#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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Muzik Speaks Interviews


#Playlist: Brighton Pride Weekender 2019

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Brighton Pride is fast approaching, so to celebrate, we have updated our Brighton Pride Weekender playlist, dedicated to one of the city’s biggest annual events, promoting equality and diversity with the aim to eliminate discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and more (LGBT+) community.

This playlist has been lovingly crafted to include a variety of tracks, by the artists performing at Brighton Pride 2019, as well as some other great anthems!

If you already own the songs and want the custom artwork, please feel free to copy/download it below:

Brighton Pride Weekender 2019.jpg


We hope you enjoy this playlist as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it!

Please share the link to this post, or the playlist itself and give it a cheeky follow on Spotify too – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5nXqTcFL05VwLPppVaNIE6?si=copqGaOHQFi0lnhz6HYV8w.

Also, if you’ve got any songs you want to suggest for us to add, please let us know 🙂

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Against The Current – Past Lives 👁


   

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Against The Current are an American pop rock band from New York, who formed in 2011. The band is made up of Chrissy Costanza (lead vocals), Dan Gow (guitars) and Will Ferri (drums). The band are notable for regularly posting covers on YouTube as well as delighting fans with original tracks too. In 2016, after signing to Fueled By Ramen, the band released their debut album, In Our Bones. Now, 2018 sees the band releasing their second full-length record, Past Lives. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Against The Current - Past Lives.jpg

This stunningly diverse and charming record opens with the almost haunting ‘Strangers Again’, dealing with getting over a relationship and cutting ties. The guitar line is dreamy and the vocal breakdown towards the end is a rather quiet and personal moment that really draws you in. It’s a brilliant way to open a record; it doesn’t go in all guns blazing but instead captivates the audience with its beautiful soundscapes.

Next is probably the best track on record, ‘The Fuss’. With Daft Punk-esque, 80s synths, funky guitar rhythms and one hell of a catchy chorus, this is a track you will just want to play really loud and dance like mad to!

Other significant songs include: ‘I Like The Way’ – a track all about new love that almost reaches EDM territory with its strong piano line. It’s something you might expect from the likes of Sigala‘s Easy Love or Sweet Lovin’; ‘Voices’ is a slightly more grungy offering about being self-conflicted and trying to ignore the internal voices (which is reflected perfectly with whispering backing vocals) – it’s very Paramore meets Fickle Friends, whilst ‘Scream’ is a rather floaty and dreamy song – for some reason it evokes images of the perfect all-American family from the 1960s (no idea why!) It’s an uplifting yet subtle track; I keep finding myself going back for more.

‘Personal’ has a Taylor Swift-like quality to it and the production is incredible – the vocal harmonies sit beneath the rest of the production in the chorus, but it’s truly enchanting. ‘P.A.T.T.’ (short for Pretty All The Time) is an out and out female empowerment anthem – it’s fast-paced, punchy and relatively simplistic but the message is fun and powerful about girls feeling like they should be allowed to be themselves without having to look “pretty all the time”…calling all, “Girls!”

It’s an impeccably well-crafted record which has very successfully merged the boundaries between dance, pop and rock music, with a sprinkling of 80s vibes on top.

Lastly, ‘Friendly Reminder’ is another notable song, it’s certainly an album track rather than a potential single but the use of a phaser effect on the vocals and an epic clap-along chorus towards the end make it really stand out…again, there’s a big 80s vibe to it.

What Against The Current manage to do so well throughout, is take you on a journey with them; when they’re soaring high, you’ll feel all the sparks of excitement with them brought about with big synth sounds, intense beats and tons of reverb but equally when melancholy reigns, you’ll feel their heartache too.

Whilst I could say something about every track on the record, I won’t – you just need to experience it for yourself. I really can’t recommend this highly enough…the only reason it didn’t get a 5 is because there are one or two less stand-out, album-fillers but even those are pretty damn good. It is very much an album which marks a band that have found their feet; they’ve created something wonderfully catchy yet utterly credible with sincere lyricism, interesting melodies and top-notch production.

