#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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#Review: Now, Now – Saved


   

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Now, Now are an American indie duo originally from Blaine, Minnesota (USA), now based in Minneapolis. The band now consists of founding members, KC Dalager (vocals/guitar/keyboard) and Brad Hale (drums/backing vocals) after a recent departure from their line-up. To date, they have had two, somewhat heavier albums and this, Saved, will be their third, full-length release. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Now, Now - Saved.jpg

It’s been a decade since their more thrashy, emo-esque debut album, Cars, was released (back when they were called Now, Now Every Children) but since then, Now, Now have clearly been working hard on mastering the art of slick production.

This is an album that successfully merges emotive, thought-provoking lyricism based upon relatable topics, with warm, summery production; it’s credible songwriting with certain mainstream, pop sensibilities.

Saved is a stunning record. It has everything from catchy choruses and atmospheric synths to chugging guitars and heavy beats.

It kicks off with the acoustic-led, summer tune ‘SGL’ (short for Shot-Gun Lover) which would be the perfect road trip track, through the open roads of America. From there, you’ve got the captivating ‘MJ’, which makes reference to Michael Jackson‘s ‘Billie Jean’ topped off with a galloping beat (somewhat similar to MJ‘s ‘A Place With No Name’ from 2014’s Xscape)

Another significant track is ‘Window’, with its shimmering synths and manipulated vocals, that continually ascend. It’s a song about desperation for someone;“Every night I’m at your window, Wonder when you’re gonna let me in.”A truly atmospheric track.

Just listening to this album, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes.

‘Powder’ is a massive tune and a superbly powerful and passionate close to the album; it has a catchy, fun start with delicate guitars and subtle synths but as it goes on, descends into a very interesting and heavy breakdown with gritty synths.

There are certainly a lot of resemblances that can be made across the album too: ‘Can’t Help Myself’ has whispery vocals, somewhat similar to Geowulf; ‘Knowme’ is a house-like track with calm, electronica vibes, with elements of Chicane to it; ‘Set It Free’ makes cheeky reference to “wandering hands” and has a certain something about it that reminds me of a cross between The Cardigans and Sixpence None The Richer; ‘Drive’ has a beachy, Lana Del Rey vibe and ‘Holy Water’ is a song which I find merges MUNA with early Dido (with the use of industrial-like sounds) – it’s beautiful and euphoric. That’s in no way saying that they are copying other artists but perhaps making a nod to them; if anything it just goes to show what an eclectic record they have managed to create, with a little something for everyone.

As far as albums go, this is diverse and interesting with a real excitement about it. Just listening to it, puts you in an instantly good mood due to its stunning production and uplifting vibes. They have managed to craft a sound that is somewhere between airy beach-pop and grungy rock, evoking nostalgia and varying emotions throughout. This is fantastic record that is sure to be the soundtrack to many people’s summers this year.

Rating


‘Saved’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/saved/1365088448


Saved on Spotify

AZ (Official Video)

SGL (Official Video)

Yours (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review; what do you make of this band’s latest album, Saved? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#EventSpeaks: Isaac Gracie @ The Haunt, Brighton – 25/04/18


   

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On Wednesday 25th April, Isaac Gracie arrived in Brighton to play a headline show, in support of his self-titled debut album (review here) with support from up-and-comer, Matt Maltese. It really was a fantastic show!


Matt Maltese

The singer took to the stage, dressed in a retro-looking brown suit, and performed a string of songs taken from his upcoming debut album, Bad Contestant. His songwriting is quite politically-charged and certainly has a folk/indie vibe to it. There’s an excellent power behind his vocals and a real satire to his between-song banter.

Highlight: The hilarious concept behind the final song of his set, ‘As The World Caves In’; the idea of Donald Trump and Theresa May having a final night of lovemaking as they click the red button, destroying the Earth.


Isaac Gracie

Isaac Gracie took to the stage in front of his sold-out audience, to a deafening applause, launching straight into the thought-provoking, ‘All In My Mind’. Isaac is certainly a brooding artist and for the first few songs, you could hear and feel the aching anxieties he pours into his songwriting, with little audience eye contact, show-casing his artistic vulnerability perfectly.

