Mixtape: Laurel Arnell-Cullen

Hailed from Southampton, 22-year-old Laurel Arnell-Cullen is a Welsh-British chamber pop and indie musician whose career started from her bedroom studio in London. Following the long tradition of British female singer-songwriter who turns the vulnerability and emotion into something that sounds powerful and honest, Laurel’s sophisticated and sultry vocals, melancholy melodies, and lovelorn lyrics are reminiscent of awkward adolescence and first loves. Here, Laurel talk about her songwriting process and sharing her 10 favorite songs.

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Hi Laurel, how are you? Where you are right now and what are you doing before answering this email?

I’m at my home in London making my first ever vegetarian curry to the sounds of my boyfriend playing Call of Duty. Standard Monday. Before this I was finishing off my next single in my home studio.

What really prompted you to start making your own music and what are the early influences for you?

I just always wanted to do it really, I don’t remember why but since I was a child it’s all I’ve really wanted to do. Hearing the first Laura Marling album was something that inspired me on to get a guitar and start writing folk music and then from there every moment has just been me evolving into the Laurel I am now.

Which came first for you: the lyric or the arrangement? 

The chords come first and then the vocal melody which all happens pretty fast and then I spend hours and hours trying to figure out what I am trying to write about and fit the lyrics to the melody I’ve written.

Your music has been described as alt-pop, do you agree with it or you have your own description about it?

Yeah I guess so, I would find it quite hard to distinguish my sound as a genre to be honest, and as I think most musicians would. I think I hear it in a different way to other people.

Do you remember your very first gig? How was it? Do you still feel nervous before performing?

Yes it was in Southampton. I was 14 and I had to sell 20 tickets else I wouldn’t get another gig and the promoter said he would tell other promoters not to book you! It’s a harsh world the up and coming music scene haha. I was so nervous though, I have sound on stage since I was a kid in school and stuff but singing your own songs to people is something totally different, not only are you getting judged on your performance but also your songs which are basically heart felt diary entries. 

 

What’s been career highlight so far?

I reckon just right now is a highlight, every day getting to wake up do whatever I want and make music if I feel like it. That’s my biggest achievement and I’m pretty happy with that. This is my dream way of living.

 

I heard you’re going to have new single, would you mind to tell us a bit about it?

I wrote it when I was really angry. It was such a quick one, I had to go play a gig that evening and I had half an hour before I had to leave but I just had this song in me that I needed to get out. I can’t really say much more than that as I don’t want to give too much away.

What about full album? I bet everyone’s been asking for it, do you feel some pressure or you just ignore it and go with your own flow?

I’m just going on my own time really but of course I want my album out as much as anyone else does. It’s just a lot of work I think people underestimate how much time and energy goes into something like that! It’s very close to being done though and I’m really proud of it so far so I can’t wait for people to hear it this year.

What’s your plan for the rest of 2017?

I have a bunch of tour dates all over the place. Gonna try and get over to America at some point too. The album is going to come out too so it’s going to be a pretty hectic one. I feel like it’s already going by too fast.

Last, please pick your 10 favorite songs and short description for each of them. 

Mac DeMarco – “Only You” 

This song speaks to me quite a lot, most of his songs do.

 

Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place” 

This is my favorite song in the world.

 

Laura Marling – “New Romantic” 

This is the song that inspired me to get a guitar and start writing properly.

 

Kita Alexander – “Like You Want To” 

It’s rare I like anything this poppy but I am obsessed with this girl she’s amazing.

Tyler, The Creator – “IFHY” 

The lyrics in this song are just incredible.

Yppah – “Never Mess With Sunday” 

This song just has all round good vibes.

Girl Band – “Paul” 

Love the punky vibe of this.

Idles – “Divide and Conquer” 

Played just before this band at a gig the other day, they where one of the best live acts I’ve seen in a while. So much energy on stage.

Virgin Kids – “My Alone”

Saw these guys last gig the other day at the Shaklewell in London, also such a great gig everyone was so involved.

Beach House – “Silver Soul” 

This is one of my favorite songs! It just makes me feel kinda funny.

 

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On The Records: Kero Kero Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito

Menyebut musik racikan Kero Kero Bonito sekadar bubblegum neon pop saja adalah sebuah understatement. Get ready for some rainbow vomit & sugar rush! 

Ketika pertama kali mendengarkan lagu-lagu Kero Kero Bonito (biasa disingkat sebagai KKB) yang dipenuhi bunyi glitch video game 8-bit dari era 80-an, dancehall beat, dan rap dwibahasa dalam bahasa Inggris dan Jepang, mungkin kamu akan menyangka jika Kero Kero Bonito adalah versi terbaru dari idola Jepang seperti Kyary Kyary Pamyu atau Mademoiselle Yulia with slightly better English. Namun faktanya, KKB merupakan trio asal London yang terdiri dari vokalis Sarah Midori Perry dan duo produser Gus Lobban dan Jamie Bulled. “Sebut saja kami sebagai band internasional. Karena setiap orang selalu memiliki ide yang berbeda tentang kami,” cetus Gus yang juga memiliki solo karier dengan nama alias Kane West dan Augustus yang terinfluens musik city pop khas Jepang ketika membalas email dari Nylon sehabis penampilan mereka di Glastonbury.

