An Interview with Broken Hands

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Paula: I’m here on a sunny afternoon with Broken Hands. We’re currently sat outside UCA ahead of their sold out show tonight. So guys, how are you doing?

Dale: Very good, we live 7 minutes away so this is as close as it gets to a home gig for us.

Paula: First of all, tell us about the running theme of space exploration throughout the bands history leading up to the new album ‘Turbulence’.

Dale: Turbulence is a concept record about flight and the idea of taking off literally. A lot of people our age go travelling and the ultimate formed of propelled travel is space so some of the album has gravitated towards that and that’s why it was easy to create more art work and imagery in that way because it helps colour the music.

Paula: People to often dismiss the idea of a concept album as something too difficult to relate to. Are you confident that the music is grounded in your audiences way of life?

Dale: Yes, everyone our age that we know is either literally going around travelling and figuring things out or they’re getting a bit over the top at home which is a sense of travel in its own way. If someone could go on a long-haul flight and put our record on, that would be the ideal sit in listening experience. That’s how I’ve always pictured it.

Dale: We demoed the album ourselves before we recorded it properly and gave it to Chris Wade who made our videos and he went away for 3 months. When he came back he said that it really worked. So that was good to know and he was a good guinnipig.

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Paula: How did the release go?

Dale: It came out here in November and its coming out in the states in October. Fingers crossed it will. We’re having some behind the scenes changes which sounds corny but basically we’re changing our record label. So Records will still be our label here and they’ll be our publisher but in the states we’ll have someone different.

Paula: How did you get your record label?

Tom: We had to go to Texas and do South By Southwest. Apparently trying to meet a label in this country is really hard but if you spend a wad of money and go somewhere else, suddenly you’re a commodity.

Dale: Yeah, you have to go around the planet to find the people who work in this country it’s a bit stupid really.

Paula: I thought you got signed at Reading and Leeds festival?

Dale: We did get signed there but the first time the label saw us was in Austin Texas three months before so by the time Reading and Leeds came around they said ‘yeah, lets do this.’

Tom: More planes involved there ironically!

Paula: What was it like playing Reading and Leeds?

Dale: It was cool. We were really lucky because the same bill travels to those two places and you have the same lineup on a different day so the day we played, Queens were headlining. So it was wicked seeing them two nights in a row. You don’t get to do that very often so it was a highlight.

Tom: We had some friends working at Leeds too so it was nice to see them and there were a few mates playing Reading that day so we got to hang out with them too.

Paula: So were you picked up by BBC Introducing first?

Dale: Yeah, Abbie McCarthy who does the BBC Introducing show…

Paula: She’s lovely!

Dale: Yeah and she’s doing really well at the moment so long live! But yeah she sorted us out that gig at Reading!

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Paula: So ‘The Silver Landing Program’, one of your tours, it was so unique, how did that change things for the band?

Dale: We sounded different before this album so we decided that we were just going to get rid of all the old stuff and put a line in the sand. So we just wanted to do something unusual with the tour and make a concept of all of it. So we silvered all of the rooms we played in with marathon blankets.

Tom: Before the album was out we couldn’t really tie people into the concept so hard and it was important to us for people to come to the show and immediately have an idea of the concept. It could be busy London outside, they came in and were immersed in this capsule and had an idea of what it was about before any artwork was released.

Paula: How did you get together all of the blankets and stage set up?

Dale: Well we used a lighting rig, which we’re using tonight. At the time we only had 3 lights so we were using mirrors to make more lights. Then we decided to cover the room in silver and Margate was the first time we did it.

Paula: How old were you guys when you discovered your musical talents?

Dale: Me, Jake and Cullum all grew up in the same town and went to the same school. We all had an interest in music separately and started playing together. Then when our friends moved away to uni or travelling we stayed and carried on writing and playing together. That was our thing.

Tom: We all had to learn from each other because no one was in a position to go and pay for tuition.

Dale: The main thing was, none of us were very good but we were all at the same level and grew together.

Tom: As time goes on and we get better, it leaves so much space for us to evolve because we’ve got so much else to learn. In the past two years we’ve lived together as well so that’s tightened it up. It’s just been mates hanging out really.

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Paula: What was the point where you decided to become a band, what age were you?

Dale: Most of us played in another band before this called Onlookers. We did quite a lot of touring in that band when were 15-16. So we had a few years of practicing together, writing and trying to get better. Four of us have been playing together since we were 15, Cal was 14. It makes it difficult to get things done if you’re not living close to each other.

Tom: It’s not impossible with the internet but staying here has been good for us. Gang moving to Brighton was good for them but they did that together.

Paula: Where would you all be without the band?

Dale: I don’t know. Jamie was gunna go and study.

Tom: Me and Dave have always just wanted to get out of the country.