It wasn’t long before he warmed up to the audience, cracking some jokes during his between-song banter, making reference to ‘Terrified’, saying that maybe he is cut out for it after all. He also fed off a couple of audience members calling out, superbly; it brought the audience closer to him and let them in on his dry, almost geeky sense of humour.

You can’t help but marvel at the passion behind Isaac’s voice and lyricism; he is someone who has clearly worked incredibly hard, crafting their songwriting and made every effort to create a collection of songs that are brilliantly diverse yet still remain true to him, as an artist. His show was impeccable! Some of the most stand-out performances included, ‘Terrified’‘One Night’‘The Death Of You & I’‘Running On Empty’ and ‘Last Words’.

At one point, he made reference to the last time he performed in Brighton, at this very venue, when he supported The Japanese House in February 2016 (see our review here) – it was great to see how he’s gone from being a support act, to headlining his own show in such a relatively short space of time, and much deserved too!

This is an artist who is only just scratching the surface of their career, with their honest and genre-blending music; I truly can’t wait to see what he does next.

Highlights:

  • Isaac’s
  • The fact he came straight out after his set, to meet the fans, taking time to have photos with them and sign merch – it’s fantastic when an artist gives back to their followers!

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 📸 All of the photos in this post (except me with the band) are credited to Chloe CZH 📷
Go and give her a follow on Twitter and visit her website.


 Setlist

All In My Mind
That Was Then
Terrified
Telescope
When You Go
Love (Ain’t Always So Good)
All The Burning Lovers
Silhouettes Of You
One Night
Darkness Of The Day
The Death Of You & I *
Running On Empty *
Reverie
Hollow Crown

Encore
Last Words

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Hannah Braid for setting up this review and to Isaac Gracie and Matt Maltese for putting on a fantastic show. It was also great to have the chance to meet Isaac too!

Isaac Gracie & Matt Wright.JPG


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#EventSpeaks: Rae Morris @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 25/03/18


   

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On Sunday 25th March 2017, Rae Morris arrived in Brighton to play a show at Concorde 2, in support of her latest album, Someone Out There (review here). Her performance was superb, her vocals flawless and she was supported by PAULi and Saskia Maxwell.


Saskia Maxwell

The haunting songstress, Saskia Maxwell produced a solid set of interesting songs, merging folk and country sounds with her almost Celtic vocals, making for a truly interesting blend of music. She also performed superb and very intricate guitar work, added to some Newton Faulkner-esque beating of the guitar, to create her rhythms. Considering she was performing alone, with just a guitar and her voice (and a stomp box for her last song), she managed to create a really full sound.


PAULi

Next to take to the stage was PAULi; every so often you witness a performance by an artist or band and get the feeling that you just witnessed the start of something very special and unique and PAULi‘s performance was most certainly one of those times. When his first song began, uncertainty and almost amusement crept through the audience with a real sense of, “What the hell is this we’re listening to?!” but very quickly that moment passed and a huge amount of excitement flooded through the audience. What’s more, as his performance went on, he had the crowd right in the palm of his hand.

His sound is incredibly chaotic (almost off-beat and deliberately off-key in places) as he mixes together vibes from London’s urban music scene, with the funk and soul of Prince, but somehow it all works.

Highlight: ‘WAITING (Getting On This Train)’ was a massive song that just filled the room with a wave of excitement and an energy that I’ve not felt in a while. Also, PAULi‘s dancing and crowd interaction was sublime.


Rae Morris

One thing’s for certain, Rae Morris knows how to put on a show! With highs and lows in all the right places and a sound that hits you with full force, I would defy you not to come out having danced to your heart’s content or at the very least singing one of her catchy melodies, all the way home!

From the start of almost understated ‘Push Me To My Limit’ to the danceable ‘Do It’ and ‘Atletico (The Only One)’ this was a show that had something to offer everyone. The audience was truly filled with people of all ages, showing just how diverse her audience is; this must be due to the quirky, credible nature of the pop music she creates and whose appeal spans several generations.

The passion behind her performance shows just how much effort goes in to planning it; some of her more subtle dance moves sync up perfectly with her backing singer, whilst her more elaborate ballet-like, interpretive dances are perfectly calculated and flow effortlessly.

