Jake Bugg – The Spotify Interview

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Jake Bugg has taken the UK by storm. At 19 years old, he is the youngest male solo artist ever to reach the top of the album charts! He’s now released his second album and is ready to take over the rest of the world. We met up with him and spoke about the new album, his influences, and what matters most in his life.

Charismatic, retro-inspired talent Jake Bugg has not only been nominated for the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year and Q Award for Best Solo Artist, he’s now won the Q Award for Best New Act and is quickly becoming a favorite of elite musicians and legends including Noel Gallagher, Lily Allen, Damon Albarn, Chris Martin, and Elton John. Jake just finished a European tour and released his second album, Shangri La, on which he collaborated with the legendary super producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Johnny Cash).

JB: It’s been going ok. I’ve played many shows much bigger than I’ve ever played before; that was fun. We’ll see how this album goes. I’m quite, a little bit, apprehensive about how it’s going to be received, but excited at the same time.

Shangri La is named after Rick Rubin’s studio in Malibu, Los Angeles, where the 19-year-old singer-songwriter recorded the album. Rubin produced the album, and it features Jason Lader on bass, Matt Sweeney on guitar, and Pete Thomas on drums.

JB: It was great to work with Rick! He’s a very nice man. I didn’t really know of his work before, so I wasn’t like in awe. I just went and met him for the person that he is. He’s a very nice guy, very relaxed. The place that we recorded the album was very relaxed too, Zuma beach. I didn’t want to leave to be honest. I was there for two weeks and I heard that’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place for the last two years. So it was like a holiday for me, recording this album. It was pretty nice; the purple sky when the sun’s going down and then some lemon trees growing around –very beautiful. It was like a dream.

Influences
Jake’s main influences as a songwriter are Layne Staley, The Beatles, OasisDonovan, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, and Nick Drake. This influence from older artists really shines through in his music. At home, Jake has a lot of old guitars – including a particularly special 60-year-old guitar that he bought in Nashville, Tennessee.

JB: It was something that I wanted for ages, but I never thought I’d earn such a thing. It’s quite a rare guitar, but I’m very happy that I own it. I own quite a lot of guitars… I probably have about 20.

Yes I Do
This year, Jake played the Glastonbury Festival, not once but twice. First on a main stage and then a smaller, more intimate gig on an acoustic-only stage. One of the songs he played that day was “Saffron,” an old song that he wrote when he was about 15 years old. About halfway through, he noticed that something was going on in the crowd…

JB: I saw a lot of people start looking at this woman. Then this guy stood up and she hugged him and he proposed to her. He asked her to marry him in the middle of my song. So, halfway through the song I said congratulations. That’s very nice, but if I were going to propose, I wouldn’t do it at a Jake Bugg gig.

Behind the Spotlight
Jake grew up in Nottingham, about two hours away from London. Currently, the young artist is without an official home base. London would be the obvious choice, but he’s also considering somewhere like Paris or Stockholm. Jake left home when he was 17, so wherever he settles will be the first place he’d live since then. Despite his rapid success and seemingly constant touring, Jake seems to be a surprisingly pleasant and down to earth person. He describes himself as quite cynical, about music and a lot of things.

JB: I think I spend too much time trying to work out everybody else’s personalities. Because I’m very grateful of what I have, I think I can also be quite generous at times as well. I just had my best friend with me on the tour bus for the UK tour, that was quite nice. I think it’s all about the people that you surround yourself with. If you start getting a big head or, you know, they’ll tell you… it’s good.

The thing Jake values most in life is his family, his friends, all the people that he loves, and, of course, the music.

JB: If I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what else I’d be doing. It’s kind of all that I have.

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The Naked And Famous: The Spotify Interview

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The much hyped alternative rockband from New Zealand, The Naked And Famous, have recently released their second studio album, In Rolling Waves. TNAF just began their European tour, which will continue until the 15th of March, 2014. We had the pleasure of meeting with its two impressive vocalists, Thom and Alisia, on their first night of the tour, in Stockholm.

When Thom and Alisa met in 2006 at a music college in Auckland, New Zealand, they formed a songwriting partnership right away, which would become the life force of TNAF. Aron, who also studied at the music collage, soon became a production foil to the duo. Today, he’s the synth player. Actually, all of the boys in the band sort of knew each other from high school. Bassist David and drummer Jesse came on board as full band members in 2009. We asked them how they came up with their amazing band-name, The Naked And Famous.

