UK collective UKAEA is made of "superheroes" of UK experimental and alternative music, who are deeply influenced by immigration and sounding global. UKAEA have just released their debut album 'Energy is Forever', coming deeply from techno and industrial background, with Middle Eastern and African influences also prominent on the record. “I think ultimately the goal is to make music that sounds like it's from nowhere” - collective's leader Dan Jones told the Quietus. (Not overly) unusual music with a substance.

There's a clear divide between the old industry and the new industry when it comes to gender and race issues, publicist dr. Lucy O'Brien says in Music Journalism Insider interview. "Power in the old industry was consolidated in a very male-dominated network across the major labels and in live music. It was a kind of power that put the onus on women to use their sexuality to increase sales, and in that sort of reductive environment women found it difficult to progress as artists" - O'Brien says about the "old industry", whereas "the new industry that has grown with the arrival of the internet is much more exciting and diverse, with women less reliant on major labels to get their music heard. Now all kinds of voices are coming through".

"I think of Metallica as being a pop band. A lot of metal is just metal to be metal - but Metallica write real songs" - Phoebe Bridgers told Rolling Stone in their Musicians on Musicians series, while talking to Metallica's Lars Ulrich. She also said how she thought Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister was already dead when she heard the news of him passing. Some other bands that she liked - "I have dabbled in the Slayer world. And then, weirdly late for me, I got super into Nine Inch Nails".

The luxurious nature of rap music could be a factor in the increase in support for Donald Trump among Black male voters - Barack Obama suggested in The Atlantic interview. "People are writing about the fact that Trump increased his support among Black men, and the occasional rapper who supported Trump” he said, adding - "I have to remind myself that if you listen to rap music, it’s all about the bling, the women, the money. A lot of rap videos are using the same measures of what it means to be successful as Donald Trump is. Everything is gold-plated. That insinuates itself and seeps into the culture”. Election polls saw an estimated 20% of Black men voted for Trump this year, two percentage points higher than the 18% who voted for him in 2016.

Fight fire with song-fire
November 12, 2020

James Arthur wrote 52 songs in lockdown to fight anxiety

English pop-rock star James Arthur was inspired to write 52 songs after doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in lockdown, as he says to the Evening Standard. Arthur - who struggles with social and health anxiety, as well as various different forms of depression - has a "fear of dying young” and admitted his anxiety heightened amid the coronavirus pandemic, "and then I made music again. I wrote 52 songs - that helped me through”.

Can't get no satisfaction sitting at home
November 11, 2020

Keith Richards: Going on tour is almost like a physical need

"I just miss it [going on tour and playing live] because it's almost like a physical need. Your body kind of expects it, once you go out there on the road and make contact with everybody. And for this year, having it cut off is kind of weird, which is probably why I'm talking too much" - Keith Richards says in a GQ interview about life in lockdown. He says he spends time in quarantine "writing some songs because I do that anyway. That sort of happens without even trying. Not that they're any good, but, you know, it's what you do". Plans for band's 60th anniversary - "to still actually all be alive".

Whatever new music comes out, it’s viewed as the devil’s music. I remember when Elvis came out everybody said he was Satan. And then in the ‘60s and ‘70s he became America’s national treasure. It happens with every new wave of music. Like metal, obviously. The Christians were going mental when Sabbath came about. And then when rap came about, people were up in arms about that and certain words that rappers were using" - Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler says in a Kerrang interview. The thing is he doesn't really like 'WAP', but he, it seems so, defends Cardi B's right to write such a song: "I have to say, though, that Cardi B pisses me off with that WAP song. It’s disgusting! But there you go... Then again, I’m 71. A bloody old goat!”.

Tool singer Maynard James Keenan, a winemaker in his spare time, plays certain albums to certain types of grapes while processing, as he's told in a new Discogs interview. "During vintage, I choose whole albums to play to the grapes while processing,” he says - “some playlists are played year after year to the same fruit. We note what music was played to what grapes and then these playlists are included with the tasting notes”. Discogs was shown a chart indicating exactly which music is played to specific types of grapes - it varies from Portishead, Massive Attack, and Tricky to Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, and Kiss, with some Devo, Spiritualized, and Low as well. No Tool, A Perfect Circle, or Puscifer in his cellar.

A few interesting thoughts by Public Enemy's Chuck D, via Guardian:

Hip-hop rerouted my life. I wanted to be an artist and I came out of university highly skilled, but hip-hop music bit me in 1979 and I immediately knew where I had to take my art and my politics and my attention

I prefer the term Black to African American. You can be Charlize Theron, who’s from South Africa, and be African American. Black covers the whole gamut. Black is all over the planet

Try to do as many positive things in life as you can... You’ve got to get up and do things

I have a terrible memory for lyrics. It’s caused problems for almost 40 years

Garrett Bradley's documentary 'Time' tells the story of Sibil Fox Richardson and her 20-year battle to bring home her husband Rob, who was sentenced to 60 years in prison for attempted robbery of a credit union. The docu is set to the music of Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, Ethiopian nun and piano player, because, as Bradley says in Pitchfork interview, "it’s got this incredible blending of melodies that is reminiscent of New Orleans. There’s also a fluidity, repetition, and singularity in its range. There is quite a bit of nuance from one track to the next, but overall, you can float through the whole thing. I wanted the film to feel like a river, and not like a collage".

