Scalawag – You On My Mind

I hope we’ve all experienced those hopeless days of infatuation at the start of the best relationships when you can’t get the other out of your head. The very thought of them makes you smile broadly even if you’re miles apart. You can’t wait to spend time with them; you experience butterflies in your tummy just in advance of seeing your partner again. Time spent with them feels so right and you never want it to stop. 

It does of course. The ga-ga feeling that accompanies your stuttering heart is not a sustainable one and probably not a healthy one. Practical realities come back to the fore and you find ways to work out how to be together outside of the first throes of love. Either that or you move on to somebody else so that you can circle back to the hopeless days of infatuation again. A fluttering feeling on repeat. 

Scalawag’s latest single ‘You On My Mind’ is all about those early days in a new relationship. From Vancouver, Teo Saefkow, the man behind Scalawag, explains more in the press release to the song. “I wrote the guitar in 2015, then I waited for 5 years for inspiration to strike for the lyrics” says Teo. “It came one day in early 2020 when I was noodling on the guitar, and I decided to try and make my partner smile. I improvised the lyrics, and they just kinda stuck.

There clearly aren’t enough songs in the world making reference to peanut butter and for that reason alone ‘You On My Mind’ deserves a Sonic Breakfast blogpost about it. It’s also delightfully playful – a gentle acoustic guitar sound merging with a few choice piano flourishes to build into a climax of trumpet and whistles. Sweet, unfettered love sure does sound nice in Teo’s world. He plays all of the instruments himself. “It’s important to me that I create as many of the sounds myself as possible, instead of using stock instruments or samples,“, he says, about the creative process. 

Teo’s having a good, happy year. “2021 has been pretty good so far, there’s a lot of hope in the air, and the weather has been pretty awesome in Vancouver!“, he says when we exchange E-mails. “I’ve been able to write and record a lot, so that’s definitely the biggest highlight. Once the restrictions start to relax I think the first thing I’ll do is just go eat at a restaurant!

The mood around the UK feels similarly positive. Spring is in the air and we wake to blue sky and birdsong. Lockdown relaxations continue to offer improved freedoms (pub anyone?) and I sense a happy Wednesday song will be more than appreciated. 

Derek Simpson – Kid The Moon & U-Turn

Pete and Joanne are at it again – or rather Pete is at it again. In an exclusive, Sonic Breakfast has intercepted another letter that Pete has crafted and sent to Joanne. The last one was published here. We can’t reveal our sources and we can’t even confirm if Joanne is receiving them. She’s certainly not showing interest in responding. Here Pete tells Joanne about Long Beach bedroom-pop wunderkind, Derek Simpson.


Dear Joanne,

I hope you’re well? It’s been so long since we’ve spoken. It would be lovely to hear from you if only to know that you’re safe in these tough times. I heard a song the other day by an artist I’d never heard of before. I thought it might be new to you as well. Kid The Moon by Derek Simpson reminds me so much of our time together. You’ll see why if you give it a play.

I guess it was the long-distance that really did for us, Joanne? Maybe, if we’d have met in the last year when much more meaningful conversation has passed through zoom, we’d have fared better? But, back then, we were early adopters of unpredictable Skype connections. I’d stay awake to have a moonlit conversation with you. Sometimes, in the morning we’d talk just as I was emerging from my dreams and you were entering into them. Oh, that difference in time zone – we’d often joke that we were kidding the moon.

I remember the playful distant moments fondly. You’d lie on your bed and curl up encouraging me to ‘big spoon’ behind you. I had to look up what you meant. And I’d dance weirdly in front of my camera. I’d sway and gyrate, move my arms like Morrissey, all to make you smile. It was great to hear your laugh over the ether. I’d cling to those moments until the next time we’d kid the moon. 

Derek has captured those calls to a tee. It’s almost like he was there though he’s not lost touch with his lovely friend. Oh Joanne, I wish we were still talking. “We still keep in regular contact even with time-zone differences and countries between us,“, says Derek. “I hope this song can stay with them throughout their lifetime as a reminder of just how lovely it is to get to know them.”. I wish that was true for you and I Joanne. 

My enduring love, 


PS – Derek has moved on from the hallucinatory, gentle funk of Kid The Moon to release a new track, U-Turn, just a few days ago. It’s another one for us, Joanne. You remember how I’d play some King Tubby whilst we’d hold each other tight at the festival campsite? Or I’d blast out some dub whilst we cuddled up on the sofa? This recalls those moments for me. I hope you enjoy. 


Jesse Brady – Transformations

I’m not one for standing still. Every few months, I’ll look back and check that I’m in a slightly different place to the one that I remember. Our time is short and I don’t want to blink and miss it. I don’t want life to pass me by or to wake up in twenty years with regret for what I haven’t achieved. I’ve taken wrong paths along the way and reached a few dead ends that I’ve had to turn around from. I’m glad about those diversions though; it’s not always about taking the ‘right’ road, rather it’s about ensuring that you’re at least taking a road. Curiosity is not going to kill this cat but stagnation will.

