In the spotlight: Mark Cokes

Mark Cokes is a singer/songwriter and marathon swimmer. Mark was born in Dublin (Ireland) where he lived till his early twenties before emigrating to Australia, New York and Los Angeles finishing his travels in Bosnia and Italy.

“I returned home with a head full of cultured madness and a heart full of exciting opportunity.”

“I am now settled with a family in Wexford a short distance from Dublin. Ireland is a great country full of passion for music, poetry and the arts, a catalyst for everything that is creative in me. I feel so blessed every day to be able to express myself this way.”

What got you into music? What kind of music do you like?

“Well bands and artists like Thin Lizzy, The Cranberries, Boomtown Rats, The Stunning, Paul Brady and Rory Gallagher to name a few had a huge influence on me growing up alongside internationally, the wonderful era of Punk, Ska and New Wave with a sprinkling of the Grateful Dead to keep it authentic”

Who are your main musical influences?

“The Clash undoubtedly were one of my biggest influences showing how to change with the times and reinvent yourself with their iconic album ‘London Calling’. It was an album with so many different music genres on it, they risked losing their core fanbase of Punk/New wave; instead, they exploded on the scene after it.”

“This never left me, encouraging me at first to get my youthful angst out on a drum kit where I ended up in the Dublin school of music learning how to play drums and see how music came together in a disciplined format, something I struggled with at first. If I am honest, I skipped off a lot of theory classes (to my regret) to run across to the Dandelion Market to watch a very new band just starting in the tiny water puddled rat infested gig area, called U2. Yes, Dublin really was a music heavyweight at the time it just didn’t know it.”

Have your musical tastes changed over the years?

“I suppose the string of bands that I had the absolute fortune to drum with and have been a part of from my early teens till now (Rottweiler, Intensive care, Dead Drunk, One Too Many, Too Many goldfish, Open Vision and The Field), drumming with solo artist John McGlynn (Anúna/Riverdance) are like a sign post of how my musical taste knowledge and experience went from manic excitement to an urge to want to express what lay deep inside in a melodic yet lyrically evocative way.”

“Now amazing Irish singer/songwriters like Glen Hansard, Declan O’Rourke, Damien Dempsey and Damien Rice evoke emotions in me that are simply too amazing to describe but have helped target that inner poet that is Mark Cokes.”

You’ve played in bands before. When did you decide to go solo?

“I had always written poetry from a very early age and have amounted a selection of around a hundred poems. They have been faithful companions unveiling an unknown self that became strong enough to get me through the difficult periods of life none more so than the death of one my best friends from cancer. Out of a need to shout out the visceral grief from this monumental event unfolding in my life I picked up the guitar in an attempt to tell him how I was feeling and I suppose that’s when I became a solo artist, I think (laughs).”

What can you tell about the first song you wrote?

“I simply wanted to tell my mate two words “Thank you” for being you, and there it was my first solo song. I nervously approached my trusted musicians that I had played with as a drummer for twenty years on/off and they accepted me into the fold as a songwriter helping me put a wonderful shape on it. But here I ask, is anyone really a solo artist?”

“‘Thank you’ hasn’t been officially released yet, something I know there will be a right time for. Through my mate’s death he gave life to so many people and in particular to my song writing. It was so appropriate that he was such an ardent music lover but couldn’t play a note.”

What are your fondest musical memories?

“Well, ‘Thank You’ got the ball rolling and lots of those poems that had been hiding in the recesses of my heart found their way on to the strings of my guitar and out to the world as melodies so much so that the ‘Seannachaí’, which is Gaelic for “Storyteller”, was born.”

“In a natural progression the theme for my first solo performance in the iconic Dublin gig venue The Sugar Club was “Seannachaí, stories of Hope and Love” a musical experience I will never forget. I surprised my best friend by playing ‘Thank you’ in the middle of my set, having invited his 15-year-old son on stage to play piano with me and my band. My friend died shortly after this, but this memory in particular still lives on in me every dayand the bones of my first EP was conceived that night and is aptly named ‘Seannachaí’ of course. His death encourages me now to live everyday like it is my last, something he was a perfect example of.”