Dale: That was the main aim really. We thought, ‘Ok, how can we travel around and see loads of stuff for nothing?’ We thought, if we stick together here, it will all pay back eventually!

Tom: …at a bare minimum! A beer each.

Dale: One beer at a time.

Paula: How has your sound changed over time?

Tom: Our vibe on the first album was heavier, more in depth. On the new record the song gets what it needs.

Dale: One big difference is that we didn’t have Dave back then. It has changed our dynamic as a group of mates and another is that recording is so expensive, we worked out that we could take the money from two recording sessions and buy our own stuff. Although we’re not particularly great at recording, we have more opportunity to reference ourselves. You go around for ages wondering why you don’t sound the way you think you want to sound.

Paula: You say you’re moving on from So Records to a new label, so what is the new record label?

Dale: It’s a major label in America and I wouldn’t like to say any more.

Paula: On the new album what’s your favourite track?

Dale: Turbulence because it sums the album up and it goes down well live.

Paula: How did you create the video for ‘Death Grip’?

Tom: That was Chris Wade!

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Dale: We were sitting around in my room having a beer and deciding what to do for a video. Then our friend who is in it as the dead pilot, is a tree surgeon so we decided to use trees and go to the woods. Then we decided he could be dead and hanging from a tree because he didn’t want to be a major part of it! It just went from there and Casper, who is our tech, his dad used to be a pilot so he had all this pilot stuff we could use for props. So that was sorted all in the theme of the album.

Tom: It was good but we wrote the entire thing about flight and planes and at the time there was an aeronautical catastrophe.

Dale: There had been a string of planes crashing and going missing at that time and the day we put that out the Malaysian plane went missing. The press people said we should wait a couple of weeks because it would be touchy but I said ‘Come on, we’re not that bit a deal! No ones gunna notice!’

Paula: So you guys are signed to a major, what’s on the horizon now?

Dale: So they will release Turbulence in the states and we have written a majority of the next album already so we will continue working on that in America. We’ll be working with a new team and figuring out a way to get our music on to the planet!

Tom: In short, we have a lot of hard work to do in a different country, which we’re all looking forward to.

Dale: In a way we’re stating from scratch because we haven’t really done anything over there yet. It is exciting. We’ve been to New York a couple of times and its such a great country. We need a major label just to make a mark on such a massive country. More man power.

Paula: It’s such a shame because it feels like we’re losing our young bands to America now. Slaves haven’t played here in ages.

Tom: But look at Band of Skulls, they struggled here for so long, went to the states and smashed the living daylights out of it. All the interest that they had there, they were on ‘Twilight’ and did David Letterman’s Late Show, meant that when they came back, suddenly as a country we were interested.

At this point the band had to leave for their sound check. But click here for full pictures of their set alongside a review of the concert.

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Broken Hands Live Review

After bustling through Canterbury’s rush hour traffic, I parked up at the University of Creative Arts to find Broken Hands before their afternoon sound check. I turned the corner by the student union bar to find all four of them soaking up the sun on a bench outside. Each of them were eating fish and chips and looking very composed  ahead of their sell out show tonight, with their shades on, long hair and dressed head to toe in black.

I sat and chatted to them whilst they finished off their lunch and before long they were heading back inside to prepare the room for the show. Front man Dale and bassist Tom stayed behind for an interview with me for Way Out Radio and we had a good laugh catching up about the last time we were all together at a Festival in Ramsgate held at The Kings Theatre back in 2015, where I was drumming in a supporting band and we shared a dressing room and beers.

Click here for our interview  with Broken Hands where we talk space suits, South By South West Festival and the long road to success

After a great interview with the guys, it was time to crack on with their sound check. I headed inside to give them a listen and was taken aback by the hard work that was going on to transform the venue. Band members and crew were climbing on walls to duct tape black and silver sheets across any window letting in light, the stage had been moved completely, huge silver umbrellas were reflecting symmetrically across either side of the stage and lighting strips were held upright around the bands instruments. Callum was sat playing his bellowing bright silver drum set and the sound man was running through each mic on the kit. The planning and passion that had gone into Broken Hands DIY efforts to make this gig memorable to the fans who had sold it out, shone through the atmosphere and gave me a buzz for the night ahead. The bands work ethic and uniqueness in staging was reminiscent of Crass and the anarcho-punk ethos of the early 80’s – find a venue, make it your own by creating it differently and make sure the fans feel valued for their support.

Broken Hands began to play and I sat on the floor whilst they ran through ‘Turbulence’. I felt privileged to be at my own one-woman concert, knowing the guys were about to go very far and this would be the last time I’d have the opportunity to see them in Canterbury like this. They sounded tight and the vocals were on point. After a few songs, I bid them goodbye and good luck tonight, leaving them to it for a few hours before the show.

