Talking About New-Age Hip-Hop with LaLion

Everyone has something to say about the ‘new’ wave of rappers, most of it being unfairly slated by old school hip-hop heads afraid to see the genre evolve or change. Rid yourself of this apprehension and you’re sure to find a bunch of extremely talented individuals (e.g Lou The Human) out there that have somehow flown under the mainstream radar, Seattle based rapper LaLion being just that. With his fast delivery, clever bars, and hard beats he’s slowly gaining the attention he deserves. With 2 albums already released, he’s targeting the big time.

The 21-year-old started rapping at the age of 11 and, much like the running theme of new age rappers, took inspiration from genres other than hip-hop. While he grew up listening to notable big shots like Biggie, 2Pac, and Kendrick, LaLion states “I spent most of my teen years playing in bands and practicing guitar. So, a lot of my inspiration comes from rock bands like Linkin Park, The Strokes, and Nirvana“.

A rock influence is nothing new for a lot of rappers nowadays but it has certainly helped the likes of LaLion to pave a new chapter for the genre they hold dear. Kurt Cobain went on to inspire a plethora of kids with guitars but he’s even gone as far to heavily influence hip hop long after his death, with his bleak and gloomy outlook becoming the foundations for others to build upon. Denzel Curry may just be the bluntest about this, naming a song ‘Clout Cobain’ which revolved around the consequences of fame while dealing with paranoia and suicidal thoughts. The late Lil Peep could have arguably been heralded as carrying the Nirvana’s star flame into the surge of SoundCloud rap.

LaLion has ensured that this gloomy aesthetic isn’t merely just that, his adamance about his music being more than just a look being truly palatable. “My music is made to cater to the person who is struggling through something in their life.  My music style reflects anger towards the modern normality’s that are causing kids to kill themselves. If we are talking stylistically my music is a mix between Bone-Thugs and Linkin Park.”

His childhood and surroundings have also played a part in his lyrical content too. “Seattle is a dark and depressing place. Growing up in the Seattle area has made an impact on my music.  We have grey clouds nine out of the twelve months and homeless people on every block.

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While he has his hopes set high, LaLion is a firm believer in staying humble and hopes to make that firm for any young rappers with lofty goals but don’t make time for their craft. “It is the most important thing you could do.  I see a lot of young artists with hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, but they release one song every three months.  And that song ends up not sounding very good. But it depends on the type of artist you want to be. If you want to be the best, you need to work more than the rest.

The rapper also thinks it’s vital for youngsters to understand history of hip hop. “You need to understand who built the foundation for where you are standing”. With the conversation about culture vultures and appropriation in music still ongoing, it’s definitely a perspective worth bearing in mind.

Talking of the ‘new wave’, artists like Lil Pump, LiL Uzi Vert and Juice Wrld have faced criticism for their style of hip hop because of their so called ‘lazy lyrics’ and ‘auto-tuned effects’. However, there’s a place for every sound and most criticism these artists have faced can seem almost venomous. LaLion agrees and thinks there’s room for all types of hip hop. “The ‘new school’ rappers as you put, are club artists. So, if I’m in a club or a party, sure, put that shit on.” But he also believes it is extremely important to stay unique. “That’s probably why all these kids are getting face tattoos. They want to be impossible to copy with their image. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to the music and they end up sounding like the last guy.

But where does LaLion see himself in the coming years? His dream one day is to “Be the best in the game. Grammy’s. Most streamed. The best.” Just like his idol and favourite rapper of all time Eminem.

I wouldn’t say that I am recognised even now. But when I started this, yes.  I came into it with the thought I will be the best in the game without a doubt.  Confidence is key.” – Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs)

A Wee Chat with…Velveteen Riot

As they prepare themselves for a tour that will take them all over the prime cities to play in Scotland, there’s never a better time to sit down with Velveteen Riot than right now.

They’ve undoubtedly become more prominent over the past year, in no small part to them being brought on to support Wolf Alice in 2017 and following that up with a sturdy new EP. So before they set off to Perth in a fortnight’s time, let’s see what the band have to say as liam menzies (@blinkclyro) asks them about their career so far, what makes them stand out and much, much more.

