#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Ben Haenow


   

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Ben Haenow is probably best known for winning X Factor back in 2014. From there, he released his self-titled, debut album, the lead single from which (Second Hand Heart), featured the singing sensation that is Kelly Clarkson. Now, 2018 has seen the release of his second studio album, Alive. We thought it was a good time to catch up with Ben about everything he’s been up to and more! Check out what he had to say, in this interview…


Hey Ben, how’s it going?
Great thanks! Thanks for having me.

So you are about to release your second album, ‘Alive’, how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Yeah, a bit of both. I’m anxious but really can’t wait for people to hear the new tracks so bring it oooon!

Where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
The lead track is called ‘Alive’. It was basically written as a thank you to the fans for keeping my dream alive, so we went with that for the album too.

What’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear? What’s your usual process for writing/recording?
The process can vary, sometimes it starts with a vocal melody, or maybe a just a lyric idea or guitar lick. Then it develops from there. It might take a day, a week or longer before it’s all done but that’s the beauty of it. You can take a bit more time writing and playing with sounds until you’re happy. I’d say ‘Give Me Your Love’ is one I want to see reactions too.

Where do you take inspirations from when writing/recording your music?
I guess for this album, the inspiration came from my experiences between X Factor and now. I try to draw on personal experiences when writing as I feel people connect more with something if there is truth/reality in a lyric.

Collaborating with Kelly Clarkson must’ve been pretty cool, how was it?
It was great! She is obviously a very talented lady and boy can she siiiiiing! She was a true professional and an absolute pleasure to work with.

If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would it be and why?
Gary Clarke Jr
– I think the bluesy vibe is really cool and he has a pretty awesome voice too. I love his musical style.

What music have you been listening to most recently?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder recently so I’m on a soul trip at the moment.

If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
Selena Gomez
’s ‘Wolves’ – I love the song and have an idea I’d like to try.

That’d be pretty cool…you should do it! So, do you have any pre or post-gig rituals? Or have any of you got any weird habits?
Lots of weird habits if you ask my wife… but we (me and the band) have a ritual which we call ‘Ukla’… I cannot tell you what it is but we UKLAA before every show.

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
I love to cook… and eat.

What really grinds your gears (winds you up)?
The song ‘Jellicle Cats’ from Cats the Musical… I like real cats but that song, and those cats REALLY grind my gears!!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you, in life?
I was 14, at a motorway service station, whilst en route to Devon with my dad and brother. I was wearing the Kappa tracksuit trousers with the poppers all the way down the legs… my brother thought it would be funny to pull my trousers completely off leaving me in my pants and a t-shirt in the middle of Little Chef!

Oh dear; that’s pretty embarrassing! So, what’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Guardians of the Galaxy 2… they’re great films.

If, in say 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Danny DeVito or Morgan Freeman… that would be fantastic.

If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
I’d probably be a KitKat… chunky.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t eat yellow snow… or brown snow… or snow in general!

Thanks very much for taking the time to chat!
No problem and thank you for having me!!! Hope to speak soon.


Ben Haenow‘s latest album, Alive, is available:


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#FreakyFriday: YONAKA – ‘F.W.T.B. (F**king With The Boss)’


   

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YONAKA are an edgy, in-your-face, Brighton-based band that have just released the follow-up to their October 2017 EP, Heavy. Their new single, ‘F.W.T.B.’ is a monstrous track that is all about self-empowerment!

Front-woman and lead singer, Theresa Jarvis, has stated that, “The song is a big “f**k you” to anyone who tries to get in your way and tell you no. It’s about taking back the power, standing up for yourself and being heard.” 

It is a track that reigns very true for me personally and it’s great to hear a song that is about standing up for what you believe in. It’s also the perfect track for our first #FreakyFriday post – something a bit different to our usual #FeelGoodFriday posts.

Not only have the band been gathering a lot of support and notoriety with the press, but they are scheduled for a string of European festival dates this summer with a big headline date at the Electric Ballroom, London on 11th October 2018 too! (Tickets available here).