            Semua bermula di tahun 2013 ketika Gus dan Jamie yang sudah berteman sejak kecil memutuskan untuk membuat proyek musik bareng dan mencari seorang vokalis yang menguasai bahasa Jepang dengan cara memasang iklan di MixB, sebuah online bulletin board untuk para ekspatriat Jepang di Inggris. Iklan tersebut dengan cepat mendapat tanggapan dari Sarah yang merupakan seorang seniman blasteran Inggris-Jepang yang pernah punya pengalaman bergabung dengan sebuah girl group Jepang sebelumnya. It was an instant click, dan dalam pertemuan kedua mereka, Sarah langsung ikut rekaman dan hasilnya adalah album Intro Bonito yang dirilis oleh Double Denim Records pada pertengahan tahun lalu di bawah nama Kero Kero Bonito yang merupakan gabungan dari suara katak dalam bahasa Jepang (“Kero”) dan nama sejenis ikan yang biasa menjadi sajian kuliner (“Bonito”).

Menyebut nama-nama seperti Halcali, SPC700, Pepper Seed Jam sebagai influens utama, bayangkan jika Pizzicato Five menjadi karakter piksel di game Harvest Moon dengan Le Tigre dan Freezepop sebagai bintang tamunya, dan itulah yang akan kamu dapatkan dalam Intro Bonito yang berisi 15 lagu dengan Casio SA-45 mini-keyboard sebagai instrumen utama dan deadpan rap dari Sarah yang terdengar sama innocent-nya dengan setiap cover yang dibuat olehnya untuk semua lagu di dalamnya. It looks childish and harmless, namun di balik semua cute imagery yang melekat dalam musik dan visual yang mereka sajikan, terdapat lirik-lirik yang berbicara soal topik serius seperti isu lingkungan dan peran gender. Contohnya saja di single “Sick Beat”, di balik aransemen yang sangat catchy terdapat pesan soal ekspektasi sosial terhadap peran perempuan dan stereotipe negatif untuk girl gamer: “It’s often said, I should get some girly hobbies instead, but that thought fills me with dread / I’m not into sewing, baking, dressmaking, not eating, bitching, submitting,” cetus Sarah dalam lagu ini.

Tak hanya menarik bagi para penggemar J-pop, synthpop, dan video game music, band ini juga dengan cepat mendapat atensi dari para senpai. Mereka menyumbangkan single berjudul “Flamingo” dalam kompilasi milik Ryan Hemsworth dan merilis Bonito Recycling yang merupakan kompilasi remix dari lagu-lagu di Intro Bonito dari artis-artis seperti Danny L Harle, Toby Gale, dan Spazzkid. Kolaborasi mereka dengan Spazzkid juga berlanjut dengan Sarah mengisi bagian rap di lagu “Truly” di EP miliknya serta “Daytime Disco” yang juga menampilkan bintang Korean indie, Neon Bunny.

Dengan segala pencapaian tersebut, tidak heran jika mereka sedang disibukkan dengan tur padat dan tampil di berbagai festival musik. “Kami membawa dunia rekaan kami sendiri di atas stage untukmu, salah satu penampilan yang menurut kami paling berkesan adalah di Portals’ SXSW house party di mana anjing dan kucing ikut dalam barisan penonton,” ungkap mereka, yang seolah mereferensikan lagu “Cat Vs Dog” milik mereka yang bercerita tentang pet worship:There’s nothing I like more than a mutt getting whacked with my baseball bat / that’ll stop you barking in the morning … I wanna murder moggies … brains everywhere.” Di samping masih disibukkan dengan jadwal gigs yang padat dan menyiapkan album baru yang kabarnya akan dirilis lebih cepat dari dugaan semua orang, mereka pun dengan excited menyebut rencana kepergian mereka ke Jepang. Apa yang pertama kali mereka akan lakukan jika sampai di Jepang? “Rap battle melawan Baku Baku Dokin,” jawab mereka dengan singkat. Sounds like a plan.

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KKB’s trivia:

The all-time favorite game:

Sarah: Tomb Raider.

Gus: Super Metroid.

Jamie: Worms.

Favorite Japanese act:

Sarah: Melt Banana.

Gus: Yuming.

Jamie: Oorutaichi.

Fictional character you would like to marry with:

Sarah: Beast dari Beauty and the Beast karena he is a beast.

Gus: Kane West. Dia DJ paling keren sedunia.

Jamie: Haley Smith (from American Dad).

Favorite Japanese word:

Sarah: どこでもドア (“dokodemodoa”, pintu ajaib Doraemon untuk pergi ke mana saja).

Gus: 音楽 (“ongaku”, musik).

Jamie: 虹 (“niji”, pelangi).

Pokemon or Digimon?

Sarah: Pokemon!!!

Gus: Pokemon but the Digimon movie was better.

Jamie: Pokemon.

Kero Kero Bonito_

On The Records: Josef Salvat

JosefLondon-based, Australian singer-songwriter Josef Salvat is ready to hunt the crown of crooner.

