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

Instagram Mark_Cokes

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: The Art Crimes Band

The Art Crimes Band are a six-piece R&B/Soul band from Cork (Ireland) consisting of Grace McMahon (vocals), Gary Baus (alto saxophone), Niall Dennehy (drums & percussion), Stephen Kirby (guitars), Tim O’Leary (bass) and Katie O’Donnell (piano & keyboards). I asked the band some questions…

How and when did the band form?

Niall Dennehy: “We’re all from the southern part of Ireland. Gary Baus is originally from Baltimore, USA. Around 2011 a bunch of us just started jamming around a table in the back of a pub in our hometown of Cork City every Tuesday night. We had no objectives or a name then, it was just fun. Then we decided by September 2011 to book our first gig at a live showcase night called the KC Sessions. Myself and Gary are the only two original members from that era but by 2015 we settled on the group we have now. Takes a while to find your tribe I guess, but that’s life, isn’t it?”

What’s the origin of the band name?

Niall Dennehy: “In the mid-nineties Steely Dan did a tour called The Art Crimes Tour. The band name is a nod to that plus a small joke about how we viewed our early song ideas. Crimes against art.”

If you had to describe your music in a few lines, how would you describe it?

Stephen Kirby: “Groovy as hell.”

For those who may not be familiar with you, what would you say makes The Art Crimes Band distinct or unique?

Stephen Kirby: “Diversity. We all come from very different places musically and are very open in the writing process.”

What can you tell me about your writing process – does it come together in rehearsals or is there a primary songwriter?

Grace McMahon: “I often get lyrics and snatches of melody hitting me out of the blue, so I usually just sing them into the recorder on my phone.”

Niall Dennehy: “As a band we’ll write together in units. As Grace was saying, she might bring in one of her ideas from the phone. Three of us might get out a guitar and some percussion, usually in the form of a cajon or a press record, and just start building a song from there. Send the results in the band chat and everyone adds their ideas bit by bit, and it grows from there. Then if we’re happy with the arrangement we either go into the studio to start the recording process or road test it out in front of crowds. But at times there’s a primary writer, ‘Neon Skyline’ for example was mostly all Stephen. So we’ve no set way of composing. Which keeps things interesting and full of surprises.”

Tim O’Leary: “I think after we hammer out the original structure everyone adds their own stamp to it. It might take a day or maybe even weeks until we are all happy with it, but it all comes together in the end. It’s what you could call a slow refinement process.”

Katie O’Donnell: “I usually start by opening up a Logic session, coming up with some kind of demo drum beat, then either adding a bass line or chords next, finally following it up with melody and lyrics. This is the method I usually gravitate towards, but I’m trying to mix that process up a bit these days as it can lead to more creative ideas.”

Your song ‘Neon Skyline’ is currently in our chart, can you please elaborate on what the song is about?

You’re planning the release of an album in 2023. What can we expect from the album?

Stephen Kirby: “‘Neon Skyline’ is the first track I wrote during Covid lockdowns, about three months in or so. It is about rough nights and long days, inspired by a trip to Vegas a few years ago. The chorus is about craving contact, positive or negative, just human interaction. The lyrics are put through the filter of the story ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ by Jay McInerney.”

Stephen Kirby: “More songs about lost love, wild nights, harsh days, romance and pain.”

Tell us a little bit about a normal day in the studio while recording the album.

Niall Dennehy: “Every day in the studio is different. The only time there’s a group of us recording at the same time is to record the guide tracks at the very beginning of a song. So a normal day will be two or three of us at a time in the studio with one person recording their parts. This way we can work around everybody’s personal commitments. Getting six people in the room at the same time can be challenging.”

With music being a universal language, what is the message that you each hope to get across as a band?

Niall Dennehy: “That we can do little alone but together we can do so much.”

What is your favourite thing about playing live shows?

Gary Baus: “I really love the way a good groove takes over an audience when every interlocking part of the band is flowing and it compels a whole room full of people to start dancing. It’s inspiring to see the power of music in action.”

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed at?

Niall Dennehy: “There is a live music venue and late bar in our hometown called The Crane Lane Theatre. We played our first real gig there as this band in August 2011 but also going back further to 2007 as session musicians in other bands. It’s our favourite venue in Cork to play, and after all these years stepping out on stage there at midnight to perform is like walking out into your own living room.”