Jesse Brady, an emerging singer-songwriter from Nashville, is likely on the same page as me. She’s only young but that hasn’t stopped her from spotting in her debut single, ‘Transformations’, that change is pretty inevitable and is a thing to pin hopes upon. “It’s a song about change, hope, remote-control cars, and taking one step at a time.“, says Jesse in the press release to the tune.

It’s a jolly, upbeat singalong of a pop tune but it has a word of warning hidden within. Life can pass you by if you let it. I ask Jesse what’s been transformative about 2021 so far for her. “It’s been a year of growth and learning to trust my gut.“, she says. “I’ve also learned to reach out to friends more, and my faith in God has grown deeper. I’m releasing my second song on April 23rd, called “Happiness Block”. I’m so grateful for everyone who’s listened to “Transformations” and is supporting me. Despite the separation and isolation that covid has caused, sharing my music has provided a connection to others, and a sense of community and belonging.

Jesse self-produced the fab video to ‘Transformations’ all by herself. The quirky animations provide a fine fit for the song and puts her stake in the ground as a talented all-rounder. It’s not in your face but it does all exude a quiet confidence. “Music is my favorite outlet, the one that makes the most sense, and the one where I truly feel like myself.“, says Jesse.

We’ll be sure to check back in a few months to see how she has developed. 


Peploe – The Novice

There are times when you hear a track and really love it – but can’t quite put your finger on why that’s the case. For most people this is not a problem; but for somebody who writes about music it’s stifling. Words that mostly come freely don’t and you’re left staring at a blank page. You’re a beginner in your craft trying hard to deny the feelings of failure. You are nothing more than a novice… Ah, there we go…


Today’s track is called ‘The Novice’ by a London-based duo, Peploe. It’s been out for a couple of months now but I remain keen to bring it to the attention of Sonic Breakfast readers because it’s a great song to hear. It’s a ‘pick and mix’ of genres, an almighty mash-up that comes together to work as a whole. Gabrielle’s immediate vocal line comes from a soul-mod base whilst the glitchy, staccato rhythm emerging from Arvid’s drumming is drawing influence from electro-jazz. There are key changes a plenty; wild and wacky creative flourishes that keep you on your toes as your head learns to cope with the complexities within. Somehow though, what could be an almighty muddle never becomes so. This is a simple, futuristic pop song – genius. 

And the video is quite neat as well. We’re all missing parties and interaction and this is Peploe’s attempt to deal with the fact that social events are limited for many. Arvid and Gabrielle plaster their faces onto the bodies of guests at parties in an attempt to remind us all that fun can still be had. It’s been well received. 

I ask Peploe about 2021 and their future plans. “2021 has been a bit slow, we’ve been itching to start gigging!!“, they say. “Though the silver lining is that we’ve been writing a lot of music that we’re excited to release soon. A real highlight was the amazing reaction we received to the release of ‘The Novice’ and its music video. The first thing we’ll do when the restrictions lift is hug our friends! After that, we’ll make the gigging a reality. 🙂

Sonic Breakfast can’t wait for that reality. We’re not absolute beginners when it comes to writing about gigs. 

Apteekii – What’s Real? & Secrets.

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that I’ve been drawn to tales of adaptation and flexibility in the past months. The last year has been a global nightmare and many of us have just put our heads in our hands and screamed at it all. There’s nothing wrong with that. Others have used the shit situation to their advantage; they’ve got on with things despite the bum set of cards dealt. Those people deserve much respect.

I suspect that David Gane falls into that camp. A touring technician for some top stars (Lana Del Rey anyone), the collapse of the live industry hit him hard. But, to fill that void, he got in touch with mates, Mark and Matt, to jump-start a fledgling project back into life. The world now has two tracks from Apteekii to savour with a full EP to follow next month. Ever up for the challenge, the entire EP was recorded remotely with the trio being in separate locations; David and Mark are just down the road from here in Cambridge with Matt residing up in Stamford.


You wouldn’t know that this is the product of different studios; there are no obvious cracks in the seams with Apteekii. Take the first song of theirs that I heard – What’s Real’s a neat comment about fake news and the ridiculousness of Donald Trump. It’s impeccably performed pop, a statement that says we’re confident in what we’re doing and we think you’ll approve. Apteekii’s most recent single, Secrets, grows from this base; an enduring riff and a song all about the moment when living a lie becomes too much. 

Apteekii get their name from the Finnish word for ‘pharmacy’. “We like the idea of music being a medicine, and bands or artists taking on the role as a kind of drug store/pharmacy.“, they mention in their press releases. I like that idea as well. These two tracks are definitely painkillers; sometimes soothing and always offering a decent distraction from the difficult stuff that’s going on. 