After all these times pop music being dominated by the feisty divas and pop princess, we saw the raising reign of the prominent male soloists and singer-songwriters, geared with soulful vocal and crooning ballads. Names like James Blake, Sam Smith, Mikky Ekko, Gotye already has their place in music industry, and now its time for Josef Salvat to claim his. Hailing from Sydney and based in London, this 26 year old singer-songwriter getting noticed after releasing early singles like “This Life” and “Hustler”, showcasing his haunting vocal, killer piano , and overall promising career ahead. I talk about him via email regarding his music and the upcoming release.

Hello Josef, how are you? Where are you right now and what were you doing before answering this email?
I’m well thank you. I’m currently sitting on my own in a cafe in central London waiting for my lunch. Before coming here I was around the corner at a screening of a friend’s short film that is part of the Raindance Film festival.

Please tell me a bit about your background and what really prompted you to make music?
I was born and raised in Australia. I loved singing as a kid and we had a piano in the house but I never had the patience to learn it properly so I started making my own things up on it. Quickly it become my way of processing things I couldn’t talk about. I went and studied law after school because I was worried I couldn’t make a living with the music I made. But it became clear towards the end of my degree that if I wanted to be happy it wasn’t really a choice. So here I am.

The early press articles describe you as the mix between Morrissey & Lana Del Rey, how do you feel about that? Who were your musical influences that really shapes your music right now?
It’s very flattering – they’re both wonderful artists. My influences range from Bjork, Nina Simone, Eurythmics, Art of Noise, Nirvana – so my parents record collection and teenage discoveries – to Drake, Nas, Katy Perry/Dr Luke, Florence and the Machine, Amy Winehouse etc.

How would you describe your own music?
I generally don’t, but if pushed I usually just say it’s ‘pop’. Self-categorization and creative freedom aren’t often friends in my experience.

After your early singles “This Life” & “Hustler” last year, you seems to take your time and not rushing to release anything until now, tell us what were you busy doing during that period?
I got signed and then started making an album. I spent some thinking/writing time in Spain and couple of months in LA and then came back to London and went into the studio to record everything.

Its seems like we’re kinda have the rise of soulful male vocalists, how do you see yourself in the music industry nowadays?
Ah. The sands are always shifting.

Tell me about your latest single, “Shoot & Run”, I always feel slightly dark tones on your songs but this single is actually darker, so what is the song tell about lyrically and musically?
Lyrically it’s about that realization you have when you see the world for what it is. When you realize no one really knows what they’re doing, that there is no ‘grand narrative’. A lot of my friends went through a very nihilistic and self-destructive phase whilst they were coming to terms with this. But they were joyful in their recklessness. Musically I wanted to create a type of dystopia that was beautiful and full of color but kind of cold and empty at the same time.

Would you mind to talk about the upcoming In Your Prime EP? How many songs on this EP will be? Are you still working with Rich Cooper for the new materials?
I’ve done everything with Rich yeah. We’ve worked together for 3 years now and it’s a beautiful relationship. There are 4 tracks on the EP, one of which is a cover of “Diamonds” by Rihanna. It’s the first time I’ve shown the other side of the music I write, the more hopeful side. It’s a small proposal of how I experience the world; there is contrast.

What is your plan for the full album?
It’s actually almost done and will be coming some time next year. Apart from that I’m not really sure.

What else you did enjoy beside music?
People mainly. But also I try to read books, travel when I can and recently I’ve started bouldering (climbing, but without ropes), which is brilliant.

What’s the next plan for you?
The next plans on the horizon are shooting the video for “Open Season” and a few live shows.

https://soundcloud.com/josef-salvat

The Style Icon Series by Emma Block

emmablock

Hi, my name is Emma Block and I'm an illustrator living in London.

I have always wanted to be an artist since I was about 10, 
when I was 17 I realised I could make a living as an illustrator.
I feel so incredibly lucky that most of the time my job involves drawing all day.

I live in London and I find it am incredibly inspiring place to live. 
There are so many wonderful art galleries and museums in the city; 
there is always an exhibition to go see, plus lovely parks and markets.
audrey hepburn style icon hi res

My work is very mixed media, and I think it has a slightly nostalgic quality to it. 
I use cut paper, gouache, coloured pencil and ink.
I am very inspired by vintage films and vintage fashion.
jean seberg hi resWhen I had just had my hair cut short Jean Seberg was a big inspiration for me. 
I loved her look in Breathless, 
so I did a little illustration of her, highlighting all the things I liked about her style.
 People really liked it, so that's how my Style Icon series started.twiggy hi res
There are lots more style icons I’m planning on illustrating when I get the time!
 I would love to illustrate Anna Karina, Mia Farrow, Jane Birkin and so many others!

For me Audrey Hepburn is the ultimate style icon.
 When I can't think of what to wear in the morning I think 'what would Audrey wear?'
 She managed to make really ordinary items
 like a white shirt or a black polo neck look amazing.

My own style is quite inspired by the 60s. 
I wear a lot of button up shirts, cropped trousers, trench coats, dresses and striped t-shirts.
 My style is kind of feminine and classic.

brigitte bardo hi res

I like listen to music a lot when I work.
 At the moment I am listening to a lot Francois Hardy 
(she's on my list of style icons to illustrate)
 and Joni Mitchell, as well as 1930s jazz.