That night the atmosphere was electric and the set looked even better once the room was packed and the night sky had fallen. In attendance was Harry from Dreamweaver, the bassist from Surgery Without Research, the boys from Get Inuit and the band SKIES among a number of other members of rising bands from Kent. The band performed with passion and raw energy and Dale’s vocals and performance mesmerised the crowd with a conviction and movement reminiscent of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder from Seattle’s grunge scene circa 1992. Not only do the band play in a professional and technical way, but they look like a band, are passionate about the music and treat each other on and off stage like brothers, working as a  team towards a shared goal. Overall, the gig was a massive success and we enjoyed every minute of it. Way Out Radio wish this band all the best on their venture to America. See below for pictures! Video footage to come!

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Rebellion Festival Review

*****

Finally we’d arrived at the festival that we’d been counting down to all year! It was Rebellion’s 20th year as a festival and Punk’s 40th anniversary from 1976 to 2016. As we drove up the country from London to Blackpool, we hashed through our collection of punk mix CD’s sharing stories about gigs, Rebellion festivals in years passed and what bands we were seeing this weekend. I remembered back to meeting Eve Libertine and Penny Rimbaud of Crass for the first time, almost getting into a row with The Selector’s Pauline Black over a curry, interviewing Charlie Harper and a backstage food fight with psychobilly band King Kurt.  Reflecting on the last time I went to Rebellion and how it changed my mindset and attitude, I felt anxious with excited for what was in store this year. Anything could happen and it was going to be cherished. Bumping into more and more punks at each service station, we knew we were getting close.

Arriving at the B&B in Blackpool (you have to book one as it’s an indoor festival with no camping), we threw our bags through the door and legged it off to The Wintergardens for 4 days of punk bands, dancing, mates and beers. I walked into the Winter Gardens and was hit with a sea of unfamiliar faces, totally overwhelmed by how many punks were there and how big the place was. We head to the bar and took it easy. Before long we bumped into loads of people we knew. The punk scene is very close so you’ll bump into friends you met at a 999 concert in Margate or the drummer from a Reading based band even though you’re up north. I was lucky enough to catch up with  Jon Robb (The Membranes) who was holding the fort at his merch stall. I’ve written a few times for his magazine Louder Than War. Then we had a walk round the pavilion and I bumped into Jim Sharpes, editor of Vive Le Rock magazine filming Charlie Harper from the UK Subs for a new documentary. It was good to see these two and get a picture together. The day was already off to an epic start, and then the bands began…

Thursday

Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs 6:35pm, Opera House Stage

These guys are excellent, armed with only a washboard, washtub bass and acoustic guitar they covered songs from Led Zeppelin, Green Day and even turned Cold Play’s ‘Yellow’ into a song about band member Wino’s pants.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies 7:20pm, Tower Street Arena Stage

An electric set from these guys. Check them out and listen to the guitarist Del Strangefish’s weekly radio show on Brighton’s Radio Reverb.

The Bleach Boys 8:20pm, Arena Stage

I’d never heard of these guys before but they blew us away. Excellent band who mix punk with surf rock. They’re worth checking out.

TV Smith 9:50pm, Opera House Stage

TV Smith was beyond brilliant with his punk rock hardship lyrics and the thrash strumming of his acoustic guitar.

The Membranes 11:00pm, Opera House Stage

This band are incredible and you have to hand it to Jon Robb who fronts The Membranes and on the side, masters other bands records, writes the Louder Than War blog and runs his own merch stall before and after gigs! I lost my mind when they played ‘Do The Supernova’ and Jon jumped down from the stage to give me a huge sweaty topless hug.

The Pukes 12:15am, Opera House Stage

This gig was excellent, a stage filled full of punk rock women pogoing with ukuleles whilst another woman walked up and down the seated isles of the theatre holding a tray of red and white striped bags reminiscent of a 50’s popcorn girl. She was actually handing out ‘Puke Bags’ containing free stickers, a fanzine and a CD of The Pukes. Genius!

Later that night we also bumped into legendary punk and reggae DJ Don Letts and had a photo. Then I ran off with the t-shirt merch man and saw 4 more bands at some pub.

Friday

Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life 1:30pm, Opera House Stage

Steve Ignorant of Crass performing in a new band with acoustic guitar, bass and piano played by the magnificent Carol Hodge. This set was truly stirring, with very real lyrics and a boundless performance. We highly recommend Slice of Life!

Wonk Unit 2:20pm, Tower Street Arena Stage

These guys are hilarious in their slacker style punk rock. Alex was telling the crowd stories behind all of the songs and the drummer was ribbing the session keyboard player for his history in Ronan Keating’s band.

Pauline Murray Interview 3:25pm, Opera House Stage

This interview was with Jon Robb. It was pretty decent but I would have asked a few more pressing questions behind some of the lyrics and how it felt being a female thrown into the limelight in the punk world.