Robert Vendetta – Colombian Spice

Another working week beckons for many of us and I’m sure we all need a bit of glam sassiness to get us through. Best look no further than today’s Sonic Breakfast track from the self-styled Norwegian mariachi, Robert Vendetta, an entertainer who labels himself old-school as a badge of honour.


The concept for ‘Colombian Spice’ is simple. Robert Vendetta has just bumped into a ‘gorgeous Colombian girl’ coming out of a hotel lift. And the moment made him want to dance in celebration. “It is inspired by real events,“, says Robbie when I check in with him and ask about the veracity of the tale. “I’ve met a lot of amazing women.

The sound is a mash-up of all manner of vintage influence. It’s glam Bowie, funky crooner and quirky rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a song that wouldn’t seem out of place back in those glorious days of Stiff Records just after the peak of punk when songwriters such as Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Nick Lowe came to the fore. It’s bouncy, pastiche-laden fun. 

I ask Robbie how things are in Norway right now, conscious that an extrovert performer such as he is might be struggling more than most. “I miss the casual interaction.“, he tells me. “We’re back in lockdown here in Oslo. The goverment are coming with new information soon, since the numbers of infected people here in Norway are going up. But even tough 2021 has been good to me, thanks to the internet.

Robert Vendetta is clearly a man with oodles of positive spirit – and nobody can deny that’s what we need right now. 

Penny Roox – Mean

I bet that we’ve all seen enough in our lives to realise that the old adage, ‘Treat them mean, keep them keen’, has more than a semblance of truth. We’ve surely been left frustrated by friends who keep returning to partners who are clearly no good for them whilst an obvious match whimpers and wilts in the corner. Indeed, we might have even recognised such behaviour in ourselves with our predilection for the bad boy or the femme fatale.

Over the years, scientists with bigger brains than mine have tried (and sometimes failed) to explain why we love those that it’s harder to. And Robert Cialdini, author of ‘The Scarcity Principle’, probably hits the nail on head when suggesting that it works on the idea of ‘reactance’. We don’t like to be told no or be limited in any way. When we think we are going to miss out, be rejected, or be denied what we want, we react by wanting what we have been denied even more and trying even harder to get it.

Others have suggested that things are more valued by us if we’ve had to work harder to get them. And I can see some truth in that. But it does all seem ridiculously complicated when the nice boy or the girl next door waits patiently for their love to be reciprocated.


Penny Roox’s debut single, ‘Mean’, focuses on this phenomenon. The rising star from the Netherlands tells more in E-mail conversation. “Mean isn’t about someone in particular being mean to me.“, she says. “I wrote this song inspired by a conversation with one of my closest friends after a night out. It’s about always falling for the dickheads instead of the nice guys, about the thrill of rejection.

‘Mean’ is a fine showcase of Penny’s talent. It has a vintage feel; a dash of jazz in a pop serenade. It’s a slice of Springfield (Dusty) and a drizzle of Winehouse (Amy) that help to create the Roox whole. It’ll come as no surprise to regular readers of Sonic Breakfast that I love it. Perhaps if I was ambivalent about ‘Mean’, it would be more of a recommendation?

Penny lets me know about the state of play in the Netherlands. “The pandemic is still very real here,with everything still closed.“, she says. “I haven’t played a proper full band show for over a year now, but it gave me the peace of mind to finally release Mean and work on my own music. I made sure to write and record as much as possible so the plans of 2021 will be releasing a lot and hopefully start playing again.

Applying the logic from above, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about your Tuesday and I don’t care one jot if you like this song or not. 

Delta High – Let’s Go To The Beach 2020

For many, this is a Monday morning that will be far from welcome. The lockdown begins to ease and with that schools are back until the summer. Many of my teacher friends head back with all sorts of fear and trepidation. Without vaccination, they don’t feel safe despite being assured by Tory politicians that they will be. Let’s face it – these are politicians who have hardly got unblemished records when it comes to their recently dispatched advice. 

Today’s bright and breezy Motown-like pop song is for the teachers. ‘Let’s Go To The Beach 2020’ by Delta High is a large chunk of escapism, a shiny happy song encouraging us all to get away from it all. Written by the Svengali behind Delta High, Neil Jackson, on Cromer Pier one summer day, this is pure and simple bubblegum pop to help to cheer people up. “The song was written to give people positivity, hope and fun in the sun“, says Neil in the accompanying press release.

The video is fun as well – or at least as much fun as you might reasonably expect in Great Yarmouth. Neil, Charlotte and Verity from Delta High amuse themselves in arcades and by getting sand in their shoes as they playfully enjoy a day-out at the Great British seaside. You imagine that when the cameras stopped rolling, the three members of Delta High head off to a Karaoke bar to sing some Shangri-La’s or Supremes. Vocalist Charlotte was spotted by Neil in local pub singing Motown and that comes as no surprise. 