- We stole it from Tricky! He was part of the Trip Hop scene in the early 90’s. I think he’s from Bristol. He was just someone I really liked, growing up listening to him through high school. He was one of my immediate frames of references as far as music. So I thought, maybe I’ll steal a name, like a verse or a title from something that I really like. That line, “naked and famous,” stuck out to me. It’s from one of his songs called “Tricky Kid,” and at the time it just seamed obviously ironic for us cause we were just a small indie band with small and realistic ambitious. As time has gone on though, I think it’s given it more meaning because we are now a global band and it’s important that, as we’re becoming more well-known, it does still remain ironic. Cause it is kind of trivial and silly, Thom explains.

The Sound
Some people like to describe TNAF as an electronic pop band. Though, that’s not how they would describe their sound themselves. They somehow got lumped into a synth-pop label that has been quite prevalent in the last 4 years.

- I like to call it alternative rock music. That’s the most broad and simple genre. It says enough. I think synth-pop is a very single-oriented terminology that was given to us, just based on our most popular songs on the radio. So, we kind of battled that, but now it’s really dissipated and we’re just seen as a rock group, which is nice. It’s been validating to not still be just part of a little time. There’s been a little bit of an evolution with the music, says Thom.

TNAF started as a very low-fi kind of project. They were a four-piece band to begin with, because Aron wasn’t even in the band when they first started. He was just helping them by engineering recordings and producing. They hadn’t really found an instrument for him to play, but he slowly developed that over time with the music software that he used to play live. There has been a lot of progress in the band’s sound since they first started off.

- This is my first band, so I never really knew how to use my voice properly. This band was my first serious go at writing songs. So, for me if I look at the recordings of the songs from our first EP, to where I’ve ended up on In Rolling Waves, it’s actually quite a development. You can hear it and you can see it. We’ve all been growing as musicians over the years, that’s great, Alisia says.

Who’s the Boss? 
- Thom is the boss, Alisia answers quickly without a single doubt.

- Yea, I naturally am in the position. I’ve always been a very pro-active person, wanting to make things happen for myself and wanting to achieve my desires, my goals. I find myself being interested in being pro-active. I like making things happen for myself. I like making my visions and my desires come to life. That puts you in a position of being in control over things, Thom says.

I asked them if they ever fight with each other, and Thom answers that they fight all the time. He said that there’s a lot of tension within the group, but at the same time they’re all very, very good friends and it’s a healthy, natural part of always functioning as an adult.

- And that’s proof that you are good friends because you can fight, and you can say things. There’s bound to be tension if you’re working with a group of people that are all very passionate about what they do, Alisia says with a smile.

Keeping Dreams Alive
The band released their album In Rolling Waves on the 16th of September. Alisia explained that they learned so much from the pursuit of their previous album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, that when it came to creating In Rolling Waves, they just took everything that they had learned, everything that they knew, and just built on top of that. I asked them if there were any songs off the new album that they are particularly proud of.

- For me, up until this point, just having released and finished In Rolling Waves, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement. That’s the type of band that we want to be, we want to create bodies of work and we want to continue to make more albums. That we have our second one out is just so satisfying. The whole album is a favorite for me, says Alisia.

- I feel very much the same, it’s like a collective. They’re all like chapters in a book. It’s hard to just pick one, even though they do stand alone as singular songs. It’s too close to the whole process to have a favorite. The last album was such an eclectic experience. Making a record and being in a band is such a huge achievement. That was really one of the biggest factors for wanting to do the second record, having achieved our dream and then wanting to keep it alive, Thom says.

Our Interview with Trivium

We have met with Matt Heafy from the American thrash metal band Trivium. Matt gave us advices on how to become happier and how to fight our problems in life. He also spoke about food, yoga and Jiu-jitsu!

The name “Trivium” comes from a Latin word meaning “the three ways” or “the three roads.” The four band members just finished their European tour and are now on a press tour with a quick stop by Sweden, before they go home for four days to prepare for their North American tour, two four-week tours with one Japanese show in the middle! Matt was actually born in Japan, so he is very excited to go there. He is half Japanese, quarter German and quarter Irish, but lives in Florida with his family.

- Japan is my favorite place in the world; best food, best people and best everything! But Stockholm is also a great city. If I didn’t live in the States I would love to live in Sweden, Norway, or Japan! 