A venue on your bucket list to perform at?

Niall Dennehy: “Paradiso in Amsterdam would be pretty special… One can dream anyway.”

The music industry is one of the hardest industries to progress in, how do you feel you are doing?

Niall Dennehy: “Right now we just want to keep writing and recording music together, try to be a better band than we were yesterday and maybe pick up some new listeners along the way. Everything else is just a bonus.”

What have been career highlights so far?

Grace McMahon: “There have been so many great moments together as a band. But for me, was the day we all got back into the studio post COVID and just that moment to be all together again was so emotional and special.”

What’s on your bucket list that you’d want to achieve?

Gary Baus: “Someday soon I’d love the band to go on tour outside of Ireland.”

Now that the year is about over, how would you say that 2022 has treated the band?

Niall Dennehy: “I think it’s been one of our most eventful years yet. 2022 has been very good to us. Despite our little hiatus from live shows to focus on writing and recording we’ve gained more streams and listeners online than all the previous years combined. The level of support and love has been overwhelming and humbling. We want to thank everyone for listening and really looking forward to next year..”

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

Niall Dennehy: “‘Electric Graffiti’ by Mulholland Jive is a really cool track. Really love the stuff Ben Mulholland comes out with. I’m a sucker for Jazz-Funk fusion always. And I’m going to break the rule here by mentioning a second song and give a shout-out also to Qeaux Qeaux Joans. ‘Last Night’ is a banger of a track.”

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

Niall Dennehy: “Back in April 2021 our good friend Colm Hayes released his first debut single entitled ‘Mosaic’. It was a duet with our very own Grace McMahon plus myself on drums and our own Tim O’Leary on bass. It’s a dreamy and heartfelt track that explores the relationship between a father and his new-born daughter over a spacey, warm backdrop of guitar and soft beats. We were really proud to be a part of the track and think it deserves to be heard a little more.”

The Art Crimes Band social links:

New Release – Nothing to Lose by Shadow of Light feat. Charlie Sanderson and JMac

Raised in Wolverhampton (UK), Shadow of Light was part of the emerging UK Garage scene in the late 90s. He was a DJ on 106.3 Frontline FM, and the passion for the genre has never faded. Emersed by UK Garage, hip hop and jungle from an early age, Shadow of Light’s productions have echoes of nostalgic inspirations, but he gives them a fresh, vibesy feel. His passion for collaborating can be seen as he has worked with numerous artists including Genesis Elijah, Jack Light, RedRum Music, Tee Total, Serena Dench, Spitholic, Luna Ase and with many more collaborations in the making, it’s an exciting time to be part of his journey.

His new single ‘Nothing to Lose’ featuring Charlie Sanderson and JMac will be out 25th November. A pre-save is available here.

When did you write it?

“I actually made this track as a demo way back at the start of the year. I’d not long locked Charlie in for ‘All Night’ with Spitholic – our first release of the year – and I knew I wanted to strike while the iron was hot and get him on a UKG track. He’s got such a cool, soulful voice and so I made this track with him in mind. We had a demo working within a few days so we both knew we were on to something but we both had other releases lined up so it took a back seat. A few months later Charlie told me he’d performed with JMac, who wanted to jump on a collab with him, so it made sense to get him on ‘Nothing to Lose’. JMac brings a freshness to the track and his energy and lyrical content fit perfectly. So what was pretty much my first production of the year is actually my last UKG release of the year.”

How would you describe ‘Nothing to Lose’?

“It is a good vibes only UK Garage two stepper that has a range of bouncy melodies and a bumpy bassline. It’s my homage to a classic track from the 90s ‘My Inspiration’ by TJ Cases. Every time I heard that track, or played it on the radio it just made me feel so good, and I wanted ‘Nothing to Lose’ to have that same warm feeling. Add Charlie’s super dope vocals and uplifting narrative alongside JMac’s fresh verse and I truly believe we’ve made a track that can only make you feel you’re in a good place.”

What are you hoping to achieve with this release?

