Classic Of The Week: Spice Girls

October 22, 2017 in News

Spice Girls 2 Become 1

“be a little bit wiser baby…” Image by Kura.kun

For this week’s classic, we’ve picked one of the most recognizable pop songs of the 90s. You’re welcome, folks

Take yourself back to 1996 and the dawn of ‘girl power.’ Riot grrrl had taken female-fronted groups spitting and screaming into punk’s overground underground at the decade’s outset, and five UK girls had drawn on its spirit to bring female empowerment into pop’s mainstream.

Written by Posh, Ginger, Scary, Sporty, and Baby during the group’s first professional songwriting session, 2 Become 1 was aided by the sublime writing talents of Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard. It was a UK Christmas No 1, topping the charts for three weeks, and it’s no surprise; it’s a glossy, delicate pop classic that had the quintet at their peak.

Effortlessly catchy and with a message of safe sex (“be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on.’Cause tonight is the night when two become one.”), 2 Become 1 is one of the 90s finest pop classics and a gem for the ages that Songwriting hope you love as much as we do.

Classic Of The Week Playlist

UK & US Songwriting Charts (13 – 28 Oct 2017)

October 21, 2017 in News

Liam Gallagher

Liam Gallagher: the success of his debut album puts him second on this week’s UK chart. Photo: Stefan Brending/Wikimedia Commons

This week’s round-up of the Top 10 songwriters on both sides of the Atlantic includes some new, but familiar, names

Tragedy often breeds creativity and many an artist has used this power for good. Lin-Manuel Miranda is no different, though notably successful in this endeavor. Hamilton creator and composer for Disney’s Moana, Miranda penned Almost Like Praying just days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Paying homage to his musical theatre background, the song opens with a line from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story: “Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.” Interestingly enough, these lyrics are that of Bernstein’s Maria, a contradiction Miranda embraced and reimagined in a positive light.

Miranda wasted no time bringing a group of all-star artists together to record and release the song (benefitting The Hispanic Federation). The charitable effort is his first to break the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100, claiming his No 4 spot among this week’s US Songwriting Chart.

On this side of the Atlantic, the list of Top 10 songwriters includes three new names: Liam Gallagher, Giggs and Austin Post. The ex-Oasis frontman almost unseated Sheeran from the top spot, thanks to the release of his debut studio album, As You Were, this week.

US Songwriting Chart (28 October 2017)

1 SHAYAA ABRAHAM-JOSEPH Bank Account – 21 Savage
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
2 MICHAEL WILLIAMS II Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Humble – Kendrick Lamar
Rake It Up – Yo Gotti (ft. Nicki Minaj)
3 ED SHEERAN Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
4 LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA Almost Like Praying – Lin-Manuel Miranda (ft. Artists for Puerto Rico)
5 JAHSEH ONFROY Roll In Peace – Kodak Black (ft. XXXTENTACION)
Jocelyn Flores – XXXTENTACION
F**k Love – XXXTENTACION (ft. Trippie Redd)
6 AUSTIN POST Go Flex – Post Malone
I Fall Apart – Post Malone
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
Congratulations – Post Malone (ft. Quavo)
7 CHARLIE PUTH & JACOB KASHER Attention – Charlie Puth
How Long – Charlie Puth
8 KHALID ROBINSON Location – Khalid
1-800-273-8255 – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Silence – Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
9 DIEUSON OCTAVE Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) – Cardi B
Pills And Automobiles – Chris Brown (ft. Yo Gotti, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie & Kodak Black)
Transportin’ – Kodak Black
Roll In Peace – Kodak Black (ft. XXXTENTACION)
10 FRENCH MONTANA & SWAE LEE Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)

Every track charting on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week is given a point value, which is then split equally among the songwriters listed for each, and then ranked in order of those totals.

UK Songwriting Chart (13 October 2017)

1 ED SHEERAN A Different Way – DJ Snake (ft. Lauv)
Castle On The Hill – Ed Sheeran
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
Your Song – Rita Ora
2 LIAM GALLAGHER Bold – Liam Gallagher
For What It’s Worth – Liam Gallagher
Greedy Soul – Liam Gallagher
3 YXNG BANE Bestie – Yungen (ft. Yxng Bane)
Rihanna – Yxng Bane
4 KHALID ROBINSON Young Dumb & Broke – Khalid
1-800-273-8255 – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Silence – Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
5 GIGGS Ultimate Gangsta – Giggs (ft. 2 Chainz)
Peligro – Giggs (ft. Dave)
Linguo – Giggs (ft. Donaeo)
Active – Sneakbo (ft. Giggs)
6 MICHAEL DAPAAH Man’s Not Hot – Big Shaq
7 BELCALIS ALMANZAR Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) – Cardi B
8 SHAYAA ABRAHAM-JOSEPH Bank Account – 21 Savage
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
9 FRENCH MONTANA Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Hurtin’ Me – Stefflon Don & French Montana
10 AUSTIN POST I Fall Apart – Post Malone
Congratulations – Post Malone & Quavo
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)

Every track charting on the UK’s Official Singles Chart for the week is given a point value, which is then split equally among the songwriters listed for each, and then ranked in order of those totals.

Royalty Exchange logo The Hot Hitmakers chart is repurposed with kind permission of Royalty Exchange, the online music royalties marketplace.

Brighter Sound presents Both Sides Now project

October 21, 2017 in News


The Both Sides Now project is out to reduce the gender gap between women and men in music

The Manchester organisation launches a project to reduce the gender gap, while helping female musicians in the north of England

Since 2011, Brighter Sound has been trying to remedy the gender gap in the music industry, after noticing a lack of female participants in the organisation’s programs. The result is the Both Sides Now project, which offers incentives for women in music, and those looking to break into the industry.

The three-year project will launch on 19 November and has support from Arts Council England’s Ambition For Excellence fund. Both Sides Now will provide opportunities for emerging talent through residencies, apprenticeships, and conferences, with residencies being led by Beth Orton, Imogen Heap and Anna Meredith.

“For me”, says Orton, “Both Sides Now stands for a space where you can feel free to create music you feel excited to explore, a language you get to define for yourself and not to be defined by.” Brighter Sounds define the terms ‘women’ and ‘female’ as anyone who may identify as non-binary, cis-gendered, or trans.

While areas of music like the UK Top 40 Album Chart is still a male-dominated environment, the queer DIY scene in London is one example of how women are finding a growing support network. And with those London bands breaking out beyond the Watford Gap at every opportunity, this latest project is looking to add momentum to the cause.

Earlier this year the results of a survey by the UK Music Diversity Taskforce revealed women between the ages of 25 to 34 account for 54.5% of the industry’s workforce. However, this number drops to 41.4% in the 35 to 44 age range and to 32.7% between 45 and 64.

Unfortunately, the overall split of men to women is 53.6% to 45.3% showing women are slightly underrepresented in comparison with the UK population (49.3% to 50.7%).

You can find details on how to get involved in Both Sides Now here.

‘Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-73’ (Album)

October 20, 2017 in Music Reviews

Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973

LITA 156 album cover: art by Heisuke Kitazawa

The first in an exciting series of compilations exploring Japanese music is an enthralling collection of folk and rock songs

Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969 - 1973The inaugural release from Light In The Attic’s Japan Archival Series focusses on the country’s underground scene which developed during the late 60s and early 70s. Known as the ‘angura’ movement, these folk and rock songs are a far cry from the melodramatic Beatles-lite of bands like The Mops.