Let’s talk about your new single ‘Dive Right In’. What inspired you to write this song?

“Outside of music my other love is swimming and I am an open water marathon swimmer. Recently in August 2021, I swam 16 kilometres (10 miles) along the Irish coast to help raise awareness and funds for two great friends Marty and Al and their organisation Ataxia Foundation Ireland, who have this life limiting incurable muscle degenerative condition called Friedrichs Ataxia.”

“In July 2021, in prep for previously mentioned swim above, I spent a very intense week swimming with some of the best marathon swimmers in the world in what is known as Cork Distance Week in Ireland. I was humbled and honoured to be there swimming every day for 4 hours on average and I realised how much support my fellow swimmers, friends, family, back home in Wexford, internationally and now in Cork were giving me. They have become the “light that shines on the water” which helps me to ‘Dive Right In’ everyday just like they do living with Ataxia. (Read about it here afi.ie)”

“My new single is serving as a tasty appetiser, for 2022 is going to be a massive year for afi and I, huge surprise and challenge coming.”

What does it feel like as an artist waiting for the songs you’ve lived with to be released to the fans?

“Releasing this new single in particular felt very emotional as not only is my friends “live everyday like it’s your last” and Marty and Al’s approach to life in it, but the warmth, support and friendship of all my other friends is so closely weaved into the lyric. What else can I do but Dive Right In and let it out to the world. I hope it helps people reflect about their loved ones and seize the moment.”

How do you balance music with your other obligations?

“Alongside my music I started to work with those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, something all too prevalent in the music industry. Most songs start out with a feeling of melancholy, even the happy ones, so the work music balance can be (but not always) complimentary.”

“In helping others, you need to know yourself very well, when you get lost for words to say, music helps you stretch out your fingertips in to the darkness and let go; as one of the concepts of AA states “in order to keep it you have to give it away”.”

“…just like swimming it never really is a solo sport you always need a team.”

What can you tell me about your creative process? What inspires your lyrics?

“It can be different every time, words first, music later or vice versa. Sometimes a guitar, sometimes a drum beat. For example, with ‘Dive Right In’ there was a melody on loop in my head as I looped the swim route in Cork, the lyrics inspired by “living in the moment” came to me. When I got home, with a very rough guitar I went to the most amazing producer/musician and friend Jimi Hemp, who just gets what I am trying to say and we weaved, together, a song that we are very proud off. Without Jimi it wouldn’t happen and just like swimming it never really is a solo sport you always need a team.”

What’s next? Are you working on an album?

“There is no album in the pipeline yet, but there are two singles which Jimi and I hope we can finish sooner than later. One about my soul mate and the other of course about the water as a place to simply let “the sea within me” tell the stories.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool 20?

“Oh, that’s easy ‘Paris’ by the Collective Music Society because they stand for everything that is right about indie music, literally the collective collaboration is brilliant.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“‘Breaking Through’ by A band Called Paul ft Joelid. There are few people that I know that I can call real musicians and this man Paul is one. He humbly teams up with American rapper Joelid in what is an amazing fusion of talent to bring out a kick ass tune.”

Spotify Mark Cokes

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Twitter @MarkCokes

YouTube Mark Cokes

(All photos by Una Williams)


Lean’s pick – Transit by Slow Res

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 – Summer in LA | Ambient Encounter

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 :)”.

You can find his handles below. Give him a follow!

In the spotlight: JonSaw

JonSaw are a two-piece band based in Gothenburg (Sweden) that play bluesy southern rock with a splash of bourbon and 70s. The band consists of Robert Jonsson (vocals and guitar) and Mikael Säwström (drums). JonSaw first saw the light of day in February 2022 after a conversation during the Christmas holidays. Now they release a steady flow of songs on every platform where you can find music. There are no cliché 12 bar blues stuff anywhere to be found but rather steam train drums with screaming cigar box patterns and strong vocals!

How long have you been making music together? How did it all start?

