American rock band and friends of the page Cold Shoulder caught up with Edward Burnett this week to talk about their upcoming change in musical style, the importance of music videos and what films they’ve been watching to cure the lockdown blues!
RNRR: Hi Cold Shoulder! Nice to see you guys again! What a crazy year since we all last got together huh! How have you all been in the meantime?
CS: We've been well! We recorded our debut EP and did all of the planning to ensure we come out swinging in 2021. It was definitely an adjustment period to say the least. How have you all been?
RNRR: We’ve been great thanks, the whole team managed to get several interviews and articles out last year that raised our standards and the bar! So what changed for you guys in particular? What were the pros and cons of your new scenario?
CS: Mostly what changed for us is our writing and creative process. We have been doing a lot of our writing remotely, which has come with some challenges, but it has also forced us to take on new ways of being creative and working together while apart. It has been interesting, but ultimately has led to us improving as songwriters and we think it has resulted in our best material to date.
RNRR: So how does this new material compare with your old stuff, thematically? Have you gone with your usual style, or do you find yourself trying out little tweaks in your upcoming music, genre and lyric wise?
CS: We are really pushing ourselves to evolve creatively. Staying in the same spot musically can result in staying in the same spot with your fans and reach you know? We never want to get comfortable or stale. Our current stuff we are working out is taking lots of risks from what we already have established and we really think people will like what they hear. We are still Cold Shoulder, but be on the look out for material that is really playing with different influences, is more meaningful than most importantly, more fun.
RNRR: So talking about new influences, what have you guys been listening to while in lockdown? Has anything new and interesting caught your ears that has inspired your own music to move forward? Or perhaps just some tracks that you vibed to and got you through the worst of the pandemic?
CS: Oh absolutely, we really liked the newest from bring me the horizon. So daring, so much going on. The newest machine gun kelly album was fantastic. And in fact the violent put out a new song today that was great. We've been trying to diversify our listening to draw new inspiration. Despite to shut downs there has been great music over the past year!
RNRR: Now, crossing media mediums somewhat to film but staying on the topic of this year, what movies have got your attention this year? Oscar season is among us and with film and music being so closely linked, I think it’s always interesting to ask musicians their opinions on the film world too! Cold Shoulder, what have you enjoyed at the “home cinema” in 2020/2021?
CS: We've been light on movies in the past year. Mostly watching 80s classics. The soundtracka of those movies were all so amazing. Obviously anything John Williams related had incredible original pieces. ‘ET’, ‘Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc’, ‘Star Wars’, etc. As far as original music movies like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, ‘The Breakfast Club’, and more had original music that was used so effectively. For things post 2000? Gotta go ‘School of Rock’ and ‘Tenacious D’! Obviously 'School of Rock' had such amazing music that for everything so perfectly. What a great movie with a great concept. ‘Tenacious D’ was such a fun concept as the band's music was used to create the structure of the music as well. Such a great idea and great execution
RNRR: Some really great, classic picks in there guys! Continuing with the theme of film related to music, have you been filming any music videos during the pandemic for the new songs? Has it been a lot harder to get such videos filmed thanks to the current situation?
CS: We do have some stuff that was done right at the start that will be coming out soon here. We are going to be doing some things that have forced us to be creative. We've done some of these playthroughs remotely which has been very cool. Technology is so powerful and let's us still produce content, even when apart.
RNRR: How important are music videos to Cold Shoulder as a band and a brand? Do you feel like they are a necessity for every single released? What’s the thought process with the direction/story of what’s in the video?
CS: We definitely try to do a video for as many songs as possible. Might not be able to do every single one, but we like to have content surrounding each song. We want to make sure that we can give our audience several things to latch onto with our music. Different songs have different needs for videos. Sometimes it's based around themes, sometimes we just want to have something fun visually to keep people engaged. We are really proud of our most recent one for ‘Be Patient’ with the whole video in one take. Ironically you have to ‘Be Patient’ [laughs] in order to see everywhere it goes.
RNRR: Similar to the inclusion of a music video, a good song is nothing without some good artwork to accompany it, would you agree? What’s the creative process for you guys on deciding what the path is for album covers and what makes the cut and of course, what does not?
CS: Agreed. More now than ever the visual content is just as or more important than the song itself. The visuals have to convince someone to stop scrolling and that's not easy [laughs]. We usually come up with rough ideas for our artwork and get something we all like. From there we have a few artists we frequently use to turn our rough ideas into something more presentable!
RNRR: Do you feel that colour in an album cover can reflect the mood of the music? I ask this as your latest single ‘Be Patient’ predominantly featured red. Similarly each of your previous singles all featured a solid colour throughout including orange and blue in ‘Them Bones’ and ‘Faithless’ respectively. What can we expect from your upcoming releases in that matter?
CS: I don't know if we've put too much thought into the color of the album colors, but it's definitely something that reflects mood. We gravitate toward blues, orange and red, so there will probably be more of that! Our upcoming singles are songs from the upcoming EP, so you can expect a very familiar album cover.
RNRR: Familiarity is always a winner. So let’s briefly talk about the upcoming EP then guys. What can you reveal at this early date about it? Do you have a title or any details about the length of it as of yet? What’s the gossip?
CS: Ahh, yes that thing [laughs]. It's a self titles EP, so nothing too interesting going on there. The release date is June 11th. You're actually the first people to know that date! We have a new single coming out on April 23rd and another single will coincide with the release of our EP. The lengths about 30 minutes and we're excited to share it with you!
RNRR: Finally, as you know from being long term friends of the page, it’s customary of me to ask what your desert island album would be? Can you find one that you all agree on?
CS: HMMM, that's always a good question. Maybe Metallica’s self-titled black album. That's always a good listen!
RNRR: An undisputed classic that one! Well it’s been a pleasure to see you guys again and on behalf of everyone at RNRR, we wish you the very best for the rest of the musical year!
If you would like to learn more about Cold Shoulder or keep up to date with their latest EP release then the links to all their socials can be found via the icons below:
Swiss indie pop-rock band World’s& chat to Edward Burnett about their preferred type of music release and why as well as their plans for the rest of the year including their new EP ‘Vice’!
RNRR: Hi World’s&, welcome to Spotlight! Lovely to have you guys here, how are you all doing? How about you introduce yourselves to readers unfamiliar with your music?
WORLD’S&: Hi! First, thanks for everything you are doing! We're fine, a bit tired by the length of this situation but happy to progress with our music. We actually just released a new EP called ‘Vice’! To all those who don't know us, we ask them to imagine if Coldplay, Pink Floyd, and Radiohead had a baby, we would be the weird sibling.
RNRR: Well let’s go straight into the present and let’s talk ‘Vice’. What’s your favourite track that you’ve got on the EP and why?
WORLD'S&: We are three in the band, César Dyrberg (guitar), Natalie Anston (vocals) and Lucas Innocenti (drums), we also have a bassist that plays with us (Romain Corne). [César] My favourite track of the EP is Vice as to me it’s the one that stands out the most. It was quite an experience to compose and to rearrange with the band, we litterally found the chorus the day before heading in to the studio ! The steady beat of the intro, the melodic angelic pre-chorus before you get struck by the powerful chorus and finishing with the grande finale; this song takes you in all directions... ‘Vice’ may be destabilising to some listeners, but that’s what I love about it!
RNRR: So while on the topic of EPs, how important do you think they are? In relation to purely singles and full blown albums, what makes a 4 to 5 song EP so unique when getting your music out there in your opinion?
WORLD'S&: [Natalie] I think EPs are great bc you give people enough to really have an idea of where you are going musically but not that much that it's too much for someone to listen to if they have never heard of you. Singles are great too but less exciting to talk about unless you have a super loyal fanbase built already. We have actually already been working on the next EP!
RNRR: Do you plan to take the same direction as ‘Vice’ on the new EP, both thematically and genre wise or are you more of a fluid musical outfit which changes your sound from release to release?
WORLD'S&: [Lucas] We were planning at the beginning to have the same atmosphere in the next EP than in 'Vice', but now, as there are no gigs, we are especially focused on composing new music. Furthermore, recording ‘Vice’ with Yvan Bing has had a huge impact on us as we worked intensly with him on the arrangement before even entering the studio and afterwards on the production. Thus, we are now searching for new sounds, a more pronounced identity, and going a lot deeper than before ‘Vice’, things are gonna be different, for sure.
RNRR: So now that we’ve covered the current, let’s take a step back and get the story of how you guys formed as a band? What pushed you to start this venture and why with each other and not as solo artists or other bands?
