Jolene – 1,2,3

I can’t remember the name of the band who were about to take to the stage. Judging from the queue of people I’d had to make my way past at the entrance, they must have been an act with a lofty reputation. I was feeling hot, bothered and on the edge of heading back to my rented apartment in the centre of the city. It had been a heavy weekend. 

Two swaying women, probably more drunk than I was, came and stood in my general vicinity. One was very tall and the other less so. The shorter one said something to me in Dutch. At least I assumed it was in Dutch; this would have made sense as we were all in the Netherlands. 

“I’m sorry. I can’t understand. I’m English”, I apologised. This was my first conversation with Jolene.

(Click on page 2 for more of this story)

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Nikki Pope – A preview

I’m back from Eurosonic in Groningen. Now the hard work begins as I piece together the jigsaw of events in an attempt to make a coherent review for eFestivals. Suffice to say, I’ll be singing the praises of a fantastic event.

 Forgive me if the blog goes quiet for a few days whilst I’m working on that. The day job remains busy and I don’t have a massive amount of spare time. I did want to publish this piece first though.

 Jono has been a friend for a number of years. He’s a man to know in Leicester with his finger in many pies. I don’t know much about studios but friends with more expertise than I’ve got tell me that his studio (Yellowbean) is one of the best-equipped and supportive across the Midlands. Jono sings in a Madness tribute band, Gladness; he has the trust and ear of Dean Jackson, the excellent BBC Introducing DJ for the East Midlands (who I once blogged about here). Every year, he organises a fab skiing trip for mates (I went one year and, in truth, struggled on the slopes). Jono’s an avid Leicester City FC fan and a very friendly and sociable guy. In truth, he’s one of the good people on this planet and I ought to drink beer with him more than I do.

 So, when a stranger gets in touch with you saying that they’re a friend of Jono’s and he’s sent them your way, you sit up and listen.

(To find out more about that stranger click on page 2)

Kylie Hughes – A Sonic Breakfast interview

I’ll return to the preview posts for Eurosonic later this week but now for a slight interlude. Just before Christmas, I was given the opportunity to find out a bit more about the up and coming pop sensation from the US, Kylie Hughes. 

 ‘Kylie – Is there a better name in pop?’, I pondered prior to listening to and watching recently produced videos for singles ‘Never Ever’ and ‘Take Me Anywhere’.

 ‘Perhaps not’, I concluded and sent a set of E-mail questions across pronto. Kylie quickly returned her answers and here they are for your viewing delight.

 (Click on page 2 to see the interview)

 

Karel Ullner – Closer To Your Body

I was sitting in a packed train carriage catching up on Sonic Breakfast things after a busy day in the day job.

‘Finland’s answer to Justin Timberlake‘, said the introduction to the press E-mail that I’d  received about Karel Ullner. I confess I didn’t actually know that JT was asking questions in Finland but I kept reading anyway. Despite my general appreciation of cheesy pop, I couldn’t help thinking that this wasn’t going to float my boat. 

 The release continued:-

 “Karel’s upcoming single ‘Closer To My Body’ is a melodic portrayal of a sound that has recently been described as “fully finished, well produced and ready for urban dance clubs” by New Yorker newspaper Scarsdale Inquirer. The lyrics describe a special moment between two people in a club drifting into their own bubble of consciousness.”

 This was getting better. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a special bubble of consciousness moment myself but it sounded most pleasant. Bless Karel for being able to give me some insight here.

 I scrolled down to a picture of Karel. The man sat next to me got a glimpse of my I-pad screen and started to awkwardly shuffle. 

 

Another insight into Karel’s life was revealed:- 

 “Having grown up in an artistic environment and being able to meet people such as Sir Paul McCartney during a session at the studio have contributed to Karel’s enthusiasm and determination.”

 I wondered if Karel and Sir Paul had experienced a bubble of consciousness moment. 

 “The songwriter has used music as a way of overcoming personal struggles and feelings of exclusion after having had to deal with bullying during his school days. Through music, he has found true friends and a more positive meaning in life.”

