Tuesday, 28 July 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / iMessage Interviews with Billie JD Porter and Bertie Brandes

Not sure if I have just made a rather significant contribution to the ever accelerating decline of modern journalism, of if I have just enhanced the field beyond measure with the invention of the published iMessage interview.

I spoke to filmmaker and journalist Billie JD Porter and Mushpit editor Bertie Brandes over text for My Flash Trash.

Read the interviews and you can decide if I have just become the redeemer or enemy of 21st century journalism... 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Sunday, 19 July 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Evvol Interview

Find the original post HERE

“Progress is impossible without change…”  - George Bernard Shaw.

“Ch-ch-ch-ch- changes,” - David Bowie in 1972.

Julie Chance and Jon Dark – a.k.a. Evvol – are a testament to the power of change. The darkwave electronica pair, who previously went by the band name of Kool Thing, are now reaping the rewards of breaking with their established name and sound, and are forging new sounds with a revitalised mind-set and garnering more attention and praise than they had been counting on.

Sat on the rickety wooden benches of an all-organic Dalston cafĂ© on a sweltering summer afternoon, Julie and Jon are dressed casually but plastered in  some seriously smoky eye makeup, having finished up a cover shoot earlier in the day. Jon’s look is soft and shimmery, whilst Julie’s war paint is jet black kohl to the max, smudged all over her eye sockets and beyond. They laugh off the challenge of removing it all come bed time, plus they thought it would be a waste to wash it off at the end of their shoot.

Over organic juices, natch, the band formerly known as Kool Thing talk excitedly about shedding that exact tag:

“It was freeing,” Julie asserts, “but scary too. I think we kept the old name for too long anyway and we wanted to change it.”

Having released a self-titled album, toured with the likes of Grimes and Peaches, and established themselves on the Berlin scene (where they both call home) as Kool Thing, it would be understandable for Jon and Julie to have felt apprehensive about leaving their old identity behind. Not so for Evvol, whose break with the past has allowed them to move on to bigger and better sounds. “We wanted to change the name and the focus,” Chance explains. “A whole new name for a new project.”

And that “new project” culminates in the release of Evvol’s debut album, ‘Eternalism’, via !K7/Mad Dog & Love on July 24.

‘Eternalism’ is the little album that could. The original intention for Jon and Julie, who had a spell of separation before reuniting to reformulate their band, was to simply lay down an EP and distribute it as a self-release.

Fate had other plans as the music presented itself so generously that an album painlessly emerged. As Jon recalls, “The writing process felt completely free. There were no pre-requisites. All we needed was one thing and it would set off a spark. It could be a single lyric, a sound, a general mood or feel, maybe a harmony. It was just the best time, being around your best mate and playing music.”

The overall sound of ‘Eternalism’ is an authentic reflection of the creative freedom the band remember fondly. It veers between arthouse trance and noir pop with dashes of R&B warmth and intricate instrumental finishes.

‘Eternalism’ also stands defiantly against the ultra-customisable way many now choose to consume music. Pick a song from here. Sum it up with a hashtag there. No. ‘Eternalism’ lends itself to uninterrupted listening. It demands full unerring attention due to its waxing and waning structure, and sense of journey.

‘Starcrossed’ is a definite highlight of album and acts as microcosm of ‘Eternalism’ as a whole. “That’s an emotional song for us,” Jon reveals. The story of the pair of them coming back together is encapsulated in ‘Starcrossed’ and plays out over a beseeching, trembling lyric of “I’ll take care of you” before what they describe as a “John Mayer kind of guitar solo” announces itself, and concludes with a swirl of synth sirens.

Such eclecticism may stem from the fact that the girls are from different sides of the world (literally, Jon is from Australia, and Julie Ireland), and that they had very different musical upbringings. “I grew up listening to a lot of traditional Irish music from my dad,” Julie recalls. “Me and my sister would fight over who would get to singalong to Christy Moore or Mary Black albums first. And I was in my first band when I was at primary school. We would play covers of The Travelling Wilburys.” Jon, on the other hand, admits to being “obsessed with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. I had it on vinyl and would sing along to it at the top of my voice.”

However, what they both agree on now is the influence being based in Berlin has had on Evvol’s sound. “There’s no way a person cannot be affected by living in a city like Berlin,” Chance insists. “Plus we’re really into the music that has been made in the city – Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’. It was very natural that we ended up there and I just think you can’t help but be influenced by your surroundings.”

The evidence speaks for itself. Whilst the darkened undertones that ebb away beneath glossy electronic currents of ‘Eternalism’ pay tribute to the band’s cultural base, the human pulse of the record reveals the personal voyage that’s captured within. As much of a sonic voyage as ‘Eternalism’ is, this doesn’t feel in anyway like the final destination on the continuing journey of Evvol’s evolution.  

Written for NOTION