I’m currently producing work for a very exciting exhibition,
 taking place next month, which takes the circus as its inspiration.
  I am enjoying drawing lots of circus ladies on the trapeze and dancing with tigers.

The next thing for me would be to write and illustrate my own children’s book!

edie hi res                                          http://emmablock.co.uk/

Style Study: Moo Piyasombatkul

Moo

Hello Moo, how are you? Would you mind to tell us about yourself and what are you doing?

Hello! Technically I’m a jewellery designer as I did BA Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins in London.

When did you first know you wanted to design eyewear?

I did an eyewear collection as my graduation project… and that was my starting point of my eyewear series. Although I didn’t plan to sell my collection nor starting as a brand. Mrs. B, a founder of Browns (in London) gave me an amazing opportunity to sell my graduate collection at the shop, which was such an amazing exposure. I can’t thank Browns enough.

Can you tell us about your training?

During my 3 years at Central Saint Martins, I was trained as a maker, a designer, and a thinker. All of my tutors, technicians and classmates gave me the best 3 years of my life. It was a turning point for me. I had time and supports from these people, guiding me to look, analyse and evaluate. I open up more to possibilities. A piece of jewellery doesn’t have to be made from precious metal or be worn as earring nor necklaces. Jewellery can be anything that relates to body. It’s a body adornment. It can be made from any kind of materials, as long as it helps translating the concept of the work. So this is gives me no limit to what I can do.

Day Dream

Where did you grow up and how does it influence your work in any way?

I grew up in 2 cultures; Thai and British. My parents sent me studying in UK since I was 12, but I come back home (Bangkok) every holiday. Traveling has been a big part since, and it became my influence because I got to travel to other cities in Asia, Europe and America. I got to see varieties of diversity, people and cultures. Then I began to know what I like and I then tend to go back to those places or doing more research on them. Traveling always involves hotels and restaurants (I love eating 🙂 ), so I got lots of inspirations from interiors, furnitures and the atmosphere. This is my initial  theme for most of my works.

Your eyewear already worn by Lady Gaga and Fan Bing Bing, how do you feel about it and personally, who do you design for?

It’s beyond amazing because they are both well dressed ladies whose styles I love. They picked my work themselves, which I even felt more special and it really motivates me to keep producing greater designs.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

My work and the way I dress are similar; proportionally balanced. I don’t overload things on myself or on my work.

Desire

If you can collaborate with any person in the world, who will you choose and why?

Karl Lagerfeld for CHANEL or Alber Elbaz for LANVIN. I love these labels and their clothes are very well cut. It’s a classic with a twist, similar to the way I work. I’m a big fan.

Tell us a little bit about your latest collection, what’s the main inspiration for it?

I tend to work in series. Developing from one to another because interiors and food are still my main influences. So let’s wait and see what’s next!

What is your personal favorite from the collection and why?

I tend to wear a lot of “desire” and ‘bubbly blue” styles from both of my collection because they go pretty well with most of my outfits. However Baroque Eyes collection is my most proudly present because it’s my first collection and it’s what made people recognise my brand. So it has become a classic collection which I’m still selling.

Bubbly

Do you think that you will always make eyewear? 

We’ll see…

For now, your eyewear is sold exclusively in Browns, OC, and HP France, got plans to sold it elsewhere?

I started selling in Hong Kong, Middle East and Romania and other main cities, but of course I want to sell my brand globally. Let’s see where next!

What do you hope for the future? 

Doing my best today and hopefully greater things to offer. More MOO ^oo^

MOO Eyewear Facebook

On The Records: George Reid (AlunaGeorge)

AlunaGeorge maybe only got an EP and few remixes since they formed on 2011, but this London duo that consisted of singer Aluna Francis and beatmaker George Reid seems more than prepared for the new height. Being the most blogged artist in UK for 2012 and snatch the runner-up spot on BBC Sounds of 2013 it’s just beginning of something even greater, which is their debut LP that will be released on the next June. Meanwhile, George Reid, one half of the hip pop twopiece and the brain behind those slick genius beats of their music tell one or two things about this project.

Hi George, what are you doing before answering these questions?

We’re in a photo shoot at the moment for NME Magazine – then I’m heading back to the studio afterwards.

 How did you first met Aluna?

Sounds rather tragic but we met over MySpace. I contacted Aluna’s old band offering to do a remix for them. Luckily for me, they liked it we kinda started working together after that moment.

 Prior this project, did you belong to any band too?

I had been in a band for about 4 years which was just coming to an end when I contacted Aluna, I was just doing remixes for friends bands trying to learn how to work with vocals properly.

 Who and what influence your music, respectively?

When I was first getting into production I was listening to a lot of Aphex Twin, Prefuse 73, Chris Clark. That really beat heavy music. Then on the more songwriting side of things producers like Rodney Jerkins and The Neptunes. The idea of creating a whole song around a couple of simple ideas still amazes me when its done well.

 How you do describe your music?

Electronic beats and grooves with songs over the top.

How was your first gig?