It’s an impeccably well-crafted record which has very successfully merged the boundaries between dance, pop and rock music, with a sprinkling of 80s vibes on top; it’s difficult to pigeonhole this band…in a good way! It’s a truly exciting time for the band; this will certainly make waves in the genre and undoubtedly pave an exciting path for their future!

Rating
4-5


‘Past Lives’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/past-lives/1425108766


Past Lives on Spotify

Almost Forgot (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s sophomore release, Past Lives? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Playlist – re:MIXTAPE

 

 


   

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We felt it was time to create the ultimate remix playlist, to accompany/rival the likes of the latest Now That’s What I Call Remix album, putting all the world’s best remixes into one mammoth playlist.

This playlist has been lovingly crafted to include a variety of remixes we love, as well as suggestions from you guys!

If you already own the songs and want the custom artwork, please feel free to copy/download it below:

reMIXTAPE.jpg

re:MIXTAPE Playlist

This playlist is packed to the brim with some of the best remixes around:

  1. Bazzi – Mine (Jengi Remix)
  2. Maroon 5 – What Lovers Do featuring SZA (A-Trak Remix)
  3. NEIKED – Sexual featuring Dyo (Oliver Nelson Remix)
  4. Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back (NOTD Remix)
  5. Charlie Puth – Attention (Bingo Players Remix)
  6. Avicii – Lonely Together featuring Rita Ora (Alan Walker Remix)
  7. Sigrid – Strangers (TIEKS Remix)
  8. P!nk – What About Us (Tiësto’s AFTR:HRS Remix)
  9. Kesha – Praying (Frank Walker Remix)
  10. Craig David – I Know You featuring Bastille (Sultan + Shepard Remix)
  11. Thirty Seconds To Mars – Walk On Water (R3hab Remix)
  12. Maroon 5 – Wait (Chromeo Remix)
  13. Taylor Swift – …Ready For It? (BloodPop® Remix)
  14. P!nk – Beautiful Trauma (E11even Remix)
  15. Niall Horan – Slow Hands (Basic Tape Remix)
  16. Miley Cyrus – Malibu (Alan Walker Remix)
  17. Rita Ora – Anywhere (R3hab Remix)
  18. Britney Spears – Make Me… featuring G-Eazy (Tom Budin Remix)
  19. Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry (Freedo Remix)
  20. The Chainsmokers – Something Just Like This featuring Coldplay (Alesso Remix)
  21. Sam Smith – Like I Can (Artful Remix)
  22. Zedd – Stay featuring Alessia Cara (The Kemist Remix)
  23. David Guetta & Afrojack – Dirty Sexy Money featuring Charli XCX French Montana (Banx & Ranx Remix)
  24. Charli XCX – Boys (Nevada Remix)
  25. Clean Bandit – I Miss You featuring Julia Michaels (Cahill Remix)
  26. Liam Payne – Bedroom Floor (Cash Cash Remix)
  27. Anne-Marie – Heavy (John Gibbons Remix)
  28. NEIKED – Call Me featuring MIMI (Alex Adair Remix)
  29. Kesha – Learn To Let Go (Feenixpawl Remix)
  30. Mabel – Finders Keepers featuring Kojo Funds (DUSK Remix)
  31. Rita Ora – Your Song (Cheat Codes Remix)
  32. Miley Cyrus – Younger Now (Fred Falke Remix)
  33. ZAYN – LIKE I WOULD (Oliver Nelson Remix)
  34. Busted – Thinking Of You (TAYST Remix)
  35. Charlie Puth – We Don’t Talk Anymore featuring Selena Gomez (Attom Remix)
  36. Julia Michaels – Issues (Alan Walker Remix)
  37. Vance Joy – Lay It On Me (Said The Sky Remix)
  38. Selena Gomez – Wolves (Said The Sky Remix)
  39. James Arthur – Naked (CADE Remix)
  40. Sam Smith – Lay Me Down (Tiësto Remix)

I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it! Please share the link to this post, or the playlist itself and give it a follow on Spotify too – https://open.spotify.com/user/muzik5peaks/playlist/1nN0ylV9EkCnCFOo3b6jW5?si=fFo3ZTQuTfq57o7xBw5Yig. If you’ve got any songs to suggest for us to add to the playlist, please let us know 🙂

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Everywhere


   

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Everywhere released their most recent single, ‘Moments’, back in 2017 and their fantastic EP, Fiction Act back in 2016, but have been busy doing a whole range of things, from writing to gigging and much more, since then. We were lucky enough to get some time to catch up with them and chat about a few things. Here’s what they had to say…


Hey, how’s it going?
Hey man! Awesome, how about you??

