How soon is now. now?!
January 18, 2022

Johnny Marr: Time means nothing now

Guitarist and former Smiths axeman Johnny Marr talked to The New Cue about how he managed to stay sane over the last couple of years: "I've been into meditation for years so I suspect that it's doing me some good. It’s become a habit and I'd miss it if I didn't do it. I imagine things would be a little bit more wobbly without it, or a little stranger. To be serious for a minute, that's kind of what creativity is for. And work, in whatever field it is. I’m extremely lucky because I’ve had a creative outlet since I was a kid, but you don't have to be an artist to lean into some of those things that make life more pleasurable".

London rapper Central Cee is the first musician shortlisted on BBC's Sound of 2022. He's been doing music for 10 years, but he's been in the limelight for the last year. He talked to BBC about his perseverance: "Within those 10 years there's obviously been bumps in the road and whatever but I was determined for the most part". His plan for 2022 is to - "stay alive and get richer!".

Michelle Zauner, singer-songwriter better known as Japanese Breakfast, talks to Consequence about her past year which saw her release a best-selling memoir and an acclaimed album. She also talks about how loneliness helps her prevent burnout: “On tour, I don’t socialize as much as other people might. Touring is sort of like throwing a party every night — imagine hosting a party six nights a week in a row for six weeks! And every moment leading up to that party, you want to save up all your charisma and charm. A big part of avoiding burnout for me is being OK with taking alone time in-between moments that I have to be ‘on’.”

"I don’t take myself too seriously, these days, I’m just trying to have a good time because if these past twenty-four months have taught me anything, it’s how short life is” - Little Simz tells in in The Line Of Best Fit interview about her future plans. She also reflects on her latest album 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert', Best Fit's album of the year: “Introversion is my superpower, it’s something that protects me and shields me. I am this way inclined but in the same breath, I’m not unconfident in myself – I’m very confident. I just know that I haven’t got to necessarily be the loudest person in the room”.

“I just want to represent my sisters because we’ve been so underrepresented, especially in hip-hop ... If somebody who can come from ice addiction, jail, motherhood and poverty [can do it, then they] can do it too” - Australian rapper Barkaa says in a Guardian interview. She has dedicated her forthcoming EP 'Blak Matriarchy' - “to the powerful Blak women I am blessed to witness and know in my life”, adding “women are the backbone of this country. It’s where I draw my strength – from my mother and my aunties and my daughter and my sisters – and [my music] is just paying homage to them".

"I’ve seen women headlining heavy music festivals. Media coverage is better. There’s more visibility and influence." - Emma Ruth Rundle says in a Consequence interview about women in heavy music. "You have really incredible artists who have crashed down these walls. I was just featured in a guitar magazine, and Ani DiFranco was on the cover, and that magazine when I was a kid would have been full of half-dressed women. There was a huge shift in the past few years. Watching artists like Chelsea Wolfe pushing the boundaries of what heavy music is and owning it, I feel a respect and sense of place that I didn’t feel when I was in my 20s".

Party and drugs connoisseur Michelle Lhooq talked to Jon Hopkins - who produced his last album 'Music For Psychedelic Therapy' while on drugs in a cave in Ecuador - about how do you make music on ketamine, how do you translate music from plants, why DMT elves love synths, why we might be on the precipice of a new genre of music. He talks to Lhooq about his creative process - "In order to write this record, I would go into the psychedelic space every few weeks to experience it, usually through ketamine... There's a lot of weird stuff that happens when you enter into the zone—you switch from thinking you're the creator to realizing you’re a channel".

The 70-minute documentary 'Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson', directed by Jodi Gomes, paints a portrait both of Jackson’s remarkable career prior to that moment, as well as the cultural forces which made one “wardrobe malfunction” into a lighting bolt of controversy. "I think one of the running themes of the whole entire film is body image and the use of body image and the actual control of one’s agency and control of one’s image" - director Jodi Gomes says to Consequence. She sees a big irony in it too: "Showing how she’s been subjected to body imaging from a very young age, and then all of a sudden, flash forward 34 years later to when she’s on the Super Bowl stage, and that very thing is used against her".