Surprisingly good. We’ve come a long way with our live show in terms of set up and such. It’s been a challenge kinda having a finished song which has been made on a computer and then making it work live but I think we’ve hit upon a nice balance between live instrumentation and staying true to the sound of the songs.

It seems you just in the beginning of something even bigger, how do you feel these days with more recognition and attention coming from press and music listener in general?

It’s great. We spent a long time with the music just to ourselves wondering how people would react to it if at all. So its been really nice seeing the positive responses we’ve had so far. So thanks to everybody that’s listened.

 Tell me about the creative process of your You Know You Like It EP? When and where you record it?

Some of it was done in my bedroom and some was done in our new studio. The normal creative process is either Aluna will bring a melodic idea along and we’ll start from there or I’ll have a beat and let Aluna pick out some melodies to go on it then we generally just bounce ideas of each other to make the song.

 What’s next? How about your debut full album?

We’re writing the album at the moment and I think it’s nearly there, just a case of finalizing all the songs and checking they work together  as a complete album.

What do you think about the future?

Exciting, busy and noisey.

http://www.alunageorge.com/

photo by Phil Sharp

Art Talk: The Bittersweet Illustrative Animals of Kareena Zerefos

Kareena

Would you mind to tell me a bit about yourself and why you decide
to pursue art?

My name is Kareena. I’m a petite artist, designer and flâneuse, originally from Sydney but based in London. I pursued art, not so much as a decision, rather more because I’ve found it is something I’ve always been compelled to do.

What’s the early influences for your works? Do you remember the
first thing you would consider as your first artwork?

The early influenced for my work was the yearning for tangibility, to go back to creating by hand. Nostalgia and simplicity. I consider ‘Rose Tinted Glasses’ to be my first artwork, but really there were many more before, but I think this was the first piece that lead me to where I am now.

Kareena1
How you would describe your art?

A fragile, slightly nostalgic and bittersweet illustrative style.

 What’s the best advice you ever get from someone?

Do what you love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out.

kareena-zerefos-3

I read on your bio, you like the word “elephant”,
is it the animal or the word that intrigue you?

Yes! I love the word Elephant, mostly the way it looks written. Obviously the animal is truly amazing too.

Kareena2

You just held exhibition on Curious Duke Gallery, how was it? From
all exhibitions you’re participated, which one is the most memorable
and why?

I didn’t get to attend the show at Curious Duke (I’ve been travelling a lot recently), but as I’m still fairly new to London, it’s just really exciting to be involved in a show with so many wonderful artists.
My most memorable show will always be my first solo show in Sydney in 2008, it was such a terrifying and thrilling experience!

From Pitchfork to cover album, seems you already done many
interesting projects, what’s your dream project/collaboration?

There is always a lot of variety with the work I do, and I am very lucky to be able to work across many exciting industries – music, fashion/textiles and media… a lot of what I’ve already had the privilege of working on has been a dream! There are a couple of collaborative projects that I would love to do like a range of cute underwear and sleep wear (this one might already be in the pipeline – I’ll keep you posted!), and one day I would love to collaborate on some fine porcelain tea and coffee sets.

Kareena3
You draw animals a lot, do you have some kind of spirit animal?

It’s impossible for me to favour one animal over another! At the moment I’m very much drawn to fennec foxes.

What kind of music you’re listening nowadays?

When I draw I tend to listen to The Decemberists, Iron & Wine or Kings of Convenience, all very bittersweet. I’ve also been listening to Melbourne band, Alpine’s new album recently.

From_the_Menagerie_NEW_640
What’s next for you?

I’m spending a couple of months in Sydney (escaping the London winter!), working on some new pieces based on Greek mythology and Aesop’s Fables. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put on a show here later in the year.

http://art.kareenazerefos.com/

Kareena_Zerefos (1)

The Best Summer Ever, An Interview With Summer Camp

Bagaimana cara mengobati patah hati setelah ditinggal summer fling kamu? Coba dengarkan lagu-lagu Summer Camp. 

Rachel Berry di episode pertama Glee pernah berkata: “Being anonymous is worse than being poor.” Tapi bagi Jeremy Warmsley dan Elizabeth Sankey, dua musisi London yang membentuk Summer Camp, anonymity justru merupakan kemewahan tersendiri yang terpaksa mereka lepas saat lagu-lagu mereka terus mencuri perhatian para music blogger dunia. Proyek musik ini bermula dari bedroom project Jeremy, seorang multi-instrumentalist yang sebelumnya bergerak di genre folktronica, yang mengajak Liz temannya untuk mengisi vokal di lagu berjudul “Ghost Train”, sebuah lagu pop bernuansa 60’s girl group dengan viral video yang memakai footage dari film 80-an. Single itu juga yang menjadikan nama Summer Camp tercantum di setiap situs musik berpengaruh sekaligus membuat orang-orang penasaran tentang identitas mereka (awalnya mereka bahkan tidak punya foto publisitas dan malah mengirim foto polaroid dua orang yang sedang berciuman di pesta untuk artikel tentang mereka).