 

photos fae Mairi McAnena (FB)

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TRANSISTOR: Your EP ‘She Rains Over Me’ dropped last month – how have you guys felt since putting it out into public? Is there anything you’ve learned from any of the feedback received?

Velveteen Riot: We were really excited with how much of a response we got with it. It got way more attention than we anticipated and people were reacting really well to it. It’s definitely the work we’re proudest of so far.

T: In your view, what makes Velveteen Riot stand out as a band?

VR: I think what makes us stand out is that we’re basically the ABBA of shoegaze. Though joking aside, we’re not trying to stand out, we’re just making music for ourselves. We started out as four strangers who met online that wanted to play music but as times gone on it’s been out friendship that has driven the band forward. We’ve become really close, Velveteen Riot wouldn’t work without all of us – we’ve not had any lineup changes because to do that would be to change the entire dynamic of us as a band. I think this is what grabs people’s attention as we’re just trying to be ourselves rather than trying to emulate anyone else.

T: In addition, what’s your general view of the Scottish music scene, specifically Glasgow?

VR: Glasgow has such a rich music scene with so many great bands and venues. Although, there can be a very cliquey nature to some of it and a lot of smaller scenes have formed within it that can be quite hard to get into if you don’t know the right people. It’s a bit like high school in a way – if you get in with the designated cool kids you’re able to get much more attention than the bands that are still starting out, or running their own gigs.

That being said, we’ve had such a great experience playing in Glasgow and have gotten to play with some great bands. We’ve all grown up listening to Glasgow bands and are incredibly proud to be one ourselves and to be a part of such an amazing music scene.

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T: You got to support Wolf Alice – what was that like? Are there any other bands you guys would be keen on supporting in the near future?

VR: Wolf Alice was surreal. It’s been a year and none of us really believe it happened. They were some of the nicest people we’ve ever played with and that gig was one of the moments that made us think, “huh, people actually really like what we do”. It was a big confidence boost for us going forward and it’s given us a real determination to keep developing our sound.

The list of bands we’d love to support is endless really, of course, there’s Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. We’re also all big fans of Sunflower Bean. Additionally, it’d be very cool to support some of the Scottish bands we grew up loving such as Franz Ferdinand, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Pastels.

T: Speaking of gigs, how has your experience playing live turned out? What makes a Velveteen Riot show?

VR: Lots of fun and lots of mistakes. Playing gigs is one of our favourite parts of being in a band. What makes a Velveteen Riot show for us is having a lot of fun and not taking ourselves or the show too seriously. Our confidence playing live is constantly evolving, none of us are very extroverted so it has taken some time to find our feet on stage. We aim to produce the best sound we possibly can and just enjoy ourselves. Overall, I think our authenticity and pure passion for the music is what makes a Velveteen Riot show.

T: Lastly, is there much in the way of plans for the rest of 2018?

VR: We’re planning a mini-tour in Autumn with a couple of our friends’ bands which we’re very hyped about, details on that will be announced very soon! We’re also are planning on recording more music and getting as much stuff out as we can before the year ends.

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stream velveteen riot’s she rains over me here

catch velveteen riot on tour:

18th October – Green Room, Perth

19th October – 13th Note, Glasgow

20th October – Secret Set, Dundee

21st October – The Cellar, Aberdeen

SWAY: Standing Out and Speaking Up

words fae liam menzies (@blinkclyro), photos courtesy of Daniel Blake (FB)

In a year that has seen both great things occur, such as bands like The Vegan Leather landing a tasty spot on the Electric Fields billing, as well as harrowing events, the loss of the O2 ABC being a prime one, the music scene in Glasgow is certainly one thing and that’s active.