Swedish influence
Metal for Matt isn’t just something you listen to casually, it’s a lifestyle. People that are into metal, they live, sleep and breathe it and they feel it in their bones.

- Being in the metal business, from the States, in a place like Sweden, is crazy! So many influences have come from this relatively small country. There are bands that without whom, we wouldn’t even exist. A lot of our contemporaries wouldn’t exist. It’s cool for me to see a country that can span it’s own style of music. Norway did the same thing; together with Sweden they created Black Metal, which is one of my favorite genres of music, very intense. Also, Gothenburg is known as having it’s own style, what people consider “Gothenburg metal.” I’m really into that as well.

Matt tells us that he is “obsessed” with Spotify. The very first time he discovered it, he spent hours with it. He thinks it’s a great gateway for someone who’s in the music business.

- You type in one thing you like and then you keep digging down the rabbit hole further and further. It’s been like getting into metal all over again for me!

Trivium comes to Sweden once or twice a year. Matt’s favorite metal bands are actually from Sweden; In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, the Haunted, Opeth and Mesuggah. He explains that without those bands and their influence, Trivium would never have become what it is today!

Cultures, music and food
Matt likes to dig further into everything that crosses his way, especially different cultures. He says that the best part of his job is that he’s able to visit so many amazing countries, meeting new people and seeing unimaginable sights. Something that Matt absolutely loves is to try the typical food and drinks in the countries he visits.

- It’s always the first thing I try to look for when I’m in a new place. Today, I tried some fantastic Swedish food; artichokes, fried herring, meatballs with lingonberry jam, and that shrimp-mayo thing. There is no better way to learn about the countries that you’re in, than through their food. That’s something that people do every single day – eat! I believe that you can learn about historical events through food.

Matt is really into food! He has his own food blog; http://kiichichaos.com, which contains a mixture of food and music. Matt tries to recreate whatever food he eats around the world when he’s at home. Right now, his specialties are traditional Mexican food and Brazilian food. When he cooks, he always tries to pair the music with what he’s making! If he’s cooking Brazilian food, he’ll listen to Brazilian bass or jazz. If he’s cooking Mexican, it’s Mexican music; flamenco guitar or something like Rodriguez Gabriela or Gypsy Kings.

- Also, when I read, I have the sounds of lute music playing in the background. I like to dig! Whatever I’m into, I’m an extremist! I always try to do it to the fullest. Something to always ethnically match what’s going on. That’s why I always need a lot of music at my fingertips.

Keeping in shape
Another thing that Matt enjoys is Yoga, which he has been practicing for over three years. Whenever he does yoga he always wants classical music playing. When Matt first got into yoga, it was all he did. For about two years he practiced 5-7 days a week, 60–90 minutes a session.

- Since I love Brazil so much, their food, music, and everything, I also wanted to try the sports they do; Jiu-jitsu. It’s a practical self-defense sport that originally was brought over from Japan. It’s all thanks to food that I started doing Jiu-jitsu, or thanks to music first because we were touring in Brazil.

When Matt is home he does Jiu-jitsu six days a week, supplemented with the yoga and weightlifting. You need at least one other person to do Jiu-jitsu with, so he is now teaching his tour manager so that they can practice Jiu-jitsu together when on tour.

“Vengeance Falls” will tackle problems
- Thematically, “Vengeance Falls” is a very dark record. It’s a record that deals with inner turmoil, inner strives, inner struggle and also it calls for the retribution and vengeance to fall upon all those who deserves in the world.

The description seems very intense coming from Matt, a balanced, happy person who is enjoying what he does in life. But, he feels that the reason that he’s able to feel that way is because with music he can get out all the negativity that he has inside of him.

- With this record I can tackle issues. It deals with people’s violence that you see in the world. It’s never okay to hurt another human being. In this record there isn’t necessarily an obvious happy ending or a light at the end of the tunnel. But, the happy ending is the fact that I’m able to get this out creatively.

Growth
Matt has been playing with Trivium since 1999. He says that everyone in the band has gotten better at their instruments and become strong songwriters. With the first five records, they tried many different things and explored different angles of what the band could become. The sixth record, this one, summarizes their whole career and everything that they’ve ever done across five records. “Vengeance Falls” really displays Trivium’s growth.

- Everything came together organically and naturally, both musically and visually. We’ve become truly more comfortable. Never have I sung better than I do now. It took me years to develop that. When I first joined the band I was twelve, I was going through vocal changes and I was just screaming! It took me a long time to create my own style.

