#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Amy Studt

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Having just released her third, honest, open and diary-like studio album, Happiest Girl In The Universe (read our review), we had the pleasure of talking to Amy Studt about how it felt to write such a personal record, who she’d most like to work with and even found out about something embarrassing that’s happened to her. It’s all here…

Amy Studt - Happiest Girl In The World


Hey Amy, how’s it going?
Really good actually, thanks! I am really happy and busy. I’m feeling very grateful.

So you’re just releasing your third studio album, Happiest Girl In The Universe. How do you feel prior to dropping a new album and what do you get excited and fear most about it?
Really it is just happiness as the dominant feeling. I have very little to fear as I have very little to lose. I’m excited to tour this album and to generally show it. I feel fairly invincible in a weird way because the things that could be deemed as scary or fearful are things that I am not frightened of losing. It was made for me and in that sense I have already achieved what I was hoping for. I’m not expecting charting or any of that. It was made for me and is a document/book of my journey, thoughts and exorcisms. I feel nothing but joy.

That’s great to hear and it must be a really great feeling, going into the release! The vibe on this record is a lot different to some of your earlier releases. It’s honest, open and pretty dark – like a diary of what you’ve been through mentally and emotionally. What was it like to put pen to paper and write about some of your innermost feelings, so candidly?
It is cathartic. I go into a sort of space where everything else fades out and I am just floating somewhere in words, ideas, thoughts and sounds. It’s this space where nothing and no one else exists (unless invited) and I have complete freedom.

I was always a fairly honest, upfront person, blurting things out but I don’t know prior to the last ten years, how honest within myself/about myself I really was. I had to and wanted to confront myself, shine a light on all of the parts of me that were hiding and causing me and the people around me pain. I had had a lot of partners who were pretty far from honest people, kept a lot of secrets, lied a lot. And when I met Toby Kidd – who I worked on this record with, but who was also initially and for a long time my romantic partner – he was such a breath of fresh air to me. However painful the truth was from him, at times it was like he was incapable of not telling it how it was, logically, intelligently, brutally but beautifully. I found it inspiring. And in a way it released me. So within myself, this desire for raw honesty and self-awareness and self-knowledge, however ugly, disorientated, selfish, broken, vulnerable, whatever it might be, filtered into my writing. I wanted to express what I was going through to try to move on, to get it out of me somehow. And to hopefully find some kind of peace.

Well I think it’s wonderful and hope you are able to find that peace from this masterpiece. Your vocals are very raw in places and you’ve even used some spoken word poetry. What inspired you to be more experimental on this album?
I’ve always been interested in more experimental music. Even as a child, I always liked the more left of centre stuff, though I like all sorts of music, but as I grew older and found my group of people, my group of outsiders and my artistic family, I learnt more, discovered more artists, more music, more genres even, that I connected with. My mind started opening to the possibilities and my style began to naturally shift and re-form simply during the creating process itself.

In the studio my desire to experiment fully took flight during the writing of my second album but I always felt I was slightly restricted somehow by the professional atmosphere and my ideas would rarely be fully formed because of this. I couldn’t just grab an inanimate object from my kitchen to try to use as percussion, or jump into my bed with a microphone under the duvet to record the vocals in the same way. Banging everything in the house or studio to see if it might make an interesting sound. I didn’t have that real, “no limits to express” feeling that I longed for and although I am very proud of that second album, I still feel like it was, to an extent, a compromise.

The things I naturally write at the piano are somewhere between the hooky, singer-songwriter world and the experimental world. And although I am inspired and influenced by many artists, writers, I still think I maintain my own sound. With this album my influences had been more diverse. I’ve always written poetry, so that seemed like a natural fit to include that part of me also. Really, me and Toby and Finn were just enjoying experimenting as much as possible, from playing tuned jars full of water from the house as percussion, to dictaphone recordings from the writing process and us talking, mixed into the final song. Playing with mic’ing techniques or whatever it was that “broke the rules” of what you get told is “correct” or taught at production school. Working with whatever we had and working on the basis of the only rule being the Joe Meek quote, “If it sounds right, it’s right!” It was a lot of pain, a lot of work and a lot of fun.