There are recognisable notes throughout the album which have been fed through the filter of life in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. Kenji Endo’s gently lulling Curry Rice is the perfect introductory song, sounding both familiar and distant. Other gems include the beguiling harmonies on Akai Tori’s Takeda No Komori Uta and Hachimitsu Pie’s six-and-a-half minute jam Hei No Ue De. Fluid’s Rokudenashi would sound just as at home in Laurel Canyon as it would in the folk clubs of Tokyo.

English lyrical translations are provided in the liner note but in some strange way close attention to them detracts slightly from the joy of not fully comprehending the subject matter. The extensive information provided on each of the artists is definitely welcome though, introducing heroes of Japanese music such as the idiosyncratic singer Fumio Nunoya and pioneers of the native-language rock scene Gypsy Blood (whose Sugishi Hi Wo Mitsumete is another highlight).

It’s strangely appropriate that the album ends with The Dylan II’s cover of their namesakes I Shall Be Released. By adding original lyrics to the song they perfectly highlight the common ability to take their influences into a more genuinely Japanese direction. All of the tracks on this compilation ably fuse elements of psychedelia, beatnik folk and protest songs with more traditional elements of their country’s own music. The result is a sound which is both familiar and authentic and a unique listening experience. We already can’t wait for the next instalment.

Verdict: Deeply fascinating and eminently listenable

Duncan Haskell

Introducing… OUTLYA

October 19, 2017 in Features, Interviews


OUTLYA: “We make the music that we want to make without worrying too much about keeping up with the zeitgeist”

This talented trio have the bombastic pop tunes to match their ambition, it’s a potent formula which should guarantee success

Name: Will Bloomfield (lead vocals, keys), Willem Olenski (guitar and backing vocals) and Henry Kilmister (drums and backing vocals)

Age: 25, 24 and 25 respectively

Location: London

Style: Bold and uplifting singalongs

Look out for: Volcano EP, out now.

Since 2015, London-based trio OUTLYA have been on a mission to make bombastic pop music that provides fans with a palpable sense of escape. On the merits of early singles, Howl, The Light and Heaven (collected alongside new track Volcano on an upcoming EP of the same name), it’s clear that they’re already succeeding.

Lead vocalist Will Bloomfield is also the group’s main songwriter. “I try to keep the process fresh every time,” he says. “Songs come in all kinds of ways. Some days they start as a beat I’ll build up on my laptop and some days they come from a more traditional source like sitting at the piano.” Will continues, “I’m a real believer in the vibe/feeling of a piece of music, so I’ll build up the track and try to create a real dense environment that I can then attach an emotion and lyric to.”

Having experienced life in other bands, the trio have drawn from past mistakes and lessons learnt. “With OUTLYA, we make the music that we want to make without worrying too much about keeping up with the zeitgeist,” says Will. “The beauty of hindsight really gives you a confidence to try all the things you couldn’t even fathom before. So now we’re not too scared to throw a brash guitar solo or bold sonic shift into our songs.”

There is also a shared love of artists such as Kanye West, The Beatles, Radiohead and Rihanna – those who are able to morph and challenge the listener whilst still making incredible music. It’s all there on Volcano, whose four tracks showcase a dazzling and transformative style of pop music and is all the proof anyone can need that OUTLYA are serious contenders.

Interview: Duncan Haskell

Find out more at

The ultimate Bryan Adams collection?

October 18, 2017 in News

Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams: “As a songwriter and musician you are always creating – it’s what you do”

The renowned purveyor of feel-good rock’n’roll and big ballads offers up his hits and first new songs in two years

Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams is set to release a new best of album featuring 21 tracks, including two new songs – one of which will be available upon pre-ordering the album via all digital partners.

The aim of Ultimate is to condense Bryan Adams’ extensive back catalogue – 13 studio albums, five live albums, five compilation albums and over 75 singles – into a 21-track offering guaranteed to capture the true essence of the hitmaker’s much celebrated career. There are the early hits such as Cuts Like A Knife and Run To You as well as later additions to his repertoire, like When You’re Gone with Melanie C and Cloud Number Nine.

Of course, no Bryan Adams best of is complete without his record-breaking international smash hit (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. And aside from the song with the longest unbroken run at No 1 on the UK Singles Chart – 16 consecutive weeks – other mammoth hits that appear on Ultimate include Summer Of ’69, Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? and his Rod Stewart and Sting collaboration All For Love.

It’s not just the classics that feature on Ultimate either. Releasing two brand new songs, Ultimate Love and Please Stay – the latter of which is instantly available upon pre-ordering the new best of – are the first new songs by Bryan Adams in over two years.

“As a songwriter and musician you are always creating – it’s what you do,” said Adams. “So even though I’ve released an ‘ultimate’ collection, I’m always looking ahead. There are two new songs included…both written this year with the message that love still counts, even in uncertain times.”

Bryan Adams’ Ultimate will be released on 3 November via UMe/Polydor Records. For more details and to pre-order, visit:

‘Drum’ by Gold Class (Album)

October 18, 2017 in Music Reviews

Gold Class

Gold Class: there is an element of restraint in the songwriting

Australian punk four-piece bring the world their record of defiance, written from a vulnerable place, lost in a dark world

Gold Class 'Drum' album artworkLike many songs and albums, Drum, the new album from Gold Class, started after a breakup. That event made singer Adam Curley want to tackle the negative events going on in the world, whether it was war on a world level, or a suicide on a local one.

The result is a love letter to anyone that can’t fit in, or doesn’t want to. Most people have felt like that at some stage, so many will feel a connection with the album, especially songs Get Yours, Bully and Thinking Of Strangers.

The songs are bass-heavy, with the instrument taking a lead role at times, but there is an element of restraint in the songwriting. Considering the reasons for writing the album, it would’ve been easy to come out swinging with fast guitars and indecipherable lyrics, but the guitars are controlled, while the lyrics are clear.

The latter is an important factor. It is necessary for the listener to be able to hear the words because it helps to convey the message that the world needs to change.

Even if Curley had remained silent over the album’s origins, his distress and possible depressive state would be clear. However, the whole record lacks energy, making the songs more post-punk then punk. But let’s not get hung up on placing music in boxes – that’s all very tedious.

In short, many people will like the album, some might even love it. A lot of people will dislike it, but the majority will understand its sentiment. So, like always, decide for yourselves.

Verdict: A fair reflection of the world today

Dave Chrzanowski

No Doubt to reissue their debut LP on vinyl

October 17, 2017 in News

No Doubt Reissue Debut Album

No Doubt are reissuing their debut album on vinyl. Image by Lorie Shaull

The band’s self-titled 1992 debut album will get the vinyl reissue treatment to mark its 25th anniversary, this coming November

On 10 November, No Doubt’s self-titled debut album will be reissued on vinyl to mark the record’s 25 year anniversary. The record was originally released on 17 March 1992 and will be reissued via Interscope Records.

The reissued version of No Doubt will be pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl, it will also be available in a limited edition colour vinyl. You can pre-order the album here.

The record features 14 tracks, including the bands 25 February 1992 debut single, Trapped In A Box.