"There's two sides to what made me a rapper. One was how articulate and clever can I be with the lyric. And then the other side of it was, what am I doing in my real life that can relate to the music?" - south London rapper Che Lingo says presenting himself and his debut album 'The Worst Generation'. It was released last week on actor Idris Elba's label. BBC talked to the rapper - "one of the UK's most versatile MCs, equally at home on a hard-hitting grime track as on a sultry R&B jam"...

"The words to the song are your script. You have to bring the correct emotion to every word. You know, if you sing it pretty – a lot of people that cover my songs will sing it pretty – it’s going to fall flat. You have to bring more to it than that" - Joni Mitchell told Cameron Crowe in an interview about a release of a box set of her earliest recordings. She also talked about her musical identity - "For so long I rebelled against the term: 'I was never a folk singer'. I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn’t think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened, and – it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings. And I had this realisation… I was a folk singer!".

"I think the world's always been shit but it's always been great as well. There's a definite balance to these things. I always like to remind people that if you were born just over 100 years ago, you probably would have been drafted into some glorified muddy chess game. Human beings just haven't learned what it actually means to be human beings. So it’s always been dark" - Napalm Death singer Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway said in the Quietus interview, talking about the band's latest album 'Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism'. Talking about the band's lyrics and sonics he said - "I do like the artistic contradiction between the very humane lyrics and the absolutely inhumane sonics. But there doesn't have to be a distinction between pushing ideas and trying to understand people, trying to connect with people".

“The beat box…was running fast, which means when you played the tape back, it came out slow. And that had an enormous amount to do with the sound of 'Nebraska'" - Bruce Springsteen said on his Apple Music radio series 'Letter to You Radio' talking to Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl about the beginning of their music careers, CoS reports. He explained - "'Nebraska' in its entirety is slowed down from its actual recording pitch. When I brought the pitch up to where it should actually be, it brightened a record up and took away a lot of its mysteriousness. So 'Nebraska' was this totally haphazard, happy accident that occurred over a few weeks with just whatever equipment we had laying around and the whole record cost us, including the price of the tape, it cost us about a thousand dollars to make”. Springsteen releases his new album 'Letter To You' this week.

Mixmag brings the story of Nazira, who went from being a molecular biologist working in an international company, to starting a DJ career in Kazakhstan, to the dismay of her family. She started the ZVUK ("sound") collective putting Kazakhstan's music scene on the world map and provided Kazakh artists with a unique opportunity to be heard outside their bedrooms. Nazira also kickstarted the Unsound Dislocation festival with international artists. In clubs, she managed to increase the average audience from 50 people by ten times and create a safe space for LGBTIQ people, for whom ZVUK is perhaps the only place where they can feel free.

I love your way of writing
October 16, 2020

"Bracing new memoir" 'Do You Feel Like I Do?' by Peter Frampton

English 1970s rock star Peter Frampton has written a memoir describing the "perfect storm of factors that turned the commercial peak of Frampton’s career into a case-study in rock stardom gone wrong", including details of "series of rip-offs, sketchy management deals and unfortunate choices" he made in his career. New book 'Do You Feel Like I Do?' also "highlights his many creative achievements, from his days as a guitar prodigy, to his time fronting the hit band the Herd, to his formation with Steve Marriott of one of the world’s first super groups, Humble Pie, to his promising early solo work". Guardian talked to him.

“I was surprised at how much I was writing, because I was in so much pain. I was not in the part of the pain where I was just reflecting on it” - Big Thief's Adrianne Lenker told The New Yorker about writing her solo album after breaking up with her husband, and (still) Big Thief member Buck Meek. She added - “I feel as if my psyche was putting as many things together as I could from my relationship, as many beautiful things as I could, to preserve it into eternity”.

"Still recovering from having gotten COVID at the end of February. I'm still dealing with the residual effects... Still coughing. There's still lung damage" - Tool's Maynard James Keenan told AZ Central about suffering from Covid-19. Hal also talked about wearing face-masks and freedom: "We wear seatbelts. We don't smoke in trains, planes or taxis anymore, or even restaurants. There's reasons for those things... Freedom is the ability to pursue your lifestyle, pursue what you want to do for your family, for your future, what education you want to get. And with that freedom comes a responsibility to look out for yourself, for your neighbor, for your family, for everybody".

Venom were the first truly important band when it came to extreme metal - the Quietus writes in a great article about how Venom got together and started what is now known as black metal. Band's frontman Cronos explains: “I love the idea of extreme metal. I just think you can't go too far... so long as it's just within the music y'know. The further the better, the more extreme the better, the more notorious, the more hardcore”. Band's 'Sons Of Satan: Rare & unreleased demos 79-84' is out now.

“We have made the best of it. We’ve really done what we should have done” Billie Eilish told Jimmy Fallon during their guest appearance on The Tonight Show about the pandemic. "We’ve made a lot of music. I don’t think we would have made it otherwise, if we hadn’t got this time. So as much as it’s been terrible to have this going on in the world, I think it has birthed some things. We have been really lucky with it”.