“JonSaw as a band is relatively new. We started talking during Christmas about doing this. Robert, who plays guitar and sings, hadn’t played for almost 10 years, but had a re-lap that lasted 2 months 3 years ago and wrote a couple of songs on his own. So we thought it would be great to write and release some music together. We met up at the end of February and just started jamming. We wrote ‘Rooster Man’ and three more songs on that jam! Two weeks after that we recorded ‘Rooster Man’ and here we are now!”

Have you played in other bands before?

“We have been doing a lot of cover shows, top40-type-of bands, well back in the days that is. But we haven’t played in any well known bands. And in our youth, us being almost 50 – yes you heard me – we played in a lot of bands.”

Two guys making bluesy music with just guitar and drum, the comparison with the Black Keys is easily made. Does this comparison bother you or do you take it as a compliment? Are they one of your musical influences?

“Being compared to the Black Keys is nothing short of a huge compliment. ‘El Camino’ is a really great album and yes we guess you can say that they’re one of our influences, right up there along with The Record Company, R.L. Burnside, Seasick Steve, Sky High, ZZ Top.”

What are the pros and cons of being a musical duo?

“The pros: though we always record the drums and guitar live, there are only two of us that can mess things up! The cons: the chance of messing things up is 50/50 :)”

“Sometimes we miss having a bass player or someone on the keys, but we have adapted with strange tunings on the guitar that allows a lot of open strings and hits. Also more drums. Drums everywhere! Will we be three-piece band in the future? Naaah. Hell Naaah!”

What inspires you to write songs? What can you tell me about your creative process?

“We start by jamming. Pretty soon we will land in some kind of groove or riff and from there it just evolves. The chorus is what comes to us first, always. It’s like putting a piece of clay on a potter’s wheel – start spinning and work with the clay. A lot of times you have to start over but in the end you will have a beautiful vase. Or a song! More than often the songs is about real issues. Addiction, mental health and love. It is easier to write about stuff you have experienced yourself.”

“We always record drums and guitar live. ‘Rooster Man’ was one take, but one of the songs we will release later this summer has been recorded like 50 times if not more. We don’t care so much about the timing or tuning. It is more about how we interacted with each other during the recording. None of us ever plays the songs the same way from one take to the other.”

Your first single ‘Rooster Man’ was released in April you’ve released three more singles since. Do you plan your releases or do you just finish a song and release it?

“We actually had a goal and that was to release five songs and one video before the summer. As per last Friday we reached that goal. We have recorded two more songs that will be released this summer. In the future it will be more of writing a song and getting it out there.”

Baptized‘ is currently in our chart. What can you tell me about this song?

“Baptized is a song about having an addiction. Even though he or she has been baptized in holy water, they wake up still drunk on wine. In one part of the song the lyrics goes “bring me holy water, baptize me now, let me wake up sober, one first time”. But the song still ends with the person being baptized in holy water and waking up still drunk on wine. So the song is sort of unfinished.”

“It is not impossible that there will be follow ups on some of the songs. ‘Baptized’ is probably the one song we enjoy most and it is really funny to play. We dubbed some percussion on this recording. Mikael had a plastic box with nuts and bolts in it that he used as a shaker in the intro and the third verse.”

You mentioned you recently recorded two more songs. What releases can we expect and can you give us a hint of what it would be?

“There are two more songs recorded. One that is about two people in different places ending up at the same place in the end. It has two chords but many moods. Still bluesy as hell though. We look forward to start mixing that one.”

Where would you like to be in ten years?

“Still releasing music and we want to play live often. What would be cooler than going to the UK or USA and play small clubs or small festivals. In ten years we want to be the band that the well known bands ask to open for them. Opening act for Black Keyes or Rival Sons or……. Clutch! That would be awesome. Or just taking a flight to London and play an Open Mic in a new town every night for ten days. Ten years is a long time. Our goal before the end of 2023 is having been on stage in the UK. So if there are any venues or festivals out there that would like to have us play, just holler!”

What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands these days?

“Themselves. It is easier than ever to do something with your band, but you got to have a plan, you got to have a dream and you have to set goals. Don’t be low because you have 500 plays on a song. It is still 500 plays! It might even be one guy that has listened 500 times. Then you have a super-fan!!! So go get yourself one more fan. Conquer the world one listener at the time.”

