio but with less Antony Price suits. Speeding over the crystal blue Morecambe Bay, sipping expensive mugs of tea…

How do you prepare yourselves for your gigs? Have you ever thought of expanding to being ridiculously entertaining (think the likes of Alice Cooper’s gimmicks and Cerebral Ballzy’s throwing up on stage) – what’s your opinion on that?
Are we not ridiculously entertaining enough? I don’t need to prepare. It’s hard to explain but being on stage just feels very… Natural. It’s the time off that I need to prepare for.

When writing lyrics and songs, what are some of the things that tend to run through your mind?
I try to imagine what I would think if I heard it on the radio. I can’t speak for Joseph in terms of the lyrics, but I think he tries to write with a lot of sincerity and a lot of honesty. They’re two things missing from music now and two things that great music thrives upon.

Everyone takes their inspiration from somewhere, and admires someone. Many compare you to the smiths. What do you think of this?
Never heard of them. I think geography plays such an important role in how journalists form their opinions. If we were from Glasgow everyone would say we sounded like Orange Juice. If we were from New York everyone would say we sounded like Blondie. I think we’re getting to the point now where people will come to realise we sound like The Heartbreaks.

If someone was to close their eyes when listening to your music, what images/feelings do you hope will cross their thoughts?
Deaks said the other day that he thinks the guitar on our first single Liar, My Dear sounds like the rain. I hope people who bought the record think that too.

In terms of your band and music, how would you define the word ‘success’ and what do you hope to achieve through this
Success is when you go to some godforsaken town somewhere and a kid has your record and knows all the words and sings along. It means everything. I want to release an album that people in ten, twenty years will love.

What bands are you listening to on heavy rotation at the moment?
The new Orphan Boy album, “Passion, Pain and Loyalty” is a big one in the van at the moment. They always were my favourite punk band.

Who do you think should be the band to watch in 2011?
Surely that’s apparent by now, isn't it Katia? It’s us.

(NOTE: full article coming soon!)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Vondelpark..Check it out.

There's been quite a lot of 'private' artists out there recently, refusing to showcase their work on myspace in some sort of bid to be well on their way to fame and fortune. Well... it does certainly seem to be working - that's for sure. Luckily, for us curious buggers, there's been some leaks to certain information such as  that he lives in the desolate town of Surrey which is laden with sheep, cows and the M25 (of course). This was probably a good thing - leaving him with too much time on his hands, which has seen him succeed onto great things.

Listening to his tracks carry you to a far off land in where you feel as if you are floating in nothingness - much like you're back in your mother's womb. You spread your arms, then your legs, and draw in a deep breath as you become overwhelmed by the mixture of melodous sounds and blistering drum speeds. The heartwarming and rythmic beats set you free you from any thoughts...and you exhale with relief as the valiently-leading lyrics have you put under their haunting spell. His debut EP: 'Sauna' will be released in October this year through Hitclub records.

Just close your eyes and listen...

Vondelpark - California Analog Dream by 1FTP

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Primarni is Go..

When passing by Primark's A/W collection a few days back, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only were the pieces really wearable, but they were cheap and good / decent quality. The mixed array of cute dresses and fabulous shoes morphed me into the wide-eyed, gaping-mouthed 10 year old again I once knew so well. As in the only thing running through the puny little head of mine was how badly I wanted that dress/coat/(insert your 'obviously can't live without' item here) that I bet I'm only going to be £3 short of.  I have to get rid of something. But I want.. let me correct that.. I NEED both of them. What to do?

Will I go outside and politely ask people for a tube fare with the explanation that I have no other way to get home? 
Nope! And why? ...Because I probably won't be any quid short in Primark:

Gamine pleat tunic, £15; Black tights, £3; Lace and leather driving gloves, £7; Imi stiletto, £10

Snowflake jacket, £17; Jacquard roll neck, £17; Chunky knit snood, £4; Chunky knit arm warmers, £3; Jeans, £8; Faux shearing bag, £6 due; Ribbed over the knee socks, £1.50; Punch out hiking boots, £20,

Heart fob shorts, £10;Pussy bow blouse, £10; Ribbed over the knee socks, £1.50; Punch out hiking boots, £20

Fishnet crop top, £8; Chocolate fur coat, £27; Wet look biker legging, £7; Lace court shoes, £12; Black studded clutch, £7

Faux fur trapper, £5; Floral mix and max tunic, £10; Faux fur belted gillet, £17; Ribbed over the knee socks, £1.50; Knee-high zip boot, £18

Leopard playsuit, £13; Faux fur hobo, £10; Oversized bead and cord necklace, £5; Punch out hiking boots, £20; Ribbed over the knee socks, £1.50

Cashmere fur collar coat, £49; Stack heel platform, £15; Cable heart over the knee socks, £1.50, 

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Alexa Chung for Madewell

"I want to bring cute back" chuckles Alexa Chung who describes the launch of her new A/W line as the collaboration of "a sexy tomboy & a sixties girl band"

So here it is...Alexa Chung has finally created her own clothing line for all those rich indie wannabes out there who simply adore her and devote their petty 'fashionista' lives to looking like her.

But for us normal lot, her collection could actually prove pretty useful. From within the avalanche of 'peter pan' collared polka dot dresses and signature sock and sandal combos, there are some essential pieces you can invest in and wear for the next few years such as the oversized wool jackets and high waisted jeans. And apparantly it's said to be affordable - then again,so is urban outfitters...