Very well thank you. Obviously you recently released your awesome new single, ‘Moments’, and the reception seems to have been great. Is this a sign of a new EP or album in the pipeline?
Thank you so much! Yes, ‘Moments’ was a sort of in the middle kind of track to keep the juice flowing. We’re currently penning another bunch of tunes that should end up on another EP, hopefully around this fall!

What other future plans have you guys got?
We’re looking at getting out on another tour to promote some new music, also doing loads of writing for film and TV in Hollywood. We’ve become kind of a factory 🙂

That sounds incredible! Where do you take inspirations from when writing your music?
We recently discovered a pretty neat trick, think it was Taylor Swift who said it. Basically, we write down fun and cool titles as they come to mind and during our daily writing sessions, we work these titles around tracks that we make. It’s an easy was to stay creative and never let the process stall.

What’s your usual process for writing/recording?
Our frontman Max has his daily sessions, when he sits down and builds tracks in Logic, he then takes those tracks into writing sessions with London writers and producers and builds demos. He then takes those demos to the rest of the band who expands on those arrangements. When we have a good amount of songs, or sketches we then head into a bigger studio such as Abbey Road, or if we happen to be over in LA we go to East West where we create the final master.

Wow! Abbey Road…pretty cool. So, if you could do a collaboration with anyone, who would it be and why?
It would be a pure pleasure to work with Max Martin. Just for the pure fact that he’s had so many Billboard hits and is a fellow Swede.

What music have you been listening to most recently?
Mostly our own, as we’re currently doing loads of writing. Other than that it’s the usual suspects, a good mix of classic rock and top 40 hits. Recently rediscovered Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure and loads of other nice little nuggets from the past.

If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
It would probably be ‘Rockstar’ by Post Malone, such a masterpiece.

What makes a great show for you?
One where people turn up and go nuts. A sold-out show is always a great one.

Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals?
The singer, Max, always stays sober but drinks a Red Bull while the rest of the band get hammered.

Haha! Has anything scary ever happened to you on tour?
This would be a perfect place to deliver a well crafted lie, but unfortunately, besides a few heavily overweight old women going for a good grab from behind, that large disaster is yet to arrive *knock on wood*

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Politics, painting and reading.

What really grinds your gears?
Death Metal, not the greatest thing since bread. Wouldn’t categorically call it bad but generally it’s not up our street.

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
I must say The Disaster Artist was amazing, just had me nailed from beginning to end and would warmly recommend it to anyone.

If, in say 20 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Edward Norton and Mark Wallberg, directed by Michael Bay.

Haha! That’d be one EPIC movie! If you could be any chocolate bar, which one would you be?
Snickers.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Focus on your craft and the rest will follow. People tend to overestimate their skills and always wonder why the success never happens.


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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Cyrus Bolooki from New Found Glory

With the recent release of their 9th studio album, Makes Me Sick, I had the opportunity to catch up with Cyrus Bolooki from one of my favourite pop punk bands, New Found Glory. We caught up about why the band chose the title for their latest album, which current song he’d like the band to cover, who he’d love to work with and which chocolate bar he’d be. It’s all here…


   

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Hey, how’s it going for you guys?
Going great, thanks for asking! We’re currently wrapping up our 20 Year Anniversary Tour here in the US and it’s been nothing short of amazing!

So you’ve just dropped your 9th album, ‘Makes Me Sick’ how exciting! Where did you take inspiration for some of the songs from? What’s the title of the record, in reference to?
As with pretty much all of our albums, the inspirations for our songs, both musically and lyrically, comes from within. Musically with this record we wanted to allow ourselves to explore any idea that had come to mind, which is where the extra layers of guitars and 80s-sounding keys come from, whereas on Resurrection we specifically went for a more stripped down sound and didn’t want to overdo any of the production with additional elements besides the core drums, guitar, bass, and vocals.  There was a lot more freedom this time around, which was a great feeling while writing and recording this album.