Tell me something about you that you think people would be surprised about?

“Ohhh that’s a tricky one. What surprises people nowadays? But we have been working with Brian Downey from Thin Lizzy on a documentary that never got aired. We recorded it in Dublin and Brian took us on a private tour to the bars they used to play and the places they hung out. We got really drunk but still managed to film! Another cool thing is that Robert plays cigar box guitars with 2, 3 or 4 strings.”

Any recommended artists or bands from Gothenburg or Sweden?

“We have many great bands coming out of Sweden! The artist Hessam has released a song called ‘Everybody Feels Like Shit‘ that one is great! Gothenburg used to have a really great music scene but it has slowly diminished.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why

“We think ‘No rush‘ from Yogishine is just awesome. It is groovy, it is sexy and it is seductive… and it has a nice message. No rush. There are a bunch of great songs on that list. If we can just put one more in there it would be Major Weakness – ‘Friday 13th’. Love the sound.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?)

“We would like to add ‘Where I’m from‘ with Robert Jonsson just because the songs he wrote in 2019 is sort of the starting point of us doing this now.”

Links to JonSaw’s social media.

New Release – Dreamer / Loser (EP) by Robi Mitch

Robi Mitch grew up in Bristol (UK), but spent formative years working as a session guitarist in Taiwan. He currently lives in Penryn, Cornwall (UK). Robi draws on 70s psychedelia and 90s mixtapes for influence, inhabiting a dreamy-yet-groovy space somewhere on the indie rock spectrum. His new EP ‘Dreamer / Loser’ is out July 1st on Colorama Records.

What does the EP’s title “Dreamer / Loser” reveal?

“Lots of my songs have a forward slash (/) in the name, because they are about balancing things. To be a dreamer is also to be a loser, because you will always have unfulfilled dreams that you can’t quite reach. But on the other hand, to accept that you’re a loser is to allow yourself to be a dreamer, to reach for things that are unattainable and to be satisfied that you might never get there. ‘Dreamer / Loser’ is a way of introducing myself to a wider audience, saying this is how I see myself, and inviting you to join if you fit into one or both of those categories.”

Is there a song on the EP you’re nervous about releasing out to the world?

“The song ‘Rocket Ship’ is another song about opposites. It’s one of the more personal songs I’ve written. Normally I hide my feelings behind humour or quirkiness, but ‘Rocket Ship’ is fairly straight up. It’s a song about being confused and disorientated, losing perspective and wondering if your best years are behind you. Which is a vulnerable thing to admit to as a musician, ‘cos everyone seems to think that music is a young person’s game.”

Does the whole EP fit into a particular musical genre, or does it borrow from multiple forms?

“I’m always inspired by a wide range of music, but I love the sounds of 70s psych – the muffled drums, colourful reverbs and cosmic synths. We used a lot of vintage synths and casio keyboards in the studio which give everything a retro flavour, but we mixed the songs in a fairly modern style with punchy, dry drums and a solid low end. These days I describe my music as ‘laid back indie rock’, but if you listen long enough, it’s not always so laid back as you think.”

(artwork by Francis Beaumier)

New Release – You Get What You Believe (album) by Nathan Illes

Nathan Illes is a musician/songwriter from Los Angeles, California. His music explores a range of genres but lives in an etherial and pop sensibility. His songs are a reflection of his time absorbing the soft rock of the 70s and 80s and alternative rock of the 90s. A multi instrumentalist, Nathan spends most days recording and performing music in his home studio.

His new album You Get What You Believe’ will be released on July 1st.

What does the album’s title reveal?

“Over the past two years I’ve undergone a spiritual awakening and truly know that your thoughts reflect your outer reality.”

What message do you hope your music sends to listeners? What do you hope they can take away from your songs?

“On this album, I’m hoping listeners will relate to a higher consciousness. Go within to discover the universal intelligence in us all. I also hope they can relate to the fact that we can form our outer reality with our thoughts. If anything at all, I hope it takes them on a relaxing journey for 44 minutes.”

What can you tell us about the cover art?

“The picture was taken in Manhattan Beach, California and modified by my close friend Fred Rogers.”