She also manages to play piano whilst delivering her flawlessly powerful vocals and at one point even gives a hand on the synths, all the while, demonstrating just how talented she is.

Some of her most standout performances were ‘Wait For The Rain’ due to the storm sounds and lightning effects, immersing the audience and the story behind ‘Dancing With Character’, accompanied by her ballet-like moves was enough to bring a tear to the eye.

I can’t recommend seeing Rae Morris highly enough – her energy and passion for the music she creates is infectious and whether you’re already a fan or not, you’ll certainly come away wanting more.

Highlights:

  • Rae‘s cute speaking voice with its almost whispery quality is adorable…and the complete opposite to her powerful singing!
  • The dance moves she busts out are incredible; everything from reggae skanking to ballet – a real treat to behold!
  • The backing vocalist’s voice (and twerking!) was sensational and the instrumentation created by the drummer and synth player were brilliant throughout. The duet she did with her drummer was great too!
  • I liked the part of the show where 2 or 3 of the songs all flowed into one another – great transitioning!
  • The genuine appreciation for her fans’ support was beautiful; she is certainly very modest.
  • The fact she made time to meet her fans to chat after the show and sign merchandise, was a really lovely touch.

📷All of the photos of PAULi and Rae Morris are credited to Damon Peirce  📸
Why not go and give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter.


 Setlist

Push Me To My Limit
Reborn
Morne Fortuné
Physical Form
Do It
Cold
Wait For The Rain*
Love Again
Dancing With Character
Dip My Toe
Under The Shadows
Rose Garden
Atletico (The Only One)*

Encore
Lower The Tone
Don’t Go (Short Version)
Someone Out There

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a MASSIVE thanks to Harriet for sorting out this review and to Rae MorrisPAULi and Saskia Maxwell for all putting on incredible performances and taking the time to chat after the show – it was a fantastic evening!

PAULi & Matt Wright


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#EventSpeaks: Fickle Friends @ Resident Records, Brighton – 19/03/18


   

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On Monday 19th March 2018, Brighton-based indie/pop outfit, Fickle Friends, came to Brighton in support of their debut album release (You Are Someone Else review, here), to play two shows; one stripped-back, short set and album signing at Resident Records and the other a full-on, full-length set at Concorde 2, later that same night!


Fickle Friends

The Resident Records set was short but very, very sweet!

The indie/pop quintet had been mingling in the store for a while before modestly starting their mini set, at 6:30pm.

As they began, Natti explained just how nervous she was, given how stripped back the performance was going to be. However, the band soon proceeded to launch into their alternative version of ‘Brooklyn’, led by rather cheesy yet somehow adorable, programmed drums.

As the set progressed, there was some instrument swapping and a real admiration for their fans’ support. Natti also explained that today marked some milestone achievements for Fickle Friends; 1) an in-store performance and signing at Resident Records and 2) to play a sold-out show at Brighton’s Concorde 2, which she went on to state, was perfect timing, as she’d just moved out of Brighton and felt that it was a very fitting send-off.

This type of performance was truly special and demonstrated the band giving something back to their loyal and dedicated fans. Plus, as they finished, they announced that it was looking like they were heading for the Top 10 in the UK Charts and could not have been more ecstatic about it.

Immediately afterwards, the band stood behind the shop counter and allowed their fans to get their CDs and Vinyls signed, and spent time chatting to each of them; it was really lovely to see.

Highlights:

  • Seeing just how humble and modest the band were.
  • The appreciation they showed for their fans not only being their but supporting them by purchasing their album, plus the time they took to talk to each of their fans, whilst signing copies of their album, You Are Someone Else.
  • Natti‘s incredible voice and being a part of witnessing the band put on such a vulnerable but perfect performance, given how full-on their sound normally is.
  • The alternative versions they performed, made it feel very unique and like it was a truly one-off performance.

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 📸 All of the photos in this post (except me with the band) are credited to Chloe CZH 📷
Go and give her a follow on Twitter and visit her website.


Setlist

Brooklyn
Wake Me Up
Glue*
Hard To Be Myself
Swim

This song can be viewed in the YouTube video, below.


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Simon Neal for setting up this review and to Fickle Friends themselves for putting on a fantastic mini show and being so lovely to all of their fans – a really fantastic, intimate performance!