You can see the full tracklisting of No Doubt below:

Let’s Get Back
Get On The Ball
Move On
Sad For Me
Big City Train
Trapped In A Box
A Little Something Refreshing
Brand New Day

Interview: Nicky Holland

October 16, 2017 in Features, Interviews

Nicky Holland

Nicky Holland: “My fascination with harmony is definitely a thread that runs through most of my songs.”

We recently caught up with a songwriter whose resume includes Tears For Fears, John Hughes and a successful solo career

This May, Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, released Nicky Holland’s Nobody’s Girl. Drawing together the solo recordings of the gifted singer/songwriter/pianist/composer/arranger, the record features songs from her self-titled debut LP and sophomore LP Sense and Sensuality, along with her cover of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.

Along with her solo recordings, Holland has worked with some huge names in the music and film industry. This has seen her record with Tears For Fears, Fun Boy Three and created scores for John Hughes films.

We caught up with Holland and asked her to reveal some of the secrets of her success as a songwriter. Here’s what she had to say…

What made you decide to become a songwriter?

“I was twelve when I first heard Carole King’s Tapestry in a dance class at school. After listening to it multiple times, I realized I could play by ear, and I learned to play all the songs on the album. This then led to me writing my first song Waiting For The Train, that same year. From that time onwards, I spent all of my spare time writing and co-writing. The songs I wrote during my teens were like little exorcisms, spilling secrets.”

Which songwriters inspired and inspire you?

“Singer-songwriters Carole King, Randy Newman, Donald Fagen, Rickie Lee Jones and Tom Waits. Also, bands like Talk Talk and The Blue Nile.”

In July you released Nobody’s Girl. What’s your favourite song from the record and why?

Ladykiller is probably my favorite song on Nobody’s Girl. I love the juxtaposition of Lloyd Cole’s gritty lyric of lost innocence, set in New York’s Lower East Side, against the swinging, jazzy, upbeat soundtrack.”

You’ve said that you’re an “arranger and love texture and density.” How do you think this helps your songwriting?

“I don’t know if being an arranger necessarily helps my songwriting at all! My fascination with harmony is definitely a thread that runs through most of my songs and I have always valued it as much as melody.”

If you had to choose, what would you say that the most important thing about songwriting is: the storytelling or the composition?

“When I first started writing, I paid more attention to the music, and collaborated with lyricists. Over the years, I have learned to value the importance of great lyrics and now feel comfortable writing both music and words. A song is a vehicle for a singer to make a connection with an audience, so it is impossible to separate the component parts, and say one is more important than the other.”

Alongside your solo work, your resume includes some impressive names (Tears For Fears, Fun Boy Three and creating scores for John Hughes films). Do you find it easier to write as a solo artist, or with/for others?

“I love to collaborate, and finding the right writing partner/chemistry always makes it feel easier. I stay more objective when I’m writing for other people. The songs on Nobody’s Girl were all written or co-written by me for me, with the exceptions of I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, from the My Best Friend’s Wedding soundtrack and Hat Full of Stars, which I wrote with Cyndi Lauper for her fourth studio album. I also later recorded it for my second album Sense and Sensuality as I felt such a connection to it.”

Nicky Holland

Nicky Holland: “I know we have something when it is evident an emotional connection has been made.”

Do you employ different techniques when writing for yourself than you do when writing for others?

“If I’m co-writing with the artist, I know we have something when it is evident an emotional connection has been made. If it’s song for me, I tend to rely on how it makes me feel when I sing it.”

How did you get the opportunity to write for such impressive names and what tips do you have for our songwriters who would like to do the same?

“After I graduated from university in 1981, I became one-third of The Ravishing Beauties, with classmates Virginia Astley and Kate St. John. We toured Britain with Teardrop Explodes, and got a lot of attention from the press, playing rock and classical venues. One thing led to another, and when we broke up, Fun Boy Three reached out to me as they had just finished working with Bananarama.

“While working with Fun Boy Three on a television show in Germany, I met Roland Orzabal from Tears For Fears, who was a fan of the Ravishing Beauties. That meeting then led to us working together a year or so later. I guess my advice to songwriters now would be to do what you love and stay active. Don’t let other people make the rules for you – make your own rules.”

Tell us about your work with Fun Boy Three

“Fun Boy Three reached out to me to work on their version of George Gershwin’s Summertime in 1982. I sang on it, played the piano and arranged the strings, and later promoted it with them, on television and in the video. After it became a top 20 hit in the UK, they asked me to work on their new album Waiting.

“I became their musical director, arranging their songs and writing the chords, and helped them put together a six woman band to accompany them. Produced by Talking Heads’ David Byrne, Waiting became a hit all over Europe, and we toured there and in the US, throughout 1983.”

Tell us about your work with Tears For Fears

“After I parted company with Fun Boy Three, I started working with a band on Phonogram, The Escape, led by frontman Alan Griffiths. Label mates of Tears For Fears, we were asked to open for them on their British tour, promoting their first album, The Hurting. Several months later, TFF asked me to work with them while they were making Songs From The Big Chair, but I declined as I was in the studio with The Escape. That project eventually petered out, and the next time they approached me, they sent me Everybody Wants To Rule The World. I was blown away, and immediately agreed to accompany them on their world tour, which ended up lasting the best part of a year.

“During that tour, Roland and I started writing during sound checks and continued to do so back in London, when we got back home. Five of the six songs we wrote ended up on their Seeds Of Love album, and I played piano and keyboards, sang and arranged strings on those songs. The sixth, The Rhythm Of Life, was recorded by Oleta Adams, for her debut album Circle Of One.”

Nicky Holland4

Nicky Holland: “They [Tears For Fears] sent me Everybody Wants To Rule The World. I was blown away.”

Tell us about creating scores for John Hughes films

“John Hughes wrote many of his scripts while listening to pop music of the time. His favorite instrument was the baritone saxophone, which he thought was great to underscore comic scenes. When he sent me cues that needed scoring, they often had ‘temp score’ over them, musical extracts that conveyed the mood he wanted.

“I remember the first cue he sent, a close up on a priest’s smile, from She’s Having A Baby, with the instructions to make it come across as menacing. I had precisely seventeen seconds in which to achieve this. I sent him roughs of my ideas done on my Kurzweil Expander, and eventually, after completing a number of cues, I went to LA and recorded at Paramount studios with a fifty-five piece orchestra. The orchestra, led by a conductor, played to picture, following flashes across the screen. It was one of the most exhilarating sessions I ever took part in.”

We’re huge fans of John Hughes, what’s your favourite film by him?

“My favourite film by John Hughes is The Breakfast Club.”

Us too!

Having released Nobody’s Girl, do you have any plans to release any new solo compositions?

“As of now, I don’t have any plans to release any new solo compositions. However, I am currently working on a new project with Rebecca Roubion, called Clementine. We call it Porch Music, barefoot toe-tapping tunes with the sun going down and probably some brown liquor involved. I also have a single I co-wrote called Coming In, by Contessa, a project by Polina Goudieva.”

If that wasn’t quite enough, below we have the video for her brilliant song, New York Inside My Head. The track was co-written with former songwriting cover star and XTC legend, Andy Partridge. Enjoy!