In the spotlight: Orange Creek Riders

Orange Creek Riders are a folk rock band from Orlando, Florida (USA) consisting of Darren Soto (singer, guitarist and songwriter), Darren Vierday (harmonica), Jeff Jordan (bass) and Jeff Sudbury (drums). The band is influenced by different genres including punk and country.

How did the band form and get started?

“We formed in 2013 to play local festivals in Central Florida. We started primarily as a folk rock band focused on regional themes like cowboys, ranches and citrus groves. We eventually evolved to incorporate indie and beach sounds too.”

Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? 

“Darren Soto came up with the name and three of our earliest songs ‘Orange Kings, ‘Sweet Clementine’ and ‘Down at the Grove’ during a long drive to Tallahassee. When he arrived, he reached out to Darren Vierday about the concept. We quickly agreed to start jamming, adding Jeff Sudbury on drums and Jeff Jordan on bass. We were soon playing live local gigs and continues to do so today. Early influences were Tom Petty and The Lumineers.”

Do you think your hometown has influenced the band’s sound? In what way?

“Both initially and even now, Central Florida, Orlando, and Tampa Bay help define the sound. First, rural areas like ranches and groves were a major themes. Then we branched out to incorporate the regions’ vibrant cities, wild life and beautiful beaches. Our surroundings and local folklore are a major influences along with love, politics and a desire to make people feel happy.”

Who are your main musical influences?

“Each album has had its influences. Two Floridians, Tom Petty and Jimmy Buffet, stand out, as do The Lumineers and Fleet Foxes, in our first two albums ‘Oranges and Grapefruit’ and ‘Back to the Grove’. Add Neil Young to that list for ‘Rockin’ Horse’. The ‘Valentines Singles’ were influenced by British new wave bands like The Smiths, The Cure, and others. The ‘Vision Singles’ saw a similar new wave sound, along with a more beach feel, like The Beach Boys and Jack Johnson, as well as anything on Spotify’s ‘Surf Rock Sunshine’.”

Let’s talk about your newest single ‘Big Wave’. What was the inspiration for this song?

“It is a surf rock / ska song that continues the beach themes we began to explore in the ‘Vision Singles’. It’s inspired by surfer videos we’ve seen over the years, as well as our love of the beach. It’s the first of three ‘Sunny Singles’ we will release this spring/summer 2022. We hope the lyrics take you through a tunnel, up the Big Wave, over the crest, crashing down in a wipeout and back up for more. It features alt-punk vocals, acoustic ska rhythm, surf pop lead, smooth bass and banging drums.”

How would you say that ‘Big Wave’ compares to anything else that you have released? Is there anything different that you would like to explore?

“While we have many beach and tropical themed songs, ‘Big Wave’ is our first straight up surf rock song. Our next two ‘Sunny Singles’ are ‘Sunnyside’ and ‘Sunshine City’ (late August 2022) and will feature ska, reggae and pop rhythms that will similarly exude sunny summer fun.”

“We host a seasonal Spotify playlist, currently INDIE Summer Rocks!, featuring amazing Twitter Indie artists. The songs we are working on for the Fall and Winter will be a little more dark and mysterious. At least two of those songs will incorporate organ for the first time.”

What is your creative process like?

“It’s different each time. Sometimes lyrics or vocals pop in our heads. Other times the instruments come first. In the case of ‘Big Wave’ we started with the rhythm and drums. The theme and chorus back up vocals soon followed. The verses, main chorus lyrics, bass and lead guitar evolved from there.”

How much do you bounce around ideas with each other?

“Our concepts are generally started with vocals and rhythm guitar by Darren Soto. The rest of the band responds with their instruments from there.”

Do you feel the past pandemic years helped or perhaps hindered your creative process?

“It’s mostly helped. We have had a prolific writing and recording spell during the pandemic. ‘Valentines Singles’, ‘Vision Singles’ and some of ‘Sunny Singles’ were written and recorded in 2021.“

How do you decide when a song is finished? Do you find yourself forever wanting to tweak and re-record etc.?