WORLD'S&: [Natalie] I started the band in 2016 with another guitarist. I was studying opera and had always dreamed to write music so I decided to take a break from opera and form a band. In 2018 I met César after searching for a new guitarist and he brought along our drummer Lucas who I was hesitant to have join the band because he was so young but when I went to see him play I was so impressed.. I couldn't imagine anyone better. You could say we are kind of the "misfits" that found eachother. Each of us have totally different musical influences: opera, jazz, rock, metal, etc. I think what is cool is that we don't overthink what music we want to make or where we fit, we just do whatever we feel.
RNRR: You briefly mention your different influences there as individuals so my next question is quite simply what artists and bands were your individual musical influences as you were growing up?
WORLD'S&: [Lucas] Stanton Moore, Green Day, Supertramp. [Natalie] Renée Fleming, Maria Callas, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Elvis. [César] Slipknot, Radiohead, and Skallywags.
RNRR: Some quite varied picks there! How big of an impact does music have on your everyday lives? Has it grown significantly over the years or has it always been a major aspect?
WORLD'S&: [Lucas] It is continuously growing! [César] It has always been a major aspect of my life. [Natalie] My parents said I was singing before I could speak. I literally haven't gone a day in my life without singing. Music is the centre of my being.
RNRR: The past year has left many of us with far more free time on our hands due to unforeseen circumstances. What have you been up to in this pandemic stricken year? Have you seen lots of films? Developed any new talents besides the musical side of course?
WORLD'S&: [Natalie] We have all been mostly writing alot of music. I started teaching myself to play guitar, got better at my piano skills and tried to achieve my ultimate goal of doing the splits (laughs), I failed on that last one up to now but I will get it one day!
RNRR: What are World’s&’s plans for the rest of the year? Do you have any plans for future gigs and shows? How strict are the regulations where you’re based? What would you like to have achieved by the end of this year?
WORLD'S&: We plan to make a demo soon for our next EP and find some financial support from the state to help fund the project. So far we don't have any concerts planned.. Things in geneva Switzerland are pretty strict, there is not much going on. We might have to move underground (laughs). I think by the end of 2021 we would like our musicto be placed in some series and get some radio play. We also have a single coming out in June which is a cover of the song ‘Live in the Moment’ from Portugal the Man. It is the first cover we have ever done.
RNRR: At the end of every interview as I’m sure you’ll know, we ask the all important question on albums. You’re stranded on a desert island and you can only have one album with you to play for the rest of your days. What are you all picking and even more importantly, why?
WORLD'S&: [Natalie] Argh! Hard question haha for me ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’ from Coldplay. It reminds me of when I lived in NYC. That was a very difficult time in my life but those struggles toughened me up and I grew stronger. Then I met the love of my life, we listened to ‘Green Eyes’ together and next thing you know I was living in Switzerland. [César] Etienne Machine ‘Off & Off’ their songs are very sentimental and would help me get through the isolation. [Lucas] ‘Paradis City’ by Jean Leloup because everytime I listen to it, I uncover things about myself, who I am as a person.
RNRR: Some really great obscure picks there from each of you. Well, what a pleasure it has been having you on Spotlight this week! Thanks for you time World’s& and good luck for the rest of the professional year!
If you would like to find out more about WORLD'S& and keep up to date with the release of their upcoming EP, the links to their socials can be find below via the icons:
Toronto based rock band The Spiral Theory chat to Edward Burnett about how they formed together, their plans for the rest of 2021 and their music’s subject matter and how overused concepts such as the theme of love are becoming outdated in modern music!
RNRR: Hi The Spiral Theory! How are you doing, would you mind introducing yourselves, who’s on what and what kind of music you play!
TST: Hey Ed, we are doing well thanks, how are you? We are The Spiral Theory, a Toronto-based rock band. We are super stoked to inform you that our debut album ‘Turn of the Tide’ is out now and is currently streaming on major streaming platforms. The Spiral Theory is an interesting DIY blend of multi-cultural artists. We have myself aka Sandeep Swaminathan on vocals, Joe Liranzo on guitars, Alan Dennis on drums, and Clarence Poirier on bass.
RNRR: I’m great thanks, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Before we get on to talking ‘Turn of the Tide’, let’s get the backstory on the band for our readers. How did you guys all get together to form the band? Were you friends before or did you meet musically?
TST: Sure! We formed the whole band in 2018 when I moved from India to Canada. Joe and Alan played together under a different name with their previous singer for several years until he decided to quit one day. Clarence joined the band sometime before I did. We were auditioning for that "right" singer and we had our share of fun doing it. I auditioned and then after I sang that first time, we definitely knew then it was a fit! From there we just booked a rehearsal space and started jamming our way through!
RNRR: An interesting background story for sure leaving my next question for just lead singer Sandeep. How did you find the music scene different upon arriving in Canada? Did you find more opportunities to go professional there?
TST: Thank you! Oh, it was great, right off the bat! I started exploring the city immediately after I landed here, pre-pandemic times of course, and did a ton of Open Mics! Everyone's so welcoming here in Toronto and people are always excited to hear your story! I received some fabulous feedback! People instantly connected with my singing and that's when I knew it that I should step up the game and take it professionally from then onwards.
RNRR: How has Covid affecting your own personal experience of Toronto having only been there for a short time before it hitting? To the rest of the band, how was Covid affected your recording and performing schedules?
TST: Oh! Coronavirus has ruined many things for many people including my plans and our roadmap as a band! Personally, I was cozying up with Toronto and had a great schedule going on with an unlimited-we-are-sorry-for-everything TTC annual pass to commute around to reach on-time (locals will get that one!). But, an amazing takeaway from a neighborhood joint would offset that misery [laughs]. Jokes apart, I really miss meeting people as I just started networking and making new friends. That to me is a major blow! From the band's perspective, we had almost 20 gigs lined up for 2020 in and around the GTA. We had to let go our monthly rehearsal space and our debut album release took a hit too as the last 3 to 4 sessions went over several months.
RNRR: So where does that all leave you now and what are the band currently working on right now? Of course you have just released your debut album so would you tell the readers more about what 'Turn of the Tide' sounds like? Have you had chance to regroup yet and proceed with recording?
TST: Oh yeah! Despite the tough times, we went ahead and released our debut album, ‘Turn of the Tide’, on all major streaming platforms! The songs of ‘Turn of the Tide’ sound like a cross between The Police and Gin Blossoms - classic in feel, modern in execution! Also, Joe and I (Sandeep) are currently remotely working on releasing the acoustic versions of a few songs from the album. Almost ready to hit the studios yet again whenever it's likely to do so!
RNRR: So aside from the music, what have you all been up to with the new found spare time due to lockdowns? Have you discovered any other hobbies or interests? Or has it been more of a film and television binge session?
TST: Interesting question! Our drummer, Alan, unfortunately had an incident that broke his arm at the beginning of the pandemic. He is alright now, in fact so much so that he won a virtual drumming contest! Also, he golfs...like a lot! Our guitarist, Joe, was really into playing Tennis at his neighbourhood club! I remember him boasting about how he has fans for his Tennis skills now [laughs]! As for me, I’m singing a lot at home these days, poor neighbours! Yeah, I’m into movies and television too with Disney Pixar’s ‘Soul’ and ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ being my two new recent favourites!
RNRR: I also watched Disney’s ‘Soul’ over the winter break and really enjoyed it. I wonder what you make of the subject matter with it being a children’s film but with strong topics of death and afterlife? Do these topics ever offer themselves up to you as musicians to be used in your work rather than the more obvious subject of love which features more predominantly in music? How important is the song’s theme and overall message to you when making music?
TST: I like this question, thank you for asking! We love to write songs that inspire people! In fact, that's one of the main reasons why we wanted to write songs touching different subjects and not just the overly used and abused subject: love! To us, it is about taking what is in the past and evolving towards something better. It makes sense on two levels. It relates to bridging doing covers from the past with the original music we are making now. It also relates to our lyrics and videos often dealing with negative emotions but evolving to end on a positive note. The simple yet elusive idea that tomorrow will be better which is something that we all need right here right now!
RNRR: In the same way that we have just covered the substance of a song thematically, I’d like to ask the band the same question but regarding the sound this time instead. Do you ever feel like you’ll wish to deviate from your usual indie/rock style or are you quite rigid with what the music you release sounds like?