Classic Of The Week: Glen Campbell

October 15, 2017 in News

Glen Campbell

“I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road.” Image by Alan C. Teeple

For this week’s classic tune we’ve selected a truly beautiful number from one of country music’s royal family. You’re welcome

Oh Glen. It’s been just over two months since the wonderful Glen Campbell lost his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease and it still hurts, deep. While time cannot bring him back it has immortalised him and songs like Wichita Lineman are the reason why.

It’s one of the best from a member of country’s royal family and if you don’t shed a tear as Glen’s gorgeous voice and haunting melodies stroll from your speakers, well, truly, you have no soul.

Classic Of The Week Playlist

Interview: Dave Stewart

October 15, 2017 in Features, Interviews

Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart: “When I was in Nashville I didn’t know much about writing country music.”

This synth-pop legend tells us all about the journey which has led him to release an album of country duets

The music that Dave Stewart made alongside Annie Lennox with Eurythmics is often regarded as his lasting legacy. Even though it’s correct that songs such as Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) and Here Comes The Rain Again continue to be revered, Stewart’s creativity didn’t suddenly desert him when the band split in 1990. Since then he has continued making music in groups like The Spiritual Cowboys and as a solo artist. He has also produced records for artists such as Feargal Sharkey, Ringo Starr, Joss Stone and Jon Bon Jovi and branched out into filmmaking.

In 2010, Stewart’s songwriting found a new home in Nashville where he forged a partnership with Jon McBride’s iconic Blackbird Studio. This union resulted in two albums The Blackbird Diaries and The Ringmaster General, featuring some of Music City’s finest session players. Never one to stay in the same place for too long, the next step was to take his new bandmates out on the Pacific Ocean to record their third record together, Lucky Numbers. Each of these releases contained duets, with Alison Krauss, Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride and more providing the counterpoint to Stewart’s own vocals.

The best of these collaborations have been collected for a new compilation album, Nashville Sessions: The Duets, and provide us with the perfect opportunity to hear about this latest chapter in Stewart’s ever-evolving career…

Tell us about the serendipitous journey that took you to Nashville back in 2010?

“The whole started thing with the volcanic eruption in Iceland and being stuck in London with a friend of mine. He wanted to get a guitar and I said we should walk to Denmark Street as that’s where I always bought my acoustic guitars. We went along there and I picked up one-off the wall, this Gretsch acoustic guitar. Low and behold, it turned out that it once belonged to Red River Dave, this strange country singer who was a bit of a legend in his time in Texas, and that seemed to be a kind of portal – all of a sudden I was in the country world.

“I was flying back to America and at the same time I wanted to meet Martina McBride because I’d created this concept for a television series that involved music. I landed in Nashville and met Jon and Martine and realised that they had an amazing studio and amazing musicians and so I thought, ‘Okay this must mean I should make an album.’ I’d not made one for many years, the last album before that was at the end of the 90s. I just got this overwhelming feeling that there was something right and so I just started writing and within four or five days I’d written and recorded about thirteen songs and recorded them with all these amazing musicians at Blackbird.”

It seems like the relationship between you, Jon and his musicians clicked immediately?

“I was describing the sound that I wanted to make and he had the exact people there. They hadn’t played together as a band before but when they came together it all clicked and since then I’ve recorded nine albums with them as a band and I’ve played live with them and I’ve now flown most of them over to England for some shows. It just tumbled out, three albums and on the sides we recorded other bits and pieces. I’d never had songs tumble out so freely.”

Can you put your finger on why that was?

“I’d not tried to write songs for about 15 years, I mean bits and pieces here and there but not for myself. That mixed with the inspiration of having so many great players around and a bit of that thing like the lightning rod that certain cities seem to have. Like Kingston in Jamaica, Havana in Cuba, Nashville, Liverpool, Berlin… there are certain cities, you arrive there and can sense something in the air or in the water. Some places are absent of any of that feeling and some places you feel it as soon as you land.”

Dave Stewart

Dave: “It would be crazy going to a car mechanic who is the best in town and is fixing your carburetor and you say, ‘No, not like that.’”

Had you always loved roots and country music?

“I’m one of those people who tends to listen to lots of the origins of music. So I listen to very early Jamaican mento music and early ska and have always liked those. I’d always read about it and then I’d collect those records and then the same with early Cuban music and then early German electro. I don’t know why but whatever it was, I always wanted to know who started it, where did it come from and how. I even made a film about blues music which starts by showing where it came from.

“With country music it was the same; hours listening to the very early hillbilly bluegrass music and then country gospel. Walking In Jerusalem Just Like John was a song that I was always playing. Then Bill Monroe and leading all the way to Patsy Cline and then looking at who wrote the songs. At home, much to my children’s annoyance, I was playing this roots music from different worlds but then they started to like it too.”

Where did that interest come from?

“What I loved about a lot of older songs was the storytelling and the narrative. It could be the simplest thing in a blues song like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great man and you can’t have him,’ and then you go to country songs and you see heartache stories and they’re very honest and I liked all of that. Obviously then when I was younger I got obsessed with anybody who wrote songs, from Bob Dylan to The Beatles. Anybody who wrote songs was like some kind of magical wizard to me and then that’s what I started to do.

“When I was 14 I was just learning the guitar because I’d broken my knee and my cousin in Memphis sent a box with some Levi corduroy jeans in and four albums of blues classics. I’d never heard anything like it before in Sunderland and my brother also had fantastic taste in music and he had brought the first two Dylan albums and Ray Charles and all these greats. I was lucky because my dad had made a homemade stereogram, a wooden thing with a deck in it and great speakers, and I had about 15 great albums that my brother and my cousin had and also every Rogers & Hammerstein, so it was like ABC songwriting learning.”

Did that foundation and background make it easier for you to adopt a country persona for these albums?

“When I was in Nashville I didn’t know much about writing country music. I knew storytelling and all about blues and country blues playing on my guitar and I also knew about rock music with blues connotations and so I made these records with all of those things jumbled up. The players didn’t seem to mind or get confused, they understood the kernel of the kind of the music that I was playing on the guitar. Once I’d played them the chords, a verse and a chorus they’d go ‘okay, got it.’ A lot of the time I would sing in the room with the drummer and everybody and it was great because it was everybody in a circle and sometimes I was playing the acoustic guitar and singing at the same time, or I was in a booth and I could see them all through the glass.”

What is the key to getting such a great performance out of the musicians you’re working with?

“I think a lot of time they get told exactly what to play but they were so great that I decided that I would just play the song that I’d just written, let them write it down in their peculiar manner and in their country music talk, and then we’d go and play it. I wouldn’t say what they needed to play, they would just play how they felt that thing should be. It would be crazy going to a car mechanic who is the best in town and is fixing your carburettor and you say, ‘No, no, no. Not like that.’ I might decide to extend something or finish in a different way but the rest of it was me singing along live and them playing. We’d go back in the control room and listen back to it and usually we’d like the first take best.”

The album that’s out now is a compilation of some of the duets. How did those collaborations come about?