It’s easy to understand kenapa mereka bisa mendapat perhatian yang bahkan melebihi dari yang diharapkan. Di tengah menjamurnya boy-girl duo dengan musik nostalgic seperti Cults, Kisses, Big Deal, Minks, dan masih banyak lagi, Summer Camp mengambil influence dari film-film remaja Amerika tahun 80-an dan menggabungkan lo-fi, chillwave, sunshine pop dan synth pop yang terdengar manis dan ringan namun menyembunyikan lirik-lirik patah hati dan obsesi gelap di saat yang sama (“I’d make you love me so much that you’d ask permission to breathe” ancam Liz di lagu “I Want You”).

Sekarang, setelah beberapa single dan video menyusul, merilis satu EP berjudul Youth, dan tawaran manggung terus berdatangan, mau tak mau mereka mulai membuka diri terhadap media dan ternyata anggapan sinis yang mengatakan mereka hanyalah dua orang hipster yang sok misterius terbukti salah. They’re really nice folks yang bahkan masih mau menyempatkan membalas sendiri setiap email penggemar yang masuk di sela-sela tur Eropa untuk mempromosikan album debut mereka, Welcome to Condale, yang dirilis Moshi Moshi Records di hari Halloween kemarin. Via email, saya berbincang tentang album debut, rumor, dan film-film John Hughes favorit mereka.

Bagaimana ceritanya sampai kalian bisa bertemu kemudian membuat musik bersama?

Jeremy: Kami telah saling mengenal sejak lama. Suatu hari kami memutuskan untuk bersama-sama merekam satu lagu hanya dengan niat just for fun lalu mengunggahnya ke internet dengan nama samaran. Lagu itu kemudian ternyata mendapat respons sangat bagus dari blog-blog musik jadi kami memutuskan untuk melanjutkan proyek main-main ini. Kami berdua sangat senang bisa berada di band yang sama karena kami saling menutupi kekurangan satu sama lain dengan sangat baik.

Sebelum kalian membuka identitas kalian ke publik, apa gosip paling aneh yang sampai di telinga kalian tentang siapa orang dibalik Summer Camp?

Elizabeth: Kami pernah dikira Chris Martin dan Gwyneth Paltrow, haha!

Tolong ceritakan sedikit tentang proses rekaman album debut kalian

Jeremy: Ha, how nice to be asked! Prosesnya sendiri sudah lumayan lama jadi agak sulit untuk mengingatnya dengan detail. Let me see, yang saya ingat adalah menghabiskan berjam-jam di kamar tidurku yang sempit dan membuat lagu-lagu bersuara aneh, saya cenderung memasukkan suara paling aneh yang saya buat dan tidak pernah membuat sesuatu yang simpel jika saya bisa membuatnya rumit, haha. I’m still very proud of those days, saya bisa belajar banyak, tapi sekarang saya bersyukur bisa tergabung di sebuah band, I always wanted to be in a band!

Saya sudah mendengarkan kalian sejak single “Ghost Train” yang masuk ke kompilasi NME Radar, lalu kalian merilis EP dan sekarang kalian juga sudah mempunyai LP pertama kalian, apa yang kalian rasakan ketika telah berada di titik ini?

Elizabeth: It feels great, kami tak pernah menyangka akan sampai sejauh ini. Kami hanya senang membuat musik dan memainkannya di atas panggung, rasanya luar biasa saat hal itu menjadi pekerjaan utama kami sekarang.

Dimana Condale? Dan kenapa kalian memakainya sebagai judul album?

Elizabeth: Sebenarnya Condale bukan kota sungguhan. Condale adalah kota kecil yang ceritanya terletak di California. Semua lagu kami bertempat di sana, kami menyukai ide jika karakter-karakter di satu lagu dapat berinteraksi dengan karakter di lagu-lagu yang lain.

 

Apa influens terbesar untuk musik Summer Camp?

Jeremy: Wow, sulit untuk disebutkan dengan spesifik. Kami berdua menyukai film dan cerita bergenre coming-of-age seperti Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life dan film-film John Hughes. Kami juga menyukai banyak genre musik seperti Motown, Gracelands dan electronic.

So, apa film John Hughes favorit kalian?

Jeremy: We love them all. Mungkin Sixteen Candles karena humornya, Breakfast Club untuk dance scene ikoniknya dan Pretty In Pink karena tokoh Duckie. Ah, Duckie.

Di album ini ada lagu berjudul ‘1988’, apa yang kira-kira sedang kalian lakukan di tahun itu?

Elizabeth: Haha! Jeremy berumur lima tahun baru masuk sekolah di Venezuela, Amerika Selatan yang sama jauhnya dari Inggris dimana dia tinggal sekarang dengan Indonesia. Saya berumur empat tahun dan barangkali sedang makan..

Kira-kira suasana bagaimana yang paling tepat untuk mendengarkan album ini? Apakah kalian membayangkan situasi tertentu saat sedang membuat lagu?

Jeremy: Tidak juga, kami harap lagu-lagu ini bisa dipasang ketika orang ingin berdansa tapi juga saat mereka ingin santai mendengarkan musik sendirian di kamar. Seseorang bahkan pernah mengirim email dan memberitahu kami jika dia baru saja bercinta dengan diiringi lagu kami, which was weird! Haha

Dimana gig terbaik kalian sejauh ini?