I love that. I definitely think you have maintained your own sound, and it’s a very refreshing way to go into recording an album…and actually, it’d be nice to see more people experimenting with organic techniques. So, if you could collaborate with any other singers/bands, who would they be and why?

  1. Scott Walker, if I could  somehow bring him back from the dead. He has been such an inspiration to me an incredible writer and pusher of boundaries and what a life he had.
  2. P J Harvey or Polly – however you want to say her name – is the queen of experimental, alternative, female singer-songwriters for me. It would blow my mind to work with her as I have followed and adored her work for years.
  3. Angel Olsen is someone currently, that I love, and is making magic right now. She has this lonesome quality that pulls you in and I’d like to see what we created together.
  4. And here is just a list of others that I would love to work with because there are so many:- Bjork, Amanda PalmerFeist, Cat Power, Aldous Harding, Jesus And Mary Chain, Annie Lennox, Adele (cos I think we could write an epic ballad together), Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval, etc, etc, etc.

Wow, some amazing people there and some collaborations I’d love to hear! How do we make them happen? Haha. Can you tell me what your usual process for writing/recording is like?
I normally start at the piano. Lots of scraps of paper that I don’t mind wasting, with shit and good lyrics and lots of scratched out and edited ideas. Press record on my voice recorder or dictaphone or if in the studio, the computer with me mic’d up. Then I just play piano for hours non-stop. I shift and move through ideas I’ve had previously, shapes and progressions I’ve never explored before, things I want to see how they sound turned inside out and back to front, until I start to find these nuggets of music that I really like and then eventually focus my attention on those more powerful nuggets and start to develop them. I help them expand and connect with other nuggets I have. It’s like puzzle-making for me. Then with the lyrics, there are usually a few different parts to that. Some are written on train rides in my lyric books, ideas/thoughts I know and feel are strong that have just been waiting for their right time and place to come forward. I usually fairly lovingly keep them quite organised. A lot of lyric ideas are on my phone in a lyrics doc (you never know when it’ll hit and you need to write something down quite quickly) and then there are my messy pages on the piano. I might write in some from my book or phone onto them that feel right with the precious musical nuggets I’m developing. What does this music feel like it’s about? What is the mood? Could I make this work with this idea I’ve been longing to try out. Etc. But I almost never ever think about melody. My melodies all come from improvising the lyrics to the music. It just comes out of me with no pre-thought and is connected to the other components. That’s pretty much how I do it… never written that out before! Must sound boring…

Amy Studt - Press Shot

No, it’s really interesting to hear about how people write their music and yours seems to be quite an experimental, yet methodical process. Besides your own music, what else have you been listening to most recently?
Angel Olsen‘s new album album All Mirrors, Sabina Sciubba, Taylor Swift‘s Lover album, Nina Simone, The Velvet Underground, Janis Ian, The Murder CapitalLykke Li, Kate Bush, Amanda PalmerThere Will Be No Intermission, Chet Baker, James Chance & The Contortions, Heather Woods Broderick, Julia Jacklin, Sharon Van Etten & Max Richter (Thank you iTunes).

Haha, wow what a comprehensive and eclectic mix! Some I will have to check out, for sure! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
I literally have no idea what has been in the charts for maybe a decade… I live fairly under a rock. I like to surround myself with the things, music, objects, people, art, films, family, friends the world I have created for myself within this world. I don’t like to read newspapers, and anytime I’ve popped my head out and heard ‘chart’ music I haven’t understood it…which confirms to me that I must now be old. BUT saying that I’m assuming that Taylor Swift’s song ‘Lover’ has been in the charts… gonna check now… yes, it appears it is Number 1 in the States haha. God, I’m so out of the loop. Ok, so I would cover that. I really like that song. I think I could make it my own and it means something between me and my husband as he travels solo sometimes to Iceland and such, and I am always working away from home so we miss each other a lot. I’d like to cover it secretly and send it to him in a letter while I’m away somewhere.