No music video is available yet, but if one emerges, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

FESTIVAL DATES

19th May – Gold Sounds Festival, Leeds
26th May – Neighbourhood Festival, Manchester
31st May – Primavera Sound, Spain
17th June – Meltdown Festival, London
22nd June – Southside Festival, Germany
23rd June – Hurricane Festival, Germany
5th July – Opener Festival, Poland
7th July – Roskilde Festival, Denmark
12th July – Musilac Festival, France
14th July – Bilbao BBK Live, Spain
19th July – Electric Castle Festival, Romania
22nd July – Paleo Festival, Switzerland
28th July – Kendal Calling, Kendal
3rd August – Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Inverness
4th August – Leefest presents Neverworld, Royal Tunbridge Wells
16th August – Pukklepop, Belgium
17th August – Lowlands Festival, Holland
18th August – Frequency Festival, Austria

What are your thoughts of this punk-fuelled, stick-it-to-the-man band? Got a #FreakyFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘F.W.T.B.’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/f-w-t-b-single/1380193167


#MellowMonday: Scott Quinn – ‘Run’


   

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Scott Quinn is a Yorkshire-born, soul-synth multi-instrumentalist, whose latest track is captivatingly beautiful with its shimmering synths and passionate vocals.

‘Run’ oozes heartache and despair, tackling the emotionally-driven subject of trying to help and support someone who’s not in the right place to be helped but is already on the path of self-destruction, leaving a trail of demolition in their wake.

Quinn has spent time in the studio, working with the likes of JONES & SG Lewis and has recently toured Europe with Aquilo. All this comes ahead his first, big, headline show at the Camden Assembly on June 20th (tickets available here).

No music video has been released as yet, but as always, we’ll keep you updated if/when one emerges.

What are your thoughts of this intriguing singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Run’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/run-single/1364500851


#WildCardWednesday: Vanessa Carlton – ‘Dreams’


   

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Vanessa Carlton is probably most notable for her 2002 smash hit, ‘A Thousand Miles but she is so much more than that!

With 5 studio albums now under her belt, she has certainly been busy writing and recording music and touring the world. She is also now beginning to prepare a new album. However, until then, she will begin to release one cover song a month (starting with a cover of Robyn‘s ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ in March 2018), while she continues work on her upcoming sixth album.

April 2018’s cover is the huge, classic Fleetwood Mac song, ‘Dreams’. This is a very close rendition to the original but with much more haunting vocals and instrumentals, created by the subtle reverb on Carlton’s voice and the guitars. Whilst covers tend to divide opinions and people often state that they “don’t live up to the original”, this is a superb modernisation of the track and pays a brilliant homage to the original; well done Vanessa Carlton! I can’t wait to see which cover you do next!

No music video has been released, but the audio video can be seen and heard below.

What are your thoughts of the latest cover from this incredible singer-songwriter? Got a #WildCardWednesday track or cover song to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via our social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Dreams’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dreams-single/1370083158


#Two4Tunesday: Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ & Emma Blackery – ‘Dirt’


   

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Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left To Cry’

Ariana Grande is back with the first single to be taken from her upcoming fourth album, ‘No Tears Left to Cry’. Written by Grande herself, alongside Savan Kotecha and its producers Max Martin and Ilya, it is a rather different pop track to her normal style.

Don’t be mistaken, it’s still dance-pop at the core with a powerful vocal chorus, but it’s got some quite 90s pop and R&B influences to it and it’s certainly not an instant and obvious standout hit; this track is much more of a grower.

The video features Grande performing amongst a lot of disorientated scenery (which corresponds with the upside-down text of the single cover and leaks of Grande in a corresponding sweatshirt). It’s an interesting concept for the video, which was directed by Dave Meyers.


‘No Tears Left To Cry’ is on iTunes for downloading now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/no-tears-left-to-cry/1374085537?i=1374087460



Emma Blackery – ‘Dirt’

Emma Blackery is a singer-songwriter, YouTuber and author from Basildon in Essex, UK. To date she has 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, with 148 million views and in 2016, she supported Busted on their Pigs Can Fly Tour.

