Mixtape Mondays | Randoms vol. 1

Monday, February 29, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

I am sure I am not alone on this. We've all had at some point in our lives a playlist which may not make much sense, but who cares. From when we used to record on cassettes the latest radio hit to this compilation of mine, which is a combo of Spotify & friends suggestions. This mixtape has been in the making for over a year and the single thing in common all these tracks share is the fact at some point I saved them to listen to again later. And I am so glad I did!

Do check Palace's EP Chase the Light, they're making pretty stunning music

Although they're not featured here, that's how I originally came across the likes of Seafret and Will Joseph Cook. My next bets are London based Palace, Scottish musician Daniel Docherty, and from Sweden Seaside Heights. But there is a lot more beautiful music within this week's mixtape, such as High Highs, The Gaslight Anthem, Nizlopi, Fleet Foxes - all of which I first came across through friend's suggestions. Have a listen and share your thoughts.

Mixtape Mondays | Randoms vol.1

Offstage | Chris Belson

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-


This guy is not only super talented and the owner of an incredible deep soothing voice, but also a genuinely nice soul. And that is reflected in his music. After launching his first EP with a gig at Upstairs At The Ritzy, Chris Belson talks to us about Moon Songs, his influences and gives an insight on his song-writing process. We're also proud to premiere this beautiful take on Children, recorded as part of Ont'Sofa sessions, at the YouTube Space London. Watch the video below. And, if you're in London, make sure not to miss Chris' gig on April 21st, supporting Laish (31-35 Sebright Arms, E2 9AG).

♯ What's your first music related memory and how did it become such a big part of your life?
I have a misty patchwork of different music memories, any of which could be the first, it’s hard to tell. Being given a penny-whistle at the Cambridge Folk Festival, listening to an old record with fairytales and nursery rhymes - I remember it having a beautiful fold-out cover - small plastic toy records on my fischer-price record player... I used to sit in the evening, with my headphones on, working my way through my parents music collection. I had a hunger to listen to everything. Then my parents brought me an old Spanish guitar and I started to play with a pianist friend in the school music rooms. I started writing and performing, began going to see friend's bands and recording, slowly weaving music into my life in lots of different ways until it couldn’t be unpicked.

Chris playing back in January at Upstairs At The Ritzy, during Moon Songs launch. Photo by Zaira.

♯ Which was the first album you ever bought? 
Robbie Williams - Millenium. That’s the first album I remember buying with my own money, from Woolworths. It's a great album, I'm not ashamed to say that it.

♯ Who are you biggest influences and who have you come across most recently who also had an impact in your music?
It’s hard to pick-out my biggest influences. I think influences all go into a big pot and stew. Then, at various times, different flavours and scents become more prominent. Tom Waits, The Magnetic Fields, Randy Newman, Belle & Sebastian, The Divine Comedy, Rufus Wainwright, Feist - they’re all musicians I admire a great deal. Most recently, Space Bomb Records have had a big impact on me. Natalie Prass’ debut album and Matthew E White’s records are stunning.

♯ Your lyrics and melodies are very introspective, can you give us an insight on your song-writing process? 
I think a lot of my songs initially come from language. A phrase or strings of words that interest me. I think I use the songwriting process to explore them and pull them apart to see what they’re all about. Emotion, biography, narrative... Then it tends to build up around these initial seeds. It’s not always the case, but I think it’s a good account of what often happens.

♯ Can you share with us a story behind a song?
I over heard a friend ask another friend: “Why do dogs howl at the moon?”. I thought it was an interesting question and started to think about its meaning. I’m sure that there’s a very clear scientific reason for it, but I started to think about it in a more symbolic way. I think we have a strange need to project human qualities onto animals - but whether it’s to make animals feel more like us in our eyes, or us more like animals I’m not sure. Dogs Are Howling At The Moon is a song that tussles with the line between the two maybe.