“Like the phrase goes, the song must “spark joy” before we will consider releasing it. Near perfect is ideal, but a few tiny quirks can sometimes add an unexpected dynamic. We are most particular about recording vocals.”

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far?

“Some members of the band were very prolific during the pandemic. The isolation inspired them to create more music. Others struggled more, emotionally, and it took a lot to get them to play again.”

What are you hoping to achieve as a band?

“We hope to continue to play local festivals and other gigs, build our streaming fan base and possibly make a Spotify Editorial Playlist or two. From there, who knows?”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“‘Ben Nevis’ is our favourite song on the current Top 20. It’s got a sweet, bluesy Black Keys vibe. We have become familiar with The Future Us through the Twitter Indie scene. They are a mainstay on our seasonal playlists. The band even shows up on our Spotify Radio or Similar Artists roster now and again.”

“We are big fans of Fendahlene too, another artist we encountered through the Twitter Indie scene, that’s featured on the Cool Top 20. They are also included on our seasonal playlists. ‘North East’ is another pop rock gem from them, in the vein of Elvis Costello and others.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“‘Kool’ by Bottlecap Mountain is an amazing song we added as the second song on our INDIE Summer Rocks!. It’s a punk pop jam with a nostalgia theme about what they thought was cool as a little kid.”

(Photo credits: Natasha “Tosh” Vierday)

Main social is Twitter: @OrangeCreekRdrs

Facebook: @TheOrangeCreekRiders

Website: http://www.reverbnation.com/

New Release – Empire by Mulholland Jive

Mulholland Jive is an instrumental funk-rock project by Irish musician Ben Mulholland, a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Cambridge (UK). Ben originally wrote a lot of the Mulholland Jive tracks for some of his secondary school students to rehearse and perform. The tracks proved very popular with the students and so Ben decided to record them properly.

His new release ‘Empire’ will be out 24th June. A pre-save is available here.

How would you describe ‘Empire’?

“It sounds like what getting a perfect run in Mario Kart feels like! It has the high-energy and explosive sound that is quickly becoming synonymous with Mulholland Jive. Lively guitar hooks, blistering piano solos and infectious rhythms make this a track that refuses to be ignored!”

What movie or TV show would feature your music and why?

“Anything action-packed and a bit OTT! I’m currently watching the anti-superhero TV series The Boys and ‘Empire’ would fit right in with any of their fight scenes. Or it could easily soundtrack a showdown between Buffy and whatever villain-of-the-week she’s fighting in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The title ‘Empire’ is a reference to my favourite Star Wars film, which is the best Star Wars film – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I can definitely hear ‘Empire’ soundtracking the Battle of Hoth or the scene when Luke confronts Vader.”

Where was it recorded and mixed?

“It was recorded entirely at home. I played all the parts myself using a mixture of real and MIDI instruments. My go-to guitarist Will Pears-Cooper bossed the guitar parts and then the track was mixed and mastered at North Acre Recording Studio by super-producer Jake Day. Both Will and Jake have worked on all the previously released Mulholland Jive tunes and have really helped mould the Mulholland Jive sound.”

In the spotlight: Yogishine

Yogishine is a band based in based in Trondheim and Oslo (Norway) founded in 2014. They make music inspired by genres like hip hop, funk, r&b and soul. The band consists of Therese on vocals and synths, Kristian on Guitars and synths and Are on bass and synths. In May 2022 they released their single ‘No Rush’ which is currently in our chart. There is more music on the way in the weeks and months to come.

When did you all become interested in music?

Therese: “When I got a cassette of Michael Jackson and dancing to the music in bed, and watching him do the moonwalk on a VHS.”

Kristian: “I don’t remember exactly, but I got into playing guitar for real when I got a CD of Deep Purple and tried to learn how to play ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Highway Star’.”

What musicians have really been inspiring you as a band since you first started making music? 

“For the music that we make I would say artists such as Prince, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Vulfpeck, Jaco Pastorius and many more.”

Sounds like a nice mixtape. Who would be on your mixtape?

“Prince, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Steely Dan, Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, The weeknd, Whitney, Bruno Mars, Vulfpeck, Jamie Lidell, Earth Wind and Fire.”