Now, in 2018, Emma Blackery is releasing her new single, ‘Dirt’. With a decidedly electro-pop foundation, this track is topped off with Blackery’s rather British-sounding voice (which is quite refreshing!) and some explicit vocals; making it edgier than your normal dance-pop songs.

The video is a bit of fun with it’s quirky dances and neon pink and blue colours throughout; it’s not breaking any boundaries but it’s light-hearted and funky.

This is a great track by a great up-and-coming artist on the pop scene!


‘Dirt’ can also be downloaded from iTunes now! – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dirt-single/1353482430


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Georgie


   

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On Tuesday 13th March 2018, Georgie came to Brighton, as the sole support on Jake Bugg‘s acoustic, UK tour (review here). We were lucky enough to get some time to chat to her backstage at the Brighton Dome. I cannot thank her and her tour manager (Mark) enough for their hospitality and making us feel so welcome and sharing a couple of beers with us; it was a real pleasure!

📸 Cover photo by Damon Peirce 📷
Go and give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter.


Hey, how’s it going?
Yeah, good thanks.

So you are about to release your EP, ‘Impacts’, how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Yeah, excited. I mean, it’s always kind of nerve-wracking to see what the response is going to be but it’s exciting because you’ve kind of been at the very start of the song, so it’s nice to write it, record it and then get it out. So yes, it’s always exciting.

Awesome! So, where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
Well the main single on it’s called, ‘Too Much TV’, so it came from that really and what the song’s about.

It’s a 3-track EP, isn’t it?
Yeah.

Is there one track you’re kind of really excited for people to hear, other than ‘Too Much TV’, which is already out?
Both of them really, yeah, because they’re both songs that I wrote ages ago, about 2 or 3 years ago so I’m kind of excited to get them both out.

What’s your usual writing and recording process like?
I haven’t really got one to be fair; I kind of write in different waves. Sometimes I’ll write like here, just on my computer or I’ll have an idea and I’ll write at home or just have an idea on the bus and I’ll get my phone out and like hum into my phone a little melody and I’ll write the lyrics. It’s all different really; if an idea comes I just try and get it down as quickly as possible. Well like a lot of the time I do write the music first and then the lyrics kind of go on top.

That’s awesome. If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
Oh…dead or alive?

Either. Or go for one of each?!
Oh…one of each. That’s a good question. I’d probably collaborate with Elvis for the dead one…just because it’s Elvis and just to be in the same room as him would be amazing! Alive; at the moment, I love Chance The Rapper; that album, Coloring Book it’s just so good, it’s like chaotic and beautiful, it’s amazing so I think I’d have to go with Chance The Rapper, yeah.

Nice, good choice…and different it would be quite a nice collaboration.
Yeah (laughs).

What music have you been listening to most recently?
Loads. I’ve got like a little playlist that I have on tour which I always add to. So, I really like Bruno Major at the minute, Rex Orange CountyChance The Rapper…I listen to a lot of old stuff as well, like a lot of old blues like Johnny Hooker and bands like Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin and stuff, so it’s quite varied.

Yeah, quite an eclectic mix! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
That’s a good question…um…I don’t listen to the charts that much so I don’t really know what’s in the charts. Like, that Dua Lipa song, ‘New Rules’, is quite good, but she smashes it so I don’t think I could cover it and do justice to it.

I feel like it’s a grower that one, because I hated when I first heard it.
Me too! Me too! I was the exact same, I mean you can’t get away from it at the minute.

Yeah, it’s everywhere! So how’s it been touring with Jake Bugg? What’s that been like?
Yeah, amazing. Like this is my third tour with Jake now so it’s kind of like [I’m] used to it now. It’s like I’ve become part of the team, so it’s quite nice. I’ve probably made myself too comfortable.