The same can’t be said about Paisley based rock outfit Sway: thankfully the shoegazey foursome haven’t split up but this year has been a relatively quiet one which mostly comes down to some hapless occurrences. “We sadly didn’t hit the ground running this year due to some unfortunate circumstances outwith our hands,” tells frontman Craig, the details of which are unclear but regardless, it’s not all doom and gloom. “We took it slow for the first half of 2018, but for these last few months of the year? You’re gonna be hearing a lot more from us” adamantly states Matt, the band promising not only new material but branching out with their gigging by hitting some other locations across the UK they haven’t yet played.

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If you so happen to find yourself nearby a venue SWAY is playing at though, why should you bother to fork out and go along? JonJoe doesn’t mince words when declaring what makes the band stand out, the group priding themselves on “the darker topics we explore through our music and our different perspectives, as well as our interests, bleed into that“. This isn’t just a bit of PR fluff either – To Be A Man saw SWAY take aim at a toxic relationship bubbling over with manipulation, all juxtaposed with poppy sensibilities that no doubt take influence from the bleaker state of rock during the 80’s. Not only that but their latest single Another Lover sees the bass agonising over a fittingly desperate set of lyrics that pack in equal parts heartbreak and determination.

While the boys are no doubt focussed on their newest material, Matt is sure to use their time to sing the praises of other acts that are often overlooked. “There’s a fair amount of people who I’d say don’t get enough praise, but personally I’d say Lizzie Reid definitely doesn’t. Lizzie is an incredible singer/songwriter who’s been playing in and around Glasgow for some time now. I saw her at the Old Hairdresser’s not that long ago and was stunned at how moving her performance was.

You may be wondering where cool as a cucumber David DIV Roberts is through all this but don’t worry, he didn’t keep hush through this entire interview as he chimed in to talk about one of his favourite releases of the year. “For me, Shredd’s EP is astounding,” he says, Jonjoe concurring, before going on to reminisce about The Walkmen record The Rat which fills in whatever other time he has left. 

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All those days spent writing and gigging must take a toll on you but it seems SWAY have a pretty healthy coping mechanism in the form of, well, each other. “Personally writer’s block has been a constant problem,” Craig says “that I’ve had to deal with since I started to write music especially with outside factors over the past few years that suck your motivation and drive out of you. Luckily enough I’ve always been able to bounce off the rest of the boys and get back into it when going through a slump.

As the photos included throughout show, SWAY are a wholesome bunch of boys who aren’t afraid to dabble in some fun as well as some sombre topics. The fluidity and brotherhood displayed between them all, while often seen, is refreshing in the scene considering how they channel it into their music as well as their live shows. The band are very much that in general: refreshing, like a nice cold glass of water, though with probably a tear or two in there.

stream sway’s new single Another Lover here

Vistas: Touring, Tuts, and Teasing

words fae liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

It’s a sunburn inducingly warm day in Glasgow and already you’re probably asking yourself “is this interview lying before it’s even started” but no, it really was one of those special afternoons where the weather wasn’t as bleak as most of the general public were. Sitting (well standing, the tables turned and I was put in the hot seat) out behind the rubble littered back streets behind the iconic King Tuts venue, Prentice (vocals + guitar), Jamie (bass) and Dylan (guitar) of Vistas all crowd around the touring minivan, their soon to be humble abode when the boys set off a UK tour later this year. 

The prospect of a UK tour probably seemed like a faint glimmer in the band’s eye when things started off back in 2016 but two years later and the Edinburgh based band have found themselves excessively trailing over the country, accumulating millions of streams on Spotify and rubbing shoulders with inspirations like Circa Waves and The Magic Gang. Their brand of indie pop tunes, having started off more in the rock side of things, has obviously struck a chord with fans who have stood by them as they’ve further tinkered with it. According to Prentice, fans can expect a new EP in “September, October-ish” which they feel will be more of a new chapter for the band compared to their first one Medicine.

When it comes to prodding about the long-anticipated debut record, the answer is a bit murkier, Prentice simply saying that the band doesn’t want to force things out until they feel more comfortable. “We’re a very cautious band and we don’t want to do too much too soon before we’re ready and we get asked quite a lot when that album is coming out but admittedly we’re not prepared to do it“, going on to say how excessive touring can throw a further spanner in the works.