TST: There's one thing common - all band members love “rock” as a genre. Guitarist Joe is all about The Police, U2, and The Smiths. Fenders and clean vintage amps all the way. Drummer Alan is a disciple of Rush. Clarence’s influence of bass is mostly from Blue Rodeo. I grew up listening to the 90s and 00s music and I am always on the lookout for the current hits as well. So, to piece them together, the band definitely loves to stick to that indie/rock style and probably collab with other artists with some eclectic sounds as we are always fans of fresh production ideas!
RNRR: So what’s next for the band? What do you hope to have achieved by the time 2021 comes to a close and the pandemic is hopefully a distant memory? New releases and possible live shows on the menu?
TST: You betcha! New releases are definitely in the plan and can't wait to get back to those live gig days! I'm also recently hearing a lot about live music going hybrid aka both live and live-streaming going forward and that's also something to consider!
RNRR: Finally, we ask the same end question to all our guests and it’s undoubtedly the most important. If you were going to be stranded on a desert island for the rest of your days with the choice of only one album to bring with you, what do you pick? One album per group member to keep it fair!
TST: [Laughs] Only one album, eh? I feel like I know the guys too well to answer on behalf of everyone! Easy pick for Joe. Give Joe the final and the fifth album, ‘Synchronicity’ by The Police, and he is set. Clarence might pick ‘Nowhere to Here’ by the Blue Rodeo and then make a witty remark about it - something like aren’t we already here and nowhere to go?! [Laughs] Alan would pick ‘Moving Pictures’ by Rush and then start jamming out with percussions made out of coconuts and sticks! As for me, I will take the ‘Greatest Hits’ album by Guns N’ Roses and I’ll happily strand myself with that for the rest of my days!
RNRR: Some very varied picks there which we always love to see! Well, The Spiral Theory, it’s been a pleasure having you on Spotlight this week and everyone at Rock N Roll Reports wishes you the best for the 2021 creative and professional year!
If you would like to find out more about The Spiral Theory and keep up to date with their latest releases, the links to all their socials can be found below via the icons:
Hastings based indie-rock band TxtTalk chat to Edward Burnett about their origins, their plans for post-social distancing and their brand new rockin’ single: ‘Hollywood’!
RNRR: Hi TxtTalk! Would you mind introducing yourselves, where your from and your style of music for the RNRR readership that are unfamiliar with you?
TT: Hi Rock N Roll Reports, we are TxtTalk, an Alt/Indie/Pop band from Hastings, UK. We’ve just released our debut EP ‘Text Message Love Letters’ which hit 25k streams in one month on Spotify and it also gained us the spot of BBC Introducing’s featured artist of the week! On top of that our new single ‘Hollywood’ is out now! We have Marcus Swadling on vocals/guitar, Ed Stubbs on drums, Theo Prior on bass and Mark Yexley on the trumpet. Everything is completely self produced from recording to mastering between our home studios and the University of Brighton recording studios.
RNRR: Okay great, nice to meet you all. So let’s go back in time now and ask when and how did you all meet? Did you know instantly you’d be in a band together or were there friendships running long before that moment arose?
TT: We actually started the band in 2019 when our previous singer Callum Dalton (who you can hear on our debut EP) was in another band, a live drum and bass outfit, doing the festival circuit at the time. We had just got back from playing Glastonbury Festival and we had been writing some songs together with Marcus (our current singer). Marcus was playing bass at the time in the band, we jammed around in the studio for a while finding our sound and messing about with some riffs and ideas before we started to self record our debut EP. We knew we wanted to do somthing alternative-indie and we were listening to a lot of Australian indie bands at the time and were drawing a lot of influencers there from bands like Sticky Fingers, Ocean Alley, Lime Cordiale, the DMAs.
RNRR: So you’ve mentioned a few immediate inspirations that lead to the creation of your music but who were each member’s inspirations growing up? When did each of you realise you wanted to have a musical career as opposed to any other professional ambition you had?
TT: We all grew on a diverse mixture of musical influences which has probably made are sound the way it is now. Marcus grew up listening to bands like Foo Fighters, Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs, Blur and more aswell as listening to a lot of 60 and 70s psyche rock bands from his dad’s huge vinyl collection. Ed was quite into some heavier bands like Muse, Guns and Roses and Metallica aswell as having had a big influence from the electronic scene with bands like The Prodigy as well as drum and bass artists like Pendulum and Shy Fx. Mark listened to a lot of Miles Davis, James Brown, David Bowie, Fat Freddy’s Drop and more recently, John Grant. And out bass player Theo’s were Miles Davis, Chopin, John Mayer, Norah Jones.
RNRR: Live performances are always a key part of music despite them decreasing in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic raging on. My question to each of you is what was each of your first gigs you went to and which gig left the most lasting impression on you?
TT: [Marcus]: The first proper gig I went to was Angels and Airwaves at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. It was the first time I'd seen a band from the States with a huge following. This was around the time I started playing in my first band and it definitely gave me a lot of inspiration to start gigging back then. Seeing Green Day at the Emirates Stadium, supported by the Kaiser Chiefs was brilliant too though. Seeing a band of that status play for 3 hours and being in a stadium packed with over 70 thousand people chanting along, having a great time, felt unreal. The way the singer Billie Joe Armstrong interacted with a crowd that size and still managed to get them involved with the songs was really inspiring. [Ed]: When I first started going to gigs it was probably when I was turning 18 in Brighton. I was going to mates’ shows and local indie nights at different bars around the city. We were all young and probably underage so it was drinking a few beers on the street and using fake ids to get in [laughs] but obviously since then have seen some amazing bands. One of the biggest atmospheres I have experienced would be at Rage Against the Machine at Download Festival. The way frontman Zak de la Rocha worked the crowd was unreal and the energy was crazy. They had been broken up for years and it was their come back year so people were going mad, I think people were getting crushed at the front an they actually had to stop the gig, so yeah pretty intense stuff.
RNRR: Some amazing gigs and bands you’ve just name dropped there guys! So while staying on the topic of live performances, what plans do you have gig-wise after the pandemic eases? Is there any venue or festival you realistically want to play before the end of the year?
TT: We hope to be gigging again by the summer if all goes to plan! Nothing is concrete yet because of the current situation but we're hoping to get back into the swing of things by playing some local shows and festivals in our hometown Hastings as well as promoting a couple of the new singles we're planning to drop around that time. We also have a few dates in London pencilled in but as I said nothing is in concrete yet due to the pandemic.
RNRR: So guys, you recently released your great new single ‘Hollywood’. With such a catchy tune and interesting lyrics, the song is already a hit in my books. Talk us through the process of coming up with the theme of the song.
TT: You always hear people talking about the Hollywood dream and how great it would be to be in the shoes of those living it but you don't always hear their side of the story. The pressures, the lack of control over your own life or the image they construct of you to sell the brand. There was a few different news stories going on at the time and it just got me thinking about the realities of that lifestyle and the corruption Then the lyric 'Cause this is Hollywood, and I bet you never felt this good' just popped into my head and we went from there. We are proud to say the track ended up as a highlight on BBC Introducing, gaining the status of track of the day on BBC Music which was a real highlight for us.
RNRR: Congratulations are in order as BBC Introducing is no mean feat for sure! The ‘Hollywood’ single artwork is also truly immense, how did you settle on going for such a grand piece of design for the single’s cover?
TT: The artwork was created by our good friend Zak Comyns who is a very creative and talented illustrator. The artwork he created captures the lyrics and vision of the song perfectly and we love working with him. There's a lot of references in the artwork, from the Church of Scientology to Marilyn Monroe, it's really cool to take a closer look at.
RNRR: So moving away from the music side of things, what are your biggest other hobbies and interests as individuals?
TT: Marcus has always had an interest in video and photography. [Marcus]: When I was younger my school ran a video editing class which I did for a while. I started using programs like Photoshop when I was around 10 and I would just mess around creating digital art and converting old black and white photos into colour, things like that. This knowledge is pretty useful these days as we don't really have to rely on anyone outside of the band for creating things like Facebook/Spotify banners and promotional materials. On the video side of things, we've been filming and editing behind the scenes mini documentary's whilst in the studio, showing how we record and write songs which is just a really cool way to let our fans see how everything comes together. At the start of the lockdown, we decided that since we can't go out and play for people that we would start our Lockdown Live cover series and upload the videos online. We've done around 6 of them so far, covering some of our favourite bands and we've tried to be quite creative with the video side of things.
RNRR: So carrying on the topic of other hobbies, did you guys learn any new talents or gain any other interests while the United Kingdom was in its various lockdowns? Of course we are still in one so what do you each do to pass the time other than music related activities?