Alex Wonk Unit Interview 4:00pm, Opera House Stage

Very funny!

Sub Humans 4:30pm, Tower Street Arena Stage

Excellent set as usual!

Penetration 6:50pm, Empress Ballroom Stage

EXCELLENT SET. Pauline Murray’s voice was on point.

X-Ray Eyes 7:15pm, Rebellion Introducing Stage

Great new band, great sound. These are definitely ones to watch!

UK Subs 9:30pm, Tower Street Arena Stage 

Amazing as always. They had a new guitarist and the crowd were chanting his name. Jamie was a power house on drums as always.

Peter Hook & The Light 11:00pm, Opera House Stage

Totally packed out. I think this should have been in the ballroom because security were stopping people from entering the Opera House due to capacity restrictions. The show was heavy and the songs sounded incredible but Hooky will never give justice to Ian’s lyrics. I’m sure he knows that.

Menace 1:15am, Arena Stage

This was by far, one of the highlights of our weekend! Menace were insane and the venue was full capacity despite the band going on at 1:15am. They even invited a bunch of fans onstage and we got up and moshed with them for a couple of songs. It was the perfect ending to our day and was caught in this video…

  • Then I ended up in the All Night Bar with Lee, drummer from Chelsea and Paranoid Visions singer Sarah Vellum. Later I was walked home by a blonde guy claiming to be a love child of the front man from Menace. I called him Menace Jr.

Saturday

Interrorbang 2:55pm, Pavilion Stage

9481814294_1c90733db3_bGreat band bringing a mod edge and snappy dress sense to the scene. We love Interrorbang. At one point during the set they all put down their instruments and got into the audience shouting ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gunna take it anymore!’. Their guitarist has a great playing style and the singer has a bit of a Morrissey thing going on which is captivating.

Channel 3 4:55, Empress Ballroom Stage

They’re just not my bag.

Jilted John 7:10pm, Empress Ballroom Stage

Great gig and it went off when they played ‘Jilted John’, as you’d imagine!

Spizzenergy 9:40pm, Opera House Stage

Excellent performance and yes it went mental when they played ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’

The Damned 10:50pm, Tower Street Arena Stage

Raucous energy and thrashing chords. This band were distorted and disorderly and I lost my mind when they played ‘New Rose’ – the first ever punk single to be released.

Steve Ignorant & Paranoid Visions 12pm Pavilion Stage

By far this was one of the highlights of the weekend! To actually see Steve Ignorant of Crass performing Crass songs including ‘Banned From The Roxy’ and ‘Do They Owe Us A Living?’. I was born in the 90’s and adore Crass but resided to the acceptance that I would never have the chance to hear these songs live as Crass split in 1982****. But here I was, in 2016, moshing and screaming my heart out right back into Steve Ignorant’s face. No words. Just no word!

  • All Night Bar

Sunday

Bingo with Max Splodge 12:45pm, Almost Acoustic Stage

This guy is hilarious. One guy drew a house on his bingo card and Max gave him a prize. A little girl won the bingo and he tried to fob her off with a stack of last years flyers from a Bad Manners tour.

Popes of Chillitown 3:55pm, Pavilion Stage

This band are so insanely good and their front man is totally on it. This set was pure crazy energy and there was even a guy dressed as the pope in the mosh pit.

The Nightingale 4:30pm, Opera House Stage

Fliss on drums ❤

Rage DC Acoustic 5:00pm, Almost Acoustic Stage

The drummer was playing a flight case for a bass drum. That’s pretty DIY. This band are always great and their performance was really high energy and got the packed out pub dancing.

Fire Exit Acoustic 7:00, Almost Acoustic Stage

Great two-piece band, very upbeat.

The Minority Rule 7:15pm, Rebellion Introducing Stage

Awesome band with a lot of anger, check them out!

Slaughter and the Dogs (Original Lineup) 9:25pm, Empress Ballroom

Excellent set from these guys.

The Adicts 10:55pm, Empress Ballroom

I have to be honest, I’ve never paid attention to this band before but I found out about them in the most perfect way by going to this gig! The Adicts are seriously amazing. They take a punk rock sound, merge it with A Clockwork Orange look and have a ringmaster clown for a lead singer. The band have some incredible sing along songs too like ‘Viva La Revolution’ and ‘Never Walk Alone’. At the end of their set the entire ballroom exploded in a clowd of confetti and beach balls rained down into the crowd. As the band left the stage, they played Beetoven’s 5th symphony and suddenly the room was filled with punks ballroom dancing in complete spontaneous unity.