On that touring note, the boys aren’t taking things lightly; “We’re set to do around about 24 shows in the space of 30 days, give or take” Jamie states, teasing that there are quite a few to be announced though goes on to clarify how fatigued the experience can be. “When we did our first UK tour with touts, we were away from home for a month and looking back it wasn’t all that bad. Compared to our last two shows in London, we were absolutely done in from it” though Prentice builds on that by saying the horrible heat hasn’t helped matters which is probably for the best considering the energy of a Vistas show is a huge drawing in factor, both in the fans’ view and the band’s.

We’ve come on quite a bit the past six months but I think the fact we care so much gives us that edge, especially when we’re aware that people are spending £8-10 that they could spend elsewhere” Prentice chimes. Dylan chips in to say that while there is definitely that element to it, the band themselves have so much that they make the trip that people venture on to see them worth it, Jamie mentioning how many are off to see them tonight from Edinburgh where that journey can last twice as long as their set.

As the interview draws to a close, and Graham (drums) appears, no doubt from the drawn-out soundcheck that had happened prior to this, I wish the band luck on their performance tonight though I could have done the complete opposite and they would still have a successful night: photos from the Tuts gig flood into my social media feeds, the venue looks packed to the brim as the gratitude of the members are unashamedly painted on their faces. It’s easy to fawn over the popularity of Vistas but what’s worth mentioning is the sheer down to earth attitude that only goes to add to their likability: millions of listeners could easily fill up an ego but all that extra air has gone straight to their lungs so they can keep that consistent quality more than steady. 

 

 

Mom Jeans’ Eric Butler Discusses Touring, Collabs and Latest LP ‘Puppy Love’

words by Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182)

Mom Jeans is a four-piece emo outfit hailing from southern California. After releasing their debut Best Buds in 2016, the world was introduced to their bouncy and addictive melodies that set the background for their aching post-breakup lyrics. The album really hit home for a lot of fans and garnered a mass cult following, all anxious to watch the band make their next move. Since then, Mom Jeans have been touring relentlessly, mostly with bands surrounding the independent label, Counter Intuitive Records. CI, (Counter Intuitive) has quickly become one of the most exciting up-and-coming labels in indie music for their roster of fresh and exciting new bands, most of whom exist within the indie/emo scene. Mom Jeans put out their first record on Counter Intuitive and planned to put out their second on SideOneDummy, home to acts such as PUP and Rozwell Kid. But when SideOneDummy began to slip and stopped signing new bands, Mom Jeans took it back to CI to release their second full-length, Puppy Love. I got the chance to chat with lead vocalist and songwriter Eric Butler to get a more in-depth look behind the album.

RM: Was there any pressure during the writing process for the album? Best Buds really clicked with so many people and really brought the band to another level of popularity. Did you feel Puppy Love had to have the same impact or were there any thoughts of trying to capitalize on what made the first record so special?

EB: I mean honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever gone into writing music with an intent of creating an impact, we’ve always just tried to write music that we think sounds cool and that’s fun for us to play. I think all four of us get a lot of gratification out of learning how to play new songs and sharing ideas and trying to make every song as fun as possible to play. For all of us, playing music has always been about having fun, having fun playing music together and getting to spend time together as friends has always been the number one priority. Playing big gigs is always cool and selling records is dope too but at the end of the day we just wanna make music together. In that respect, nothing really changed between best buds and puppy love. I can def say that putting a release together with the expectation that people would be listening to it/anticipating it was definitely new to us, but we really tried to set that aside and just make a record that we could be stoked on no matter what other people think about it.

RM: What was it like putting Puppy Love together? What songs were written first? Were there any that came together quicker than others?

EB: I’m definitely a super slow writer, and it was definitely tough to get the ball rolling as far as writing songs for an album rather than just writing songs. I think sponsor me tape and season 9 were the first songs that I was like “ok these are goin’ on LP 2”, but in general it’s pretty hard for me to keep writing/working on something unless I’m super into it or unless I feel like it’s really going in a direction that I like. From there like usual I brought all the song skeletons to Austin, Bart and Gabe and we hashed them out and everybody wrote parts that made sense and that they liked. Pretty much every song that we’ve put together since best buds (minus the split songs) ended up on puppy love except for maybe one or two.