 Whoops – I’m sorry Karel – I’ve not been able to help myself. 

 There’s little else to do now that your appetites are whetted to an unhealthy level of frenzy than to show you this somewhat steamy video. It’s probably not necessary to point out that although Karel is getting quite excited that the love of his life is closer to his body, she chooses to remain in a separate location throughout, miles apart in their bubble. 

 Boy, I’m such a bully. The song actually grows on you in contagious pop fashion. 

 

 

 

 

 

Femke Weidema – Stranger Than A Stranger

I sense that I’ve probably not embraced Twitter like a good blogger should. Sometimes I’ll get DM’s (I’m reliably told this is the abbreviation for a direct message) from artists who might want me to check them out for Sonic Breakfast. But, these artists often seem to struggle to capture my imagination within 140 characters. Indeed, I often just feel sullied by the brevity of the experience and rather suspect that the approach is the PR equivalent of a mass mailshot in which, if I’m very lucky, I’ll be a guaranteed winner.

This makes it a little bit surprising that I gave Femke Weidema the time of day. A couple of months back now, I got a DM from her twitter account that simply said, “Hi! Thanks for being awesome, would love to know what you think of my new video!” I didn’t let such praise swell my head. I didn’t think for a minute that Femke thought that I was any more (or less) awesome than the many other people she probably DM’d with the same request.

Despite this, I am, of course, particularly susceptible to blatantly inaccurate flattery and so I clicked on the link to the video. Typically with such approaches, I will regret doing so almost immediately. But, this was not the case with Femke. The link that Femke had sent was for her song, “Mixtape”. It was a perfect, perky, upbeat pop song. It brought a smile to my face to see the quirky Femke and her band dancing around the lounge, bedecked with studio equipment. I needed to find out more.

A quick internet search revealed that Femke was originally from The Netherlands. Periods of travel took her to America and she’s now holed up in Nashville with her fingers in all sorts of musical pies. She recently won a Latin Grammy for her work with Beto Cuevas on Transformation. (Beto Cuevas anyone?)

I watched further videos. ‘Leave The Lights On’ inhabits a similar space as ‘Mixtape’ – a credible pop song with Latin rhythmic influence. It might not change the world but it’ll make your day happier. I was now chuffed that Femke thought I was awesome because I was coming to the same conclusion about her.

It’s difficult to catch up with Femke’s output. Just a few days ago, she posted a new track on soundcloud, ‘Stranger than a stranger’. On hearing this less upbeat beauty, I knew I had to write a Sonic Breakfast post. You suspect this is a pretty autobiographical piece. It’s about being away from home and trying to fit in to your new surrounds whilst fighting loneliness. It’s pop with a Nashville country twang. And it’s brilliant.

Thank goodness for the Twitter. 

 

 

Atonomic – Are you up for it?

Some people might have taken extra holiday to extend this lovely Christmas and New Year period but, for many of us, the day job began again today. It won’t be long before the tinsel, turkey and mistletoe is nothing more than a fading memory as we grapple with those tasks that we didn’t want to do in 2014. At least the days are getting longer though!

I thought it a good idea to post a happy, positive tune today; a song so excessively upbeat that it might make those with a cynical, grumpy malaise explode with rage. Let me introduce you to two teachers and a painter from New York – Atonomic.

“Are you up for being everything that you want to be?” ask Andy, George and Chris, in the chorus to this three minute slice of slickly produced electro-pop. The listener is left in no doubt that this is about ditching the things that have been holding you back and striving towards better days.

The word ‘Atonomic’ is one that is made up by the band; a amalgam of ‘atomic’ and ‘anatomy’. Chris, Andy and George suggest that this new word that they’ve created could mean “the essence of creativity – something that exists in everyone.” A nice thought but it could equally be a word with no meaning, four syllables that fit and flow together neatly and don’t need to be explained.

The video for ‘Are You Up For It?’ makes me smile. The song glistens with such a shine that your cynicism gets erased. It’s the aural equivalent of a motivational speaker. And it might get us through this week at work.