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An Interview with Nite Jewel

With influences ranging from Mariah Carey to Kraftwork, Ramona Gonzalez aka Nite Jewel is one singer songwriter with her ears open and her heart in her lyrics. Hailing from glamorous Los Angeles, Nite Jewel insists she is hiding in the art underground movement and staying well out of celebrity culture. She told Way Out Radio ‘I used to visit family in LA as a kid and I thought it was the worst. It was very commercial, very hot, very polluted and very spread out. But when I moved here in 2006 it was because there was a really amazing underground art scene happening here. In New York at the time there was a very ‘TV on the radio’ scene and that had a lot more to do with commercial intent. In LA it was really different and now it’s become more of a destination people look to for new art making and the art scene has exploded. There is a very strong artistic underground in LA.’

965ea9c8I was interested to know about Ramona’s work ethic and asked if she worked to goals. ‘I just try to write any day I have some free time unless I’m hiking or going to the beach because my time is very limited. If I’m in the studio I have to forgo everything for that and there is always an excuse to go into the studio so I’m pretty much writing all the time. Whenever there is an opportunity to release music, whether that’s doing a single for Grand Theft Auto or finding material for a new album, I already have so much at my disposal to work with. With my collaborations, they come really easily, for instance my EP with Damon Funk was done in just over a week’ told Ramona.

After hearing about Ramona’s song ‘Nowhere To Go’ being part of the Grand Theft Auto game soundtrack, I was interested to know how this came about. ‘I had recorded that song a year before and sent the demo to the music supervisor at Grand Theft Auto. When he was finalising the soundtrack he called me and said they wanted the song for the game.’

Ramona began working under the name Nite Jewel eight years ago and her sound has undergone rapid changes since the first release. I asked how her persona had developed over time. ‘There have been mutations of my appearance at least in the eyes of the industry. A lot has changed in the way that I am perceived publicly but also in the way that I perceive myself. From year to year there has been a different release so 2008 had ‘Good Evening’ and there was an EP, ‘Italians Do Better’ and the ‘Summer’ EP. Then there was the ‘Am I Really’ EP, ‘Cycle of Love’ and all these singles that came after. I have moved with the music and it’s been a real zigzag all the way up until now.

In the past, Nite Jewel has mentioned Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey as musical inspirations. I wondered if they impacted her writing now. She expressed; ‘As a kid I thought of Mariah Carey as an untouchable diva force but I wouldn’t say musically she was an inspiration as vocally she’s not something I could aspire to be, she’s so out there! But Janet Jackson is definitely someone that I look to consistently as someone who delivers and writes her vocals with a vibe and emotion that I try to emulate. She has an understated intense coolness and softness that I really like. Those are definitely singers that I still continue to use for my records as a touch stone.’

nite-jewelRamona went on to reveal the artists she’s most often listening top now; ‘I’m listening to a lot of Abra at the moment. I tried for a long time not to use Spotify but now I use it and I’ve been listening to Moody Mens, and the DJ Kicks compilation. In LA we have an amazing college radio station that plays a lot of underground music and we have KCRW which plays mainstream indie music and we have amazing classic rap, soul and R&B stations. We have a lot of great music here so it’s not hard to listen to good music in LA.’

With Ramona’s influences and current playlist revealed, I was intrigued to know where her stage name Nite Jewel had originated. Ramona divulged; ‘A friend of mine, who is a record collector, found this album by a Santiago group from 1984 and they had a song called Night Jewel, it was a synth, progressive record, pretty cheesy. It was about an elusive lady of the night and at that time I was a little wild and partying a lot so he called me ‘Night Jewel’ jokingly. Then when I was putting my songs online I used it as my name. At that point I had no idea that anyone but my friends would hear the songs.’

Ramona went on to tell us more about how her music began taking off with a wider audience and how it affected her writing; ‘It was a gradual thing with little steps. I think that’s how it usually goes with people’s careers but the story is perceived differently. Later in my career I was conscious of writing for an audience and wanted to write songs people could sing along to.’ I was interested to know if Ramona had many female peers to turn to in LA and whether it was a popular location for female musicians similar to her. She said; ‘Yes, LA has a really strong punk underbelly and there are a lot of older punk women who are an inspiration to different generations here and have given rise to people like Janeva Jacuzzi and in turn she has given rise to other artists who make cold wave, art pop. There are a lot of venues for people to play free shows and underage shows. Yes there are a lot of female artists here working on their own terms. It’s very much like a home recorded solo artist arena. A lot of the young kids that grow up in LA are exposed to the idea of becoming a famous artist at a very young age because that’s the culture here. So there are a lot of savvy kids living here. It’s pretty crazy, from the Odd Future contingent all the way to weirdos living in the valley remaking some long lost Beach Boys record. It’s pretty incredible.’