RM: The CI family is having such an amazing year, it must be pretty surreal at the moment. Has surrounding yourself with like-minded musicians and friends helped push MJ as well as other bands forward creatively?

EB: Absolutely! For us I think it’s really important to be surrounded by like-minded and similarly-oriented people. Playing hundreds of shows a year can get pretty tiring and I think a lot of people get burnt out on playing and touring pretty fast, but for us I feel like every tour or project that we work on is super exciting and super motivating because every single band that’s around us is absolutely killing it. Most of the musical influences that got me inspired and excited to work on new music came from listening to other CI bands like Just Friends, Nervous Dater, Retirement Party, Prince Daddy, and all the extended fam like Chatterbot and Open Door Records bands. 

RM: The lyrics on both albums are both very confessional in their own ways. Is it more therapeutic to write the lyrics and then put music to them or to perform the songs live?

EB: I think each is therapeutic in their own way, but like the physical act of playing songs is what compels me the most. Lyrics have always been kind of like a diary where I can express thoughts and feelings that are hard to discuss so plainly otherwise, and actually saying them out loud for real is extremely therapeutic and I feel like it allows me to feel like I’m addressing them by at least acknowledging them. Even just getting lost in a live setting (not even necessarily performing just like playing together) l has always been so addictive to me. There’s a magical moment that happens every once in a while, where things just come together perfectly, and I feel like I forget about everything that’s bothering me and I just zone out on the music. I fkn live for that moment where everything just sounds perfect and new and special. 

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While Best Buds was more centered around a break-up, Puppy Love deals with voluntarily distancing yourself from those you love. There is an established sense of confidence in Butler’s voice when he details isolating himself. It doesn’t sound like it’s what he wants to do but it also sounds necessary in order for both people to grow and become more individualized.

Butler also takes sharp aim at his own flaws all over the album; what he is putting into his body, his emotions and why he is feeling that way, and efficiently communicating with those around him. Perhaps it’s a way to say those flaws out loud with brute honesty in order to move one step closer to breaking those bad habits.

Musically, the band has never sounded tighter. Bart Starr from Graduating Life has been added as a second guitarist and it really helps fill out the band’s sound. There are more tasty riffs and more transitions that add more depth to each song. (SPOILER ALERT CLICK AWAY NOW) There’s also one really sick part during the outro of Glamorous where Weezer’s Sweater Song is interpolated. Brianda Goyos León, from the CI-signed band Just Friends, appears on the 7th and 10th track and adds a beautiful layer of harmony behind Butler’s voice. (Just Friends recently put out an incredible record called Nothing but Love on Counter Intuitive Records).

RM:  I really enjoyed Brianda’s vocals paired with yours on the album. Will there be more vocal collaborations in MJ’s future? If so who would you be interested in collaborating with?

EB: I mean hopefully! I like doing vocal collabs because I feel like I’m honestly not a very good singer so getting objectively talented vocalists to perform is always super fun and I feel like it truly adds an aspect that we couldn’t pull off on our own. Brond is literally the best and having her voice on the record is a huge privilege and I’m so grateful that she was willing to sing on it. As far as the future I can’t really speculate because in general the lyrics are pretty tailor made for me, but you can always count on the day one homies being part of the picture. 

RM: You guys have been touring so much! How’s it been? Do you feel you’ll be rested enough before you head out again this fall?

EB: It’s definitely exhausting but we had a really nice break this spring after getting home from tour with Tiny Moving Parts. We took about 3 months off shows and just focused on spending time with our partners and families and made the record and I think it was really worth it. We all literally just got back from a full US tour with Graduating Life (Bart’s project that Austin and I play in) but prior to that it was the longest break we’ve ever had since we started touring. I definitely feel like we’re ready to hit the road in the fall especially because we get to bring so many of our good friends with us.