TT: Lockdown came as abit of a blessing in disguise. We have had so much time to finish tracks, edit parts down and really perfect what we have. We actually released our debut EP in the first lockdown! Our second EP ‘Hollywood’ is nearly finished and we have already made steps into our third EP! So it has really given us time to get our heads into it. We are so buzzing to get out of lockdown though and start gigging. Words can’t express how hungry we are for this! Besides from music we have been taking to the South Downs for long walks. It’s so important to get out and exercise during times like these to keep your head on and keep sharp. It also helps with inspiration to get out and take a break, getting the amazing views that the area we live in has to offer. We are very lucky in that respect to live here in Sussex.
RNRR: So looking towards the future, where would you like the band by the end of this year? What would you gage as a successful year?
TT: At this point, playing even a handful of shows this year will feel like a success! With the easing of restrictions starting to take place, it's looking like we can start rehearsing and gigging full time again within the next few months and we honestly can't wait! Our main aims this year are to play as many shows as we can and to promote the new EP 'Hollywood' that we're releasing next month. Then our focus will turn to our single release we've had planned for this summer. hopefully picking up some festival slots along the way. We actually have a lot of new material in the works at the moment so we should have something ready for the end of the year too! With all things considered, if everything goes to plan it will be a really productive and successful year for us.
RNRR: A lot of plans and we’re all hoping that the stars align for you so that you can make 2021 a successful year for sure. Finally, I have to ask you our signature Spotlight question. We always pose the problem of being stranded on a desert island to our guests with the option of only choosing one album to listen to for the rest of their lives. TxtTalk, what are you picking and more crucially, why?
TT: That is such a hard question for us as we all have such a varied music taste but as a band, we definitely share certain inspirations. I guess we'd have to go for the first Arctic Monkeys album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not’. It’s still one of their best if not best albums as the lyrics are truthful, the riffs are loud and it's hard to get bored of. We all loved that album at the time and it’s an artist we are proud to say our sound is often compared to.
RNRR: That’s one of my all time favourite albums as the Monkeys are my personal favourite band so I’ve got to give you extra points for that one! Thanks for being such great and insightful guests and best of look with the release of your second EP, ‘Hollywood’!
If you'd like to find out more about TxtTalk and keep up to date with their latest EP releases then the links to all their social medias are below via the icons:
Edward Burnett chats to Chicago based band Tough Ombres about their origins, how their Christmas went and their shows during the pandemic which have been held with social distancing over in the United States!
RNRR: Hi Tough Ombres! How are you guys doing? Would you mind introducing what you do and where you are from to our readers who may be unfamiliar with your work?
TO: Hi! We have been called “The New Alternative“ with a full spectrum of sound. Our back grounds are diverse in R&B, thrash-metal, blues and hard-rock. Lead singer, bass and drummer (Jeff, Nikki, Dave) are from Chicago. Guitarist (Tony) is from New York. We started this band to have no walls around our music. We pride ourself in giving our audience a high octane show with diverse music that leaves everyone entertained and musically pleased. We will be releasing 7 EP’s throughout early 2021. We are currently in studio wrapping up production on our new songs. Thanks for having us on!
RNRR: Nice to meet you! So how did all of you meet? Is there some crazy, cross-state origin story with Tony being from New York or was it the simple case of you were all close friends?
TO: In our opinion, it’s a cool story. Lead singer Jeff and myself Nikki went to high school together. Jeff was in R&B bands and Chicago House Music bands. I was in the rock/metal scene. Jeff would sing at house parties and I always thought he had a killer voice. Moving a couple years later, Tony and I are playing in a thrash-metal band. Tony was living in Chicago for only a year or two and he took the call to be a drummer not a guitarist for thrash band. Tony played the drums and then after playing drums he went to guitar just for fun. The minute he started playing guitar, both myself and our rhythm guitarist could not believe what we were hearing. Tony was unbelievable as a guitarist, he was fired as our dummer and became our lead guitarist that same day. Two years with the changes of constant lead singers and drummers killed the spirit of the band. Tony and myself quit the band to start families and careers. Fast forward 10 years later I run into Jeff at a local establishment. We start talking about high school days and that we both were playing in bands after and missed the natural energy of playing a show in front of fans and making music. I tell him that I would be starting a band soon and would let him tryout. Forward a year later I take an advert from a drummer looking to start up a band. This is where I met Dave (Drummer). He was such a powerful drummer at our first rehearsal so I was not going to lose him. So, I called Tony (Guitarist) up and said that I found a drummer and drove 50 miles to pick up Tony to bring him to practice. It was fantastic! Tony, Dave and myself came from all the same musical backgrounds. I then called Jeff (Singer) and gave him 3 cover songs to play. He came in and nailed it! We were so impressed that he had a fantastic voice. I called him the next day to join the band. And the rest is history.
RNRR: Sounds like a great story to me! So let’s take it forward to the present. What are you guys doing now, have you restarted live shows yet after the pandemic? In addition to that question, how has the pandemic affected you as a band? What difficulties arises because of this worldwide Covid situation?
TO: We are finishing up 7 EP’s to be released in early 2021. It has been difficult with the pandemic but we are marching on. We have been playing shows. Any way we can help out local venues and establishments, we have. A lot of shows have had late cancellations and rescheduling but the shows that we have played have been great! Even with social distancing, the energy from our fans at shows has been spectacular. When playing during the pandemic whether at a venue or local establishment it is sometimes surreal knowing that this may be the last show that they have for a while. So every show we are trying to outdo the last. The band has definitely gotten closer thanks to the pandemic. We decided early that we were going to continue playing shows and continue writing. It was scary at the beginning because we were looked at as being crazy, but it was the right decision for the band. It has definitely opened up doors for us.
RNRR: I’d also like to enquire about the band’s inspiration. What previous musical acts were each member’s heroes? Were there certain musical figures which inspired each of you to try and go professional in the music world? Are there famous bands that your own style has been influenced by?
TO: Jeff’s inspirations would be Same Cooke or Donny Hathaway whereas Boys 2 Men, Color Me Badd and Silk pushed him to the R&B direction.
Tony’s inspirations would have to be Jimmy Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. Kiss, Metallica and Van Halen all pushed him towards the direction of playing. Dave inspirations are Stewart Copland and Vinnie Paul with Pantera and The Police has inspired his playing. My (Nikki) own inspirations are Rex Brown, Michael Anthony and Steve Harris. Kiss, Iron Maiden, Van Halen and Slipknot made me want to go professional.
RNRR: So now we are in January, how was the band’s Christmas? Could you celebrate it together or was it more of a family affair for each of you? Does Christmas mean a lot to each of you in particular?
TO: Christmas was fantastic. As a band we always have our Christmas Band Party a week before and it takes us a week to recover (laughs)! That is always one of our funnest times of the year. We will have a practice with our closest friends. They call out songs that they would like to hear (original or cover) and we will play it for them. After, we will go to the local establishment and just have a blast. Christmas does mean a lot for us because 3 out of the 4 members have families with children. So we try to show our families even in a band you are always humble and thankful for what you have. That it is not about getting but giving to others. Especially this year, just a phone call to a grandparent or a call to a family member that you can not see makes all the difference.
RNRR: A beautiful message there for sure. Now that 2021 has arrived, what do the band have in store for the year? Where would you guys like to be in regards to career progression come next December?
TO: 2021 has arrived and we are excited. We will be releasing those 7 singles this year. The first 3 to be released this month (February). We will be filming our first video in March. Then we will be hitting the road in late March in the Midwest and Southeast (show dates TBA). Then we will be back into the studio November to start recording for 2022. We would like to have our original music getting attention globally. With fans being able to enjoy our live music again in venues all over. We are looking forward to a savage year!
RNRR: Are you aiming for all 7 singles to be of the same genre or are you wanting to experiment on a couple too? Have you got any collaborations lined up to feature alongside the guys in any of the upcoming singles?
TO: We do have a mixture of genre for the 7 singles to come out. Songs will go from R&B, blues, rock, heavy-metal and a little pop-country. That is one of the funnest things about creating music, you play what feels and sound right for the song. As we are in the process of releasing new music we are always writing. There has been talks with a DJ in the Chicagoland area to collaborate with. Coming from Chicago, house music and hip-house music was huge and had an undeniable influence on us. We have a song that we are creating that will need a DJ’s touch. It will be wild, infusing two different genres to create a sound that we grew up with. We also love to play out live with a brass section (when they are available). There are talks of a show this spring where we will do a 6 song Motown cover set before we get into our blistering set. This year will definitely be fun!