“What happened was, every now and then I’d write a song and think, ‘This would be really good as a duet,’ but it was kind of random, it wasn’t like I was making a duets album. It was also because when I was recording, and this happens to me every time, people would arrive to say hello and check out what was going on. With this record in Nashville what happened was people would be sitting in my session, great songwriters like Hillary Lindsey and Martina McBride. Martine came in and was listening to everything and I shared this one song that I was singing called All Fucked Up On Love and she took me aside to say that I couldn’t really sing ‘all fucked up on love’ as nobody would play it. She said, ‘If you have another word then that’s an amazing song and I’d love to sing that with you.’ So I thought about it overnight and came up with ‘messed up’ and she said ‘Okay I’m in,’ and I think that was the first duet.

Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart in Nashville: “As soon as you finish writing songs you always wonder if you could do it again.”

“With Jessie Baylin, she came into my hotel room and we were messing about on a guitar and we wrote this song called God Only Knows You Now because we were talking about somebody that something had happened to and I said, ‘I’ve got a studio so why don’t we record it,’ and she said, ‘Now!’ So we went to the studio and put it straight down with the players who again learnt it very quickly. I wrote about 80 percent of them on my own and 20 percent I co-wrote with the artist. With Alison Krauss, I’d already written the song and she was in the studio listening to it and she loved that song and was playing the viola on it and then she started singing on it.”

So people have been dropping in on your sessions for a while then?

“When I was making Greetings From The Gutter in New York all different kinds of people like Lady Miss Kier from Deee-Lite and Bootsy Collins would drop in and they’d end up on that record. Lou Reed plays the guitar and Lauri Anderson is doing a strange story speaking with me and it helped shape the record.”

How did the Stevie Nicks collaboration on this album come about?

“I was producing her album and for some reason Reece Witherspoon was sitting listening to it and it was late at night and everyone was either drunk or stoned. I said that I was going to Nashville soon and Reece said I could stay in her condo there and Stevie turned round and said a bit sarcastically, ‘That will be cheap’ and Reece said, ‘What’s cheaper than free?’ Me and Stevie looked at each other and said, ‘What’s cheaper than free, that’s pretty good,’ and that started a whole song and so we wrote that together.”

It seems that embracing spontaneity was key to this whole project?

“You can say that again, I’d never seen anything like it. Spontaneously writing something like fifteen songs on the first four days for The Blackbird Diaries and recording them and then on the fifth day I organised a little playback party. We’d only started on Monday and by Friday we were listening back to the album and they loved it and so everybody kept texting me, ‘What are we doing next?’ and so I came and did another one straight away, The Ringmaster General, and then I brought other people there to make albums like Stevie Nicks and Joss Stone. I produced them all using the same players.

“Then I made another album with the same players but I took the fish out of water and put them on the water. We were in the South Pacific with the same players when I was recording Lucky Numbers and again I was just writing the songs on the spot, on a boat. It was kind of weird because Dan Dugmore got so seasick on the first two days because he was playing pedal steel and lap steel and he was looking sideways, so he was rocking one way and looking the other way while playing and he got up and went, ‘Oh man, I gotta lie down.’”

One final question, what have these Nashville sessions taught you about your own songwriting?

“I drew a lot of confidence from it. I wrote Greetings From The Gutter all by myself but then I stopped, when I did these three Nashville albums I wrote about 40 songs and I really got the power of songwriting back bigtime because I’m sitting there with all of these guys who play all these songs and legends like Alison Kraus coming in to listen and play and it was like, ‘Okay, I must be able to write a song.’ Songwriters are never that confident about anything until the next one. As soon as you finish writing songs you always wonder if you could do it again.”

Interview: Duncan Haskell

Nashville Sessions: The Duets is out now. Find out more here

UK & US Songwriting Charts (6 – 21 Oct 2017)

October 14, 2017 in News

Austin Post

Austin Post: known professionally as Post Malone. Photo: The Come Up Show from Canada/Wikimedia Commons

Assisted by Royalty Exchange, we recognise the most successful songwriters behind the biggest hits on both sides of the Atlantic

It’s rare the the popular music landscape changes so minimally, even in so little time as a week. That’s exactly what happened, however, with last week’s top five hitmakers continuing their reign. Few of these songwriters did it alone. It is through collaborative efforts that they are able to achieve a hit.

US Songwriting Chart (21 October 2017)

1 MICHAEL WILLIAMS II Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Humble – Kendrick Lamar
Rake It Up – Yo Gotti (ft. Nicki Minaj)
2 SHAYAA ABRAHAM-JOSEPH Bank Account – 21 Savage
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
Undefeated – A Boogie Wit da Hoodie (ft. 21 Savage)
3 ED SHEERAN Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
4 JAHSEH ONFROY Roll In Peace – Kodak Black (ft. XXXTENTACION)
Jocelyn Flores – XXXTENTACION
F**k Love – XXXTENTACION (ft. Trippie Redd)
5 KHALID ROBINSON Location – Khalid
1-800-273-8255 – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Silence – Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
6 AUSTIN POST Go Flex – Post Malone
I Fall Apart – Post Malone
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
Congratulations – Post Malone (ft. Quavo)
7 LIL PUMP Gucci Gang – Lil Pump
8 DIEUSON OCTAVE Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) – Cardi B
Pills And Automobiles – Chris Brown (ft. Yo Gotti, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie & Kodak Black)
Transportin’ – Kodak Black
Roll In Peace – Kodak Black (ft. XXXTENTACION)
9 SYMERE WOODS Sauce It Up – Lil Uzi Vert
The Way Life Goes – Lil Uzi Vert
XO TOUR Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
10 KENDRICK LAMAR Humble – Kendrick Lamar
Loyalty – Kendrick Lamar (ft. Rihanna)

Every track charting on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week is given a point value, which is then split equally among the songwriters listed for each, and then ranked in order of those totals.

UK Songwriting Chart (6 October 2017)

1 ED SHEERAN A Different Way – DJ Snake (ft. Lauv)
Castle On The Hill – Ed Sheeran
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
Your Song – Rita Ora
2 YXNG BANE Bestie – Yungen (ft. Yxng Bane)
Rihanna – Yxng Bane
3 KHALID ROBINSON Young Dumb & Broke – Khalid
1-800-273-8255 – Logic (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Silence – Marshmello (ft. Khalid)
4 MICHAEL DAPAAH Man’s Not Hot – Big Shaq
5 BELCALIS ALMANZAR Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) – Cardi B
6 SHAYAA ABRAHAM-JOSEPH Bank Account – 21 Savage
Rockstar – Post Malone (ft. 21 Savage)
7 STEVE MAC Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Strip That Down – Liam Payne (ft. Quavo)
What About Us – Pink
Your Song – Rita Ora
8 FRENCH MONTANA Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
Hurtin’ Me – Stefflon Don & French Montana
9 JAHSEH ONFROY Everybody Dies In Their Nightmares – XXXTENTACION
Jocelyn Flores – XXXTENTACION
10 J HUS Spirit – J Hus

Every track charting on the UK’s Official Singles Chart for the week is given a point value, which is then split equally among the songwriters listed for each, and then ranked in order of those totals.

Royalty Exchange logo The Hot Hitmakers chart is repurposed with kind permission of Royalty Exchange, the online music royalties marketplace.

Music Industry Predicts Pink Comeback Success

October 14, 2017 in News

Pink's New Album Is Expected To Be A Success

Pink’s new album is out now and it could be a big one. Image by Allisonnik

RCA bigwig is backing the singer’s latest album to enter the charts in the Top 10 by targeting No 1

Pink’s latest album Beautiful Trauma was released today (13 October). It might be her first album in five years, but RCA MD Neil Hughes is hungry for a No 1 album – he will settle for an entry in the Top 10.