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For an album that deals mostly with self-loathing and distance, it’s hard to find a song on the record that isn’t fun as hell. If pop punk isn’t your cup of tea and it generally makes you cringe, it’s fair to say that this record isn’t going to change your mind very much. There isn’t much that Mom Jeans accomplish on their second album that Fantano would call “reinventing the wheel of emo”. Basically, meaning in some sense it’s just another pop punk record. What makes this album special is how much it allows you to become invested in it. Best Buds offered a comfort blanket for those reeling from a break-up. It was an album that made you feel better musically but also addressed how you might be feeling so you don’t feel so alone. Puppy Love functions the same way and with each listen, you may find yourself sinking deeper into your own feelings and how it relates to what Butler is saying. A perfect example of the therapeutic effects emo/pop-punk music has to its long-time listeners.

RM:  I love the TV references scattered throughout the album (Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Workaholics, Rick & Morty). What are your top favorite shows of all time?

EB: I’ll cut it off at 5 to save us all some time aha. I gotta go with Grey’s Anatomy, Futurama, Freaks and Geeks, Bob’s Burgers, and Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.

RM: Do you enjoy being a musician more or less since graduating from school?

EB: I don’t know if I enjoy music any more or less than I used to, I think the role of music in my life has just changed dramatically. I feel like playing in a band used to be a super small portion of my life that I loved a lot but didn’t get to prioritize because I had to focus on school and work and being a functioning human. Nowadays my whole life is the band, from my friends to my daily priorities to my long-term goals to the way I love my daily life are contextualized by this band and the experiences I’ve had playing music. I’m entirely grateful that I get to walk this path and though I think I definitely don’t think appreciate music as a whole ecosystem as much as I used to I still enjoy playing songs with my friends as much as I did when I started my first band when I was 12.  

 RM: Any long-term goals for the future you’d like to share?

EB: Just trying to enjoy this ride and have as much fun as we can. We have a big tour coming up in the fall and some plans to take the MJ train international at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. At the end of the day we’re just here to have fun and keep playing shows as long as people are willing to come and see us and hang out!

 

Puppy Love is available on all streaming services via Counter Intuitive Records.

 

A Wee Chat With…Anna Burch

words fae madeleine dunne (@kohlgrrl)
photo fae louise patterson

Michigan-born singer and songwriter Anna Burch spent her emerging years as a supporting player: first, as a band member of folk-rock band Frontier Ruckus and later in 2014, co-fronting the four-piece Failed Flowers.

The world finally got to hear Anna in all her creative agency with her powerful solo-debut, ‘Quit the Curse’, released through Heavenly Recordings and Polyvinyl back in February of this year. It’s diverse, tight and upliftingly honest – a relatable record that can rouse you from the throes of heartbreak with its catchy melodies.

I talked to Anna about the shift from band member to solo artist, musical identity and earnest lyricism ahead of her show at The Hug and Pint.



There’s quite a diverse sound running through ‘Quit The Curse’, particularly with tracks like ‘Belle Isle’ and ‘Asking 4 A Friend’. Was that multiplicity an intentional choice?

Anna: I didn’t set out to make a very eclectic sounding record. Like, we used all the same instrumentation, it’s all a four-piece rock band, and I didn’t feel like there was a wild difference between songs while I was writing them. The sounds changed when we were getting into the arranging process and making aesthetic choices along the way, like “oh, this one has got a bit more of a grungy feel, we’ll put some distortion on the guitar”. The mixing engineer Colin Dupuis put this insane fuzz on a solo in ‘Asking 4 A Friend’ and it was jarring to me when I heard it because it had been so clean before. I think I hated it at first and then I sat with it for a bit and I was like, “oh, that’s cool”.

The production stage took a really long time. First the solitary writing, then the demoing where we incorporated bass and a little bit of drums. I was on tour with Frontier Ruckus during that time, so I was gone a lot and driving four hours to work with my friends.

I think I was really frustrating to work within the demoing stage. I would get asked to pin down the vibe or for reference tracks from other artists, but I was still unsure about pinning down the sound. I wanted to stay in this nebulous stage of indie-pop-rock, without leaning too hard into anyone else’s shit.