RNRR: So talking of changing genres and experimenting, as well as us now being in a new year, now seems a good time to ask the following question. What music have you guys been listening to in 2020 that caught your ears with its inventiveness? Any bands or solo artists you’ve really dug?
TO: To be honest, when we are making music, musical inspiration comes in on the production side but not the creative side. This is the first band I have been in where we do not have walls to stop a direction. Once the song has an identity, we start to mould it to a genre that feels correct. For music inspiration, that comes in later. For an example, we were trying to figure out cool harmonies for a section on one of our songs that will be released this year. We started to listen to old Beach Boys albums for those key elements on what Brian Wilson did. It gave us the knowledge to try different harmonies. Similarly, on another song we were looking for an acoustic sound and could only describe it on a Waylon Jennings album. So yes, music inspiration did feature on upcoming songs.
RNRR: Staying on the topic of media but moving away from music itself, are you guys big film watchers in your spare time? Do you have any firm favourite movies?
TO: Jeff and Dave are ‘Avengers’, ‘Black Panther’ and anything with Marvel or DC comic related fans. ‘John Wick’, ‘Halloween’ (2018), ‘Cobra Kai’, ‘Stranger Things’ are also firm favourites.
RNRR: Do you feel that film is just as an important media medium as music in conveying emotion and life messages or do you regard music as still the main source of creative influence in entertainment culture?
TO: I do feel that film is just as important. Movies with a smaller budget seem to have more of a creative aspect to me. Soundtracks on movies and tv shows have been excellent. There has been such a diversity of new artists and old. I feel that movies and new shows have been an enormous outlet to showcase different genres of music and introducing music to a new generation.
RNRR: Well that leaves me with just one last question to ask you. Every Spotlight we do, we always pose the problem of being stranded on a desert island to our guests with the option of only choosing one album to listen to for the rest of their lives. Tough Ombres, what are you picking and more crucially, why?
TO: What a great question! I think as individuals in the band, there would be different albums picked. For Tough Ombres as a band, I would say Alice In Chains’ ‘Dirt’. The songs on this album kind of brought all of us together when we first started. It was one of the first bands we had Jeff audition to. Still to this day, if we cover any song on that album it always gets a great reaction from the crowd. If we were stuck on an island we all could dig the album until we are picked up or left as bones!
RNRR: Some great choices there and perfect reasoning too! Thanks for coming onto Spotlight guys, it’s been a pleasure.
If you'd like to find out more about Tough Ombres or keep up to date with their new releases throughout the year, the links to all their socials can be found below via the icons:
Leeds indie rock band Artio chat to Edward Burnett about their brand new single ‘Billionaire Nightmare’ which comes out today! They also talk through their favourite films as well as their plans for this year, touring and beyond!
RNRR: Hey ARTIO! How are you guys doing? Would you do the honours of introducing each of yourselves to our readers and telling them a little bit about the style of music you make for those unfamiliar with your work?
ARTIO: Hi, we’re ARTIO and we are doing good! I’m Hol, the main singer and kind of manager, Rob is our lead guitarist and Iewan is our drummer and producer. We produce all of our own music, we don’t require a studio. So we have that lovely cheeky advantage of being able to release music during the pandemic without dependence on a studio. Our style is alternative rock and alt-pop but we generally love making music that we would have loved listening to when we were growing up.
RNRR: So my next question has to be how did you all meet? In addition to that, when did you all decide you wanted to pursue music professionally together? Did the two things coincide or were you friends before the band?
ARTIO: We all met through gigging in the Leeds music scene in different bands for a few years. We had all supported each other’s bands and been at the same shows for years so naturally we all became friends and had loads in common. We’d all wanted to be professional musicians since our early teen years but had been in projects with musicians who just saw it as a fun hobby rather than a career, that’s one reason we gelled so we’ll, because we all had the same plan. So when ARTIO officially began, everyone was all balls in and ready to run with it until it went somewhere!
RNRR: You mention that you all wanted to be musicians since your early teen years and what I’d like to know is what lit the spark for each of you? What inspirations drove you to that point of wanting to go full out professional?
ARTIO: For Ieuan it was his love of edm and discovering artists like Avicci and Skrillex that really inspired him to getting into production. For me it was falling in love with bands like Pvris and Nothing But Thieves. Going to festivals and seeing badass women on stage inspired me to become one of them. Rob has played guitar from a young age, all of us grew up with music as a part of our home life. Going to music college and getting in bands was the starting point for Rob wanting music to be his career.
RNRR: So let’s bring it right up to the present then now that you’ve had many successful songs released with your latest ‘Billionaire Nightmare’, coming out this very weekend! Would you talk us through the song and it’s themes now it’s out as well as the process behind it especially given the difficulties of mass lockdown in the UK?
ARTIO: ‘Billionaire Nightmare’ was written very quickly and kinda came out of nowhere. We wanted to write something about the power of the consumer and the individual. At some point in our lives we have all felt like we don’t belong somewhere or in ourselves. We wanted to write a song for those people in those moments. Not fitting the mould can actually be a superpower.
RNRR: Compared to your previous singles, how fun was this one in particular to make? Alongside this, the ‘Billionaire Nightmare’ single has a very green colour theme that the band have adopted in much of your press release on social media. This differs from the previous prominent red tones in the last releases. Is there any deep meaning to the colour change or is it purely to refresh?
ARTIO: We like switching things up for every release we do as we want every step forward to have it’s own identity. Every new era of the band has different aspects and emotions behind each song, for example in 'SAADYD' (our last EP) was very angry and passionate and we thought it deserved red. But for ‘Billionaire’ onwards, the focus point is power and growth which we think suits green. Green is also a pretty colour.
RNRR: Let’s move away from music altogether and talk about your spare time. Thanks to several lockdowns in our jointly native UK, we have found ourselves with more time on our hands than ever before. What have each of you done with the time other than music? Have you developed any new hobbies or interests?
ARTIO: Each of our lives revolves around music, whether it’s part of the band or not. We’ve spent every lockdown working on brand new material thanks to our abilities to self produce, record, and mix our music. Aside from that, we all have gotten more into cooking, Ieuan and Rob play loads of video games, and I have continued to roller-skate.
RNRR: Moving back to the field of entertainment but in the form of the movies rather than music, do you all have a favourite film and why?
ARTIO: My favourite movie is the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. I have multiple LOTR tattoos and have been obsessed with the Tolkien universe for over half my life. Ieuan couldn’t name a favourite film to save his life but will easily admit that 'Twin Peaks' is his favourite TV show. Rob’s fave film is ‘Seven’ because it’s when Hollywood showed a more realistic storyline with a darker conclusion to compliment that.
RNRR: So let’s bring this forward to the present and 2021. What are your hopes and plans professionally for the rest of the year following the release of ‘Billionaire Nightmare’ this weekend? You have a UK tour coming up don’t you?
ARTIO: We are really hopeful to get back on tour in September and to release buttloads of new music this year. Considering we spent all of 2020 working on music, we just want to get it all our and to entertain all our fans who stuck with us through this difficult time.
RNNR: Staying on the topic of band progression, where would you like to see yourselves in a couple of years time, realistically?
ARTIO: We would love to be able to tour regularly and go to places we’ve never been before. Seeing a packed venue everywhere we go and being able to connect with so many new people would be a dream of ours. We have no plans on slowing down how much music we put out either. We just want to keep growing our community and keep growing as a band until we eventually take over the world [laughs]!
RNRR: Finally, here on Rock N Roll Reports we always have to ask the same final question to all our Spotlight interviewees. You’re stranded for the rest of your days on a desert island, you can only take one album with you on the island to listen to ever again, what are you picking guys and why?
ARTIO: Rob’s album (technically a mixtape but whatever) would be ‘crybaby’ by Lil Peep for sure. It was close between that and Iowa but he didn’t think slipknot would be fun in the desert. Mine would be ‘Sam’s Town’ by The Killers. I have been listening to this album since she was a child and it just never gets old. Ieuan would pick ‘Periphery II’ by Periphery. He’s a super prog nerd who could listen to this album over and over again.
RNRR: Some varied picks there with perfect reasoning ARTIO! Thanks for coming onto Spotlight and best of luck with the release of new single ‘Billionaire Nightmare’ which is out on all platforms this weekend!