An interesting thought by Adele in Zane Lowe's Apple Music interview about her new album '30' coming out today: If everyone's making music for the TikTok, who’s making the music for my generation? Who’s making the music for my peers? I will do that job, gladly. I'd rather cater to people that are on my level in terms of the amount of time we've spent on Earth and all the things we've been through... The 30- and 40-year-olds that are all committing to themselves and doing therapy, that's my vibe”.

Sucidal tendencies
November 19, 2021

A sad list: The names of 21 rappers killed this year

Young Dolph

At least 21 American hip-hop artists have been murdered in 2021, or about one every other week.... If this were any other group of artists, it's hard to grasp how enormous a story it would be, hard to imagine the national sorrow and outrage. What if 21 pop singers had been murdered in the United States in 2021? Or 21 working rock guitarists? Or 21 film actors? - Matty Karas goes into the issue.

15 seconds doesn't even count on Spotify
November 09, 2021

Hit-songwriter Henry Allen: Nature is great

"One specific thing I’d like to change though is throwing money at viral moments which I think is proving to not work more than it does. I wish we could focus more on building long-term artists the traditional way but it’s a TikTok world that we live in right now" - Henry Allen, hit songwriter for The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber and Major Lazer says in the Music Business Worldwide interview. When Covid-19 struck, he found the outsides: "Luckily, we moved to Nashville mid-Covid and to a place where we have two acres of forest and we can walk to this nature reserve where there’s deer, animals and a lake. Getting outside is important, and it sounds cliche, but nature is great".

Something warm for the winter
November 01, 2021

Elbow's Guy Garvey: Subtler music is easier to work on

Elbow's new record 'Flying Dream 1' features ten ruminative, lushly-orchestrated ballads with intimate and melancholic sound. Band's frontman Guy Garvey walked to The New Cue about it: "I think that’s probably the case with a lot of bands that do both, that do drama as well as subtle. I think subtler music is easier to work on and doesn’t require energy. In some ways, it’s like having a warm bath". Garvey also describes the process of writing that album: "When everyone in my house was asleep at the end of every day, the relief was, as you can imagine, just fucking tangible every single day. I’d go to the back door, spark up a fag, pour myself a large one and listen to what the lads had sent. It was a proper lifeline".

An interesting conversation with Patti Smith in the Guardian. She isn't really optimistic about the current times: “It’s a terrible epidemic in the 21st century, and it got magnified in the period that Trump was elected and it’s really gone viral. These are the most complex times, partly because of social media and misinformation. Everything becomes a political question. People wouldn’t even get vaccines or wear masks because it became a political stance … and then they get sick and really regret that they didn’t take the time or it didn’t open their mind to the situation. I don’t know what the answer is, except that we just have to fight for what is right”. Still, she loves being alive now: "I’ve lived so many lives, and they were all good. I can look back and see what I’ve gained, how I’ve evolved. Whether it was sorrowful times or turbulent times, they all formed me. So what’s my favourite period? Right now. I’m alive”.

“‘Hushed And Grim’ is a mood. It’s about grief, about guilt, about all those fun feelings. It’s awful seeing your friend suffer like that and knowing there’s nothing that you can do. If you know, you know” - Matodon drummer Brann Dailor talks about band’s latest album, which deals with death of their manager and close friend Nick John. Their previous albums were also inspired by death of close people. This one seems special: ​“Writing and recording this record was like grief counselling for me: started out feeling horrific, came out feeling fantastic” - bassist Troy Sanders says to Kerang!

"There's always been a time where you come home and you practice in the mirror what you coulda shoulda woulda said – and I think the most important thing about progression, especially having to do with racism and injustice, we have to face ourselves before we face anyone else. That is the only way towards progression" - London singer-songwriter Joy Crookes tells NPR in an interview about her debut album 'Skin'.