Stairway to pleasure
October 02, 2020

Robert Plant's advice to musicians: Keep moving

A lovely interview with Robert Plant in the Spin about his anthology (out today), how his music evolved through time. He shared advice for aspiring musicians: "Keep it light. Keep growing. Keep moving. Keep listening all the time. There’s some spectacular music out and about, and these influences will definitely affect what these kids of the new generations will do. They’ll look back at me and they’ll say, wow… he must have been a musician, too”. 'Nothing Takes the Place of You' is a new song on the anthology - listen below.

"Sometimes we had used twenty channels of really noisy shit... But the good thing with noise is, it just melds into itself... A lot of this kind of noise can go really far and sound good. Anyway, a lot of music today is trapped in noise: I think that is where the world is now" - Sam Karugu of Nigerian experimental metal band Duma told the Quietus about the process of producing their debut album, an electro-metal noise record. Explaining the strong physical imagery on the album Karugu said it - "concerns exposing your true self and asking, 'Who is that inner person you are hiding inside yourself?' We have the same lungs, stomachs, kidneys and blood types. We don’t care where you come from. There are just different ways of living and maybe different perceptions of the world, but we are essentially the same and that is what has been forgotten".

Ladies first - and all the time
October 02, 2020

Cardi B on double standards: Female rappers are always in mad pressure

Cardi B spoke to SiriusXM about double standards faced by female rappers, compared to male counterparts - “Female rappers, y’all, they are always in mad pressure. If you don’t have a super crazy smash, it’s like oh, you flop, flop flop. The song could be like two-times platinum and it’s still flop, flop, flop. You’re always under pressure, and I feel like it’s not fair”, Elite Daily reports. Men, on the other hand - "I feel like there’s male artists who go two years without putting a fucking song out and they don’t go, ‘Oh, you’re irrelevant. It’s over for you’”.

An interesting interview with Janelle Monáe in the Guardian, covering a lot of subjects:

On her sexuality: For me, it is a journey, not a destination, as I gather more information about who I like

On growing up “as a Baptist kid in a very small, Republican state”: You feel, oh my goodness, I don’t know how I even have this conversation with my loved ones when all I’m hearing every Sunday is: if you are not heterosexual, you’re going to hell. And people using the Bible as a whip

On working on her artistic identity: I had time to say no to things that didn’t work for me. I had time to find myself, to prepare myself for some of the obstacles that would come my way, and to understand that my story’s not supposed to be everybody’s story

On systemic racism: My ancestors were forced to come to America and work for free, and the first institution of policing was the slave patrol, which was meant to hunt down and kill black people who had run away. So when we’re screaming, ‘Defund the police’, that’s what we are speaking to: we are reminding people that the police were not meant to protect and serve our community; they were meant to terrorise us. It’s a system built on traumatising black folks

"I think they probably always did look down. They always felt guilty about listening to certain things. I don't think it's us so much but definitely Limp Bizkit and shit like that. I think motherfuckers were embarrassed for that shit back then, too" - Chino Moreno of the Deftones said in a Vulture interview of the nu-metal scene the band was associated with for a while. He continued according to Loudwire - "you can't deny it. It's fucking stupidly good, some of it, but they knew back then that it was stupid. I mean, listen to the words. It's stupid. So it's not like in retrospect they're like, 'I can't believe I listened to that'. It's like, 'No, when you listened to it then, you knew it was dumb, but you liked it'. And that's okay. No one should be embarrassed by shit they like that's dumb".

Words of hope from Dayna Frank, the president-CEO of the famed First Avenue club in Minneapolis, in Variety: “After the Spanish flu of 1918-20, we had the roaring ‘20s, and that’s really what I foresee when we come out of this and it’s safe to do so. It’s just gonna be a celebration — hopefully a decade long, maybe just a few years. We just want to make sure the right people are still in business and able to make that celebration happen”.

Everyone from Massive Attack and Hot Chip to Animal Collective and Caribou has sung their praises, and now This Heat’s remastered catalogue is available to download and stream on various platforms. The band themselves described their music saying the people willing to listen to them were fuelled by “a desire to commit violence to accepted notions of music”. Guardian brings the story of the band, and talks to the surviving members.

“I am that person. The one that wasn’t supposed to make it out of Hell’s Kitchen, who was supposed to end up being a prostitute, a young mother at 16 years old, or addicted to drugs" - Alicia Keys says in a Guardian interview about her new album. "And what the fuck is a dream? A dream is a luxury, if you have to pay all these bills and put food on the table for your kids... All the songs I’ve ever written that have been considered empowering or uplifting, I’ve written them at my lowest point. Because I needed to remind myself: don’t forget that”.

Ms/Mr try-it-all
September 16, 2020

Alfred Soto's advice to music journalists

"Reading history, literature, poetry, and economics is a pleasure and a necessity; learning how the world works and our relation to it, as banal as it sounds, is an essential component of the writing life" - music writer Alfred Soto shares a bit of advice to music journalists in MJI interview. He also believes blogging still helps, he keeps one - Humanizing the Vacuum.

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