The style of Nite Jewel’s music has been described as lo fi alternative dance. I asked if she agreed; ‘I definitely think my record ‘Good Evening’ was very low fidelity and I think that was a result of my friends who were artist at the time recording to 4-track and 8-track. Lo-fi was an unintentional musical category but I don’t think it can be a genre; it’s more of a technical term. Alternative dance sounds like weird dance music from the 80’s, I don’t really know what it means but I think people will come up with anything to make a piece of music sound unique which I appreciate.’

I was captivated by Ramona’s song writing and recording work she’d done with her husband. Knowing they’d created songs on a portable eight-track cassette recorder together, I was interested to learn more about the process. To me it sounded very Kathleen Hannah and riot grrl! Ramona told me; ‘She only had 4 tracks so she’s pretty genius! Cole showed me how to use the 8-track and I just started recording little ambient compositions on the recorder, mostly instrumental. I was doing sound instillations at the time so I was recording those and then I started recording krautrock jams between the two of us. I used a drum machine and I’d play guitar whilst he played bass. It eventually morphed into me writing my own songs, which went onto the album ‘Good Evening’. It was a pretty quick process and Cole helped me refine parts of the recordings by adding drum samples and playing some bass.’

v0046285_posterframeI inquired as to whether it was difficult balancing time between a music career and home life. Ramona expressed; ‘The brute honest truth is that it’s a challenge, it’s not easy. The lucky thing is that Cole and I have a very unique relationship where we work on music together. Lately we’ve been writing separately which is nice and I’ve become more autonomous with my recording process and he works with a lot of other artists from the UK producing from his recording studio including The Vaccines. Now it’s much easier to balance. It’s crazy to try and collaborate in every single way. Also when your studio is in your house you’re just working constantly and trying to maintain a relationship and touring and having friends over and partying and its madness. For some reason we manage to work through it and make it a success in our careers and our relationship. But I think that’s a totally rare thing to happen.

I was interested in the cover artwork that was displayed on Nite Jewel’s releases as they are often portraits of Ramona. I enquired as to what this meant to her; ‘For this particular album I collaborated with a friend of mine named Hose Wolf who has done a few videos for me and also my press photos. I was really inspired my painters who had done these classic 50’s style paintings but had blocked out the facial features or made is psychedelic. To me I liked updating something of the past and recontextualising it so it becomes alien. People take selfie portraits now but they distort their own face in a way that doesn’t look like them. LA celebrities like Kylie Jenner have had so much plastic surgery that it’s almost as distorted as if they’d taken a bad selfie. So my artwork is a comment on the portraiture of today and how there’s so much distortion that goes on. It relates to a feeling within the record that technology can be alienating from other people but also alienating from ones own sense of self. I’ve always put myself on the covers of my records because all of the records I’ve ever loved have the artist on the cover. With ‘Liquid Cool’ I changed it up a bit because I didn’t want it to be so straightforward.’

I asked Ramona how she thought selfie culture was affecting young girls growing up today. ‘I would love to say young people have it better than we did. I know they’re smarter and probably more capable than we were because of technology but for girls there is a terrible sense of self-consciousness and self-worth issues that get into their minds very early on because of this need to put themselves on display, share and be judged by others. The reason I know that’s true is because there have been studies about it. It’s really scary how people are bullied and the impact of that. It makes me feel like if I were to have children there would be limits on the use of phones and internet because of that. Having to worry about my self-image now because of being a public figure is difficult. It’s not that bad because fans are so sweet but imagine if you were a young kid dealing with it. It’s really tough and I wouldn’t want to subject my child to that personally.’

In light of Ramona’s concern over the pressures on young girls, I asked if she felt education was important to her, knowing she had a degree in philosophy. ‘Yes, very. I got a scholarship to go to school though. I don’t know if I’d feel the same had I paid $50,000 per year to go to private school. I feel like my degree is incredibly important to me. It taught me how to think critically in conversing about my music and other issues. It made me reflect on my life and understand what I want from it.’

1283968579paperproject08_24hr_032e_nitejewelThe latest Nite Jewel album is far from lo-fi in sound. I asked what the recording process was like for ‘Liquid Cool’. Ramona stated; ‘I started it in January 2015 and finished it in November 2015. I had recorded about 3 albums prior to that which I was thinking about putting out with my label. When I split from my label and decided to put things out independently, I felt that the sound of the records I’d made was not exactly right for an intimate release on my label so I started to record some new material. I put a few of my instruments into a closet in my house and wrote the album. I mixed it myself and mastered it with an incredible mastering engineer here in LA.’ She went on; ‘The record is super personal. It was intended to be that way which is why I recorded it on my own.’