Neil tells me that Delta High have an album, ‘Life’s a Beach’, coming out in May 2021. And as that approaches he’ll be “coming out of lockdown and filming some videos for the album ( and having a Beer on Cromer Pier) 😁.“. 

Let’s Rock ‘N’ Roll towards May then with some sunshine pop to keep us warm. I know that teachers will be looking forward to getting there safely and I hope they do.


Katie Kittermaster – The Problem & Lukewarm Lover

Katie Kittermaster first came onto my radar just over a year ago. Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that, from time to time, I dip into Fresh On The Net’s Listening Post. Every weekend, punters get to listen to a longlist of 25 songs chosen by a bunch of moderators from which to pick your top five – this week’s iteration can be found here. Back in February 2020, I was taking a week-long break in Spain (pre-Covid feels so long ago) and recall a relaxed Saturday morning blasting music out loud when one of Katie’s tracks came on. More poppy than I might have typically chosen, Katie had something that made my ears prick up. Her tune felt solidly honest with lyrics from the heart; similarly, I immediately trusted her casual, conversational delivery. And I liked the alliteration of her name.

Katie sent me a short E-mail after I picked her tune as one of my top five. Very few acts follow up in such a way and it endeared her to me even more. For my part, rude as ever, I failed to respond and carried on reading about Caroline Flack (who was tragically in the news that weekend).

So, it’s lovely now to reinvigorate my acquaintance with Katie. She’s been super-productive over the past year releasing a series of great singles. I’ll highlight two here, The Problem and Lukewarm Lover, but if you’ve got time this weekend (and who hasn’t when we’re in lockdown?) I’d recommend digging further still. 

The Problem is a quirky, upbeat number. It’s Katie’s acknowledgement that hiding behind her chatty, bubbly exterior, there’s a worrier waiting to get out. Lukewarm Lover is about a relationship on its last legs with both parties not sure how to bring things to an end. The themes in both are universal, the honesty is diligently conveyed. 

I check in with Katie and ask how she’s getting on this year.  “I decided not to go to University and have been working on new music this year.“, she says. “Initially Zoom sessions were quite strange as working with somebody you haven’t physically met was daunting….especially as all of my songs are quite personal! But I’m writing with a lot of people now and collaborating has been really positive. In all honesty, I’ve been busier than ever – I think this has helped me to keep focused and hopeful.

Katie reveals a reason for wild celebration later this year. “My Dad hasn’t been able to return from China since February last year – he is finally coming home in June. So, not long after lockdown we will be together as a family again. This will be emotional!!!!!!

It’s testament to Katie’s positive spirit that she’s been so productive in what must have been an emotional maelstrom of a year. I like the honest endurance of her catchy pop. She’ll keep releasing singles and EPs this year. And I’ll continue to listen. 

But for now – back to my shortlisting on the Listening Post. 


Natalie Gelman – 2020

How has your 2021 been? We’re nearly a sixth of the way through the year and I guess that for most, there hasn’t been much of a difference from 2020? Here in the U.K. we’re still in lockdown, not able to see friends and family and not able to go to pubs, restaurants or non-essential shops. At least, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with an effective vaccine rollout and a plan that suggests we could be back having festivals in fields by the summer. We cling to that in the knowledge that we’ve had false dawns before.

“This year I was gunna get my shit together, Now I’m tryin’ stay alive hoping 21 is better.”

That’s a line sung in Natalie Gelman’s perky earworm of a pop song, 2020. In it, with humour, style and grace, Natalie chronicles some of the tough things that happened last year but looks forward to this with a slightly more positive spirit. I check in with Natalie and ask if 2021 is currently living up to expectation. 

It’s crazy to think how quickly this year has been going and that we’re already 2 months in.“, she says. “I’m starting to feel more hopeful this year than I did as 2020 ended. Personally, I feel like I hit a wall at the beginning of this year as the lockdowns got stricter and politics in the states turned really ugly when the capital was stormed.

Natalie tells me that she’s been writing a lot and has written her first original song on a kalimba. She’s also got plans on the horizon. 

This summer I’ll be releasing a full length album with an indie label. I’m working with them to explore how we can work with things as they are and safely do concerts that fall outside the norms. I love to play and miss touring so much so it feels good to figure out ways to make the connection at online, drive in or micro house concerts.

Natalie seems pretty sorted. She’s got a decent stash of loo roll anyway. Anybody who can write a fun rhyming couplet admonishing those people who’re unable to fathom how to properly wear a mask is OK with me. And the future song on the kalimba sounds like something to wait up for. 

As we hurtle towards another blank 2021 weekend, happy Friday all.