A big message that Trivium always has pushed with every record they’ve made, is the acceptance of all looks of love, regardless of what that lifestyle believes in – as long as it’s not hurting someone else. Matt wants people to understand that by focusing the negativity in life towards a skill, a hobby, a sport, a style of music, an art form, lyrics or poetry for example, you won’t let it rot within you. By letting it out on something, it won’t lead to people hurting themselves or others around them.

- When digging into something dark, as we’ve done with this album, and when doing it truthfully, I think that people can feel our honesty. “Vengeance Falls” has some of the most relatable lyrics that I’ve ever done. Lyrically I’m more proud of these than I’ve been on previous records. It’s very direct and angry. Through this music we can connect with the people who support us. I want people to see that this is the outlet to allow something positive in the end to happen.

 

John Newman: The Spotify Interview

Johnnewman-700We had the pleasure of talking to British soul-pop sensation John Newman when he was in Stockholm performing at NRJ’s 20th celebration party at Café Opéra. After a morning in the gym, John chilled for a while on the coach in the library of Nobis hotel, and chatted with us about everything from haters and chaws to the brain tumor that inspired him to try to enjoy every single day that he gets to wake up and do what he loves the most – music.

John has had extreme success with his first single “Love Me Again,” which has peaked at number one on the charts across 14 countries, and top ten in 40 countries! The single has achieved great success in his home country as well, where it has gone gold and dominated the official singles chart for seven consecutive weeks. We asked John how it feels to suddenly be an international celebrity.

- Surreal. Weird. But it’s really nice because I’ve never quite believed things. The day I got it, I didn’t really know how to take it. I went to Paris that evening because we started our three months of promo, which is just about to end. The thing about promo is that when you sit and speak about it, you realize how far you’ve come. It makes me proud, to think of what I’ve done. I’ve worked really hard, every single day. Focusing on day by day, you kind of get stuck in there and forget what’s happing on the outside. But it’s cool, it’s all a bit mad!

Love to the Music
John thinks that the best shows are the ones with full live bands, when he doesn’t have to feel like a robot. He likes to have control over things; he is just a massive perfectionist! When performing, John looks like he’s never done anything else, like he was born on the stage. But when we asked him how he feels up there, he answered that it feels like he is about to “have a brain surgery!”

- I have to think about so many things, it’s crazy! I kind of arrange all the music. I spend a lot of time looking after my band. I think about the lightings and the set. Then I also have to think about the crowd and the songs that I’m singing, on top of the technical side of performance. It’s like so many things! But that rush, for about an hour, is just the best feeling ever. I think it’s just because I enjoy it. I enjoy having all these ideas, and expressing them. I really like getting involved creatively in things. But then, I also have a great team around me. They’re all professionals in different areas. So I do listen to people… just, not very well, haha!

John sings a lot about love and relationships, but he told us that it’s not always that easy to put keep all the pieces together when you are as passionate about your career as John.

- Shit went down with my latest relationship. I think it was for the best, I feel pretty good. It’s just hard because I’ve always kind of related to my job, and now my job ruined my relationship – again. It happens quite a lot. Well, the past two relationships, which have been quite big ones. I work so much and my mind is always on overdrive, so I don’t put my all into the relationships. Then it fails and I feel bad. But in the end, I’ve got to keep my priorities right. I’m 23 years old, in the future I can settle down.

Tribute
John will release his debut album, Tribute, on October 14. John reveals himself as not only a singer, but also as a producer and songwriter. The album includes the hit single “Love Me Again” as well as the new single “Cheating,” which was released on October 7.

- I’m so proud of the album! What I mentioned about getting involved in everything – this album was the thing that all of my involvement went into, it’s the final product of everything. To be able to hold it in your hands is an incredible feeling. Just to know that it’s complete and to put a project to bed feels amazing. It’s not like I rushed it, I took so much time with it. I really enjoyed making it and I’ve learned very much. I feel that I’ve done a good job showing myself as both a producer and an artist.

Haters Looking Stupid
John’s musical journey started off at the early age of 14, inspired by his mother’s old Motown and Northern Soul vinyls. With homegrown productions, he performed at local pubs around his hometown Settle. We asked John about his very first live performance.