Jeremy: Kami baru saja bermain di Oxford dan rasanya luar biasa! Show kami yang berkesan lainnya adalah di Bologna dan New York

Apa rencana kalian selanjutnya?

Elizabeth: Kami ingin suatu saat datang ke Indonesia untuk sebuah show! Lalu kami juga ingin mulai menulis untuk album berikutnya

 

http://www.wearesummercamp.com/

Stealing Days, An Interview With Stealing Sheep

Berbekal bunyi lo-fi dari synth Casio yang dipadukan dengan gitar psikedelia, Stealing Sheep mencuri perhatian semua orang, mulai dari Tavi sampai Paul McCartney.

Like any other day, saya menyempatkan membuka Rookiemag.com, situs milik Tavi Gevinson yang penuh hal-hal menakjubkan, dan melihat video berisi Tavi yang sedang membuat handmade tiara. Di video itu, selain tiara-tiara buatan Tavi dan kucing gendutnya yang lucu, ada satu lagi yang menarik perhatian saya, yaitu lagu latarnya yang berjudul “Noah’s Days” dari Stealing Sheep, satu band yang belum pernah saya dengar sebelumnya. After a few Googling, Youtubing and blog walking, saya mendengarkan beberapa lagu mereka lainnya seperti “The Mountain Dogs”, “Hole in the Water” dan “Your Saddest Song”, dan saat itu juga mengumumkan lewat Twitter jika mereka adalah band favorit terbaru saya.

Banyak alasan untuk jatuh hati dengan tiga orang perempuan asal Liverpool ini, entah karena kemampuan mereka meramu harmoni vokal, folky guitar riff dan bunyi 60’s psych dari keyboard/synth mereka ataupun penampilan atraktif mereka di atas panggung yang sering memakai dress hippie. “Kami memilih menjadi band dengan personel perempuan karena kami menyukai harmoni vokal perempuan tapi terkadang kami juga dibantu marching snare oleh Joel Murray dan dulcimer dari Tom Fairhurst. We’re just into different sounds from lots of people.” ungkap Rebecca Hawley, vokalis/keyboardis band ini, dalam balasan emailnya. Rebecca yang biasa dipanggil Becky pertama kali bertemu dua personel lainnya Lucy (drum) dan Emily (gitar) di Lark Lane, sebuah jalan yang dipenuhi pub, kafe dan toko vintage di Liverpool (mirip Camden Street London) dimana dia bekerja di sebuah toko tak jauh dari kafe tempat Lucy dan Emily bekerja. Dari seringnya mereka berkumpul dan mengobrol tentang musik, mereka lalu menuliskan band-band yang mereka suka, membuat playlist dan memberikannya ke satu sama lain. Emily mendengarkan krautrock dan musik psychedelic 70-an, Lucy menyukai musik Gypsy, sedangkan Becky penggemar musik elektronik. Dari situlah mereka menentukan arah musik mereka. “Noah’s Days” adalah lagu pertama yang mereka ciptakan dan direkam memakai cassette player milik Becky, sehingga sound yang muncul terdengar lo-fi dan terdistorsi, raw dan sentimental di saat yang sama. “We didn’t want it to be soft. We wanted it to have a melancholic, haunting vibe” jelas Becky.

Tak sampai setahun sejak mereka terbentuk di bulan Juli 2010 dan merasakan tampil di berbagai gig unik mulai dari pub, sirkus, hingga pabrik teh, mereka merilis EP berisi 8 lagu berjudul “Noah & The Paper Moon” yang dirilis Heavenly Records (label London yang menaungi Manic Street Preachers dan Saint Etienne) dan membantu tur UK Emmy The Great dan Ólöf Arnalds. Ada cerita menarik saat mereka sedang merekam single “I Am The Rain” di studio legendaris Abbey Road. Disana mereka bertemu Paul McCartney yang kebetulan sedang mampir, jamming bersama di satu lagu dan memberikan advice untuk mereka. “Anehnya, saat itu saya tidak mengalami starstruck sama sekali, baru saat saya menelepon ibuku dan memberitahunya kalau saya baru saja jamming dengan Paul McCartney, reaksi heboh orangtuaku yang menyadarkanku jika ini adalah hal yang besar.“ kenang Becky, “Kurasa saya akan mengalami starstruck jika bertemu Björk, karena dia lebih menginspirasi saya.” sambungnya.

Saat ini ketiga wanita lulusan Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts ini sedang disibukkan proses rekaman materi-materi baru untuk LP pertama mereka di sebuah villa di daerah Perancis selatan milik cucu Charlie Chaplin. Untuk LP yang rencananya akan dirilis pertengahan tahun nanti, mereka merekamnya dengan semangat Do It Yourself untuk mempertahankan bunyi lo-fi khas mereka. Dengan jadwal Field Music Tour, SXSW dan Sound City di New York yang akan datang, I guess it’s only matter of time until their music bewitching you too.

 

As published in NYLON Indonesia February 2012

Photo by Jennifer Pellingri

www.stealingsheep.co.uk

Body & Soul, An Interview With AlunaGeorge

Duo asal London, AlunaGeorge, meramu musik pop menjadi sesuatu yang fresh dengan vokal seringan helium dan groovy R&B electro glitch. You know you’ll like it. 