Aw, that’s really cute!!! I bet he’d love it, and I’d love to hear your version of that too! So, when you go out on the road, where are some of your favourite places to perform at?
Scotland is always wonderful vibes. The crowd is always so supportive and powerful to play to. I also had an amazing show in Leeds once, which went completely nuts and really took us by surprise. My old hometown, Bournemouth, is always a strange kind of magic to return to. A mixed crowd of people who want to hate me but find they struggle to and those who have known and loved my music for years and have grown up with me and know things about me that no one else would. They might have lived in the house next to mine or known a boy I dated as a teen etc. But it is always, always nice to play in London. Quiet, connected, respectful, attentive audiences full of love.

Sounds awesome. I remember meeting and seeing you in Guildford once – I do enjoy your shows. I was wondering though, has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Not really… I did do a rowdy show in a pub-type building once; very strange gig and got offered a lot of money to play to some very angry drunks. Shouting and talking too loudly so they couldn’t hear us play or me sing. Just shouting “PLAY MISFIT! PLAY MISFIT!!” at me. I just ignored them but when one of the big guys lunged towards me, for whatever his reason (it did look a bit aggressive), thankfully I had my dear best friend Connor MacDonald (who was at that time, my guitarist) who is actually shockingly tough, grabbed him and stopped him mid-song. But I didn’t find it particularly scary. Just carried on singing. Just one of those things that can happen on tour. You never know what each gig will be.

That sounds kind of scary. Why someone would lunge for you on stage is bizarre! So, do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?
Pre-gig everyone has to be as relaxed and normal as possible. If anyone is trying to hype me up pre-gig, they have to go. As little talking as possible so I don’t wear out my voice before the show. Casual chat is fine. I want to walk out onto the stage as if I’m walking into my living room to play piano.

And post-show the first thing I do is have a cigarette, then I head straight out to talk to people who have come out to the show. Some people travel a long way to be there and others it means a lot to them to have a conversation with me as it might be such a long-standing relationship to my music, and in a sense me also. I love hearing about their lives and getting to meet them.

That’s really nice and such a genuine thing to do – not enough artists do that with their fans, though I think more are starting to. I imagine your fans really appreciate your time and dedication to meeting them. OK, so have you got any weird habits we should know about?
I shake a lot naturally from the adrenaline in my body from my anxiety disorder. And one way I deal with my anxiety is biting and picking at everything on me. I’m really very gross. Scabs. I chew the skin off my fingers when my nails run out, I eat my crispy eye sleepy stuff, I’m one of those people that loves watching those videos of people popping giant cysts or of them being removed. I had one on my head once and it was possibly one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I still miss it and touch the area on my head, hoping it’ll come back. Very little grosses me out about the human body. Haha.

Haha. That’s hilarious! I think a lot of people secretly (or not-so-secretly in yours and my case) enjoy watching pimple-popping videos. What are some of your other passions outside of music?
Well apart from giant cysts I guess… I am completely obsessed and passionate about acting, film and theatre. I studied Method acting a few years ago and Meisner Technique all of last year at The Salon Collective at the Cockpit Theatre and it was honestly life-changing. Lit up every part of me and every day I would come home completely alive and raving about what I was learning about the craft and about myself. I made some very special friends also. So I would like to continue my love of those three things moving forward. Acting, Film and Theatre. I used to be obsessed with horror movies growing up and that’s my winning genre for quiz games but when I started getting anxiety, I just couldn’t watch them anymore. But I adore films. Completely nerd out on character study and subtext.

Nice! Love a bit of nerdyness in people and I could see you being a good actress. I hope you get to continue all those passions. Go on then, what really grinds your gears?
Rude people. People who make a mistake and turn around to blame the innocent person. Injustice. Sexism. Racism. Chauvinism. Unkind people.

I agree with all those! What’s one of the most embarrassing things that’s ever happened to you, in life?
Oh so, so many. I’m probably about 11 years old, very self-conscious and terrified of boys at the time, especially older and ‘cute’ boys.

So, there was a phone booth down the road from my house. One fine, summer’s day, I was walking down my road to the shops and a group of older boys crossed the road and began walking towards. Sniggering in hushed voices in anticipation of the dreaded ‘WALK PAST’. God being a kid is so fraught with emotions. Anyway, I couldn’t take the pressure of the build-up, so I decided to dart into the phone booth and pretend to be having a conversation with someone using my very best acting skills. I don’t know about my acting skills, but when the boys walked past they burst into laughter at me, pointing… and to my horror, I realised the phone cable had been cut. So I was talking to an imaginary person on a phone with a cable cut and swaying in the breeze.