Recording the proper album went on for a really long time because I was recording in apartments and everyone helping had their own commitments. Then the album got handed over to Colin who helped me record in Detroit. It was a big personnel shift, and it experienced a lot of phases from the different musicians who helped me. We re-tracked like three songs, but Colin mixed it all and it sounds cohesive to me, which is surprising considering the lengthy and spotty nature of that timeline.

 

While a lot of the tracks are lyrically quite earnest with darker themes, they’re often counteracted with bright and uplifting melodies. Is that a juxtaposition you set out to make?

Anna: I wanted to preserve a balance. When I perform I want it to be a fun live show and people to be uplifted, I don’t want people wallowing and I don’t want to feel drained after the performance. You can dig too far into the melancholic and it just drains you after a while. I like the tension between the two. When I play with a band it’s less strange because I’m more feeling the music and it’s more of a performance. I try and tap into the emotions to keep it authentic but it’s not like I’m lost in a revere of emotions. But when I sing solo, which I rarely ever do, I feel much more vulnerable. It’s not something I’m super fond of. It becomes less fun.

When I was arranging the album, I went to see an Alvvays concert in Detroit and that was a big inspiration for me. They just blew me away, the soaring elation of their melodies was really moving, and I had this emotional experience, even though it was an uplifting one.


While creating your sound as a solo artist, what inspirations did you draw upon?

Anna: A lot of the choices for the album that came through subconsciously were percolating for a really long time.  I think that came from being in a band, being around musicians and people who love and share music. I grew up in a home where my mother played piano and my dad was a big music lover. We bonded over that, and I developed a relationship with my dad which revolved around him showing me the classics, like Joni Mitchell. I had a lot that was swimming around in my brain which I hadn’t had an outlet for.

I’d been with Frontier Ruckus on and off for a long time and I felt like my identity was wrapped up in it. It was interesting being associated with it because I’m not even that into roots music on my own, so it wasn’t an expression of me. When I was younger, I was really into indie music but in general that was much more folk-oriented, so it made sense. But as my tastes changed and indie music became more guitar focused I realised I was enjoying a lot of the music I had been listening to in high school like Elliot Smith, Modest Mouse, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins. I felt like that, the indie music that I listened to in high school before I got wrapped up, was more the direction that I could express myself in.

Moving from the solitary stages of writing, did you find it difficult to let people take control and make choices about your work?

Anna: I really appreciate the fact that I can collaborate with people and relinquish a little bit of control. It’s been kind of a lot … like, all of it. I’m not saying like “wow, whirlwind success” or anything, but my life has changed so much. My work bleeds in to my life and it’s all the time, it’s constant, be that social media, answering emails, playing gigs. A lot of it is fun and a lot of it is work. It’s nice to work with people that are talented and that I trust. We might not completely see eye to eye, but they don’t have my brain – they aren’t inside my head. It produces some really interesting tensions, and I honestly like that. It’s like, “it’s not what I would have done but hey, that’s kind of cool”. You’re never going to be able to present yourself exactly like “this is me”, because that changes all the time. I’m really grateful that I have people taking charge and making certain aesthetic decisions, because I would just be completely overwhelmed.


Have you seen yourself adapt the way you communicate with the people who work with you as a result of the role shift from band member to solo artist?

Anna: Absolutely. I think I was way more of a brat being a member of a band. I just had one opinion that was a small voice in a machine. It was easy to be a contrary nay-sayer and just be like “whatever, nah, fuck that, I don’t like that”. Now I have to be considerate of all these people who are spending their time with me, like the bandmates that come out for weeks at a time. I can’t really pay them enough to make it their full-time job, so I need to be considerate that they’ve taken time off work for me. I’m constantly trying to make sure no one hates me and they’re having a good time. I feel like I’ve had to become more of a diplomat and a leader, which is not a natural role for me. But this is the first tour I’ve worked with a tour manager and it makes it so much easier. It’s amazing, it’s so life changing. Being a solo artist, you can’t disperse responsibility because everything changes, it’s never the same line-up or the same bandmates. It’s really nice not being the first responder to everything. I like that little bit of separation from running all the minutiae of everything.