What has brought the band together and how did the band get its name? Is there a meaning behind the band name?

“We struggled to find a band name so we just experimented with putting different words together. When we looked across the room for ideas a beautiful pack of Yogi Tea and a box of shoeshine merged into the word Yogishine. We wanted something unique and were afraid that The Shinebox would piss Joe Pesci off too much.”

When you aren’t working on music, do you guys hang out for fun?

“Yes, we meet up for fun. We go out for lunch or to a cafe or sometimes just hang out, but it’s hard not to talk about Yogishine, or at least mention it when we meet up though. We are creative people and we often share our visions and ideas when we meet up.”

“Therese and Kristian live in Trondheim, while Are lives in Oslo. This makes it a bit more difficult for all 3 of us to hang out on a regular basis.”

How do you go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music making process?

“We make music both separately and together. It often starts with an idea that we share either when we meet up or we send the idea to each other. We all have DAWs which mean we all produce. We don’t buy beats, we make all our music from scratch. If one of us has created a beat we share it and then, the others might supply bass, backup vocals, guitar or synths until we have a finished product that we all like. Sometimes we might get together and have a jam and see if anything interesting comes out of it. Several of our songs had their inception in a jam session.”

If you could headline a music festival, event, etc. which would it be? What would be your dream line-up?

“Coachella or Lollapalooza probably. Or maybe there will be a Cool Top 20 festival someday?”

What’s something about the music scene in Norway that people should know more about?

“What Norway is best known for internationally in terms of music, is probably Black Metal. There are also many very talented jazz musicians, and people doing improvisational music in Norway.”

As an artist nowadays you’re tasked with not only creating music but essentially being content creators across social media and becoming your own brand. How do you manage the demand of social media?

“Initially we didn’t pay attention to the importance of social media, because the fun part of making music is the creative part for us, and not social media so much. It has become more and more apparent that social media is a very big thing, and in some cases maybe even more important than the music itself. We’ve also learned to appreciate the networking aspect more and more over time.”

What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?

“As previously mentioned, the importance of social media. Another thing that we have learned over the years is to follow our own intuition when it comes to production. If you have a vision of how a particular song should sound, go for it. Of course you should listen to suggestions and be humble, but it’s important to communicate your idea clearly to the engineer. They can’t know what you want it to sound like, if you’re not clear about it. Also always come well prepared when you go to a studio session. To avoid wasting everyone’s time, and your own money. Also rehearsing in the morning has been more productive and effective for us, than doing it in the evening.”

Tell us what’s on the radar for the band this summer and beyond.

“We are releasing a couple of new songs this summer and fall. And planning to record an EP soon, we have a lot of unfinished songs waiting for us to decide on what sound and production design we want. Beyond that, we would love to get back to playing live at some point in the not too distant future.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“There are so many great songs in this playlist, it’s hard to pick just one, or even two. There were a few that maybe stuck out a bit, such as: Jonathan Jeremiah – ‘Lucky’ and The Jonny Phillips Trio – ‘Admiring the view’.”

As you might know the artist or band in the spotlight can pick a bonus track to the chart. You can pick any song you like as long as it’s indie and available on Spotify. What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“Dizzy Panda – ‘Knitting in the Woods‘. It reminds us a bit of Basement Jaxx especially the drums, but also the “allround” sound of the song. We like how good Dizzy Panda is at setting the mood.”

Photos credits: Are (unknown photographer), Soft Suspension Cover (designed by Are), Kristian and Therese (photo by us), Therese (photo by Therese)


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New Release – Something For The Weekend by the Gastown Panic

The Gastown Panic are Gordon Johnstone and Martin Harrold from Glasgow (Scotland). They have been making and releasing music since 2017. Following on from their 2021 album Panic!, the duo returned to the studio in May to record three singles for release this year. Their first single of 2022 ‘Something For The Weekend’ will be out on June 19th.

“It’s a bit of a lockdown song – the last we’ll do on that subject with any luck! It’s just about being stuck in your box every day, work life, family life, all life happening in this one single place and eventually wanting to break out somewhere else. ‘Something for the Weekend’ relates to the increased consumption of alcohol really – we think it’s probably quite a shared experience for a lot of people.”