“I feel this is a difficult question because it would be awesome for it to get noticed, be streamed a lot and get loads of exposure, and of course this is the hope with every release, but we all know how difficult it is to stand out in today’s climate of releasing music. That being said, with every release I normally get new contacts, or pick up a new artist who wants to collab on a track, or I get asked to do a remix for a different release, and that ultimately is a massive win because it keeps me on the road of creating and releasing music in the future!”


New Release – Hey There by SD Charlton

Shaun Charlton was born in Nottingham, but was raised and is still living in Lincolnshire. He has released two EPs and a solo album ‘Better Late Than Never’. His latest song ‘Hey There’ releases on 27th November.

What inspired you to write ‘Hey There’?

“I actually wrote this song for my band project but the more I listened to it I realised it was more a solo effort and decided to keep it for myself.”

Where was it recorded and mixed?

“This track was recorded during the third lockdown between my home studio and Roger Whithams studio, who arranged the music and also mastered and finalised the mix.”

What’s your favourite memory of recording?

“When recording the falsetto backing vocals, my romanian rescue Hooper began to howl and i was very tempted to leave it in, but he’s a very private dog and doesn’t want the publicity.”

Shaun also presents an online radio show ‘Chuckas Indie Playlist Show’.

New Release – These Four Walls (album) by In the forest

In the forest formed when two sisters and their husbands had a family holiday to Dorset (UK). The song ‘On the run‘ was written and life with a different kind of band began. With four vocals and two main instruments to write with, the band have a distinct focus on the song and vocal harmonies.

“Someone once described us as a Laurel Canyon band which absolutely makes sense when you start picking through our favourite artists.”

Their debut album ‘These Four Walls’ will be out 25th November. The album contains songs with a sprinkling of magic dust and signature harmonies. You can pre order the vinyl album here.

The album also includes some of their previously released singles.

“We have already released ‘Light That Shines’ and ‘Fire and Flame’. Next up we’re releasing ‘Home’ followed by ‘Waiting For The Call’.

What does the album’s title reveal?

“A home, a cage, a place to escape. It’s also based on the foundation of the band having four solid songwriters, creating four pillars of the band.”

“There is a theme of needing to escape while longing to take root and settle, but it was only on reflection of the songs as a collective, that we became aware of this kind of story.”

About the songs al the album:

“We think they’re all accessible songs. It really is subjective to the listener and as we all write both seperately and collectively, there are a lot of perspectives for people to relate to.”

“We all have different favourites for different reasons, but at the moment I’d have to say ‘Got to Be’. It’s a straight talking simple song, decorated with double entendres and a beautiful melody with sentiment to just ‘be’.”

What are your favourite memories of writing or recording the album?

“So many to think of because the whole process was totally new ground for us. There was a definite collective wow! When we first heard the mix of ‘Sailing Out’ returned from our producer Rob Eveling the impact emotionally was pretty huge.”

“We absolutely value what Rob Eveling our producer brings to the table. Having independent ears who have no affiliation to the emotion or thought of writing the song, and therefore has complete objectivity about composition and sound, is invaluable. With a couple of songs, Rob encouraged us to flip entire tracks on their head and ‘cut off the fat’ as he would say! We were so fortunate to bump into eachother at a gig when he was working as a sound engineer and the rest is history!”

“We’re all really proud of what we’ve achieved, how we’ve delivered and packaged our songs from sound to artwork. It’s no small feat! It would be nice if people found something to relate to or are inspired by. There are a few songs with a kind of ‘go and live your life’ undertone but as I always say, with art like music, all you can really hope for is to invoke a reaction, whether that be love, hate or even determination to go and make something yourself!”

Are you planning any videos for your music?

“Yes, we’re making music videos, you have to these days as people are much more inclined to hear something whilst they’re watching something. Holding peoples attention is a bit like trying to distract and calm down a crying child with something fun or more interesting than that which has scared them.. we’re so lucky to have Lobster productions working on our behalf. We’ve previously made animations and filmed our own videos, but this time around we had the chance to let someone else steer ship which has been such an incredible help and relief for us.”

In the spotlight: Mulholland Jive

Mulholland Jive is an instrumental funk-rock project led by Irish musician Ben Mulholland, a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Cambridge (UK). Inspired by Snarky Puppy, Vulfpeck, Muse and The White Stripes, Mulholland Jive makes energetic, catchy, piano-heavy bops.