“We want a No 1 album, we want to be at least Top 10 at Christmas”, he says. “The market’s changed a lot since The Truth About Love but we’ve got one of the biggest songs, if not the biggest song, of her career at that moment so we want to try and match what that record’s achieved.”

If the figures from the album’s lead single are anything to go by, then expectations of reaching the Top 10 aren’t unreasonable. What About Us spent five weeks at No 1 on the UK airplay chart and remains in the singles chart Top 10 after nine weeks. At the time of writing, the Official Charts Company (OCC) indicates the single has sold 309,703 units, proving that the singer’s break has only made the fans hungrier for her music.

Pink has been busy raising a family, giving birth to her first child in 2011 and second in 2016. And it appears her intentions for success match those of Hughes. The album sees collaborations with Steel Train and Fun guitarist Jack Antonoff, and rapper Eminem. While the rumours of the next Eminem album grow by the day, the success of Beautiful Trauma will become clearer in the following weeks.

‘Earl Grey’ by Girl Ray (Album)

October 13, 2017 in Music Reviews

Girl Ray. Photo: Neil Thomson

Girl Ray: formed over a love of Tom Rundgen and Cate Le Bon, and a hatred of Hollister Photo: Neil Thomson

The road to adulthood is fraught with dramas and despair. Girl Ray document everything in a unique and refreshing way

Girl Ray 'Earl Grey' album artworkGirl Ray are Poppy Hankin (guitar, vocals), Iris McConnell (drums) and Sophie Moss (bass). Naming the band after the avant-garde artist Man Ray, Girl Ray came together while at school, forming over a love of Todd Rundgren and Cate Le Bon, and a hatred of Hollister. Who can blame them?

Girl Ray’s debut album Earl Grey has a clear sound; the songs are heart-breaking, but soothing. Hankin softly sings her striking, confessional lyrics, proving that when you’re miserable, you only write miserable songs. But that’s not to say the songs are overly self-loathing and pitiful. There is a dry and understated sense of humour behind the lyrics – something only British people excel at.

Latest single Don’t Go Back At Ten is about the bonds of friendship. It is abundantly clear that the three members are so close they could be linked telepathically. The song is a typical example of Girl Ray’s songwriting style, with its coolly strummed guitar, subtle bass line grooving in the background and drums tip-tapping an elegant beat.

Other stand out tracks are Preacher, Stupid Things and Trouble. All have an experimental quality, especially the guitar chords. The progression usually goes in a direction that you’re not expecting. A technique that throws the listener, but at the same time remains satisfying to the ear.

The band also have a knack for making music videos. Playing out like short movies with proper actors, titles and everything; they’re a work of art.

Girl Ray are on the verge of something exciting. They are going to be a lot of people’s favourite band, if they’re not already. The album is a must listen, and check out Girl Ray’s festival and tour dates from now until November.

Verdict: Songwriting from the heart

Dave Chrzanowski

Interview: Dhani Harrison

October 12, 2017 in Features, Interviews

Dhani Harrison

Dhani Harrison: “I’ve got a clear vision of where I’m going in my life and in the place after…I want to get to the biscuits!”

The son of the Beatles guitarist takes a break from his many projects to finally release his debut solo album

Dhani is a British multi-instrumentalist musician, composer and singer-songwriter who is the only child of “the quiet Beatle”, George Harrison. Although choosing to follow his father’s musical footsteps later in life – after initially pursuing a career as a car designer – the 39-year-old has more than paid his dues in a career that includes three albums and two EPs with his band project thenewno2, along with a role in the supergroup Fistful Of Mercy, with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur.

Working with Jeff Lynne, he co-produced his father’s posthumous 2004 album Brainwashed, which earned three Grammy nominations and won the award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He’s also collaborated with an eclectic array of musicians such as The Wu-Tang Clan, Regina Spektor, Pearl Jam, UNKLE and Prince, as well as becoming an accomplished soundtrack composer.

Now, after many years of playing in bands and writing for other people’s projects, Dhani felt right about creating a solo album and, as the resulting record IN///PARALLEL came out earlier this month, we called him for a chat…

You’re finally releasing your debut solo album after spending years as an active, prolific musician. Why now?

“I think it was just to do with giving myself a chance to develop as an artist. Obviously, growing up in my family, you don’t go and play little gigs and have the anonymity when you first start – not that anyone should feel sorry for me about that! Also moving into composing got me to the point where I was… Then there were a couple of projects that other bands had been working on big, major films and kind of dropped out, and I think it had an effect on the industry because people lacked confidence in the band scoring a film. So I was definitely wary of that and I wanted to not experience any of that negative backlash. Plus it’s more confusing for people and in the end it was supposed to be confusing! I don’t want to be confusing as a composer, I want to be able to reach my audience, reach my directive and reach the people.

“Then, getting to that point where it’s Paul Hicks and Dhani Harrison, then I did several TV shows and films, and I had been working on this record in-between all of these projects which meant it kept getting shelved. So they were sketches to me and I got to the point where I was going to take it to collaborate, but I kind of got further down the line than I thought I was. And when I took it to Paul to say, ‘Hey do you want to come and work on this with me?’ he was like, ‘This is great, I don’t want to do anything to this.’ So he started trying to mix some stuff with me and said, ‘Y’know what? This is a solo record. You should give this the release it deserves.’ And I said, ‘Woah woah, I’ve never done that before!’ But then I thought, if he thinks it’s good enough and I respect his judgment, then I should have the confidence and be myself.”

It’s said the album is about self-discovery and self-love. Was that planned before you started writing the album, or is that a theme you noticed at a later stage?

“It was kind of a journey. Y’know with some records you start in one place and then you end up in another place, but you haven’t gone that far? Well, this record – more than any other record I’ve ever done in my life – took me way further down in the process of being myself. It was a very busy couple of years, as it has been for the world, and I learned a lot about myself. 2015 and 2016 weren’t cakewalks of years in terms of the last few decades! The world’s changed so much, it’s like we’ve all been forced to change with it, or not get to where we need to go, and I’m really determined to get where I need to go. I’ve got a clear vision of where I’m going in my life and in the place after, whatever that life is called – I want to get to the biscuits!”

So you were trying to make sense of the madness through your songwriting?

“Yes it was cathartic. I think any good record starts with discovery, and any good story starts with discovering the character. If the character is me and I’m composing the story of my life then who am I? Where am I going? Where did I come from?”

Tell us more about how the album was made. Can you remember where you started?

“Because of composing, I really got a lot of new toys – equipment, soft synths, different programs and sequencers, pedals and all kinds of things – so I was tinkering around to lots of different soundtracks. Then I’d written a few little things and I’d shelved them. But I went through a big change and I started working on this film called Seattle Road, and the director Ryan David really let us go to town on it. It was one of the most fun things I’ve worked on, but all these bits of music were quite small keys.

“Paul tended to tackle some of the big orchestral stuff and in this film that’s where he gravitated to, and I gravitated to these dream sequence, trippy meltdown, trip-hop kind of things. A lot of the sounds I’d been farming that I’d never had a chance to use on scores, or stuff that other people had rejected but I was glad because I knew that was something I wanted for myself. So I was finally getting these things in order and I realised it was a whole album!