An interesting conversation by Miley Cyrus and Mickey Guyton in Rolling Stone about being first and/or only. Guyton talks about her experience of being a black country singer: "There’s this box that women in country music are supposed to fit in, but then add on a Black woman in that box and that box is even smaller. I was given this little tiny box that was allotted to me to make some noise, but not too much noise. And it was suffocating". Cyrus goes on about country radio: "That’s making you very vulnerable, relying on radio or on loyalty or people doing the right thing. Never bet on anyone doing the right thing. That’s my best advice".

A number of digital service owners – including Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and Google – are trying to cut the amount of money they pay songwriters in the US to the “lowest royalty rates in history”. The National Music Publishers’ Association, on the other side, is looking to raise the current rate up to 20% of a streaming service’s annual revenues (it's 15,1% at the time). Music Business Worldwide tries to find out whether the music streaming services can actually afford to pay artists more.

An interesting chat in The New Cue with the hit-balladeer James Blunt who talks about his life in pandemic: "I've been on the road for 17 years and I was forced to go home. I discovered all kinds of things. I discovered I had children, I didn't know that… Where the hell did these come from?!?". On life post-pandemic: "I suppose people are just excited to be out and able to socialise with each other. And then I've been playing live shows and that's been amazing too because again, people are thrilled that there’s any live music. I can play them Baa Baa Black Sheep and they’d still probably turn up. They might be expecting some other singer, but they'll take what they can get".

An interesting conversation on the Bandcamp with Weedie Braimah, a master of the djembe, a West African drum, the origins of which date back to the 12th Century. He talks about his position: "I am a quote-unquote percussionist. But let’s go deeper... There was a time when the drum wasn’t segregated. Let me say that again: There was a time when the drum wasn’t segregated. We, in this world in the West, segregated the instruments. We segregated the drums so bad that now cats be like, ‘Yeah, man I’m the drummer, and he’s the percussionist’". Braimah also goes on to explain the history of djembe.

An interesting conversation by David Byrne and Lorde in Rolling Stone about catchy songs. Here's the elderly statesman: "You can say something quite profound, something kind of radical, even, but the melody can sound quite beautiful and seductive on the surface. And then it sucks you into something where it might really change your way of thinking. There was a time when I thought things had to be edgy. I was maybe afraid that if things sounded too beautiful or pretty, then it was shallow. Like a greeting card. You can’t be saying anything serious this way".

"The projection is sometimes intense, but I feel like people in the public eye and artists in particular are social activists by mistake, because we’re these screens upon which people project everything. They project light, they project what’s wrong, they project what they hate" - Alanis Morissette told Olivia Rodrigo in their Rolling Stone chat. Oliva Rodrigo spoke about her disowning her songs: "I always think that creativity is sometimes really magical and celestial, and if you’re a vessel for an amazing song, that’s awesome, but sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with you. I try to not attach a lot of ego to it".

Pitchfork talked to five promising new artists about structural racism, the many conundrums of relying on streaming services, the effect of COVID on their careers and communities, over recording techniques, album art, and other topics. Amaarae sums up their common identity - "We fought to have our voices heard and to unlearn a lot of our past traumas" - and looks into the future - "I think the generation after us is just so radical and self-aware in a way that we’ve just started to learn. They’re fearless".

An interesting conversation about being a performer with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan in The New Cue. He says it takes him a while on tour to get in the zone for a show: "A whole day, and then it got to the point where I just sort of stayed in it. And that often happens with performance, especially if you're on a tour. Over the years, I've found that doing these really large tours with my band, I have to be fully in. You do step out every now and then because you do certain legs of the tour and you might have, like, a month in between certain legs and it's always very difficult to make that transition to come back home for a month, see your mates, see your wife and your kids and kind of be like, ‘oh, what's happening?’ At some point, you kind of switch and you end up like, ‘I've just got to stay in this until it's over’. You know, it's a long time, you're doing it for on and off for the best part of a year and a half, two years, so you invest a lot of yourself in it. After this last big tour Depeche did, it took me a good while when I got back home". He also talks about his new solo album 'The Imposter' and where the title came from: "I had imposter syndrome for a long time in Depeche. I mean, honestly, that's where the title for this record actually came from, the sort of final character, if you like, that I was using for myself to do that whole 'Spirit' tour. You know, he was the ultimate imposter, kind of on the edge of being maybe too old to be doing this".