“We approached this song from a different angle as we wanted to try a totally electronic sound with loops and beats, and no use of conventional instruments (guitar, bass, kazoo, etc.). We feel it really worked, and it was quite an exciting way to work. The end result maybe offers a nod of appreciation to early 80’s dance – it’s summery and funky and a bit different for us.”

“We’re excited for the release. We like it, and if other people do too, then that will be fantastic. It’ll be the first of three single releases this year, so this is our summer banger that we hope gets some toes tapping.”

As well as making music you can also hear the lads on their own fortnightly radio show at RadioWigwam.co.uk.

New Release – Dopamine Dreams by The Frontier

The Frontier is a personal journey in the form of indie/rock, pop, and folk music. The Frontier was formed in 2015 by singer/songwriter Jake Mimikos. The band members have varied over the years. His songs have featured on NPR, Netflix, The CW, and MTV.

The name of his new release is ‘Dopamine Dreams’ and the release date is 17th June.

“There is no presave link, but you can follow my Spotify page here!”

“ I really wanted to write up a hopeful and upbeat song. I’ve been in that mode lately. Something that people can dance to.”

“The synth part over the chorus is my favorite part. I love the melody. My producer and I both were so proud when we came up with it.”

“The song is really open to interpretation, but I can tell you it’s loosely based off of a short relationship I had. I was very hopeful about it at the time.”

“ I recorded it with Austin Bello of Forever the Sickest Kids (Fearless Records). I feel like this song is perfect for anyone who needs some good upbeat dance vibes.”

New Release – Live At The ElMo (album) by Andre Pettipas and the Giants

Nova Scotia (Canada) based rock band Andre Pettipas and the Giants released their sophomore album ‘No Fools No Fun’ in 2021. They are to release a live album Live At The ElMo’ with 22 tracks on June 17th. Time for me to ask lead singer Andre Pettipas some questions about the upcoming live album.

Why did you decide to do a live album?

“We have always been a band that is focused on our live show and the experiences that come with it. There is no comparison to the energy and feeling you get from attending or performing a concert. We recorded our last studio album, ‘No Fools No Fun’ live off the floor and it was the best experience/product we have received to date.”

“We had the idea of recording a live record shortly after recording the studio album and the stars finally aligned after a long pandemic wait. On my 30th birthday we recorded the live album at the legendary El Mocambo in Toronto in September of 2021. It was one of those manifest moments; you have an idea and with the right people lined up to help with the process, you make it happen.”

Can we expect any new material on the album?

“The album consists of 22 tracks, five of which are previously unreleased songs. We are currently in the process of recording our third studio album at The Tragically Hip’s studio in Bath, Ontario. The live album will segue our fans (new and old) into the third studio album with a full listen to our live show and giving new material in the process.”

Where was it recorded or was it curated from multiple gigs? How did you choose what to use?

“The album was recorded on September 18th and 19th, 2021 at The El Mocambo in Toronto, Ontario. This place is a musical institution and recently had The Rolling Stones release their iconic surprise show at the venue in 1977 as “The Cockroaches”. We compiled the best performances of from each night to put the record together.”

What should artists/bands learn from making live albums?

“My best advice to give would be to not overthink things. Go out there and do your regular show; the best performance while shine through that way and it will feel so much more organic on record. Another bit of advice would be to make sure you stay close of your vocal microphone to capture the performance in the best possible way.”

What’s your favourite live album?

“This is definitely a tossup but one way up there for me is Rush – R40 Live. Our producer/mixing engineer, Brian Moncarz (Alice Cooper, Our Lady Peace, The Tea Party) reached out to João Carvalho the mastering engineer who did that record and he did the mastering for our record.”

“Another one of my favourites is Aerosmith – Classics Live. That record captured there essence so well and sonically was a great sounding live album. We took inspiration from that one when it came to the production side of mixing. Moncarz and I had a great chat before mixing had begun to stir up some angles of inspiration from previously released live albums. That one was one that high on the list for live albums for all of us.”

Pre-save the album here.