“We’d just mastered Seattle Road and made it into a double vinyl – it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done – and that was kind of the prelude to this record. I mastered them using the same technique with the same person in the same place, but years apart. So that’s how I, inadvertently, found the sound of the record – Seattle Road was my jump off point.”

Dhani Harrison

Dhani: “If you concentrate your mind on anything hard enough in life, the wish becomes the will, and it will manifest”

When you went back to those little soundtrack bits, how did you approach developing them into songs?

“It’s funny because you’d think it was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, but it really wasn’t like that. They all existed in the cloud of your mind and I think it was just a question of changing myself so that I could raise my consciousness enough to hear them, rather than trying to change the song to fit words in it.

“I was talking to Annie Lennox about this a few days ago – we did a duet together in New York – and she was saying it’s like a sculpture, it’s already there inside the block and you’re just hewing away little bits. You may think the sculpture’s done and then you chop off a bit more and you refine it again. Eventually you reveal what’s there, but it’s like you have to reveal it in yourself first before it presents itself to you. If you concentrate your mind on anything hard enough in life, the wish becomes the will, and it will manifest. That’s the way the universe works. Them’s the rules!”

You’re well known for your work as a musician, but have there been collaborations where songwriting or co-writing has been at the heart of your involvement?

“Oh I don’t know where to… I mean, I’ve worked with people from Wu-Tang Clan all the way through to UNKLE. I just wrote some stuff with James Lavelle for the new UNKLE record, so there’s an album that hasn’t come out yet which has a couple of songs that I co-wrote with James, and Jack [Leonard] as well. Obviously there was Fistful Of Mercy, which was the collaboration I did with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur, and there was some unfinished stuff that we started – a second record.

“We actually went in and completed a track with Jim Keltner on drums and it was called One True Love and that was something that never saw the light of day. I hope the Fistful Of Mercy will return again in some way, but we were all so busy. There are a couple of people I’ve become close with musically, who are amazing musicians and very famous, but I don’t want to say who there because I don’t want to ruin the vibration and the energy behind it.”

“But I wrote most of the stuff I’ve been on and I never had a problem being recognised in the projects that I’ve worked on.”

You’ve obviously got to know an array of legendary artists who probably influenced you, but are there any people that inspired you who might not be obvious to us?

“Obviously Ravi Shankar. And Anoushka Shankar, who I think doesn’t get enough credit in terms of being one of the most disciplined, naturally talented and well-practiced musicians on the face of the Earth. I’ve never actually worked with her, which is insane because we’re practically brother and sister! We’ve always talked about it, but it’s never been the right time. So she’s someone I love to work with and that would be very easy.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of the Bristol music scene – everything from Portishead to Massive Attack to Tricky, and everything from Geoff Barrow’s soundtracks to Martina Topley-Bird’s solo album. But I don’t think I’ve met any of them. I put people like them and Beth Gibbons on such a pedal stool. Obviously there are huge musical figures like Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke, but I think it’s because all the Bristol people keep themselves to themselves – I never see them anywhere, until I go to their shows.”

Let’s talk about your film soundtrack work. Do you see that as strictly composing and production, requiring a different discipline, or is that still songwriting?

“It started with licensing songs to movies, then getting asked to do songs and end credits, but I really wanted to work on the deep, deep scores as well. So I came from a production background and it was just a missing piece of the puzzle – I don’t see it being any different. When you have a piece of music that makes you feel something… Like if you listen to Thomas Newman’s American Beauty theme, that’s one of the most beautiful songs, ever, but it’s not a song. It’s a tricky one.”

How do you approach writing a soundtrack?

“You’ve just got to jump right in. When you’re writing something and you’ve got a picture telling you what it’s doing, then that dictates where you’re going. But with my own record, it’s like an imaginary soundtrack to a film that hasn’t been made yet. You just draw on elements of your own life and I’m the central character of this film. How do I feel and how do I want someone to feel about my character?”

Dhani Harrison

Dhani: “There’s a bunch of imaginary names for projects that I just want to make the T-shirts for…then we can say that it happened!”

Do you consciously think about it like that, or is it something you realise in retrospect?

“I think it’s a feeling really. It either feels like, ‘Oh yeah that’s me, I’ve got it,’ or you just go, ‘No,’ and chuck it away.”

Do you get offered film projects based on your style, or do you simple take your pick from all the different opportunities out there?

“I think it starts off with you getting a niche and your own style, then you build your portfolio. Like now I’ve got an electro band and a folk band, I’ve got a punk band… I’ve done all these things and I like to be diverse and collaborate with lots of people. The TV show I’m working on now is a hip-hop based soundtrack, so that draws on stuff that I worked on with Wu-Tang and earlier records when I had those guys guesting on my stuff. Like with a few films ago I did Learning To Drive and we had a crossover east-west soundtrack, so that was drawing on growing up, listening to Ravi Shankar and working with his students and having the tabla players coming in. It’s horses for courses.”

Are you starting to think about your next project or even your next album?

“Yeah I want to start a series of imaginary soundtracks – I’ve got a lot stuff stored up to do a sci-fi. I want to do another record with Mereki [Beach]. We’ve got a couple of different band ideas and she’s an incredible songwriter, but we didn’t get a chance to collaborate much. She came in late in the day and was more of a guest vocalist and had some great ideas, but this [record] was already fully formed, so I definitely want to do an album where we co-write it equally.

“The same with Jonathan Bates and Cami Grey, and Davide Rossi – all of the people I worked with – there’s a lot of unfinished business with the crew. We’ve all played in each other’s records, but this was the first time we could get the same crew on one record. So going back to the team, these fantastic lovely people that I work with, and getting a chance to do something fresh that’s not already in my mind.

“Paul Hicks and I also have a dance project, and we’ve talked about doing some really far-out drum ’n’ bass for decades. Obviously my career is a composer now and I’ve got to make money and be in the film industry and to progress, but I have all these side projects that I work on. Then there’s a bunch of imaginary names for projects that I just want to make the T-shirts for, and then we can say that it happened!”

No chance of you getting bored anytime soon then?

“Nope, never a dull moment around here!”

Can you recall any special moments when your father, Ringo and Paul were ever playing together?

“I remember during The Beatles Anthology in the early 90s, I was there when they did a lot of the filming. Actually one of the interview scenes was done at Portmeirion and that was what started my obsession with The Prisoner, which led to my band being called Thenewno2. So I definitely remember the last time they were ever in a room together, playing music – they were all jamming around, taking turns playing the kit, or the guitar, or singing.

“The scene is actually in the Anthology, but where they filmed that was in the old house that I lived in, which became Thenewno2 office, where we did all the artwork. So that room went on to have a lot of great work done in it, and it was actually the room that The Beatles last ever played live in! I don’t think they ever wrote anything in there, but we wrote a lot of stuff in that room.”