That’s amazing! Poor, poor you, but so, so funny.
I have so many other embarrassing stories it could take up a whole article…. Such has been my life and existence as myself.

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Tangerine probably.. I found it really beautiful in all it’s grime and grit but the lives of these people and I felt truly on their side. Great film.

OK, I will definitely check that out – I have heard of it but yet to watch it. If, in say 30 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Oh Jesus…maybe Juno Temple or Jemima Kirk, Elliot Sumner could probably play me well, Chloe Sevigny, Ellen Page, maybe Eva Green…, Helena Bonham Carter, That should be enough….  I wish someone would make a movie of my life. I don’t think anyone has any idea how crazy my life has actually been… ha

Those would all be cool to see! Weird one now…if you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
This question is mental. Ok, I would be a gluten and nut free chocolate bar made from raw cacao and coconut butter. Cos yes, I’m one of those.

HA! What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t practice till you get it right. Practice till you can’t get it wrong.”
“It’ll all be alright in the end. And if it isn’t alright, then it isn’t the end.”
Both courtesy of my father Richard Studt.

Great advice, I love those. Well done Father Studt – wise words! Thanks very much for taking the time to chat. All the best with the new album release and upcoming launch show. Next time you’re in Brighton, or nearby, I’d love to watch you perform.
That would be great! Give my Songkick a follow and it’ll let you know first as soon as any new dates come in! And thank you so much!


Amy Studt‘s releases are all available:


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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with KAWALA

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I recently had the privilege of meeting Dan and Jim from KAWALA, backstage before their show at Komedia in Brighton.

Having just released their latest single, Heavy In The Morning, we spoke all about how they feel before releasing new music, some of their most embarrassing moments and just how much they love a certain pop/R&B singer.

Possibly one of the best bits was talking about (and witnessing!!!) Dan’s weird habit though…so much so, that it deserved to be edited into its own video (below). It’s all here…


Muzik Speaks: An Interview with KAWALA


Muzik Speaks presents ‘Weird Habits with KAWALA’


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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with John Gibbons

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I recently had the privilege of doing a Skype interview with Irish producer and remixer, John Gibbons, following the release of his latest single and cover of the massive 1994, ‘Hotstepper’.

We spoke all about how some of his cover versions came to be, who he’d most like to collaborate with, what his passions are outside of music and one of his most embarrassing moments on stage. It’s all here…



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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Mirza Radonjica-Bang from Siamese

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Having just released the second single, ‘Ocean Bed’, from their upcoming record, Super Human (out 24th May on Long Branch Records), I had the chance to chat to lead singer, Mirza Radonjica-Bang from incredible band, Siamese.


Hey Mirza, how’s it going?
Going well, man. Just about to release some new music. If that doesn’t affect your mood in a good way… you should probably stop eh?

Good to hear…so you are gearing up to release your new record, ‘Super Human’ in May; how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
It’s defo both. Exciting cause we get to tour again and see our friends around the world. Nerve-racking if the same ol’ fans don’t like the new shit. I think they will though. BUT also we hope to get some more people on board man. Would be nice to evolve the family over here for sure. So if you do not know Siamese and you like your heavy with some funky pop, I’d appreciate it.

I love the title, where did the idea come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
Our last record, Shameless, was all about positivity and looking forward and just outright living and partying a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always been quite dark, but on Super Human it’s all about realising that life might still just be suffering after all. And that coping with that mechanism is something you really need to do. I lost my faith in revelations man. You know that shit where people say they are at peace with who they are? Well OK. Fine enough, but that is not entirely true, I’ve come to find. It’s not human nature to be honest. And its super human to admit that. Hating your girl, doing bad stuff, doing drugs, not doing drugs, being jealous, not paying attention to the ones you loved. It’s all in this record. You will make mistakes. You are not perfect. And you need to tell yourself that once in a while. That’s the theme of the album.