Mulholland Jive has released two EPs, ‘Intergalactic’ in April 2021 and Supernova’ in February 2022. Mulholland Jive has been nominated for several NMG Awards, including Track Of The Year and reached the semi-finals of the UK Songwriting Contest. In 2022 Mulholland Jive also turned into Mulholland Live. Keep on reading to hear Ben Mulholland’s plans for the band in 2023!

What can you tell us about your project Mulholland Jive?

“The Mulholland Jive tunes were initially used to challenge some of my talented students, but, after they proved really popular with the students, I decided to record the tunes properly and release them under the name ‘Mulholland Jive’ – a play on the similarly-named film ‘Mulholland Drive’, which has nothing to do with funk music but has a convenient use of my surname!”

“Mulholland Jove has been played on radio stations around the world, been featured in numerous playlists and blogs and is delighted to currently be in the Cool Top 20 chart with the new single ‘Electric Graffiti’.”

What got you interested in music? When did you first start connecting deeply to music in your life?

“A mixture of things, as a child, car journeys with my Dad got me hooked on the music of Bob Dylan (my hero), Randy Newman and Ralph McTell from an early age. My Gran had an upright piano that I was obsessed with – she eventually gifted it to my parents when I started to show some skill at playing it, meaning I could play for hours at a time. My family are really musical – my Dad plays guitar, my Mum and brother sing, my sister plays harp and piano. It’s not surprising at all that I became a musician!”

Your sound is rather piano heavy. Was the piano always present in your life? What other instruments do you play?

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play piano! From a very young age, I would always be tinkering on my Gran’s piano, making up tunes and working out how to play songs I heard on the radio. I’ve always been able to ‘play by ear’ – I can hear something once and then play it. Once I realised I could do this, my obsession with music, and the piano in particular, was irreversible. I also play saxophone (badly) and guitar (even more badly!).”

What is your favourite part about making music?

“I’ve always been interested in composing – as a child, throughout school and as an adult. I love working out how a melody will fit with a chord pattern and riff and trying to bring it all together. Aside from the actual composing, I really like arranging all the parts – working out which instruments will play which part and when. I also really like the recording process too. Hearing a final mix of a tune that you’ve written from scratch is so satisfying!”

How do you come up with ideas for new songs?

“Often when I’m not trying to come up with ideas for new songs. I wrote ‘Levitate’ while sat in a traffic jam. The melody just kind of stumbled into my head. I hummed the tune into my phone and wrote down the chords I thought would work. When I got home I worked out how to play it on piano and recorded a very rough piano demo, before eventually recording it properly many months later. I’ve also been known to write tunes while grocery shopping or when sat in not particularly interesting meetings.”

Who are some bands and artists that have impacted how you create music for Mulholland Jive?

“Snarky Puppy is probably the biggest inspiration for Mulholland Jive – a large, instrumental band who play original jazz-funk-rock music. The funky tunes of Vulfpeck have also been a big inspiration. I love rock music too – the riff-heavy music of Muse and The White Stripes are equally to blame for influencing Mulholland Jive.”

What is one element of a song that has to be absolutely perfect before you’re satisfied with it?

“The piano part!”

What opportunities does being an instrumental band present that being one with a vocalist doesn’t?

“Without a vocalist, there is no focus on one person in the band. While a lot of the Mulholland Jive tunes are very piano-heavy, there are lots of times when the guitar is the main focus, or the horns, or the drums etc. It means every member of the band is essential. It also means we’ll never have to cancel a gig because someone has a sore throat!”

How do you manage to keep your music interesting?

“Each tune has it’s own vibe – ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is thrash funk, ‘Power Up’ is relentlessly groovy, ‘Kryptonite’ is OTT melodrama! The genre of funk-rock is a fairly wide-ranging term and I’m keen to explore it all.”

Is instrumental a difficult genre to serve at the end of the day?

“It depends what your goals are. If you want mainstream success quickly then releasing a catchy pop song that people can sing-a-long to is probably a more straightforward road to take. Some people instinctively switch off when they hear the words ‘instrumental music’, but I’ve found that the ones who give it a chance are pleasantly surprised and come back for more.”