Lyrically, inspiration comes from everything around us, and you will notice a theme on this album where the beginning of the record starts out pretty critical of things going on in the world around us and relationships people may have, but by the end of the album the finger is actually pointed at the listener, challenging them to not always just criticize others without remembering to also look at themselves to see if they are guilty of the same things that they are pointing out about others. The title of the album, Makes Me Sick, is nothing more than a play on words, because we knew that it would be funny for people to literally say the phrase ‘New Found Glory Makes Me Sick’ even if they didn’t feel that way at all. It was to serve as a talking point, which is exactly what happened here!

What music have you been listening to most recently?
I honestly had been listening to a bunch of our old NFG material just before this tour, as on this tour we’re playing over 77 different songs from our first 6 full-length albums and quite a few that we had never played live before, so there was a fair amount of “refreshing” needed in order for us to pull all of this off!

Now you guys are no stranger to a cover, so if you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
I’m sure this answer will get me in trouble because it’s bound to come back and haunt me at a later time, but I personally would love to put our own spin on ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ by Taylor Swift & Zayn. I think that song would have the heaviest chorus, especially if we sped it up in the verses and then slowed it down in the choruses, typical NFG style. Plus, Jordan’s voice is high enough to hit those notes in the chorus, right? But honestly I’m sure no one else in the band would agree with me on this, so don’t expect a cover of this anytime soon!

That’s hilarious! So, you have probably had the chance to work with many people over the years, but is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with that you’d really love to work with?
As a band as a whole, I think Green Day is the one band that we all collectively looked up to and took inspiration from at one point or another in our career, so an actually collaboration with them would be sick. I’d also love to see what would happen if we were to work with some of the huge producers of the 80’s and 90’s, like Mutt Lange (who produced Shania Twain and Def Leppard amongst others) or Bob Rock (Metallica’s Black album) or even Rick Rubin (who’s done everything from The Beastie Boys to System of a Down to The Dixie Chicks and plenty of others).

Other than music, is there anything else you guys are passionate about?
We all have various interests outside of this band. Jordan is a tattoo artist when he’s not on the road with us, Ian is probably one of the biggest baseball/sports fans and collectors out there, and Chad’s a huge movie buff. My passions vary from music production to even selling real estate, but I’m also very passionate about being a dad when I’m not on the road. Most of us in the band have wives and children, and we try as hard as we can to balance between family life and tour life, and although it’s one of the hardest things to deal with while in this industry, it’s also one of the reasons why we’re all able to still be doing this 20 years later, because we all understand and appreciate each other, both professionally and personally.

What really grinds your gears?
I’m a perfectionist, so that’s a good and bad thing, and I don’t like it when things don’t work out as I expect or want them to. Lots of [the] time that just puts extra pressure on me for no reason, but in the end I think it makes me better at what I do and I’d rather spend my life trying to be the best I can be rather than just letting everything coast by without caring if it’s good or not.

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
I’ll answer this on behalf of everyone else. I didn’t see it but pretty much everyone else in the band recently saw “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and said it was amazing.

If a film was made about your lives, who would you want to play you?
That’s a hard question to answer, because you can go different ways with it…would I go for an actor who’s well-known for being able to perfectly translate any role they’re given (like Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio)? Or would I just settle for someone that looks like me (might be a stretch, but how about Robert Downey Jr.?). Actually, now that I’ve let my facial hair grow out in the past few years, I think Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan from The Walking Dead) would be a great person to cast for me…

If you could be any chocolate bar, which one would you be?
Butterfinger all the way. Snickers a close second.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t remember where I first heard it, but I have always followed the ideology that you should take chances and go for it if you think it’s right for you, because nothing’s worse than living with regret. I’ve been guilty of not only following that, but also ignoring that a few times, and it’s true that to this day I still regret certain things that I either did or didn’t do when now looking back I realize I should have given them a chance. Also, that’s how I ended up being in NFG. Not too long after we all got together, we were presented with a choice — do we continue to play shows and write music as a hobby, or do we put our “normal” lives on hold and really give this a chance to see what could happen? For me, that choice meant giving up scholarships and dropping out of school, much to my parents’ dismay, but obviously I made the right choice, and I remember telling myself that the opportunities we were going to have would probably never come to me again, so at that time it was “now or never,” and if I turned it down I would probably regret it for the rest of my life.