Wow, deep! So what’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear on the record and why?
My personal favourite is ‘Ocean Bed’, but the track that stands out is ‘Super Human’. Lyrics and the feature from Olivio Antonio makes it something completely different. Oh and for the first time ever, I’ve opened up about my background as a refugee on ‘Unified’. I’m kinda excited to see if that song only resonates with me or it can tell people something about something more universal.

That’s amazing! I can’t wait to hear them all. I was wondering, what’s your usual process for writing/recording?
Me (Mirza, Singer) and Andreas lock our selves up in a tiny room with a computer, a piano for about a month and go on to produce the structures and melodies of the songs. We pretty much get it done front to back in month right now actually. We work as pop producers (because that’s our background) and then the rock and heavy elements come on later in the process. Not a lot of heavy bands that I know of, do it this way. Some also frown upon it, but yeah buddy. Release 5 albums and let’s talk about it again yeah? I mean. There is so many effing problems you demolish by working as we do. And we can keep doing it for many years on without going broke or something like that.

Where do you take inspirations from when writing/recording your music?
I listen way too much to bands like PVRIS, Dance Gavin Dance, Slaves, The Weeknd, Zara Larsson and so on. But mostly our inspiration would start by a sample, we hear 4 simple chords which I would sing to, and suddenly Andreas would go STOP!! That one! haha. Lyrically this time I have taken a lot of my friends’ stories and put them down as lyrics. I wanted to portray being super human in many aspects and not just my own. Dunno if that makes sense but it did to me at least.

Yeah, I get it. It sounds like a great way to write – listening and interpreting other people’s stories. I like your eclectic music taste too! If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would it be and why?
I’d like to collaborate with Tillian Pearson from Dance Gavin Dance. He is a huge inspiration to me, and I really think he could teach me a thing or 500.

Haha! That’d be cool. What music have you been listening to most recently?
The new Bring Me The Horizon album has been spun quite a lot, After The Burial and I still find my self spinning PVRIS and Slaves once in a while. Shame what happened with Jonny Craig. Slaves will not be the same I’m afraid.

Yes it’s a real shame. If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
‘God is a Woman’ by Ariana Grande. And lord, I actually it will happen in the near future.

Seriously?! I love that song and oh my God, I can’t wait to hear your version!!! Do you have any pre or post-gig rituals?
Drink 4 beers. Not 5 and not 3. 4 beers. Post gig rituals, I have none. Just be nice to people and get your adrenaline down.

Haha! Yeah that after-show buzz is mental eh? Have any of you got any weird habits?
Christian on violin vapes man. I fucking hate that nicotine dildo in his mouth. But to be honest none of us have weird habits that I know of.

That you know of…haha! Do you guys have any other passions outside of music?
I’m big on TV shows. There is not much I haven’t seen. And anything good I have seen. Also I am very passionate about Arsenal and FC Barcelona. You can talk football for hours with me.

Unfortunately I don’t know loads about football…sorry. What really grinds your gears (winds you up)?
Postmodernism. Dude do not start that fire. Identity politics. And influencers. I guess we live in a time where there are a lot of insignificant things you can hate eh?

Too true man! What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
I enjoyed A Star Is Born. Did I cry a bit. Yes I might have. OK. Leave it.

If, say in 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play each of you?
In the name of political correctness, I’d like an all female cast to play us.

Haha! Love it! Lastly then, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The world is never black and white. There is no ultimate answer.

Good point. Thanks very much for taking the time to talk to me today. Good luck with the album release and your recent single, ‘Ocean Bed’, too.
Cheers.


Siamese‘s releases are all available:


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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Aaron Barrett from Reel Big Fish

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Reel Big Fish are undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest ska punk bands (as if you didn’t already know!) and December 2018 saw the band release their ninth studio album (and first new album in 6 years), Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! (click the link to read our review).

I was lucky enough and truly honoured that Aaron Barrett took some time out of the band’s busy tour schedule to talk to me!


Hey Aaron, so you‘ve been gearing up to release your ninth studio album, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’ and the buzz around it seems be great but how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Aaron Barrett: There is definitely a lot of excitement this time around because I think for the first time in my life I am totally confident in the record. I know it’s really good and the songs are awesome and I can’t wait for people to hear it! In the past I really always was insecure about the albums and thought people would hate the new stuff and I just dreaded everything about putting out a new one.