 

Glasgow rockers Codist talk LP2, hot topics and Shark Tale

words fae liam menzies (@blinkclyro)

In a rather apt turn of events, the initial rendezvous point for the interview you’re reading right was closed, meaning a last minute plan to the pub/restaurant was concocted: I don’t know what kind of metaphor I could weave to explain the connection between tasty vegan food and Scottish rock outfit Codist but I assure you there’s something there.

Attempt at a smooth intro aside, it’s hard to think of a band in the local scene who are so deserving of praise and love, or more so than they’re already getting, than Codist: first popping up on the radar with their Loverscruff EP, the boys have been on an upwards trajectory since 2015 which culminated in a debut record the following year which won many people over, including this site, which resulted in them placing high on AOTY lists and gaining some well-deserved attention. Said attention came from a notable place, that being Lorenzo Pacitti of LP Records fame who chose the band to be one of the first acts on their newly established label. Phillip Ivers (vocals + guitars) mentions how it all came about:

A few of us have worked with him and it was Record Store Day 2016 where he asked us to play instore – we stayed in touch since then and when it came to the time that he wanted to have a label to do with the shop, he got in touch since we were his first choice to have on it.

The band haven’t wasted time since signing onto the LP Records label, dropping an EP  titled Porcelain Boy earlier last year that Michael McClure (bass) claims is the ideal segway between their debut record and what they’ve got cooking in the studio at the moment: “I think it flows quite nicely and it makes it a lot of sense since there are a few songs on Porcelain Boy that could fall on either the debut record or whatever we decide to call this new album“.

SPEAKING of a new album, it wasn’t long before details were being teased as well as the charming comedic side of the band came out with the biggest info dump of them all coming from none other than Tom Fraser (guitar + backing vocals) who announced there would be “at least ten songs” with a pause left after for this to sink in. Chris Curry (drums + piano) chimed in after to point out the nice mix of content they’ve got prepared for the record: “there are a few slower based ones and even a country-ish one so it feels we’ve got quite a nice flow and tinkering going on in the studio“.

There were a lot of hiccups, technical ones I must clarify, and a lot of stress (Michael mentions there were points they thought they were going to lose it followed by a laugh) but that they’re happy with how things are going. “When can we expect to see the new album come out,” I asked, and was welcomed by four different answers, the humour of which wasn’t lost on the boys – they ultimately agreed that it’s likely we’ll see a Q3 release for the album so there’s not long to go.

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Despite the fact they have an anticipated album in the works, the band were incredibly laid back and seemingly in their habitat. One highlight of the night included a thorough five-minute discussion about noughties animation, where Tom revealed his apathy for Shark Tale that “didn’t have enough Martin Scorsese” and the band passively agreed on Open Season being terrible. When I decided to ask the band about their favourite albums of the year, the tables were turned as Phil took my phone and proceeded to ask me: sadly, I can’t reveal the top 5 listed but there wasn’t any eye-rolling from the boys in attendance. 

You’d probably be right in assuming that Codist are a bunch of jokers but it would be incredibly naive to write them off as not being self-aware or well informed – when the question of punk bands changing their name is brought up, Chris mentions that the argument that this strips away the punkness is counterproductive, saying that “if being punk means being intentionally ignorant and relying on a name then what’s the point”. The band all agree, especially when the issue of diversity is brought up: Phil mentions the number of female acts he knows yet he notices most lineups in Glasgow are male-dominated, something that he hopes to see change, mentioning that Codist will try to make sure it isn’t just more of the same.

After the professional discussion is done with, you as an interviewer usually find yourself shaking hands and awkwardly stumbling away: against the curve as always, I chatted to the boys for a good hour after all the official business was finished. They’re a welcoming entity, where goofiness and creativity thrive, and it’s what makes them one of Glasgow’s most exciting and lovable bands – even if they downplayed themselves at one point as “just four white guys”.