(Laughs)
Like go in and take milk from his fridge and stuff (laughs). But yeah, it’s good. He’s a great artist; he’s one of the best of what England has to offer of this generation, so it’s really cool to be on tour with him.

That’s cool. What have been some of your favourite cities to perform at?
Brighton! Which is true, like I love Brighton; it’s one of my favourite cities, just to go for a night out in. London’s cool – I do like playing London. I mean, the London crowd are very like sit there silent – they just want to be impressed.

Like, it’s your time. Impress me. Go! (Laughs)
Exactly, it is totally that. I guess they’ve just had everything come through the city so they’ve heard it all and seen it all. Up North’s cool; Manchester’s great, Nottingham, Glasgow’s always good fun – everyone’s like drunk. So yeah, they’re probably a few of my favourite cities.

Do you get much time off to go and explore them?
A little bit, yeah, a little bit. I did the Europe run with Jake (Bugg) at the beginning of this tour and I had like 3 days in Stockholm which was cool and here you get a few mornings off. I got a free morning in Margate the other day so I just had a run on the beach, which was pretty nice.

That’s pretty cool; nice to take some time.
Yeah.

What makes a show particularly amazing for you?
The crowd. I mean a gig for me is never just about the artist on stage, it’s about everybody in the room, so like the crowd are just as important as the artist, so if the crowd have really got a nice feeling, then they’re always my favourite kind of gigs. And the venues themself as well, like some venues just have something magical about them. Like tonight’s venue’s beautiful, like a lot of history as well.

Yeah, the Dome’s a good one!
Yeah, I saw Abba played here!

Yeah.
That’s it, I’m made. I don’t need to play anywhere else now (laughs).

(Laughs) Has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Scary? I don’t know…When I was in Dublin…yeah (laughs), actually two things in Dublin. I nearly set myself on fire in Dublin.

Oh my god! (Laughs)
(Laughs) Yeah it was the last show of the tour with Jake (Bugg) and I was with my band and he was with his band and I had a whiskey in my hand and I lit a cigarette and poured the whiskey down my scarf while I lit the cigarette.

Oh no! (Laughs)
And my scarf just went up in flames. I could still smell my burnt hair for like a week afterwards. Someone came outside and was like, “I can smell something burning,” and I like, “Yeah that was me.” (Laughs). Yeah that was probably the scariest thing, I would say, yeah.

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s pretty bad! Do you have any pre-show or post-gig rituals that you do?
Not really. I probably just drink a whiskey. I go to the bathroom and say a little prayer, um, and then I’ve also like, just started dancing a little bit, like ten minutes before. I can’t dance; I put like Sheryl Crow on or Shania Twain and just let loose (laughs).

I like that, that’s fun! Have any of you got any weird habits?
I probably have got loads! Before I go to sleep, I always have to say to someone, “Goodnight, God bless, love you, see you in the morning.” I’m like OCD with that, it’s like weird. Even if I’m on my own, I’ll ring someone up and be like, “Just ringing to say, goodnight, God bless, love you, see you in the morning.” (laughter) And it has to be the last thing I say, so as soon as I say that, I put the phone down (laughter). But that’s more OCD than a weird habit.

It counts as a weird habit! (Laughs) Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Yeah, sport I guess. I love football. I used to play football. I love playing tennis. I used to be really sporty before I did music, but I’ve only recently just got back into playing sports. And film, I love film. I just watch films all the time.

Ah, that lines up my next question very nicely. What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
I watched Spotlight recently, that was good; that’s disturbing though.

I’ve not seen it, but I’ll have to watch it.
It’s good, yeah, it’s good. I also watched that one on Netflix which is like Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, but I can’t remember what it’s called. They’re like a Jewish family. I can’t remember what it’s called but it was really good. Like the characters are great and Emma Thompson is in it as well and she’s like one of my favourite actresses.

Yeah, she’s cool. If a film was made about your life, in like 20 years time, who would you want to play you?
It would probably be…I dunno…I love Emma Stone, but she’s too cool to play me.