Well nothing to fear with this record…it’s great! So where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
Aaron Barrett: That was just one of the songs I wrote for the album and I guess it’s just kind of how I’m feeling these days. Just make the best of whatever situation you’re in, that’s about all you can do sometimes.

What’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear?
Aaron Barrett: All of them! There are so many great songs on this record! I think my favorites are ‘Life Sucks; Let’s Dance’, ‘In Love Again’ and ‘I’d Rather Get It Wrong’.

All great tracks! What’s your usual process for writing/recording and where do you take inspirations from?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve never been a “Sit down and write a song/album” kind of guy. I pretty much just wait for song ideas to pop into my head. I might be at a restaurant, in the shower, at the beach, I never know where or when an idea will come. But when it does, I don’t record anything, I don’t write anything down, I just try to remember and I figure that if it’s good enough for me to remember for a few years, then it’s time to get out the guitar and figure out how it goes and show it to the rest of the guys. So this new record is just the last 5 years of little musical ideas piling up in my brain! Haha.

I love that – so organic and honest! Haha! So what future plans have you got? Any big tours? Will you be winging your way over to the UK any time soon?
Aaron Barrett: Well with the release of a new record, that means even more touring than we usually do! Gotta go everywhere and spread the word about the new music. We will definitely be in the UK this summer and who knows, maybe the fall too!

If you could have anyone feature on a track, who would it be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I’d love to have CC Deville from Poison do a guitar solo on a song! Or maybe do a duet with Dolly Parton? That would be cool!

Both of those would be amazing! What music have you been listening to most recently?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve been listening to nothing but 80’s country music for the last couple weeks on the tour bus, the rest of the band hates me now! Haha!

Haha! Reel Big Fish goes Country for the next album?! Maybe not! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I honestly couldn’t name one hit song that’s been out in the last few years, I’m completely out of touch with music today…thank goodness! Haha.

Haha, fair enough! Where are some of your favourite cities to perform at?
Aaron Barrett: I always love to do shows in Hawaii because…well I get paid to go to Hawaii!! And of course I always love to tour the UK!

Who wouldn’t love to play in Hawaii! What a lucky guy you are. What makes a show particularly amazing for you?
Aaron Barrett: I think what makes a show great for me is if the audience is singing along and dancing and going crazy, that’s the most important thing for me. I do everything I can to keep people moving and excited and having a good time. And if anybody laughs at my dumb jokes, that’s a bonus too!

I bet they do; you’re a funny and charismatic guy! So, has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Aaron Barrett: We had a tour bus that burned down one time, that was pretty scary. Everybody was asleep in their bunks on the bus and the bus driver came running in waking everybody up telling all to get out. Some of the guys didn’t even grab their shoes or wallets and we pretty much all lost our cell phones. But all of our music gear was ok and we all survived. But that was crazy…and scary.

Sounds horrendous…at least you were all alright! Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals?
Aaron Barrett: I think the only pre-show ritual we have is drinking a few beers and changing into our stinky show clothes. Nobody does any yoga or punches themselves in the balls 30 times before they hit the stage or anything, haha!

Haha, now there’s an image! Have any of you got any weird habits?
Aaron Barrett: Yea, we all listen to SKA music!

Good one! Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Aaron Barrett: I’m obsessed with my dog Walter! Check him out on Instagram: @thewonderfulworldofwalter

*Looks on Instagram* ADORABLE! What really grinds your gears?
Aaron Barrett: When people ask me stupid questions…

Awkward…sorry, haha! What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to any of you, in life?
Aaron Barrett: I started a Ska band!

Embarrassing…or super cool?! What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Aaron Barrett: Edward Penis-hands.

Haha…enough said! If, in say 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Aaron Barrett: Kermit the Frog.

The Muppets as Reel Big Fish…love it! If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I like sour candy, can I be one of those?

Course you can! Lastly, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Aaron Barrett: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Massive thanks to Aaron for taking the time to interview with me and to Mike Cubillos from Earshot Media for organising the interview.

📸Photo Credit: Jodi Cunningham


Reel Big Fish‘s releases are all available:


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#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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#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 📷
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


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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