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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Will Joseph Cook (April 2017)


   

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It was in November 2016 that I last got to meet and interview Will Joseph Cook before his show at The Hope & Ruin in Brighton. He’s now gearing up to release his debut album, Sweet Dreamer (check out our review) on Friday 14th April 2017 and it seemed a good time to catch up with him and find out what he’s been up to.

He told us all about which track he’s most excited for people to hear, who he’d like to collaborate with, the inspirations behind his music videos and revealed that he’s already starting to write for album number 2! It’s all here…


Hey Will, how’s it going?
I’m good man, how are you?

It’s nice and sunny, so I’m all good thanks. So what have you been up to since we last spoke? I gather your debut album, Sweet Dreamer, drops this Friday?
Yeah, it’s pretty made to be honest. It’s been like a weird couple of months where we’ve been preparing. We were crazy busy with shows earlier this year and then the last couple of weeks I suppose has been kind of looming in preparation, I guess…but it is really exciting. It’s good times.

That’s awesome! Well I’ve been lucky enough to hear the album already and have to say, it’s absolutely incredible and so diverse, where did you take your musical inspirations from?
Thanks man! Well I guess it’s probably too broad for me to list like a bunch of bands. I know that sounds a very pretentious thing to say but like my rule of thumb has always been, I’ll try and have at least like five for each track. Probably, most of the time, I’d say [I] go in blind when recording it, as in very rarely am I setting out with a style in mind or something. I’ll just literally throw some chords or a beat down and then work to that and then it’s only once about three ideas are into it, then it starts to have a bit more of a personality, but I try and keep a good five things that I can say inspired the track whilst I’m making it. Just so it doesn’t end up sounding like one thing.

Which track or tracks are you most excited for people to hear?
I am interested to see what people make of ‘Hands’, which is like the mid track. Just because it’s the breathing point in the middle of the album, I guess and it’s a very personal track that I didn’t at first perceive putting on the album. It was more just for my own listening and I just made it in quite an isolated way, I think. It will interesting, I think, just to see whether people love it or hate it (laughter).

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I would love to do something with Francis and the Lights; I think he’s amazing. Loads of people to be honest. I was listening to Chance the Rapper this morning and I think his collaboration is almost like his speciality; picking really interesting and inspiring collaborations, like he did a whole EP with Chilly Gonzalez and Boys Noize which are two of my inspirations as well, so working with him would be pretty sick…if he’s got the time, you know…he should hit me up!

Wicked! So after the album is obviously the tour, which places are you looking forward to playing most?
Well, we’ve never done Europe before, so all the European dates are going to be really interesting. Germany and Paris, those will be pretty special I think. But in the UK, I’m excited to come back to Manchester just because it’s been quite overdue I think, since we last played there and the last show was really wicked. So Manchester for those reasons but then obviously the Heaven show’s going to be pretty special because it’s the biggest one.

Yeah, that’ll be cool! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be?
I don’t even know what’s in the charts (laughter). I’m pretty sure it’s all Drake and Ed Sheeran.

Yeah, pretty much!
Can it be just, if I don’t know how well it charted, but say, I heard it on Radio 1?

Yeah, that’ll do.
Um, I really love…actually, this is definitely a charting song, the Little Mix track. What’s the recent one? It’s basically a dance track.

I think that’s ‘Touch’.
Yeah, ‘Touch’. That’s a tune! (Laughs)

If someone famous was to cover one of your songs, who would you want it to be and which song?
That’s a good question! I definitely love to hear a girl sing the track. (Pause) Um…I’m thinking about this too much aren’t I?

It’s fine. Don’t worry. (laughs)
I think someone like Frank Ocean, he’d do a good job of it. Not that he would (laughs) (I’m a massive fan) but I think he’d take it in an interesting direction and make it really sparse. That’d be cool.