♯ If you could pick anyone, dead or alive, who would you like to collaborate with and who would you like to share the stage with?
I’d collaborate with Sufjan Stevens - I just think he’s incredibly innovative and exciting. He can pull apart right down to an intimate simple guitar and vocal track, and build up these vast complex and unexpected arrangements. In terms of sharing a stage, probably something really social and folk based - maybe The McGarrigle Family or The Unthanks.

♯ What's your favourite song to play live and why?
Without You Again. It’s quite a slow song, so I have time to really take in and enjoy the notes and the relationship between the guitar and vocals. Plus the subject and lyrics are very personal to me. It almost feels like a little prayer or mantra.

♯ Have you thought of recording any covers as a b-side and, if so, which one and why? 
I’d love to record a cover. At the moment, I’d really like to do a version of Shake It Off, by Taylor Swift. Whenever I listen to it, I keep hearing a really cool - possibly even sad - side to the song underneath all of the gumph.

♯ What's the best gig you've been to and who you haven't seen live yet but would love to?
Best gig - The Unthanks at The Stables, in Milton Keynes. Incredible heart-breaking voices. I’d love to see Tom Waits. I’m not sure why he never plays in the UK. Maybe one day I’ll make it over to Europe to see him there.

♯ When not playing music, what are you usually up to?
Reading detective novels. Baking bread. Drawing animals.

* Don't forget to check the full review of Moon Songs here and if you want to see photos of the EP launch gig check our Facebook album here.

** For more about Ont'Sofa, visit their website www.ontsofa.com or check their YouTube channel. They release a video a day and have an incredible selection of stunning upcoming artists.

*** Chris will be supporting Laish's EP Song For Everything launch, at the Sebright Arms. Check event details here

Mixtape Mondays | Perfect Summer Festival

Monday, February 22, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

I am not sure how you feel about it, but for me this time of the year is full of anticipation. The rain gets thinner, the wind isn't as sharp as it was back in January and you can eventually, on the odd Friday afternoon, feel a certain warmth emanating from that odd light in the sky which, if you remember well, is called sun.

And then it hits you! This light can only mean Spring is knocking at your door and, at the same time you make a note to buy antihistamine, you realise it's time to check line ups of the Summer festivals if you are to guarantee your place in the sun. Well, in fairness it will most likely be your place in a muddy patch of weedy grass surrounded by a billion tent strings which you swear have the sole purpose to make walking back late at night, in the pitch darkness, after a dozen pints simply the most challenging obstacle course ever designed. But anyway...

Mumford & Sons are playing later this year in Hyde Park. Photo credit: ppcorn.com

This week's mixtape is a wish list. A bold - however plausible - line up for what would be my perfect 2016 UK Summer Festival. I have to say I had something else in mind for this week, but after today's V Festival announcement - brace yourselves... headlining we've Justin Bieber & Rihanna - I've decided to put this one together. The vast majority are artists I've seen live, a lot of them at festivals, including V in previous years - 2009, 2014 & 2015. If anyone knows of a festival out there with a quarter of this line up please count me in!

Mixtape Mondays | Perfect Summer Festival

Mixtape Mondays | Acoustic Sessions vol.2

Monday, February 15, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

I can't help but being in a very acoustic phase of my life, or so it seems... Over the past couple of weeks a series of events inspired me to make another playlist with stripped down versions. And, although these facts seem at first pretty disconnected, my brain somehow worked into glueing them together in the form of a playlist.

Hozier's debut album is outstanding. Can't wait to see him live again. Photo credit: Fresh Independence

Hozier released Cherry Wine as a single - and by the way, all proceedings will go to charities supporting victims of domestic abuse, a cause really worth sharing!

Nothing But Thieves recorded an acoustic version of If I Get High (II) and I got a nudge from Spotify to check it out.

A week before Vance Joy releases Fire and The Flood - also the title of his tour - as an acoustic single.