If you would like to find out more about ARTIO and keep up to date with their latest releases, you can find the links to their socials below:
In our first Spotlight Interview of 2021, Edward Burnett sits down from afar with talented singer and friend of the page Hana Canhasi. She talks about her new single ‘You’ll Never Change’, her New Year celebrations and her plans for what we hope is a much brighter coming year.
RNRR: Firstly I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and say that we are all hoping that 2021 is better than 2020. I’m here with Hana Canhasi who is our first featured guest on this year of Spotlight! How are you doing Hana? Are you happy to be here and be the first Spotlight feature this year?
HC: Thank you for the love on the song! It's something different that i was nervous to release (laughs). I'm doing alright today thank you! I’m just finishing up finals! Yes I'm so excited to be collaborating with you all again, after all the love on ‘Drama’ with the Amplified Analysis last year.
RNRR: So since this is a New Year’s special edition of Spotlight, I feel like I have to ask as soon as possible, how did you spend the New Year’s holiday? Was it a close-knit family affair thanks to the current global pandemic?
HC: I'm actually excited to be here in Miami right now for the New Year season with my loved ones. It's been a tough couple of months for my family and I can assume for others as well, and it's really helped me slow down and appreciate those closest to me. So yes, we were out on the beach (socially distanced) and just in the sunlight.
RNRR: That’s a really great way to mark the occasion. Staying on the New Year’s topic, what would you say your resolutions are for 2021 or do you not believe in such annual shenanigans?
HC: I think to learn how to be patient with myself and how to learn to slow down. It's very easy to always want to do more and be better but I find it hard to sit with myself and allow myself to soak in an accomplishment. I also have set goals for my music that I can't quite share but I am so excited to reach a bigger audience with my creativity.
RNRR: You say that you can’t share but you could give RNRR a small teaser? Are there any concrete plans regarding your music releases or even some music videos perhaps that you’d like to get on during 2021’s schedule?
HC: Let's just say you will be able to visually see me more as an artist. Yes, tying into that second question I know music videos are a top priority (after the music) and I'm excited to collaborate with some amazing creatives for them. As for music in general, I am now able to dedicate more of my time to it since I will be graduating this year and I can't wait to become more consistent in what I do.
RNRR: So now we are on to the topic of your music, let’s now talk about your brand new single that has just been released. ‘You’ll Never Change’ has more of a trap RnB vibe to it when compared to your previous hits including ‘Drama’. What was the thinking behind this small genre shift? Throughout your career do you want to stay in the same general genre or could you see yourself fully changing from time to time as you yourself change?
HC: As of right now I haven't developed my own sound or found something I want to stick to genre wise. I wanted to make something a little bit more upbeat with this new single all while still keeping an RnB foundation under it. In time I can definitely see myself switching back and forth from different genres. I want to be able to grow as an artist with my music and there's no better way to do that than to be open to different sounds, so it's what I continuously try to do with every project.
RNRR: What are you personally most looking forward to in 2021? Would you say you love the rest of the arts such as movies as much as you love music?
HC: I'm definitely looking forward to graduating college in May after a long journey, and being able to spend a lot more time on putting out content! I can say for sure that as a new artist, you start to realize just how many people come together to push a vision out and make it come to life. Whether that's digital storytellers for lyric videos, a grip for your music videos, a songwriters, producers, creative directors, choreographers, lightning crews- it's all crazy how much "behind the scenes" there is to making a vision come to life and how equally important everyone is in the whole creative process.
RNRR: Indeed there are many cogs in the process for sure. So Hana, let’s have your very own New Year’s roundup. What music did you listen to last year that impressed you to the most? Any particular artists that came through and who’s work helped you through the tough times of 2020?
HC: This past year I've listened to a lot of Kehlani and Ariana Grande. Also have become a big fan of Dvsn and Kaylee Ameri. 21 Savage's new album helped me zone out and just allow myself to become distracted from over arching emotions so I guess you can say his album has helped me through tough times (laughs). Aside from musical artists I've been really big into podcasts as well and finding other ways to cope through difficult times.
RNRR: Now you mention podcasts, do you feel that the future of digital media and entertainment lies in podcasts? Is this something Covid has fast-forwarded, now there is much more of a podcast presence in the digital entertainment landscape?
HC: Ooo I think yes, especially as times are changing and we are sort of being forced to sit down with ourselves now more than ever. I think that opens this sort of door for self exploration on certain topics and having podcasts to lean towards whether it's a self help podcast or something fun, having something to listen to on the side for sure makes things seem less "alone" if that makes sense? It is definitely a wave of technology that's been there but hasn't been utilized (personally) more than it has this year.
RNRR: So now we are celebrating the New Year, is seems as appropriate time as any to ask how was your Christmas Hana? What did you do to celebrate and are you a big Christmas person?
HC: Since I work at a hospital I had to work all day for Christmas this year but honestly I think this Christmas was different in its way that it didn't feel like "Christmas". It was the first Christmas my family spent without my mom being here and it was very hard and I assume it's been hard for a lot of other people to feel the holiday spirit after the year it's been. However it was nice to be able to view the holiday for what it is-a time to be with your family and to appreciate the time you spend with them. For the past years we've always celebrated Christmas in a way which we gather together with close family all day and appreciate the day!
RNRR: I am sorry to hear that and I think this year has made us all think differently and appreciate life more so than ever. So finally I have to ask the question that we always ask our guests on Spotlight. The desert island album conundrum. One album for the rest of your days on said island, what are you picking Hana and why?
HC: Oh this is a very hard hard question! I'm gonna have to say 6lack's ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’. It brings me back to really good times and it has my favorite song of all time from any artist on there ‘Sorry’.
RNRR: It’s refreshing to hear a modern pick on here with the album being a 2018 release as guests usually go for older “classics”. Well Hana it’s been a pleasure and all that leaves us to say is that we wish everyone a very happy and productive 2021!
If you would like to know more about Hana Canhasi or keep up to date with her 2021 releases, the links to all her social medias are below via the icons:
One year after Edward Burnett's last chat with Irish-Canadian singer 0Stella, the two catch-up and reflect on a year none of us saw coming as well as 0Stella's Christmas traditions and career plans for 2021.
RNRR: Hello and welcome to our second Christmas Special of Spotlight featuring friend of the page, 0Stella! So 0Stella, how are you doing? The last time we chatted was in the first Spotlight interview of this year back in January and of course a lot has happened since then! What have you been up to in this extremely strange year?
0STELLA: Oh man. I’m ok. A lot has happened! It’s actually been really fun watching Rock N Roll Reports grow over the year, you’ve had some whoppers, congratulations. It’s funny how you don’t realise what you’re in the middle of until it’s over. My 2020 was shaping up great. I had just heard I was shortlisted to open for a major artist at an Edmonton festival and it was looking like it was going to be the year to properly launch onto the touring circuit in Alberta. There was also an EU tour through Ireland, UK and Germany being booked. January was New Years in Berlin, then Dublin and then back to Edmonton for a busy month of gigs in Alberta including my first appearance as a Sidedoor artist (house-show, now online platform run by Canadian musician, Dan Mangan). My real first show with Sidedoor had to be cancelled on account of it being -40°C outside. No one’s going to step outside their door at those temperatures, no matter who you are! Their car probably won’t even start. February was Toronto for a week of writing, then to Dublin to play a wedding. I’d been contacted by a band from Saskatchewan, Rymestone, asking if I wanted to join their tour. I was planning on going down to L.A to the new SOCAN writing house for a week, but decided to do the tour before I left. My final single from my debut EP, ‘Little Yes, Little Know’ came out on Friday 13th March. I picked it on account of the fact it used to be considered a GOOD luck day back in pegan Ireland, so I’d figure I’d bring back a bit of luck. That was also our first day of tour. And the onset of lockdown. Restrictions were limiting shows to 250 people, so we soldiered on through Alberta and into British Columbia (including a stop at Jasper ER to stitch up a guitarist’s knee) but never made it into Saskatchewan, where we had 2 dates booked. I was really looking forward to playing there for the first time. In February I joined a 6-month course to learn to write for sync, so that kept me focused and productive - most of the time - and then on to more songwriting camps. I’ll be running my own month-long songwriting camps in the new year.
RNRR: For those unaware, you’re based in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. How severe have the restrictions and number of cases been in your living area? Have things started to ease at your end with news of the vaccine being passed for use?
0STELLA: Well currently we are the Covid capital of Canada. Obviously every nation is stabbing in the dark at how best to deal with it and very few have got it right. We stayed relatively loose when the U.K and Ireland were severely locked down, but my how the tables have turned! A very isolated Christmas 2020, indeed.