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#NewMusicFriday: Something Leather – ‘Disappear On Me’

 


   

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Something Leather are a three-piece band, consisting of members Phillie (Vocals/Organ), Greg (Guitar) & Mike (Drums), hailing from our very own Brighton, UK.

In 2017, the band released their debut single, ‘Shotgun Persona’, which successfully launched them and opened up the doors to the alternative rock scene in Brighton. Now in 2018, they are releasing the follow-up to their debut, ‘Disappear On Me’, which is psychedelic and trippy, to say the least.

The trio are predominantly led by a 70’s electric organ and mystifying vocals, topped off by a grungy guitar and some intense drums.

I can only imagine the carnage these guys cause when playing live and am certain they will be making their mark on the local Brighton scene throughout 2018. Be sure to check them out soon.

What are your thoughts of this triad of alternative rockers? Got a #NewMusicFriday track 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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‘Disappear On Me’ can be downloaded from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/disappear-on-me/1350159838?i=1350159839


#Review: Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else


   

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Fickle Friends are a Brighton-based, indie-pop band who have gone from strength to strength, since their humble beginnings. Now signed to Polydor, they are releasing their long awaited, debut album, You Are Someone Else. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Fickle Friends - You Are Someone Else.jpg

It’s been a long time coming, but Fickle Friends have finally released their eagerly anticipated, debut album and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! This is an album packed to bursting point with catchy choruses, groovy guitar licks and salacious synth sounds.

The record opens with the darkly addictive and super chant-able, Wake Me Up’ and manages to maintain momentum throughout, whether it be the huge pop anthems like ‘Glue’ (a personal favourite!) and ‘Swim’ or the more placid, mellow offerings such as ‘In My Head. This is an incredibly diverse album that has a little something for everyone, yet still manages to come together as a superb collection of hard work, perfectly crafted and super skilled songwriting. It is also nice to see that the band haven’t followed the current trend of putting out a standard 10-track album, with a special deluxe edition, but instead have just the one version with a very decent, 16 tracks.

There are strong resemblances with the likes of The 1975 (on ‘Say No More’ and ‘Bite’), MUNA (on ‘Hard To Be Myself’ and ‘In My Head’), Shura (as with ‘Hello Hello’) and Rae Morris (on ‘Swim’) and it would certainly fit well with fans of theirs, but could equally find a place in any trendy, pop or indie-lover’s music collection too!

This is an album packed to bursting point with catchy choruses, groovy guitar licks and salacious synth sounds.

One thing is for certain, the band have managed to produce a fantastic sound that is both contemporary, modern pop yet strongly 80s tinted at the same time; something which is even reflected in their music video imagery and album artwork.

Although the sound throughout is fun and uplifting, that is contrary to the deeply personal lyricism, which finds singer, Natti Shiner, touching upon topics like self-doubt and anxiety, as can be heard on ‘Hard To Be Myself’ or rocky relationships, like that of ‘Wake Me Up’.

Other songs to take note of include the beautifully soothing ‘Paris’, the incredibly pop-tastic, ‘Bite’, the incredibly funky ‘Lovesick’ and the mammoth banger that is ‘Glue’. However, ‘Rotation’ is the only track I find to be somewhat disappointing; it’s quite repetitive and stands out from the rest of the album (and not in a particularly good way). That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not particularly memorable and doesn’t seem to fit nicely amongst the rest of the, otherwise perfect, album.

Fickle Friends have undoubtedly created one heck of a masterpiece; this is not simply shallow, meaningless, throw-away chart hits but rather, relatable pop music with a purpose. The band have made good-quality and fun songs with real depth and meaning, that is definitely going to get stuck in your head. This is sure to be just the beginning for the band. I’m certain this will pave the way for a long and successful career; one which I can’t wait to witness as they continue to grow.

Rating
4.5


‘You Are Someone Else’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/you-are-someone-else/1312920152


You Are Someone Else on Spotify

Hard To Be Myself (Official Video)

Glue (Official Video)

Brooklyn (Official Video)

Swim (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Brighton-based, Fickle Friends’ debut album, You Are Someone Else! What do you think of it? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or chat to us about it via our social media.


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