- It was a bit weird… I grew up in a small town in northern England where if you were different it wasn’t really accepted. It was really hard to perform in front of my friends. They were all kind of macho, liked getting pissed on the weekends and listening to house music. I think the first song I wrote was about how I spoke to my dad for the first time in six years. To sing that to my friends was horrible, I think everyone laughed at me. It went down quite well afterwards though, because I had actually expressed myself in front of them, and that felt amazing. I had to start somewhere.

Newman’s dad left the family when John was only a kid. His mom, who worked as a receptionist, raised him all by herself. It made him really appreciate what he has today… every single penny that he has earned so far. John learned to not care about all of the haters. Today, they’re the ones calling him up. In the end, all these “friends” have actually helped him in a way. They’ve made him want to express himself even more, and mainly about them! It all came to the point when he kind of sat there thinking; Idiots! They began to laugh at themselves almost, since Newman began to write songs about them. It just showed how much they didn’t care since they weren’t even listening to the lyrics, lyrics that were expressing how upset John was getting with them. 

Take Nothing for Granted
A while ago, John Newman suddenly started to go blind. He went to an optician, and they sent him to the eye hospital, which then sent him to a neurosurgeon… John had a tumor in his brain and they had to take it out. We asked him how the incident has affected him as a musician and as a person. It turns out that in between the struggle, some good things came out.

- It matured me as a person, a lot. I definitely cut down drinking and having too much fun. Now I have fun in different ways, like drinking red wine and eating good food, instead of nights out, haha! It’s good!

John has never written about his critical health situation. He has studied pop music, and says that even though the radio may have played it, in the end, people driving home from work don’t want to hear about a person lying in a hospital bed with a brain tumor. They want to hear about things that they can actually relate to.

- In terms of my work, it has made me very driven. I could have not been doing this… I could have not been doing anything! It makes you want to just work everyday because I don’t ever want to not be doing music. It’s inspiring almost, when something like that comes along. You kind of realize that you should enjoy everyday and get the most out of life.

 

Lady Gaga – Digital Culture From Present and Past

Lady Gaga

Stefani Joanne Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga, is a genuin pop queen influenced by David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Queen and the ’80s. She is recognized for her extravagant, versatile and outré contributions to the music industry through her performances, music videos and jaw-dropping fashion. The word crazy is no longer a question of definition when you appear in public wearing a gas mask, gyroscope, large lampshade, massive egg or dress made entirely of meat.

Lady Gaga is born and raised in New York by her Italian parents. Her name was invented by her friends who told her that she was “sooo Freddie Mercury”…“like Radio Gaga” and “a gay guy in a woman’s body.” Since then she has been called Gaga, which made it quite natural to just add Lady, making it her artist name.

Lady Gaga has been nominated several times as Artist of the year in Billboard’s magazine, and in 2010 she scored the definitive title. VH1 put her up on 4th place as the 100 Greatest Women in Music and she is regularly placed on lists by Forbes magazine, including The World’s 100 most Powerful Women from 2010 to 2013. In June 2013 Forbes listed her as the world’s second most powerful celebrity, after Operah Winfrey, followed by Beyoncé and Madonna. Also, Time Magazine named her as one of the most influential people in the entire world.

Gaga’s last tour, Born This Way Ball Tour, grossed $168 million through January. She would have likely topped $200 million if it hadn’t been for a hip injury which forced her to cancel all the remaining shows. The 11th of November 2013 will mark the release date for her new and much anticipated album Artpop.

Even though Lady Gaga has some of the best-selling singles worldwide and her achievements include five Grammy Awards and thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, she is way more than just a singer and songwriter – she is also a record producer, LGBT activist, businesswoman, fashion designer, an actress and she is a huge influencer. Together with her nearly 38 million Twitter followers and 59 million Facebook fans, Lady Gaga successfully marries music, fashion and culture into a digital world. She is the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. Lady Gaga constantly creates a buzz, she has dominated the world of pop during the past years in a way that no other artist with similar sales ever had. Neither has any superstar in history ever managed to connect with their audience in the unique way that Gaga does.

The 27-year-old Lady Gaga inspires her fans and the whole community around her. The relationship between Gaga and her fans is fascinating – it’s exceptionally intime and she is consistently in contact with them through social media. She has gained so much power so that today she has a very big responsibility towards all her millions of fans. Lady Gaga creates trends by repurposing the past, particularly the ’80s, for present use, creating sustainable pop for a digital world. The impressive Lady Gaga has become a phenomenon of sorts; you can almost call it a culture.