Interview: Aaron Slater

Dhani Harrison’s debut solo album IN///PARALLEL is out now through BMG. To find out more, go to:

The Christians return to celebrate 30th anniversary

October 12, 2017 in News

Garry Christian

Garry Christian: “The most meaningful track on the album is Forgotten Town – it was our first single”

The 80s soul-pop group celebrate three decades since their debut with ‘Sings & Strings’ greatest hits album and UK tour

Liverpool band The Christians have released a new album, featuring their biggest hits reimagined by a gospel choir and strings, 30 years after their platinum-selling, eponymously titled debut. Out last week, Sings & Strings is full of the acerbic lyrics of Garry Christian, the lone-standing founding member of The Christians in the current line-up of the band.

“To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Christians, it was an idea we came up with to re-do the album in a way that just uses a string quartet, a grand piano and singers from a choir,” explains Garry. “Of course, we had to a put the hits in there, like Ideal World and Harvest For The World…the most meaningful track on the album is Forgotten Town – it was our first single.”

Formed by brothers Garry, Roger and Russell Christian, as well as Henry Pressman – whose middle name was also coincidentally Christian – The Christians went on to have huge commercial success, with their first five singles all making the UK Top 40, and their debut LP reaching No 2 in the UK Album Chart. In 1990, the band followed this up with their second album Colour, which went one better and topped the chart.

The Christians are touring the UK with Altered Images and Midge Ure’s band Electronica, throughout October and November. Garry adds: “There are plans to go out live with the Sings & Strings album as it’s a special album and we think people will enjoy it…Before introducing [Ideal World] live, I always say this song is more relevant today and it was when we wrote it.”

The Christians Sings & Strings album is out now. For more details, visit

‘Psychic Tears’ by Esther Joy (EP)

October 11, 2017 in Music Reviews

Esther Joy

Esther Joy: music’s answer to Tracey Emin

This London-based songwriter and producer doesn’t stay in one place for too long and her latest EP tells us why

Esther Joy 'Psychic Tears' EP artworkUsing a synth like a folkie uses a guitar, Esther Joy bears her soul to the world on her latest EP Psychic Tears. Taking inspiration from her dysfunctional early life, Joy builds a collage with her music and lyrics, making her music’s answer to Tracey Emin.

In her latest single, Samgel, there is a battle going on between her and some unsavoury characters. The electronic textures are dark, portraying the primal nature of said characters. Joy uses electronic sounds to build textured worlds in which she escapes reality. That element of escapism comes across clearly in her music; the listener is instantly transported somewhere else. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are hints of artists like Robyn tucked between the anxious folds, providing moments of joy.

Friendless Necessity is a more upbeat affair, even if the lyrics retain an element of despair. The melody is catchy enough to make you believe something positive is afoot.

Psychic Tears was written, recorded and produced solely by Joy. Music fans of all genres will appreciate the level of her talents, while there is enough dark synth and danceable melodies to keep everyone happy. The listening experience isn’t a straightforward journey, so be prepared to be excited, tormented and vulnerable. But mostly excited.

Verdict: Dynamic electronics and bewitching lyrics

Dave Chrzanowski

Elles Bailey gears up for final run of her 2017 UK & Ireland tour

October 10, 2017 in News

Elles Bailey will soon start the last leg of her UK tour

Elles Bailey will soon start the last leg of her UK tour

Bristol-based songwriter will head out on the last leg of her highly successful UK tour in just under two weeks

It’s been just over a month since she released her hotly anticipated debut album, Wildfire, on 1 September, 2017 and Elles Bailey hasn’t stopped gigging. Now, though, she’s entering the home straight of her 2017 UK tour.

Elles begins the last leg with a show at Edinburgh’s Blues Club on 20 October. She then performs in Stockton on Tees, Leicester, Colchester, Bordon, Ilfracombe, Coolham, and Cheltenham, before finishing with a gig at Torrington’s Plough Arts Centre on 8 December.

Speaking previously of Wildfire, Elles said: “It was always my plan to release my debut album in 2017. It had been a long time coming, but I could never have imagined getting the opportunity to make it in Nashville, at a studio like Blackbird Studios, where so many iconic albums have been made! I’m very excited about sharing this record with the world!”

You can see the full list of the shows for Elles’ UK tour below:

20 October – Edinburgh Blues Club
21 October – Blues at the bay, Stockton on tees
22 October – The Musician, Leciester
*24 October – Whelan’s, Dublin
*25 October – Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick
*26 October – Cyrpus Ave, Cork
27 October – The Basement, Chelmsford
28 October – Little Rabbit Barn, Colchester
*29 October – Mr Kyps, Poole
*31 October – Boom Boom Club, Sutton
*2 November – Robin 2, Bilston
3 November – Phoenix Arts Centre, Bordon
10 November – Corinium Museum, Cirencester
12 November – Ilfracombe Rock & Blues Festival
18 November – Coolham Music Club
26 November – Bury Mabs Fest, Met Theatre – Bury
7 December – Frog & Fiddle, Cheltenham
8 December – Plough Arts Centre, Torrington
9 December – Caryford Hall – Castle Cary
10 December – Folk House (Songwriters night) – Bristol

* special guest support for Eric Gales

Complete a colourful McCartney collection

October 9, 2017 in News

McCartney Archive Collection

McCartney Archive Collection: the eight titles come in limited edition colour vinyl

The reissue of Sir Paul’s first eight multiple Grammy-winning Archive Collection titles will feature limited edition 180-gram colour vinyl pressings

This November will see the reissue of Paul McCartney’s critically acclaimed and multiple Grammy Award-winning Archive Collection. Fans will have another chance to complete their collections with single CD digipak and 180-gram black vinyl single LP formats, as well as limited edition 180-gram colour vinyl pressings. All vinyl LPs in the collection will feature a download card and fully restored artwork.

The titles and corresponding limited edition vinyl colours are as follows: McCartney (red), McCartney II (clear), Tug Of War (blue), Pipes Of Peace (silver), Ram (yellow), Band On The Run (white), Venus And Mars (red & yellow) and At The Speed Of Sound (orange).

The Paul McCartney Archive Collection debuted with the 2010 re-release of Paul McCartney & Wings’ 1973 milestone Band On The Run, which won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Historical Album, while the Archive Collection’s Deluxe Edition Box Set of the 1976 classic Wings Over America took the 2013 Grammy for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

Every release in the ongoing Paul McCartney Archive Collection is supervised by the man himself, who oversees all aspects of each and every title from remastering to the curation of lost tracks, outtakes, artwork, photographs and video from his personal vaults, and much more.

The Paul McCartney Archive Collection will be released on 17 November 2017. For more details, visit:

Classic Of The Week: At The Drive-In

October 8, 2017 in News

Valmara, valmara, valmara, flechettes

“Valmara, valmara, valmara, flechettes” Image by Shane Hirschman

We’re back with another excellent classic and this week it’s by one of the finest post-hardcore acts of all time

It’s been a long seven days, folks. The leaves are turning, the air is freshening and the days are beginning to shorten; autumn is here and this last week has felt like the transition from one season to another.

Back before they were the most important punk act for a decade, El Paso, Texas, post-hardcore group At The Drive-In were the most exciting punk band since Nirvana.

The release of Relationship of Command was still two years away when this aggressively sexual track featured on the band’s stunning sophomore album, In/Casino/Out.

Chanbara doesn’t mark the beginning of At The Drive-In’s transition from chancers with potential, to legends. Instead, it’s a further affirmation of the genius that always resided within them.

Classic Of The Week Playlist