Would you ever consider having someone on guest vocals later on?

“It’s definitely been considered! Watch this space!”

Did you ever consider inviting musicians to collaborate with? Who would it be?

“There’s too many to name! There is a lot of local talent who I’d love to work with. Mulholland Jive recently supported Fred’s House at a gig and it would be great to write and record something with them. I also met lots of amazing musician’s at this year’s NMG Awards like Amethysts who I’d be really keen to work with in the future.”

Now that the year is almost over, how would you say 2022 has treated Mulholland Jive? What were some of the goals you had for this year? What are your goals for 2023?

“2022 has been great! My main goal was to turn Mulholland Jive into Mulholland Live! Mulholland Jive has now performed multiple times throughout the year, including headlining our own gig, headlining a local arts festival and performing at the NMG Awards ceremony. I’m really keen to do more live performances next year and also release a live EP too.”

What advice would you give to beginners who want to make music outside of trendy mainstream music?

“Don’t let anyone tell you what sort of music you ‘should’ be making. If you like what you’re doing, chances are you’ll find other people who do too. Also, be realistic about who to promote your music to – national radio probably isn’t going to play much non-mainstream music, but there are lots of indie radio stations/blogs/playlists with an equally enthusiastic fanbase who would love to hear from you!”

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

“There’s lots of highlights but I’m going to choose ‘Long, Long Silences’ by Postindustrial Poets. I like the rawness of the track, it stands out amongst more heavily-produced tracks. The melody is great. I’ve actually just done a little piano cover of this tune…”

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

“This is so difficult, I could choose so many! I’m going to go with ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ by Dan Bond. Dan was one of the support acts at the very first Mulholland Jive gig back in February. His music is very different from Mulholland Jive’s – he makes guitar-heavy country/pop music and this tune has been stuck in my head for months. Highly recommended.”

Follow Mulholland Jive:

Instagram: @mulholland.jive

Twitter: @mulholland_jive

Facebook: @mulholland.jive

Website coming soon…but not ready yet!

(Photos by Glenn Adams: @glennadamsphoto)

New Release – Del Rey Sunshine by Eleanor Collides

Eleanor Collides is the solo project of singer, songwriter and guitarist Nick Ranga (UK). Named after Nick’s childhood imaginary friend, Eleanor Collides started life as a lockdown project in March of 2021 when a group of London based musicians got together to support each other in writing, recording and releasing music.

His debut album ‘People Are Taller in Real Life‘, was released earlier this year and falls somewhere between Indie, Alternative Rock and Dream Pop.

A new single ‘Del Rey Sunshine’ will be out 18th November. A pre-save is available here.

“The song is about the summertime, it’s about looking back on summers from years past, the people you met, the music you listened to. It was inspired by Lana Del Rey and that particular feeling of nostalgia mixed with melancholy she evokes in her music. Musically it’s influenced by REM, one of my biggest influences.”

“I wrote this song in February of this year as part of a songwriting challenge. It’s called February Album Writing Month (fawm.org) and the challenge is to write 14 songs in 28 days which I managed to do. It was very liberating to just write songs without worrying if they were any good. One phrase that got me through was ‘it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be finished’.”

“Lyrics are always an important part of the song for me. I do a lot of free writing / stream-of-consciousness when I write lyrics which produces some interesting results. I never like to be too literal with what the lyrics mean, instead I try to create images and atmospheres rather than tell stories. I have always been drawn to lyrics that don’t make much sense and the lyrics for Del Rey Sunshine are especially obscure I think. For me the lyrics of this song are about when I was a teenager, certain people and the music we listened to back then. I like to let the listener find their own stories in my lyrics.”

New Release – Not a demo anymore (album) by Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith is a singer-songwriter from Hampshire (UK). He started playing music in his secondary school days, but only started putting music out properly at the back end of 2020. He released an EP ‘I Hate It I Own It’ in 2020 and a full length album ‘I just want to sleep’ in 2021. His new album ‘Not a demo anymore’’ will be released 18th November.

“It will include the three singles already released: ‘Have it all’, ‘One day some day’ and ‘Reap what you sow’. The full release includes 11 tracks of alternative and punk-inspired singer-songwriter-style tunes. To highlight this you have simple punchy punk songs like ‘As you were’ and to contrast this you have subtle soft clean guitar-driven songs such as ‘Point of view’.