RNRR: One major change involving you this year is undoubtedly the weekly podcast, ‘Imperfections’, you co-host with Callistan. How important is this show to you and do you find that thanks to this year there are more and more successful podcasts/recorded webcasts? Will this trend carry on following Covid’s eventual end?
0STELLA: I think covid has been a very fertile ground for creatives - once we can drag ourselves out of the deep, deep depression we’ve all been oscillating through. I’ve absolutely loved doing 'Imperfections' with Callistan. He and I reunited during lockdown, having worked together in Dublin over a decade ago. We collaborated on a reimagining of my track ‘Fire’ and Imperfections evolved out of that as a means for us to dive deeper into the themes we explored in the song. It’ber been great to have the routine of it - something we all have discovered is so essential to stable mental health this year - and it’s been immensely humbling and heartwarming having our special guests on, who have been so vulnerable with us. I love all the audience participation, too. People are courageous in what they choose to share with us. I feel like we’re building a lovely community around the music we both make.
RNRR: So as I said at the beginning, this is of course a Christmas Special of the feature so I can’t let you go any further without listing your favourite Christmas songs of all time and why they mean so much to you?
0STELLA: There’s too many! But if I could play nothing else, I’d be happy with the following songs. The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York' as I bristled at this for so many years as a youngster. It is the antithesis of a Christmas song and now I’m in love with it. I played it at a Christmas party last December in Dublin and I’ve never been on the receiving end of an Irish crowd like that. It was magic. Slade's 'Happy Xmas Everybody'. Just a raucous 70’s rock Christmas song, all British, bad teeth, magnificent hair and hooks to sing all the way home. Honestly, this was one of the standout songs I hand on a Christmas special cassette that Pampers used to include on the box. 6-year-old me used to dance around my living room, eating spoonfuls of butter icing and having a great time to this track. Elton John's 'Step Into Christmas'. Also featured on that same cassette. How can you not adore this song? I got to see Elton John last year and I am so, so thankful for that. Then there is Judy Garland's 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. I had my attention turned its way when Tori Amos did a cover of it in the middle of my obsessive Tori fandom days. The richness of Judy’s voice in that song, in particular, makes me swoon every time I hear it.
RNRR: On the subject of Christmas songs, you yourself have of course released a festive song of your own this past month entitled ‘My December’. Talk me through this song, how long did it take to write and has it always been a career dream of yours to get your own Christmas song out?
0STELLA: No not at all! I’ve always wondered, but never thought I would. Until some friendly competition simmered up between myself and Callistan. This song was a bugger to tease out. Of course, songs are never done, but I’m happy with where it’s at. Just something to capture the felling of getting home to your familiar airport and the taste of tea and rashers and some ungodly hour of the morning when your body doesn’t know what’s up or down. I can’t get home every year anyway, but the lack of choice this year, in whether we can travel to see our families, is what is exacerbating the feeling of loneliness, I think. I just wanted to shine a light there for anyone that needs a good cry into their dry-ass turkey this year. Doesn’t have to all be Mariah Carey (though I love her!).
RNRR: Carrying on the topic of Christmas and festivities, I wanted to ask you what your traditions are for this time of year? Are there any films that you simply have to watch to get you into the Christmas mood each year or is it the decorating of the tree that truly shakes your snow-globe?
0STELLA: Well, being a music teacher too, I can’t help but reference 'Die Hard' and 'Home Alone' every year and send my students to explore Beethoven and John Williams! I have a weird obsession with 'Batman Returns' I love to watch. 'Meet Me In St. Louis' and 'Love Actually' - this year might be a great year to try the 'Love Actually' drinking game, finally. I do love to shake my snow-globe though, so if I can just crank some tunes and have a dance somewhere, anywhere, I’m happy.
RNRR: So we are at the end of a very rubbish year as we’ve established for everyone and especially those in the music industry. What are you looking forward to the most in 2021 regarding music? Are there any bands you need to see live or any shows you’d like to play in particular?
0STELLA: Playing. Live. For. Humans. Again. EVERYWHERE I can. I plan to not come home.
RNRR: On a similar vein, what are your own career goals for the coming year? Any new 0Stella music in the pipeline that we should be prepared for?
0STELLA: Well, competition for grants has gotten really steep this year, so I’ll be slow releasing a bunch of music this year. I’ve a number of things percolating. ‘My December’ was my first home recorded and self-produced track, so more of that I think. This year I want to open for Garbage….I should have said that in my letter to Santa too...damn.... In addition, Skye Wallace, The Beaches and Hermitage Green. In a perfect world, I’ll meet St. Vincent too. I think since everything must balance, 2021 will be the ying to this ghastly yang of a year. So I feel my odds are good.
RNRR: As we are now talking about the end of this year, I wondered if you’d be so kind to give us your New Year roundup for the new music you’ve heard this year. What new songs, albums and artists have you discovered and heard this year which have been a saving grace of such an otherwise dismal year?
0STELLA: So Skye Wallace - Self Titled: I’m obsessed. Also Megan Nash - 'Seeker': freaking obsessed. Grace Petrie - 'Black Tie'. Dan Mangan's 'Troubled Mind' (though a piano student brought this to me a year or more ago, I’m thoroughly in love with it now). Miesha and The Spanks also as although I’ve known them a long time, I’m getting really into their discography this year. Finally, Gary Clark Jr. - 'This Land'. I heard it the weekend BLM kicked off and it floored me.
RNRR: Finally I need to ask you our favourite question on Spotlight which we ask every guest at the end of the interview as you well know. Way back in January when I asked you the old desert island album question, you sided with Jeff Buckley‘s ‘Grace’. Has your opinion changed since?
0STELLA: That album and Skye Wallace’s go head-to-head on every long commute I go on, and Megan Nash is the umpire. I may have to smuggle a few extras onto the island!
RNRR: Glad to see you're still of the same opinion with loving that classic. Well thanks for being on Spotlight and our very last feature of 2020, 0Stella. We wish you the very best for what we hope is a much improved year in 2021.
Photo Credits: Marta Mora Photography
If you would like to find out more about 0Stella or her music, the links to all her social medias are below via the icons:
Edward Burnett chats to Georgia-based singing sensation Gabe Lustman AKA GABE about his early musical experience, his favourite place to eat and what the weather is like in Atlanta.
RNRR: Hi Gabe, how are you doing? Would you mind explaining what time of music you deal in to our readers who may be unfamiliar with your work to date?
GABE: Hey, I’m great. I sing pop and R&B.
RNRR: So usually I would start by asking about the beginning of your career path but I would rather first find about your recently released single ‘True’ which came out this year. Now ‘True’ is such a catchy song with a great, powerful chorus. When did you first start working on the single and what personal experiences went into this work?
GABE: I first started working on this in quarantine back in May 2020. ‘True’ was part of a group of 20 songs I recorded in about a 10 day span of time. I just locked myself in the studio, caught a vibe and it came out and ended up being a banger. Happens like that ya know.
RNRR: So taking it now back to the very beginning, what was your first musical experience? Do you recall your first gig or show that you attended?
GABE: I remember my parents put me in vocal training and I was in the school choir. I went around singing in nursing homes and even made the state honors choir and I always got the solos! People hated it (laughs). My first concert was The Temptations and Spinners recreated from a few original members and couple new guys at a local fair which my father took me to.
RNRR: Following a similar vein, who were your musical inspirations growing up? Did your parents or friends introduce you to any specific bands that had a profound impact on starting your career?
GABE: I loved listening to Justin Timberlake, Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Mario, Usher. There are too many great artists to name them all. My mom actually came home from Target one day and bought me ‘Turning Point’ by Mario. This was really funny because I was only allowed to listen to christian music for years! Incidentally, to this day next to ‘Justified’ by Justin Timberlake, this is my all time favourite album. I would spend hours singing in the bathroom with those great acoustics trying to hit those Mario runs which surprisingly, I actually could reach!
RNRR: Away from the music now and onto your living environment at the moment. Now you hail from but Minneapolis but currently reside in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, a State which gained a lot of global press in this month’s presidential election. What would you say is the best thing about living there?
GABE: Two things. The WEATHER and the OPPORTUNITY. The weather is pretty humid but if I go anywhere now below 60 I’m in a hoodie and cold as hell (laughs). Second, this city is a Mecca for success as the economy is made for entrepreneurs and people of the arts. I remember when I first moved to the A people were getting record deals every month it seemed like!
RNRR: Now it’s no secret that the United States has a collectively big passion for food and restaurants. What’s your favourite meal to have?