Over the past couple of months Tom Odell's been quite active on social media, which makes me think there is - finally! - a new album in the making.

And last but not least, this morning I received an email confirming the line up of OnBlackHeath Festival which includes James.

Mixtape Mondays | Acoustic Sessions vol.2

Once I thought of James, I could not help but think of the Editors and Glasvegas. And once you 've reached the border of britpop, then you cannot forget Supergrass, but instead I've added a couple of tracks by Gaz Coombes' last year solo album Matador.

This playlist also includes the likes of Jake Bugg, Ben Howard and a more recent Spotify suggestion, originally from Bristol, Fink, a.k.a Fin Greenwall.

Click here for Acoustic Sessions vol.1 mixtape :)

Mixtape Mondays | Sofar London

Monday, February 08, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

This playlist is coming, as we say in my country, at 45 minutes of the second half. If you didn't get the obvious football reference (real football, not that thing they play in America), then my sincere apologies, but this is truly a last minute post. I often go to gigs during the week and try as much as I can to use the weekends to write and research. Well, I blame the awesome line up at Spiritual Records Saturday just gone for messing up with my whole schedule, but then, I can't complain: Rory Butler, Dan Owen and Flyte were just incredible! And, of course, served as inspiration for this playlist.

I've only seen The Magic Numbers live at festivals, I can only imagine how awesome it would be at a Sofar event! 

Although the night wasn't a Sofar Sounds event, as both Flyte and Dan have played at it before, it came to me... Why not a Sofar London inspired playlist? If you don't know what Sofar Sounds is, I explain - long story short, it is an event which happens in many different cities, where you can apply for tickets to a secret gig at a secret location and the only two things you can be certain of are: a great line up & an awesome atmosphere, where you will be surrounded by music lovers in an often cozy, most definitely always intimate environment.

Mixtape Mondays | Sofar London

Having said that, all the artists in this week's playlist have played at Sofar London before. From The Magic Numbers and Maverick Sabre to Bastille, KYKO, Flags and Aquilo. I've personally went to a Sofar Sounds not long ago when Balloon Ascents and John Joseph Brill were both playing and it was a superb experience (check some photos here). Also in this week's mixtape is Will Joseph Cook - if you haven't yet, you can still get tickets for his gig at Barfly in March, highly recommend! - and last but not least, Our Man In The Field - saw him live at Brixton East 1871 last year, at a Laid Bare event, and would definitely watch him live again!

Ps: I know this video looks like something from the 80s, but Flyte came down from the stage to play this song completely unplugged in the middle of a fairly crowded Spiritual Bar and it was stunning, I get goose bumps just thinking about how amazing their vocals were. So I thought it was worth sharing. :)

More about Sofar Sounds and how to apply for Sofar London tickets here: www.sofarsounds.com.

Mixtape Mondays | Stand Up to Cancer

Monday, February 01, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

I am going to keep this short as there is a lot more to come pretty soon, but this week's mixtape is inspired by another gig. This time I am going to see not one, but five superb acts performing for an amazing cause: Stand Up to Cancer. Kodaline, James Morrison, Seafret, Dagny and Daniel James are all going to be a part of this which promises to be an unique intimate night at Union Chapel, in Islington, this Monday.

Steve, Vincent, Jason and Mark: In a Perfect World was Kodaline's debut album

Mixtape Mondays | Stand Up to Cancer

Unfortunately both Dagny and Daniel James are yet to release EPs on Spotify, but you can check Dagny's debut single Backbeat on Soundcloud and Daniel James' YouTube channel has some really beautiful songs, like Waster, the track from the video below. And if you want to get to know more about this Northern Irish lad, I advise you to watch the short film Ain't No Money (also the title of one of his tracks). What a great insight on the stories behind the music!

That's it for now folks. Have a lovely week and don't forget to visit our Facebook page tomorrow for photos of Stand Up to Cancer and many more gigs.