“Included on this album are some of my oldest songs re-recorded properly. Re-recording and re-releasing them has been a very interesting experience. It just goes to show how much better my recording gear is and how much further I need to progress my music in general.”

“My big influences are classic artists such as Bob Dylan and John Lennon, but also alternative rock artists such as the Smashing Pumpkins. I think you will be able to hear all this throughout the different tracks.”

“To support the release I have a great lineup of local shows planned: 18th November Release show at HMV, 25th November White Heart (Andover), 2nd December Fifth Hants (Portsmouth), 10th December Art House (Southampton), 14th December Heart Breakers (Southampton).

“I’d also just to say thanks to Cool Top 20 for putting on some awesome playlists and competitions. It’s always great for indie musicians to get involved with a music community.”

New Release – Kiss of the Universe by Neon Black Dreams

‘Kiss of the Universe’ is the debut album from Ukrainian synthpop band Neon Black Dreams. The album is a concept story from beginning to end and a new chapter has been released each month in 2022 culminating in the self-titled release and conclusion of this story. The 11 tracks follow our lead characters on an adventure set in 1989 as they run across the country searching for their destinies and fleeing from the law and their own fears.

The band began during late 2020 as JJ searched for the perfect voice to tell the story. In early 2021, Yara joined the band, and the future was set.

The debut album is set in the late 80’s and details their thrilling and tragic story from Yara’s point of view. Yara takes on the role and emotions of the lead character taking listeners on a journey with her. While each song is meant to stand on its own, the experience takes the listener through each chapter of this epic story creating a soundtrack to a truly emotional experience.

‘Kiss of the Universe’ is the final single of the album. The single will be out 18th November. A pre-save is available here.

What does this song mean to you?

“This is the final song from our debut album. It represents a culmination of the entire story. But more importantly it is also a culmination of all the emotion, blood sweat and tears that went into making the album. The song has meaning within the story of the album but also deep personal meaning that deal with loss, grief, and overcoming despair to find a better future.”

Is the release accompanied with a music video?

“Yes! All the tracks from our debut album have a video. All the videos are on our official YouTube channel. All the videos are self-made. It was quite an adventure to make them. The end result is actually only half of our realization because we were not able to film the other parts due to the start of the conflict. However, we made excellent clips from the footage we had already completed and they help tell the story of the concept album.”

Is there a story behind the cover artwork? Did you make it yourself?

“The cover art is meant to be the film poster for the story of the two characters. The story is set in 1989 as the two make their way across Southern California with a lot of stolen merchandise and the authorities hot on their heels. The have only their passion and dreams to keep them alive and reach the end of their journey.”

Neon Black Dreams are JJ (keys, synths and backing vocals) and Yara Glorien (lead and backing vocals).

Neon Black Dreams live show is filled with energy, emotions, tears, and lasers. They look forward to playing for fans across the world and letting the story grow. Every chapter of the story has a new video to engage listeners and keep them craving the next chapter.


New Release – Whisper in the Dark by Sophie and Alex Dorsten

Sophie Dorsten is an international recording artist sharing her strong, dynamic sound with the world. Over lockdown she joined forces with her brother Alex. They create some amazing and beautiful melodic indie-pop; they work well together as you can hear on their songs – the lyrics, creativity, music, and production are beyond their years.

Their latest release is ‘Whisper in the Dark’. It will be out 18th November. A pre-save is available here.

“This song is about a toxic and manipulative person who is never far; always ready to use you for their benefit.”

“Alex and I started recording it in London at RAK Studios and finished it here in Arizona at Alex’s home studio, West Juniper Studios. I wrote the song (lyrics and melody) and he created the music and produced it. Alex played all the instruments.”

“I created the cover art on my iPad with Pro-Create – I love the way it turned out. My inspiration was from old horror/mystery/romance novel covers.”


Lil peek at our new song ‘Whisper in the Dark’! Live in London:) #newmusic #tiktokmusicians #brothersisterduo

♬ original sound – Sophie Dorsten

Together, Sophie and Alex have traveled and toured in London and the PNW. More tours are planned, and they hope to see you there!