“Honestly, even if their music didn’t completely get inside me, I would have wanted to make a movie about them” - director Todd Haynes says in a Rolling Stone interview about his Velvet Underground documentary. “It’s that whole era, which was so revolutionary, but it’s also what they were trying to do as well in reaction to that era as well. Even in their little world, they were heavy. It’s about being resistant. It’s saying no. That’s so important to rock & roll”.

"Now what do we do to find a way to really resist the stuff that is destroying the planet, that’s causing working people’s lives to be worse than their parents’ were? Poverty and hunger kill more people than anything else on the planet and they are human-made problems. Those are the things that we need to be digging into, rather than being sidetracked by this carnival barker bullshit" - Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello said in a Guardian interview. When asked about the events of 6 January he said "we came within a baby’s breath of a fascist coup in this country", adding "interestingly, one of my dreams has always been to storm the Capitol, but not with a bunch of all-white, rightwing terrorists, you know? The ugliest part about it is how they have co-opted the idea of standing against the Man, at least in the US".

Former Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe releases his second solo album 'Moondust For My Diamond' which he wrote while spending plenty of time in nature. He spoke to The New Cue about trekking in time of lockdown: "There were days where there wouldn't be anyone for many miles and you're at the top of a mountain and there's no planes in the sky. There was some pretty distilled moments and I felt very lucky at that time. It was a beautiful winter, too, there was a lot of snow and it felt very light, lots of light bouncing around. In many ways, walking is similar meditation to music, it's a physical process, but it's also a mental one, it creates a synergy and an inner-rhythm that I find really inspiring. There's something about being suspended between rock and sky that does something to your senses, a drug-like effect really". He transposed that feeling to his new album - "I didn't want it to be about the top of the mountain, I wanted it to feel like the top of the mountain".

"Art is a mirror of what’s going on socially. You can connect the dots. So this has been the best time to write because reality itself is being questioned!” - Nightmares on Wax' George Evelyn tells in a Mix Magazine interview about the point of music. It has a purpose also: "Music has always been the channel for the common man or woman against the system. Now I find it’s the minimum amount of artists speaking up for the common man or woman".

Journalist Ciaran Thapar's debut book 'Cut Short: Youth Violence, Loss and Hope in the City' follows the story of four individuals to observe how youth violence, policing, gentrification and the media have affected their lives. The book is based on Thapar’s research, interviews and the relationships he’s formed as a youth worker. Each chapter title of 'Cut Short' is named in reference to a song lyric - which is the basis of The Face interview with Thapar.

“Becoming a household name has been complicated. Because you don’t get to choose the people you become a household name for” - country star Brandi Carlile tells in an interesting Spin interview. She looks into her as a star: “It’s really scary, because I’m so flawed. But I have all the same poor kid afflictions that anybody else does when they get a little bit of money or power. I’m bad with money. I make selfish decisions. I veer in and out of fucking messianic complexes and narcissistic behavior, so it would be easy to catch me up. But at some point, you have to accept and know that people are going to choose their own leaders, and I’m just going to continue to be myself. We can’t let it dampen our activism. We just have to keep powering forward, because we can’t do nothing”.

“I’m naturally quite an introverted person, and I think it’s hard to read an introvert because you just don’t know what they’re thinking or feeling. But this was an opportunity for me to let people in” - Little Simz says in a new Rolling Stone interview about her new album. She adds - “As challenging as it was at points, just putting pressure on myself and wanting to better my writing… I think you hear it in the music. Although we’re touching on deep stuff and I’m tackling a lot, there’s a lightheartedness to it”.

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