GABE: Oh man, Korean BBQ is my jam! Was just there the other night (laughs). Shout out to my guys at D92!
RNRR: Besides the music, do you have any other strong interests? Have you mastered any new talents or developed fresh hobbies while lockdowns have been in place and spare time for the majority has increased?
GABE: I like to try new cooking recipes, workout and just sit vibing to music. I spent most of quarantine in the studio and shooting music videos so just working on mastering my craft before anything.
RNRR: What are your plans for Christmas this year? Has the pandemic stopped any planned or traditional meet-ups for the holidays?
GABE: I respect Christmas and what it stands for but to me Christmas is like any other day of the year to someone who’s on the grind chasing their dreams. I’ll most likely be in the studio or catching up on emails as well as revising my marketing plan.
RNRR: Back onto your profession, what does the future hold for you? Do you have any live shows in the works for once the Covid pandemic eases? How about any new music in the pipeline?
GABE: I am working on more singles, more visuals and I plan to be a platinum artist in addition to my recent #1 Germany EP ‘My Ex’. I’m actually about to order my iTunes plaque for it so I’m very stoked! I plan to start off 2021 performing. I am working closely with a few booking agents currently to set up dates.
RNRR: Where do you see yourself and your career in two years’ time from now? Are there pinpoints on your career path that you want to reach or is it more of a “see where the road takes me” sort of vibe?
GABE: In two years I plan to be a platinum selling artist headlining my own overseas tour and securing distribution through a major. I’m very focused on making this a reality.
RNRR: Finally, here at Rock N Roll Reports we ask the same vitally important question at the end of each Spotlight interview. The old famous desert island question. You can pick only one album to be able to listen to for the rest of your days on said desert island. What are you picking Gabe and why?
GABE: I am taking ‘Justified’ by Justin Timberlake because its my favorite album and singing along with it alone helps keep my vocals in check. I like to think of it as a vocal training cd!
RNRR: A great choice especially due to your reasoning! Well Gabe it’s been a pleasure, thanks for coming on Spotlight! To you and our readers, Rock N Roll Reports wishes you a great Christmas!
If you'd like to find out more about GABE or keep up to date with his latest releases, the links to all his social medias are available below via the icons:
Edward Burnett chats to Prague band Bottled Fish about their latest EP, methods of recording their songs in a pandemic and their favourite films of all time.
RNRR: Hi Bottled Fish, would you mind introducing yourselves to our readers unfamiliar with your work?
BF: Well, Bottled Fish is a indie-rock band based in Prague. We are mostly inspired by such bands as Radiohead, CCR, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and many others. I have formed a band a few years ago with a couple of friends, but most members have changed several times. The band members are bass player Nikita, our drummer Alex and me, Asya, lead singer!
RNRR: You talk of inspirations for the band there mentioning both Radiohead and Joy Division. Both bands have lyrics with very deep meaning and often depressing stories are documented in their music. Would you say that your music also goes to dark places when needed and manages to convey that same almost depressive vibe that is so unique to the few bands mentioned?
BF: Well, for me my music is not depressive but more sad maybe. The lyrics are full of reflection- many songs are about human behaviour, personal responsibility, politics, relationships. At the same time it is not too straightforward, so I am curious if people always get it right.
RNRR: Do you ever feel challenged to write music about something completely different? Or if the topic of the lyrics doesn’t change, are you ever tempted to mix up the genre somewhat?
BF: I never choose what I am writing about to be honest. I just get an idea and try to tell what I am thinking about at that moment. I do have some songs about love also (laughs)! Genre is also a big topic. Originally there were just two guitars, bass and drums. Now we try to experiment a little bit with electronic music. I had an idea of creating a fully acoustic album with piano songs. I hope all this will happen after we release our debut EP!
RNRR: That is a perfect segway to talk about the debut EP then now that you’ve mentioned it. What can you tell Rock N Roll Reports about it? How many songs do you plan for KT to feature and what does it mean to finally have your work out in the world as a fully fledged EP?
BF: Work on this EP was rather complicated. We recorded everything by ourselves at home and we really had to study a lot: mostly about technical part. We played a lot with sounds and samples. But I think that we achieved the goal - we wanted EP to be conceptual. It is. We had an idea to tell about and it is all about that idea.
RNRR: Was this technique due to the Covid outbreak? Would you have gone about the recording differently in a situation without the pandemic? Do you feel that in hindsight, recording at home has worked to your advantage?
BF: [Asya]: Well, I think that thanks to outbreak and quarantine I had more time for music. It is surprising how long does social contact take. [Alex]: I believe that every musician should learn to do at least some recording at home. It helps you to hear your music the way other people will listen to it and gives you a lot of control. It gives you room for experiment, and I believe it’s the easiest way to learn and practice orchestration that you need playing in a band. Answering the question, I think that we would’ve recorded most of our songs at home with or without the pandemic.
RNRR: So you think quarantine had a positive effect on your music then?
BF: I think it had positive effect on my productivity. It was like pause, so many people were able to take a break and focus on one thing.
RNRR: Who would you say is your all time musical hero? You cited Joy Division as an inspiration earlier, would you say Ian Curtis stands at the forefront for heroes for you?
BF: [Asya]: Well I have listened to Radiohead since I was 10 years old and since then I’ve listened to many bands but I would say this is my inspiration 100%. I think that they always tried to do everything their own way and they’ve had success doing exactly this. For me, that is marvelous.
RNRR: How about you Nikita?
BF: [Nikita]: I can’t say that Ian is a hero. I can’t divide him from the band, because when I am listening their music it a whole band deal. But after listening Joy Division I decided to make a band. There are a lot of interesting musicians I like to listen to but I can’t say they are my heroes.
RNRR: Finally yourself Alex?
BF: [Alex]: John Congleton (The Paper Chase, John Congleton And The Nighty Nite).
RNRR: What does the band get up to outside of making music? What do you do to take a break from writing new songs?
BF: [Asya]: Well, probably, on the contrary, we take a break from life and write songs (laughs)! When I need to relax I do gardening. It really calms me down. I love watching movies a lot as well as that I am real series maniac! Although I wouldn’t say I need to take break from writing songs. I never get tired of music.
RNRR: So Asya, what are your favourite films? Do you feel that films are as important as music in conveying emotions and morals to wide audiences?
BF: Yes surely! All arts are doing this - they show something and explain things on emotional layer. Well, it will be long list of films.. I would name Tim Burton’s ‘Big Fish’ and ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’. The last is genius in a way it integrates images and music: you even feel cold when it is winter or when heroes are suffering. ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’ are also in a list. These are movies that make me cry a lot!
RNRR: How about you Nikita?
BF: [Nikita]: For sure films are as much important as music. Maybe a little bit more important because a film gives one more dimension, a visual one.
My top 5 films are - ‘Brick’, ‘Good Will Hunting’, ‘Midnight in Paris’, ‘The Dreamers’, ‘The Wrestler’.
RNRR: Alex, what is your opinion on the matter?
BF: [Alex]: It will be easier for me to list my TOP-3 directors: Edgar Wright, Christopher Nolan and Danny Boyle. I don’t know if it’s correct to compare these media, especially regarding the importance. Although I definitely think that films are much more powerful than music. An average movie will guide you through a coherent story, a ton of emotions. It will teach you to solve at least one problem, how music and emotions are related, and much more. An average song will mostly amplify your feelings. This is important as well, as it will help you live through the moment, but, as I said, it just works differently, and the purpose of this medium is different.
RNRR: Finally, we ask this question to every guest we have on Spotlight and it’s always a pretty big deal. If you’re going to be stranded on a desert island for the rest of your days with only one album to ever play again, what are you picking and why?
BF: [Asya]: That is so haaard, but just due to nostalgia I will choose Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ purely because it is my first favourite album. I listened to this for the first time when I was 10. Many songs are on here to cry out loud when you are alone (laughs). [Nikita]: ‘Stadium Arcadian’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers. There are all types of songs included, for dancing, for crying, for hot days, for lonely nights. Also it is a pretty big album with 28 songs! [Alex]: I'd prefer to be there without any music. Any song you set as your alarm quickly becomes the song you hate. The album you have with you stranded on a desert island becomes your requiem.
RNRR: Some varied picks there with really brilliant reasons as to why you chose them! Also very interesting to go with the no music option there Alex! Thanks for being on Spotlight and we will be sure to update the page with any news from your camp in the future!
If you would like to find out more about Bottled Fish and keep up to date with their news, the links to their social medias are below via the icons: