This song was released yesterday, but it immediately caught my attention. Normally we only add tracks to the list that are submitted by the artists themselves, but I’ve made an exception for this one.
Slow Res is the alias for Dutch artist Nicky Hustinx. He is mostly known for playing drums on tour with Fink, a band that I have seen live quite a few times. This song is completely different from what you might expect from a drummer. Instead of showing off his drumming skills, he makes electronic mellow synth music. This song is perfect for a relaxed Saturday like today.
Padre Toxico comes from as he describes it “a small country in Europe, where law is being broken by the government on daily basis and where freedom is being taken away everyday from innocent people. Where tolerance is only a word in a dictionary, it’s Poland.”
If music was his main source of income, he would starve to death. It probably applies to a lot of the independent musicians. Then what drives you into music? Padre Toxico: “As far as I remember music was with me every single day since my primary school. But for a long time I was only a passive music consumer. Time was passing by and I was starting to listen to new genres, I started experiencing music on different level, listening to each track many times to get out of it all I can with my ears. I wanted to make music for as long as I can remember. I tried 2 times in the past when I had all the time I could wish for, but I was not ready. Finally in November last year my good friend talked me into getting music gear. I was telling her how I have this urge to create something and to give back the music community at least a part of what I got out of listening to music consciously. And here I am”.
Even connecting the hardware to my laptop and getting any sound out of it was a blast
Padre Toxico has no experience in music at all. He calls himself a ‘total noob’. “I just read the manual for my maschine mk3. Even connecting the hardware to my laptop and getting any sound ouf of it was a blast”. But now that he has mastered these skills, he creates his music all by himself. Only exception is the vocal version of „Summer in LA” which was blessed with Pri’s beautiful voice. “She made that track, that was released as an instrumental track, complete and made it sound like it should sound from the beginning.”
Padre Toxico is now busy working on the release of his new LP which is called ‘Mandala’. It drops 24.08.2020. “I am really excited to see if people will like it”.
In the future he would love to get some features from rappers as hip-hop is his first love. “I always wanted to make my ‘Life Supplement’ a vocal album”. There is another project on the side, but he doesn’t want to jinx it, so we will have to wait for more about this. It may take some time because he also feels he needs to rest a while as the last months were very exhausting.
“I would like to thank all my listeners, I was not expecting such support in my wildest dreams. Music is fantastic journey, and if you want to try your skills in dropping some killer tunes – DO IT. We live only once, and we regret the things which we didnt do.”
How did you come up with the name Padre Toxico? “Hey. it is a complex story, don’t want to bore anyone. Good thing is that there is only one Padre Toxico in music :)”.
Choosing a suitcase for a bass drum and his trusty resophonic guitar VAN TASTIK, a one-man-band from Virginia based in Utrecht, hit the road in 2017, and has been winning over fans since he started this bohemian touring life playing the streets, bars, clubs and living room shows all over the globe.
VAN’s debut single ‘Ain’t No Man With Money‘ was featured in over 30 playlists. His second single ‘HANGMAN‘ has been in the top 3 of the Cool Top 20, 5 weeks in a row. VAN will debut his third and final single ‘Drag Me To Hell‘ in anticipation of his album ‘The Church of VAN TASTIK’ on all streaming platforms on June 24th.
“I’d describe it as a Gothic Folk/Alternative Rock ballad turned intense, swelling Gothic Hymn will remind listeners of classic heavy rock acts like Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf or contemporary acts like Rival Sons and All Them Witches.”
”This song is about ill-fated relations and solitude. There are people around you whom you care about and, yet, are terrible for you. Such relationships inevitably spiral downwards and pull you into the pits of hell. The song is about toxic people and aimed at all types of human relations – romantic or not. It was inspired by a bad relationship which was leading towards a break up … dragging me to hell.”
“To some degree its autobiographical. All of my songs have some sort of autobiographical level to them.”
“We recorded ‘Drag Me To Hell’ live in studio in London. It was a great experience.”
“The single cover was taken in the snow at a local park here in the Netherlands. Me and my team created everything and the photo was taken by my wife who is a photographer. We had an idea of how we wanted ‘Drag Me To Hell’ to look and I think we executed it well.”
“I have been working on the music video for sometime. Similar style to ‘HANGMAN’ video clip ‘Drag Me To Hell’ has clips from a Royalty Free classic black and white film. This time I used a Bela Lugosi classic ‘White Zombie’ from 1932. I merged footage to create my own narrative of the film. It will be released separately to the single so you will have to keep a close eye on all VAN TASTIK socials to get updates.”
When releasing a new single is there a sense of excitement or panic?
“Definitely both, it’s hard to release music to the world as an artist. It’s your baby. I am also worried about the press and how it will all go. Will people like it? Will this be the single that gets me to the next stage of my music career?”
Lightbringer is the brainchild of Trevor Meyer, who is also the vocalist and guitarist and for the band The Jobs. It is largely about songs meandering between 1st and 3rd person perspective to communicate emotion, tell stories, and audibly depict human psychology. Atmospheric and ethereal soundscapes partner with emotive lyrics that emphasize finding courage during times of loss, using the past to change the future, pain rationalization, and channeling the non-music world through an artistic lens to see what comes out on the other side. His songs have been made purely for the aesthetic thrill of creating art.
The second Lightbringer release is titled ‘Sailors Arms‘. It will be out on June 23.
“Sailors Arms is a fictional account a shipwreck near Ryde England during the 18th century. The story is largely biographical and told from the internal perspective of the ship captain. After sailing to exhaustion, the captain must find a way to will his crew on, even though death is likely imminent. The song is mostly about internalizing and juggling juxtaposed emotions of immense fear and courage while under extreme duress. It is an idea I think many can relate to – that some of our greatest challenges in life lie in standing inside of what you fear most.”
“This song is a large departure of what I typically do with the band (The Jobs, ed.). To be honest, I am not sure where it came from. I have always been enamored by the sea and by the power and mysticism of the ocean. So, a few months back, I started tossing around the idea of writing a sea epic. I knew that I wanted to structure the song differently – time signature wise, lyrically, and bring the song to life through symphonic / orchestral elements. I knew the song would be a huge undertaking. It started as many songs do with chords. I played it a few times at the Hambones Open Mic and people seemed to gravitate to the marching / sailing feel of it. Ideas began pouring in with string arrangements, trumpets, cascading synth leads etc. Once I structured the drums and instrumentation, I started working on the words.”
“I wanted to tell a story that was historically authentic but still be relatable with today’s audience.”
“To properly authenticate the story, I did a great deal of research on 17th century sailing to use some of the terminology in the lyrics. I even recorded some of the vocals with a buzz to simulate what a sailor at sea might be doing in the event of what might be their final moments. Sailors Arms tallies over 500 words. It largely does not repeat.”
“It is not a 4/4 pop song and is not a song for everyone and I get all of that. The song is special to me – it is probably the most beautiful piece I’ve written to date. As an artist, I struggle with pushing the art too much to meet a metric or make it ‘marketable’. I think if you do that too much, you lose track of the reason you are creating in the first place, which is largely to have authority over creative control in what it is that you wish to accomplish. I made the song as a form of release and artistic freedom. I wanted the result to be uncompromised,and more of a pure manifestation of this beautiful, serene vision that I had running through my head. I can only hope that is what I achieved in creating this piece.”
“The lyrics might be the greatest piece of music that I have written to date. I say that because I was able to tell a story that I wanted to tell, but still make the meanings relatable. Sometimes when you are in the moment, writing; you do not realize how the lyrics could potentially affect you or tell your own story just a few weeks removed from that moment. You never really know when you are going to need your own words. My life has been tumultuous this spring and I am navigating the declining health of my mother. I have come back to some of the phrases of this song like ‘No We’re Never Alone’ and listened and wondered. Was I channeling something there that I might need in just a few short weeks? Sometimes I think this sort of cosmic interplay is always happening around us, we just have to pay attention.”
Fisj is a musician from a small village near Ghent, a beautiful middle-sized historical town in Flanders (Belgium). He used to play in various bands, but these days he’s only playing from home. The first time we heard from Fisj was when he released his song ‘Mellow Moon‘ and I’ve been wondering “who is Fisj?” ever since. So let’s find out…
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
“Apart from my family I have two great loves: music and history, especially the medieval period. For the first few years of my professional career I have worked at the University of Ghent at the Department of History, studying the Western crusades in the Byzantine region. Next I spent some time with an organisation defending the interests of Deaf people -broadening my horizon and also meeting my wife-to-be there. Now I am working for the local city council, an interesting and varied job with new issues to tackle each day of the week.”
Where did your stage name Fisj come from?
“Fisj is an acronym composed of the initials of the names of my partner, my two children and myself. I jumbled the letters around a bit until I came up with the current name, meant to be pronounced in the same way as the word ‘fish’. Hence the logo of a happy water creature. A fish for me evokes life giving water, freedom (‘the ocean is the limit’), beauty and positivity.”
Which musical instrument would you choose to represent yourself and why?
“This would have to be the guitar. Like so many others I at one point became fascinated at the ‘power of the guitar’. Hearing and seeing my first favourite bands – The Beatles and The Bangles – playing their beautiful instruments (these Rickenbackes, that Gretsch, that Gibson SG) felt like being struck by lightning – though I guess I also had a little crush on Vicky Peterson.”
“I particularly remember a radio show on the occasion of the x-th anniversary of Sgt. Peppers each day opening with that stinging electric guitar intro from the album’s opening song: I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Also, my older brother played classical guitar, so there was an instrument in the house, although I was not supposed to touch it!.”
“For me the guitar – and its relatives (I for example have a little charango from Chile which I picked up during a trip there) – are the ultimate instrument: you can take them anywhere, playing solo or together with others, or gathering everyone around the campfire at night singing songs out in the open field.”
You used to play in various local bands. When did you start playing/singing?
“Together with a friend I already had a band when I was ten, ‘The Beat George Guys’. He was a big fan of George Michael, so we combined our musical tastes in our name. We wrote our own relics, he played percussion – whatever we could find in our mothers’ kitchens – and I ‘played’ the mandoline, a heirloom we had lying around.”
“Some years later when we had learned to play actual instruments – me guitar, him bass, that same friend and I started a (relatively) more serious musical project, ultimately ending up as a trio, with a great drummer we met by chance. Our policy was to only write songs together at rehearsal from jams and we opted for a funk rock approach, with sometimes challenging song structures. A great concept, but it didn’t always play to our strengths. Nevertheless we had great fun and played everywhere in Flanders, in music clubs and cafes or at small festivals, sometimes recording a few of our songs in the studio or at home. Eventually things kind of unraveled as we grew older and so I continued to make music on my own.”
If we were to look at the artists you are listening to, who would be on your playlist?
“I listen to a quite wide range of music, with a clear focus on the mid-sixties to mid-seventies.”
“The Beatles – including their solo work, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, James Brown, Miles Davis, The Bangles, Kate Bush, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Funkadelic/Parliament, Santana, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Billie Eilish, Amy Whinehouse, The Pixies, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Steely Dan, Blur, Oasis, Nirvana, The Doors, The Who, The Pretenders, The Police, Beck, Cake, The Supremes, Dolly Parton, Thin Lizzy, Jack Bruce, Curtis Mayfield, Whitney, Mac DeMarco…”
What makes a great piece of music in your opinion?
“A great piece of music for me has something unexpected about it, contains an element of wonder or surprise, is a combination of a well thought out idea combined with a spontaneity in its execution, instantly captivates and creates a mood that transports you away from the present place and moment…”
How would you describe your music to someone at a dinner party that’s never heard of you?
“I’d say it ranges from intimate acoustic songs to a little more rock ‘n roll and up-tempo tunes, with guitar, piano and vocal harmonies in the main roles, and with its roots firmly in the sixties/seventies tradition.”
You’ve released three tracks so far ‘Mellow Moon’, ‘ A Call Came’ and ‘Beautiful girl’. ‘A Call Came’ was about your dad’s passing, ‘Beautiful Girl’ was about your daughter. Are all of your songs based on personal experiences?
“These days they are indeed. I’ve discovered that I feel most comfortable writing about the people or animals I love around me and daily experiences. ‘Mellow Moon’ is also like that. I was biking home one day after work on a lovely day, the full moon constantly above and before me looking beautiful in the slowly setting sunlight. The opening lines and part of the melody just came to me in that moment: ‘A mellow moon / guides me / home to you’.”
“In the past I have also dabbled in political songs or songs about social concerns or current issues for instance climate change, but it’s hard for me not to sound preachy or somewhat pompous. At times I have also tried combining history with music – for instance at one point writing lyrics about the Mongolian invasion in Hungary in the 1240’s – but that didn’t work out too well, somehow the music always suffered.”
“Starting from meaningful observations from everyday life for me seems to work better in the context of a pop song.”
Have you planned your next release yet? What can you tell us about the next release?
“My next release is a song called ‘Boy In Blue’. Basically it’s a storytelling acoustic piano song. It’s about that time when you’re young and you’re slowly discovering the world or your neighbourhood independent from your parents and all. It’s a dramatized version of how the musical friend I spoke of earlier and I would go out on all kinds of ‘adventures’ -dressed up as pirates, detectives and the like. It’s also a – not too deep and in any case fictional – reflection about how tragic events early in life can have long-term consequences.”
Are you someone who continually writes or does best under a little pressure?
“I like to write songs in batches, like ‘it’s time to write some songs again and see if I can still manage’. But when I’m not writing I’m always gathering ideas from things and artists I’m listening to or events that are happening, thinking ‘mmh, that’s something interesting I can use later’, sometimes making a note or brief recording on my phone, sometimes just stocking it in the back of my head, hoping to remember it later.”
What can you tell me about your songwriting process?
“This is a hard one. In my experience it doesn’t work when you’re trying too hard. I feel like songs just come to me in a way. That’s also why I leave time, several months, between periods of writing songs. You can’t be inspired all of the time I guess, my head seems to need time to make space for new impressions that can be turned into songs at some later point.”
“The basic outline of a song – a few lines, a little guitar or piano riff, the chords of verse and chorus – usually flows quite naturally once I’ve started from an initial concept. But arranging a song is a different and more difficult matter. Choosing and thinking out parts for other instruments can be a long process, also exploring various song structures, tempos, mixes and so on. It’s anyhow a time-consuming affair.”
“I’m slowly building an album of about 10 songs. I hope to have it released sometime during the next year. I like releasing them track by track – in the order as they will appear on the album, because I never feel really sure about what song exactly might be appreciated rather more or less by listeners.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? There are quite a few young artists in our chart. Do you have any advice for them?
“I’m afraid I don’t seem to recall any musical advice that turned out to be visionary or life changing. Perhaps for young artists: make music for the fun of it.”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20?
“For the moment that would be Denny Lloyd’s ‘In The Rain’. For me it has a classic quality about it, beautifully arranged, great understated electric piano, moving vocal performance. A real discovery.”
As you might know we’ve added a new feature to the Cool Top 20, a bonus track picked by the artist or band in the spotlight. What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“Great! A little out of my personal comfort zone, but I quite like the instrumental song ‘Dandelion’ by Acid Mirror. A bit of a spur of the moment thing, there’s something intriguing about this track, I can imagine all kinds of mysterious activities taking place.”
“I’d like to say just one more thing. The Cool Top 20 really makes a difference for indie musicians like myself in trying to get their music heard. Vice versa I’ve discovered quite a few interesting artists on the Cool Top 20 web page. Therefore I’d sincerely like to thank you for all the effort and time you put into it.”
A new niche in the music world is being carved out by the soulful sound of roots-rock artist Sean Waterman.
Sean first became interested in playing music during the 4th grade when a music lesson flyer found its way home in his book bag. With his mother’s encouragement, he decided to strap on the guitar. After only a few months there was no looking back – guitar playing had become a passion.
At 14 years old he took up the pen and began composing songs of his own – giving credit to musical influences such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and Bob Marley. In the time since, he has written many songs. He even wrote and composed songs for Southern jazz legend Ann Caldwell.
On June 18th he will be releasing a new full length album, ‘Devices‘.
“My previous releases were mainly acoustic guitar with very limited instrumentation. This release has a full range of instruments and musicians. This release was also professionally produced whereas I produced my previous releases myself.”
The title track of the album ‘Devices’, is accompanied with a music video, which premiered 2 June.
“With this video I just wanted to do something different and was really excited about the idea of doing an anime music video. I reached out to a group of editors called Team Ayakashiand they have some great ideas and I’m just really happy the way it turned out.”
Is there a sense of excitement or panic for the release of the album?
“I would say it’s more relief than anything. It’s so hard to put out music as an independent artist. It’s easier now than its ever been but still a difficult thing to achieve, so I’m just happy to be able to share my art.”
‘We tried to make ‘Madonna’s a Dick’ as dirty and punky as we could’
by Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
LA-based post punk alt rock band, Broken Baby, is riding high on the success of its latest single, ‘Madonna’s a Dick’, which will also feature on a split 7″ featuring two tracks from Broken Baby and two from LA female punk trio, Egg Drop Soup, coming out on 25th June.
Broken Baby is the musical brainchild of veteran indie rocker/producer Alex Dezen (main songwriter and front man for the now defunct Brooklyn band, The Damnwells) and Amber Bollinger, a former college athlete and trained actor, who met at a film festival in Phoenix, Arizona around 2006. As a working actor in Hollywood for years, Amber experienced what she describes as ‘seemingly unending sexual harassment and misogyny’ and if you follow the four-year-old band’s history, it’s clear that it was formed as a vehicle for her, both as a writer and performer, to channel her rage.
The split 7″ will also feature a new Broken Baby track, ‘The Feelers’: ‘It’s about the obsession for another person’s attention,’ Amber says. ‘”She’s got the feelers!”. It’s so desperate, so obvious, and it may be harmless, but the other person is not feeling it all.’
Last week, they released their funny and biting single, ‘Madonna’s a Dick’, which Amber describes as ‘a love song to Madonna in a way’ or at least it started out that way. The song was inspired by the 80’s documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot: ‘It’s a documentary about two dudes tailgating for Judas Priest,’ she explained. ‘Actually, today (31 May), is the 35th anniversary of it!’ Alex jumps in: ‘They go around talking to these teenagers in a parking lot who are all hammered.’ Amber is laughing: ‘Everyone is so naive and innocent, they’re probably not even 21 years old but there’s this dude dressed up all in this zebra outfit and he gives his opinion on Madonna. “She’s a dick,” he says. ‘That stuck with me,’ she says. ‘So we thought of the title first. At every level in popular culture, women are met with systemic sexism and summarily dismissed. People love to jump on and hate a popular female singer, whether it’s Madonna or Taylor Swift or someone else. Commentators don’t like Madonna’s brashness, so she got labelled a bitch. It made me think, if she were a guy, “They’d probably give her a raise, she’d be the president of the United States”, which became the chorus.’
As the song goes: ‘But if she were a dude and she was giving that attitude, they’d probably give her a raise. She’d be the president of the United States. Yeah, Madonna’s a dick.’
Amber describes Alex as ‘the driving force’ and ‘the professional songwriter’ but acknowledges that this was a tricky song to get right. ‘We wrote this song five times!,’ Alex laughs. ‘There are four other versions that are really different, they even have different chords. The first version had a 90’s alt rock vibe but we felt that the music wasn’t meeting the lyrics. We changed the riff in the chorus – A♭ to D# to C and at one point there’s an A# – and the melodies.’ Amber nods; ‘We tried to make ‘Madonna’s a Dick’ as dirty and punky as we could.’ I tell them that the riff in the chorus has been my earworm ever since I heard it. ‘It’s so good it’s your earworm,’ says Amber, grinning: ‘He started playing it and I was like “That’s it!”’
Their name, Broken Baby, came about after they’d been vinyl shopping and on the walk back, the word ‘broken’ stuck in their heads, to which Amber later added ‘baby’: ‘Coming up with a name is sooooo hard!,’ Alex says. He looks at Amber: ‘What would we rename our band now?’ Amber laughs: ‘The reality is that Alex had another name for the band, he wanted to call it ‘Bebo’, which is the nickname my nieces give me. If we could do it all over again maybe we’d call our band Sex Helmet!’ Alex laughs. ‘Sex Helmet is taken,’ he says, checking to see if it’s on Spotify. ‘No, no, it’s not, that’s just a song,’ Amber says.
As a former actor, Amber says she’s acutely aware of the way she internalised the shame of being commodified, as many women do and, as such, Broken Baby has become a kind of antidote to that shame. ‘Ultimately, I just want you to see that I’m in front of you. If you like it that’s great, if you hate it, that’s also great. I want to be seen,’ she says. I ask her as someone working in both the acting and music business, if there has been a noticeable shift in how women are treated since #MeToo: ‘Everything is shifting but it’s going to take a while,’ she says. ‘Despite #MeToo, there will always be someone in power who will weaponize it and use it against women. We need to take the power away from them. These men in power, in the acting world, why are these guys the gatekeepers? It’s called the casting couch. Women are joining together and that’s how we start to see change. If women were in charge would they behave like these men? I don’t think so but who knows?’
Another song, ‘Manic Panic’ (2020) kicks off with a 70’s style riff and is a massive track, with Amber sounding like a badass Chrissie Hynde on it: ‘It was written in a fight,’ Alex said. ‘You were like ‘I can’t write lyrics”, you were having a panic, I wrote a line, you wrote a line. We went back and forth – we do that sometimes with songs – and at the end we were like, actually, that’s a pretty cool song!’
As the song goes: ‘I got my bones and my hands and my mammary glands. I got my sweat and blood, not everything is a dud.’
Interestingly, they approach songwriting in very different ways: ‘Alex is very disciplined and sits there writing, he’s completely focused,’ Amber says. ‘I’m like, oh but I have to do laundry, or get that scratch off the wall, or I’ll find some other excuse. He’s like ‘Could you just sit on your hands for a minute?”,’ she laughs.
‘They didn’t know it at the time but they did unconsciously shape the future of punk’
If they could go to any gig tonight, Alex picks Swedish hardcore punk band, Refused: ‘They did an album, The Shape Of Punk To Come (1998), they didn’t know it at the time but they did unconsciously shape the future of punk. They came to town in 2019, them and The Hives (a Swedish rock band). I’d also see Blondie.’ Amber goes with a smaller, lesser known New York-based art punk band, Gustaf: ‘They used to be this little band but now they’re opening for Idles, they’re so cool.’
Musically, they also have distinct backgrounds: ‘We love different stuff,’ Amber says, looking at Alex. ‘You listen to cool shit!’ Alex deadpans: ‘I used to listen a lot of Bruce Springsteen but I’m from New Jersey, so it’s a prerequisite. I really liked The Replacements (an American punk rock band), Prince and I really liked The Inner Mounting Flame album by Mahavishnu Orchestra (an American jazz-rock fusion band) because the time signatures were always changing, although now maybe it doesn’t sound as cool as it did to me then. And Gang of Four (an English post punk band), David Yowis an incredible player, he wrote such great melodic parts.’
Growing up in Bellevue, Ohio, Amber had less music to choose from, she says: ‘Sometimes, we’d get interesting music from the radio in Detroit but I mainly grew up listening to Paula Abdul, Madonna, Garbage and Alanis Morissette. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I got into Patti Smith and David Bowie.’
If they could hear one of their tracks on any TV show, Alex picks Baltimore drama, The Wire, about the drug kingpins tearing up the city as the police tried to keep up. ‘In a scene where Idris Elba (who plays ‘Stringer’ Bell) is doing something, he’s awesome!’ Amber decides that she’d rather play on a TV show: ‘So there’s this new Kate Winslet show, Mare of Easttown (a crime drama), the band in the show (a fictitious band, Androgynous) plays Mannequin Pussy songs, it all started when someone in the show saw one of their t-shirts. (One of the show’s costume designers picked up a Mannequin Pussy t-shirt in a local store and a music supervisor on the show clocked the name and decided to check the band out. They were subsequently invited to provide the soundtrack for the fictional band on the show.) Kate Winslet is amazing in it, so I’d like to be the band in that!’
They’ve both massive fans of fierce femme-punk rock band from Austin, Texas, Pleasure Venom, and its frontwoman, Audrey Campbell. ‘Dude, they’re a powerhouse, she’s so great. When we saw her at a gig, she fucking destroyed the place and gave everyone a hug afterwards!,’ Amber says. Alex joins in: ‘At the gig, you could stand in the wing and see her. The mic kept coming out (of the stand). She’s like a banshee when she’s out there and we thought maybe she’d freak out and hit us by accident but in this tiny, polite voice, she says to us “Has something happened to my microphone?” and goes back to screaming “motherfuckers”!’
Diddie Hair is a 20 year old singer/songwriter from Hull (UK). He’s been playing the piano since he was 5-6 years old and taught himself to play the guitar about 4 years ago. He’s currently studying for a degree in music at university whilst trying to launch a career in music at the same time.
Most of you will know Diddie Hair from his track ‘Sad Song‘ which was a number one hit in our chart. His latest release ‘Perfect To Me’ will be out on 18th June.
What inspired you to write this song?
“I’d class it as a love letter in a song for my girlfriend. She really supports me in everything I do and she’s been the inspiration for a couple of my previous songs, so this is my way of sort of saying thanks to her.”
What’s your favourite memory of writing and/or recording?
“How we managed to get through the recording and mixing stage of this one without killing each other I’ll never know. We have reworked it so many times I could fill an album just with different versions of it. We got so close to all agreeing it was finished and then I decided I wanted to record a load of vocal harmonies and ended up with an additional 50 tracks just of my extra vocals which I had to record wearing a stab proof vest. Once we finished that we ended up with 130 tracks. Altogether I think it sounds mega and I can’t wait to see and hear what everyone thinks to it once it’s released.”
What are you hoping to achieve with this release?
“Every time we release a song we seem to raise the bar a bit higher. I’m learning all of the time and having fun as well. I try to stay true to the people that have already connected to my previous stuff, but I’m always trying to push the boundaries. Hopefully people will like it.”
Chris Ahlman is a professional singer/songwriter currently living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. He keeps busy averaging over one-hundred shows per year while also spending time making music in the studio.
A new track ‘Once Upon A Rhyme’ was released today. It’s the first single and the title track for his brand new album, set to be released mid-late July of this year.
“I was spending some time in Santa Barbara about two years ago, and one afternoon I suddenly felt this strong inspiration to write this song. It’s kind of a love song about writing love songs and adventure. It just came to me and I started really feeling the vibe and rhythm of what later would become this first single off my new album.”
“Once we got into the studio with some of Nashville’s finest musicians, it started to really fill out and develop this catchy really cool feel. After finishing the entire twelve song album, which is set to be released later this summer, I decided this song would be a good strong choice for the first single.”
“I am hoping to get as many people to be able to hear it as possible. I think it’s a really special song that can inspire people. In my opinion, good music like this can make you feel good and shine a little light into somebody’s life. It also would be great to get it into a movie or a tv show and get more exposure that way as well.”
“This song was recorded and mixed half in Sonoma, California, and half in Nashville, Tennessee. It features some Grammy winning musicians including Cliff Goldmacher (Lisa Loeb, Kesha, Keb Mo) and Kerry Marx (Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, John Legend), as well as a number of other amazingly talented artists.”
For more information and content, check out Chris’ website.
The sound of Tube Amp 101 has been described as a mixture of jangle surf grunge. It is inspired using elements from both the 1960s and the 1990s. The intention is to combine new and old worlds, and to create something unique.
Tube Amp 101 will be releasing a 5-track EP ‘True Friend‘ on 18th June.
“The new EP True Friend, has five tracks: three new, one re-mix and one instrumental. I’m currently enjoying creating these small collections of work rather than a stream of singles. Although the downside to this is the longer gap between releases. There are a couple of songs on the EP which show a different side of Tube Amp 101 than previously heard.”
“The idea behind ‘Disconnection’ is from a piece I read on a book called ‘Chasing The Scream’. The author explores the science of addiction, and the view that rather than addictions being caused by too much partying, its more likely an individuals adaptation to environment and connections good and bad within it. It struck a chord with me and inspired the song.”
“‘True Friend’ is basically about saying a final goodbye to a loved one. The things you’d likely talk about with a dying parent or partner. Yes, a bit downbeat I know, but I tried to make it more uplifting.”
“‘Strawberry Smile’ is probably the most accessible song. Its a fairly psychedelic abstract piece, and was written a long time ago for one of my old bands. I remember it being about the juxtaposition between enjoying the warmth of a summers day, while also feeling a heavy loss of a relationship break-up. It now has a new piano part, and a vocal from my daughter Kate, who also appears on ‘True Friend’.”
Falling Down (ALT)
“‘Falling Down’ is from the last EP and is the version I talked myself out of using. Nice to have it as a comparison. I prefer it to the original and would be interested in what others think.”
Strawberry Smile (INST)
“Instrumental only version, which I think stands quite well. That’s one of the good things with EPs, the bonus tracks.”
‘The songs we make are heavily blues influenced but we wanted these songs to be bigger than before’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
Black River Delta, an alt rock blues band originating from Bollnäs, Sweden, kings of the dirty guitar punctuated with honest, emotional lyrics, will bring out their third studio album, Shakin’, on 4 June 2021.
The group consists of Erik Jacobs (vocals, guitars), Pontus Ohlsson (guitars, harmonica), Måns Lindblom (drums) and Josef Boding (bass). They all grew up in Bollnäs together: ‘There are only about 10,00 people, so finding other musicians was hard, you had to stick with the ones you had,’ Ohlsson joked. Their name is an amalgamation of several things, including their love of The Black Keys and Californian rock band, Delta Spirit.
Shakin’ comprises 11 tracks, three of which – ‘California Sun’, ‘Shakin’ and ‘Burning and Burning’ – have already been released as singles. ‘California Sun’ came out last month and was essentially written around Ohlsson’s riff: ‘We wrote it together, we wrote it around my riff of Em, A and B,’ he said. ‘The lyrics came later. We recorded it in Malmö and did the vocals and bass at our producer’s studio in LA, so the song is about that trip.’ The track kicks off with thumping drums before Ohlsson’s riff sweeps in and cranks up the pace. It’s impossible not to play it as loud as possible. I tell him how much I love the look of his guitar in the photo: ‘It’s a Hagström Viking. I’ve made small changes to it, other from that it’s all stock so you can buy one yourself!’
”California Sun’ is about finding out what you want in life, and how to get it,’ Ohlsson said. ‘That’s not as easy as it sounds but at least my take on this song is that it’s about finally figuring out what or who you want, and finding the courage to go out there and get it.’
‘A lot of our songs are about running away from something’
The album’s opening track, ‘Burning and Burning’, features bluesy, slightly grungy guitars and two themes that recur in several songs, escaping from something and broken relationships: ‘It’s something we can all relate to,’ Ohlsson said. ‘A lot of our songs are about running away from something or travelling. Erik wrote the lyrics to that one. We sing a lot about broken relationships!’
‘Shakin’ kicks off with the lyrics ‘I’ve got a strong shiver rolling up my arm, I’ve got a strong shiver rolling up my arm, I should’ve spread my net, I should’ve pulled my break, I’ve gotta strong shiver rolling up my arm’ and I ask him if it’s about addiction. ‘It leaves you hanging a bit,’ Ohlsson said. ‘My interpretation of it is that it’s about missing someone or something. The lyrics came in pieces. All of the songs we make are heavily blues influenced but we wanted these songs to be bigger than before.’
Some tracks, including ‘Midnight Train’, feature some stellar harmonica playing from Ohlsson who, astonishingly, taught himself to play it a month before they recorded their first album in 2015. ‘I practiced hard for a month, playing the harmonica is very close to singing, you use your voice and your lungs, your heart is in it.’
‘It’s about a man in freefall from addiction and trouble with his love life’
Another track on the upcoming album, ‘Solitary Man’, is one of the most sombre songs: ‘It’s about a man in freefall from addiction and trouble with his love life,’ Ohlsson said. ‘He’s a messy, messy man, a war veteran suffering addiction. Eric wrote the lyrics. He writes most of them and then we work on them together.’ One of my favourite songs on the album is actually one of the most pared back ones, ‘400 Hours’, which really allows Jacobs’ vocals to shine. It has something of the Wild West about it, with the powerful, drawn out and evocative chorus ‘I rest with a gun hole through my chest’.It would be easy to take the meaning literally and figuratively, so I ask Ohlsson which of the two meanings is most appropriate: ‘This is not based on a real story but have you ever had your heart broken and been left by the one you love? It can sometimes feel like you have replaced your heart with a gun hole,’ he said.
Ohlsson is a big fan of Swedish country blues singer, Ludwig Hart, and American rock band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: ‘They’re the reason we started a band and that’s also where the ‘black’ in our name comes from. It’s the same with The Black Keys, we really love them. Their album’s coming out May 14th, it’s called Delta Kream, so it also has a bit of our name in it,’ he said, sounding delighted. He’s also a big fan of Britpop, particularly Liam Gallagher and says he wishes he’d written his songs ‘Greedy Soul’ and ‘The River’: ‘I’ve had that album (Why Me? Why Not.) on a loop.’ He also recommends American singer songwriter JD McPherson, whose retro sound is rooted in the rock and roll, rockabilly, and rhythm and blues music of the 50’s: ‘He’s a riff god, a rockabilly guy. Listen to ‘Lucky Penny’, it’s so good.’ If he could tour with anyone, he picks The Black Keys: ‘Who else?,’ he laughed. ‘The atmosphere would be great. I saw them in 2013, they were incredible.’
(Photo from left to right: Pontus, Måns, Erik and Josef)