Rapt by the independence of Nite Jewel’s recording process, I peered into the song content to find out more. Ramona revealed; ‘‘Kiss the Screen’ was one of the first songs that I wrote for the record. I was thinking I wanted to make a Kraftwork type track for the album because I love them and they’re a big influence for me. I wanted the song to be a comment on technology and started recording the beat and doing the chord changes. I was doing the vocal and I stopped before the chorus because I couldn’t figure out how to sing it. The main chorus line was in my brain so I walked away from it and after some time this huge chorus melody burst out of me and it was a shock to me because I’d never sang that way before so it was pretty exciting.’ She continued; ‘The band have just started learning ‘Running out of time’ which is the 6 minute track on the album. That song I really like because the lyrics most closely point to the personal experience of what it’s like to leave
the core of the industry and venture out on one’s own and how it feels to look at yourself and continue to work without the backing of a label. It’s also about how you maintain your confidence in the face of people telling you that you can’t do it.  The melody and lyrics are toying with the idea of whether you can have faith in yourself. It’s about that tension and it’s a very personal song. Also the spoken word section is a poem that I wrote before recording ‘Liquid Cool’ and it served as the centrepiece for the entire record.’

Nite Jewel was unwavering as to the records notion of loneliness; ‘It relates to everyone because although it appears that we are constantly in contact with everyone, I think most people spend a lot of solitary time. It’s a weird paradox by being constantly stimulated and in touch with other people but at the close of a laptop you’re alone. That’s what I am toying with on the record, who are you even talking to? Because you’re actually by yourself and there are a lot of songs about lacking another person, talking to people, dreaming about people but no one actually being there. We’re wrapped up in our own psychology as a result. Every song is written in that context.’

Absorbed by Ramona’s point I said ‘There is a perception on our society that people have 500 friends or more on social media but in reality you’re lucky to count your true friends on one hand. Do you have a small number of true friends?’ She replied; ‘I’m lucky to have maybe two handfuls of true friends, which is great, but I constantly feel like I have to maintain those relationships because you can get really side tracked. Also being married,
you have your best friend with you all of the time so that’s also a challenge to maintain. I don’t consider the social media area of my life to be tangible. Some people do but I didn’t get the Internet till I was about 17 because my mum was a technophobe. So I’ve always been very sceptical of the Internet. I definitely always thought it was the root of all evil, although now I know that to be completely absurd.  I know it’s a great medium for people to communicate and share really innovative ideas and it has mutated into an arena for niche interests, niche fundamentalism and consumerist, corporate interplay. So I am just every weary of it as a median at this point for what it has become. I try to nurture and cherish my real life in general.’

Moving back to the music, I asked if she felt that performing live had helped her in life. She replied; ‘Yes, for sure. It’s just a form of therapy at times. Other times it’s a form of interplay and stimulation. Sometimes it’s a form of torture. Sometimes it’s a form of fun and other times it’s a form of therapy and performance in particular because you’re not inventing anything, it’s a form of therapy for sure. It can be frightening but not always!’

Lastly, I asked what’s on the horizon for the rest of the year? Ramona said; ‘I’m doing some shows in the US, doing a European tour and booking more dates for the fall and heading to Australia for winter.’ Ramona will be back in the UK on September 16th performing in London and Glasgow.

 

Standon Calling Festival

This is one small festival with its head screwed on. The organisation was like no festival I’d ever seen. There were no cash transactions anywhere on site, instead you loaded money onto a wristband and this was scanned by staff to pay for your drinks, food, merch and rides. The only problem was that the prices weren’t thought out very well so you ended up with a lot of change left on the wristband which you then have to claim back online after the festival which seems a bit of a con really. You also had to buy the cup they served your pint in for £1 and keep hold of it all day which was quite awkward. So I loaded £20 onto my card thinking that would be roughly 4 pints and the bar charged me £5.50 for a pint plus £1 for the cup which I thought was a bit steep considering Rebellion festival charge £4 a pint. Of course I understand why they do this, it’s one of the top family friendly festivals in the country so I imagine they want to cut down as much as possible on rubbish and drunkards. It worked, the site stayed very clean all night and people were very composed but to be honest it’s a festival – a break from reality and it just felt a bit over controlled.

The line-up and multiple stages were excellent and even the main stage maintained a sense of an intimate gig with the artists close  to the crowd and the sound system bringing out the bands vibrantly. The best stage for dancing was the Top Shed featuring Kane FM DJ’s Davinci Sound and The Boom and Bass Crew.

 

Who we saw:

Preluche *** 3:45pm, Laundry Meadows Stage

3 piece female band with a lot of attitude. They were decent but I hate a lead singer being stuck behind a keyboard/synth and I felt like the only one in the band really performing was the bassist, who was cool AF.

Kiko Bun * 4:00pm, Main Stage

Awful. He was upstaged by his two female brass accompanists who were mesmerising to watch.

ExMagicians ** 4:55pm, Laundry Meadows Stage

This four piece all-male band from Ireland were fairly decent but just had nothing special about them. Very middle of the road chord progressions, structures and lyrics.