(Laughs) I love Emma Stone, she’s cool.
Yeah! (Laughs) Yeah, she’s great! Or Judy Dench as well – just put a brown wig on Judy Dench (laughs).

(Laughs) If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why? Nice random question for you!
This is literally the best interview I’ve had. (Laughs) Yeah, this is so good, these questions.

Aw thank you, that’s very nice to hear.
Um, I’d say a Twirl, because you get two of them. They’re like flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside.

A Twirl is a good one actually. What really grinds your gears?
Loud chewing.

Oh God, I’m sitting here chewing gum! (Laughs)
No, you’re not chewing loud, don’t worry. You’d know about it if you were. (Laughs) It’s more like crunching. Like my dad’s terrible, like he’s just got the loudest crunch ever, so maybe that.

I can relate to that! What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to any of you, in life? Setting your hair on fire? (Laughs)
I remember when I was like 13, I’d just started playing the guitar and where I’m from, Mansfield, there’s like a big, steep hill going down into the town and I had my guitar on my back and I was just toddling along and it was icy and I slipped over onto my back but because my guitar was on my back, I couldn’t get up. I was just like a turtle and everyone was walking past. I was like there for a good 5 minutes just like, “Help!” (Laughs) This old guy came and helped me up, so that was embarrassing.

That’s hilarious! I’ve just got one more question: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I guess, “Don’t give up” – the obvious one. Like my tour manager said one to me the other day, which was really good; it was like, “For every 50th brick wall, you build a Taj Mahal.” It was something like that. So you have to build lots of brick walls and it can sometimes feel like it’s taking forever but at the end you’ll get the Taj Mahal, if you keep building the walls.

That’s good advice; I like that! Well thank you very much for taking the time to talk!
No, thank you very much for having me!


Georgie‘s releases are all available:

  • To purchase on iTunes – Georgie
  • To listen to on Spotify –


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#Review: Vance Joy – Nation Of Two


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerVance Joy is an Australian, folk singer-songwriter who, having released his debut solo album, Dream Your Life Away, back in 2014, is now back with his sophomore offering, Nation Of Two; a powerful tale of a couple’s love.

Vance Joy - Nation Of Two.jpg

Vance Joy has crafted his own unique brand of folk-pop, using instruments such as the ukulele and banjo to make his style stand out and Nation Of Two continues with this tradition; this time telling a story throughout the 13-track collection.

Vance himself explains that “Nation of Two describes a perfectly self-contained couple; their world beginning and ending at the bed they share, the car they ride in, or any other place where they’re together… the idea that their love for each other gives them their bearings; a point of reference that makes sense of life.” (Reference)

The album, as a collection, tells the tale of two lovers across a beautiful array of styles.

The album starts out very strong with stand-out songs, including leading single, ‘Lay It On Me’ (with it’s funky brass sections), plus ‘We’re Going Home’ and the fun-filled, ‘Saturday Sun’. Other great songs include the punchy, almost alt-rock-like ‘One Of These Days’ and the beautiful banjo ballad, Where We Start’. The album, as a collection, tells the tale of two lovers across a beautiful array of styles, however a couple of the tracks, I felt, could easily be skipped, but as a whole body, it is great.

This is definitely going to sit well with fans of Mumford & SonsRay LaMontagne, Seth Lakeman and possibly even Ed Sheeran – it’s folky, pop-tinted and got a real honest feel to it. It’s well produced but not over-produced and stands out as a quality, folk-pop album.

The first half of the album is strong and I certainly think this album will bring new success to Vance Joy, but the second half is lacking in a couple of places. This is however, as a whole, a wonderful way to tell the story of a couple’s love and life together and is well worth a listen.

Rating
3.5


‘Nation Of Two’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nation-of-two/1325861276


Nation Of Two on Spotify

We’re Going Home (Official Video)

Lay It On Me (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest review of Vance Joy’s second album, but what are your thoughts? Are you a huge fan or do you think it will go straight in to the bargain bin? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or share your feelings with us, via our social media accounts.


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