Do you write songs for anyone else?
I would love to. I have lots of songs that are maybe half baked or weren’t right for this album and stuff like that. It’s always something I would love to do – either write with someone or for someone.

Yeah. Who would you like to write for if you were going to do it?
I think maybe something out of my comfort zone or something unexpected. I mean I’d love to do like a massive straight-for-the-gullet pop track, like a Taylor Swift thing or something, but I think those kind of things, it takes maybe a more a super artist-focused thing and you’d probably want to do the writing with that person. But yeah, doing a Taylor Swift song would be pretty fun!

Yeah that’d be cool. Obviously music videos and imagery are a big part of your style, where do you take inspirations for your videos from?
I think there was a golden age of videos in the 90s and early 00s. I kind of like videos, like some Sum 41 videos and stuff like where you acknowledge that it’s a music video. They’re very self-aware and stupid and personality-driven, I guess. I think that music videos, it’s obviously amazing when they become quite a high art form but I think when everyone tried to do that they just became really bland. Something can look cool and really aesthetically pleasing but just be incredibly dull to watch, so I’d rather flip it maybe one way and have just an interesting, fun watch than get too hung up on styling it perfectly or whatever.

Have you got any new videos in the pipeline?
Yeah I do actually. I wrote the treatment for one the other day.

Can you say which track it’s for?
It’s a track called, ‘Treat Me Like A Lover’.

That’s cool, that’s one of my favourite songs on the album!
Oh thanks. I think it’s, you know, kind of similar to ‘Beach’ in that it’ll be very storyline-driven, as opposed to gimmicky, so yeah.

I know you recently put ‘Plastic’ online, have you done one for that track?
I’d love to do one for ‘Plastic’, but I guess it just depends if someone’s going to give me some money to make it (laughter).

That’s a really good track as well. I thought it was really interesting and not like some of the other stuff you’ve done before. It’s quite different – it’s a really good track.
Yeah, for sure! It stays very true to my production demo that I made of it. So all the sounds in there are just like the original stems and samples from my Logic demo of it. I guess its more like a…well, it’s like ‘Hands’; it’s one that I made very much on my own and then took it to someone rather than having this bare framework of a song and then adding the arrangements with someone there. There was already all the arrangements there. I guess it’s maybe more representative of, because it’s one of the newest tracks on there, of maybe where things could go and where I’m kind of taking my writing and production.

That’s cool and leads me on to my next question nicely. Obviously, I know your debut album is only just about to come out, but often it’s a long process. Have you been writing since the recording of ‘Sweet Dreamer’? Have you got more ideas for the next record?
Well that’s what I’m doing today, I’m just in my little writing room. Yeah, I find it kind of weird like lots of people say, ‘Take a break’ but I definitely don’t want to take a longer break than a couple months. It just feels weird having not finished or recorded a song properly in like four months now so I feel like that’s a long enough break, so yeah, I’ve got cracking again.

Will there be pressure on you to produce a second album quite quickly?
Mainly from myself I think. (Laughter) I definitely want to keep sharing it, keep building it and keep surprising people. I have some interesting ideas of where I’m going to take it. There’s definitely no point or no reward for me in making the same thing twice.

What’s your favourite part of being an artist? Live performance? Writing? Recording? PR?
I think obviously it’s all pretty fun; it’s a sick job, for sure, but for me personally, probably the recording process; where it just suddenly starts to sound like something good and you’ve created something that didn’t exist 10 minutes ago and it sounds sweet. You know, for me, that’s the magic rush and the core of it all; you know, without that and if you’ve never had that, then you wouldn’t have everything else. It’s cool.

If you could be any chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Which chocolate bar would I be? Um…I think I would be a Snickers; there’s a lot going on. So, yeah…there’s a lot to be gained from a Snickers. (Laughter)

(Laughs) I like that! That’s good! Well thanks very much for taking the time out of your day and your writing, to chat and good luck with your album release.
Thanks dude!


A massive thanks to Isobel for setting up the interview with Will and to will for taking the time to chat – it was great to catch up with him and remember to check out our review of the album, Sweet Dreamer!


Will Joseph Cook‘s releases are all available:


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