Hot 8 Brass Band * 5:15pm, Main Stage

They were just so out of time. No one in the band were looking to each other or making a connection, the two drummers weren’t even in the pocket with each other and none of the brass players were listening to them anyway so they were all just hashing through songs. We left after ten minutes.

Too Many Tees **** 6:00pm, Big Top Stage

It was like watching a rapping comedy duo. You could really feel the energy these guys were putting out and the brotherly love between them. Highly recommended!

Tiggs Da Author **** 6:45pm, Main Stage

His set was excellent and he knew exactly how to get the crowd going. We also got to be involved in the filming of his new video.

Loyle Carner ***** 9:00pm, Main Stage

An outstanding performance from the new face of rap. Honest, raw and completely captivating.

Kelis *** 9:45pm, Main Stage

With a great backing band and her voice on form, Kelis ran through her hits in a beautiful dress but we expected a little more stage presence from the singer of ‘Milkshake’ and ‘I Hate You So Much Right Now’. Instead she just stayed in one spot with her mic on the stand for the whole show.j

Goldie **** 10:45pm, Big Top Stage

A DJ with a crazy loud sound system, strobe lights, smoke machines and a rapper getting the crowd going. This performance was electric. Though after about half an hour, it did begin to get very samey. Forgive us for not totally understanding DJ music.

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Joshua Whitehouse on Way Out Radio

This week were were privileged to have the talented and hard working actor, model and singer songwriter Joshua Whitehouse on Way Out Radio for an interview! Josh played us a few songs live in the studio and told us about his work as lead support in the Northern Soul movie and lots more about his music and writing. See below for a link to the full show!

https://www.instagram.com/joshuawhitehouse/

https://www.mixcloud.com/wayoutmusic/josh-whitehouse-on-way-out-radio-kane-fm/

 

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Open letter to The Tuts

The facts: At a festival stage, security are not allowed to let drunk people invade the stage. It is dangerous for the artists performing and for the fan attempting to get on stage. On Friday The Tuts drunkenly attempted to invade the stage 3 times during The Selecter’s headline set. A female member of security told the band that they were too drunk and were not allowed on stage. After the band hysterically ran at the stage repeatedly and abused the staff and festival organisers suggesting they were ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ they were escorted off the premises.

Dear The Tuts,

One thing I can’t stand is women calling themselves ‘feminist’ when they are actually sexist. The terms you used about male security such as ‘manhandled’, ‘angry men’ and ‘blocked by their egos’ is the polar opposite of the decent family men who are well loved by many festival goers and have worked tirelessly to maintain a safe environment for all over the past 4 years at Undercover.

If you invade the stage drunk, the security are there to stop you. That is not a violent attack of racism or sexism and suggesting so has berated a number of security both male and female that warned you numerous times as you attempted to stage invade 3 times before being escorted out.

You stated that you were ‘the youngest people there’ but my band are younger than yours, so are Skaciety and there were a lot of teenage fans, families and young people in their 20’s. I myself was introduced to you all by the merch stand and you totally snubbed me with a dirty look and walked away. Perhaps it’s not the fact you were the only young people there but you just didn’t give us the time of day as you were too busy wingeing about wanting a last minute dressing room which should have been asked for months in advance.

I have had an access all areas wrist band to this festival for the past 4 years. That, quite obviously, does not entitle you to invade the stage drunk whenever you feel like it. It’s so disrespectful to use The Selecter’s name to create association to your band in order to exploit their publicity. Clearly piggybacking on the band. How can you suggest that the festival organiser is racist when The Selector are headlining? And the organiser of the festival has been supporting anti-racist marches since the 80’s?

Although I have been coming to the festival since the first one, I am a young woman who needed somewhere to change before my band played but I didn’t demand a dressing room on arrival, I used a friends caravan knowing that there were over 40 bands playing that day and there was no way to accommodate everyone with privacy.

Basically, you’re throwing your toys out of the pram because you have an album out this week and want publicity. You’ve angered a lot of music fans with your disrespectful diva-ish behaviour and when you left your merch stand unattended, other stall holders kindly kept your takings safe when t-shirts were sold. When a stall holder saw you and gave you the money, they were told ‘So what?’. How disrespectful and unnecessary, I’m noticing a reoccurring theme in your behaviour….. complete desperation to cause controversy.

All of your merch was thrown in a skip and I hope that you realise the consequences of your false allegations to decent members of the Undercover crew when you get served in court and have to retract your smear campaign. There is CCTV footage with full audio from all three of you ready to be released, proving the innocence of Undercover Festival staff and security.

As I said, I’m a drummer in a band, I don’t work for the festival and have no reason to write this statement other than my own conscience provoking me to action because what you are doing is just so wrong on so many levels.

Yours,

Way Out Radio

Link to The Tuts statement about Undercover Festival