Sama-sama berasal dari St Albans, London, dua orang di balik AlunaGeorge yaitu vokalis Aluna Francis dan produser George Reid justru pertama kali berkenalan lewat situs MySpace saat George menawarkan diri me-remix salah satu lagu dari My Toys Like Me, band electronic yang merupakan band tempat Aluna bernaung sebelumnya. Cerita tersebut memang terdengar agak klise untuk era jejaring sosial saat ini, namun untungnya, tak ada yang terdengar klise sedikit pun dari musik yang mereka hasilkan kemudian seperti single-single awal “We Are Chosen”, “Analyser” dan “Disobey” (dipakai di serial TV Skins, baik yang versi UK maupun US) yang menjadi viral hits di internet berkat musik hip pop yang tercipta sempurna lewat team effort yang dinamis. Aluna sebagai penulis lirik dan bernyanyi dengan vokal quirky dan innocent yang terinfluens PJ Harvey, The Knife dan CocoRosie, sementara George adalah orang yang bertanggung jawab di balik nada-nada elektronik yang slick dan penuh elemen 2-step, R&B 90-an serta bassline jenial.

Butuh waktu agak lama sebelum akhirnya duo yang sama-sama masih berusia 24 tahun tersebut membalas email saya yang dilakukan seusai menyelesaikan sesi interview dan photoshoot dengan NME Magazine. Setelahnya, mereka langsung kembali ke studio demi menyelesaikan beberapa track yang hampir rampung untuk album debut mereka, yang akan menjadi follow-up dari EP berjudul You Know You Like It yang dirilis oleh Tri Angle Records tanggal 14 Mei kemarin. Berisi tiga lagu seperti “Just A Touch”, “Put Up Your Hands” dan single “You Know You Like It” yang juga sudah dibuat videonya, mereka seolah memberikan satu resep yang diharapkan bisa membawa musik pop Inggris ke tingkat selanjutnya, yakni radio friendly untuk pendengar musik mainstream dan chart musik namun experimental enough untuk para music snob di luar sana.

“Awal-awal mulai tertarik membuat musik. saya banyak mendengarkan Aphex Twin, Prefuse 73, Chris Clark dan musik-musik lain yang sangat berbasis beat. Namun dalam hal songwriting, saya belajar dari Rodney Jerkins dan The Neptunes. Yang paling membuat saya takjub sampai saat ini adalah bagaimana kita bisa membuat satu lagu utuh dari ide-ide simpel di sekitar kita.” ungkap George tentang influensnya dalam memproduksi musik. Lantas, bagaimana dengan proses kreatif mereka berdua? “Beberapa lagu kami dikerjakan di kamarku sementara yang lainnya dikerjakan di studio baru kami. Proses kreatif kami pada umumnya bermula dari ide-ide melodi yang digagas Aluna. Bisa juga saya membuat beberapa beat lebih dahulu dan membiarkan Aluna memilih beberapa melodi dari situ, lalu kami saling melontarkan ide masing-masing untuk lagu tersebut.” jelas pria yang juga me-remix lagu-lagu dari Lana Del Rey, Wolf Gang dan Baby Monster tersebut.

Saat ini memang tidak dibutuhkan lagi studio rekaman atau perangkat recording canggih untuk menghasilkan sebuah album yang keren, seperti yang mayoritas musisi indie saat ini lakukan. Namun hal itu bukan berarti bebas masalah, kendala yang umumnya dihadapi para bedroom musician seperti mereka adalah kegagalan menerjemahkan musik mereka untuk ditampilkan di atas panggung. Lucky for them, hal itu tak terjadi pada mereka. “Gig pertama kami berjalan dengan sangat mulus,” kenang Aluna, “Kami telah melewati proses panjang untuk live show dalam soal set-up alat dan semacamnya. Seperti yang kamu bilang, tantangan terbesar bagi ’musisi kamar’ seperti kami adalah membuat musik yang diproduksi di komputer tersebut terdengar sama menariknya saat dibawakan secara live. Namun saya rasa kami berhasil menyeimbangkan sisi live instrumentation tersebut dan pada saat yang sama staying true dengan bagaimana seharusnya lagu tersebut terdengar.” tambahnya.

Sekarang, berkat hype yang dibangun para music blogger dan media musik baik online maupun offline, mereka dihadapkan dengan jadwal tur Eropa yang semakin padat, termasuk penampilan di Hultsfred Festival, festival musik selama 3 hari di Swedia yang juga menampilkan The Cure, Mumford & Sons, M83, The XX dan line-up keren lainnya di bulan Juni ini. Tinggal masalah waktu sampai segala hype tersebut sampai di belahan dunia lainnya, terutama Amerika Serikat yang menjadi sasaran mereka berikutnya. Sebagai penutup, saya bertanya gambaran masa depan AlunaGeorge menurut versi mereka sendiri, “Exciting, busy and noisey!” jawab George dengan antusias. Ah well, I bet it’s gonna be a good noise indeed.

As published in NYLON Indonesia June 2012

Photo by Fiona Garden