They introduced it with this message: “It’s an evocative voyage through a Feraltropolis style future city, and an offering of sonic elixir for heart, feet and mind. Leading us through secret spaces, changing skies, personal truths and revelations, the Ferals glide seamlessly between bold alt-pop, experimental electronica, and cinematic landscapes.”
What can I add? Turn Up The Volume‘s ears are FF fans for several years now and
this debut longplayer spoiled them again and again with a series of spins and many
more to come. Kat and Drew took their time to come up with a first full-length, and
they hit all the right buttons with this golden trance-dance-pop accomplishment.
Kat and Drew will tell us all about it in this Q&A.
welcome and thanks
for taking the time
to do this interview
This July it will be 10 years since you released your debut single SKIN.
Since then several swirling singles followed. Why did it take so long
to have an album out?
“We wanted the album to be all killer no filler! Skin was a cracking single, we still love playing it live, and we’ve evolved a lot since, both as musicians and producers. We didn’t just want to put an album out because we could. We’ve released 4 EPs and a load of singles, plus we’ve been producing and remixing for other artists. We’ve been busy.”
. Now that it’s here how does it feel to have that CD and vinyl in your hands?
“Awesome. It’s a culmination of recent ideas, sonic explorations and experimental pop tendencies. It’s also a story and a journey. To have it literally in our hands and not just as
a DL is pretty cool, and it’s been great working with ethical record label Reckless Yes for
Which artists and or music was your biggest inspiration along the way?
“We’ve a huge melting pot of musical loves from Siouxsie Sioux to Killing Joke, Goldfrapp to Hot Chip, Billy Nomates to Billie Eilish, Daniel Avery to Kelly Lee Owens,
Hans Zimmer to Hildur Guðnadóttir. There are many.”
What’s the story behind the album’s title ‘TRUTH IS THE NEW GOLD’?
“It sums up exactly what we think, and our values right now. It came from our
song of that name, Truth Is The New Gold. We’ve experienced so many devastating
shifts in the world and people manipulating truth and reality. We wanted the title
to be purposeful, clear, and give hope.”
All songs are no older than about 2 years, besides PET SHOW
released in 2018? Does that track mean something special to you?
“We wanted the album songs to be ultra new as we were heading
in fresh lyrical and sonic directions, and most of them are.
Pet Show was our first exploration of the world of Artificial Intelligence, a playful song
about AI robo-companions. It spawned our idea of the journey for the album, which explores different kinds of truth and trust, and includes some AI sonics.”
I miss that 2019 dancefloor banger SHAKE IT. Did you
ever thought of including this one on the album?
“We had a vision for our album, and it had to be a cohesive and inspiring
piece of new work. Shake It still finds its way into our live set though.”
All the artwork for your music used to be glossy, glamorous and flashy. The cover sleeve of the album is different. It’s the title that dominates the look. A conscious choice?
“The album is high concept and thought-provoking. We wanted to make a statement. It was very exciting working with cover art legend Malcolm Garrett (Buzzcocks, Duran Duran, Simple Minds) on all our artwork and band merch, and we had many meetings to discuss ideas.
We took a very bold step in not putting our band name on the front cover – but letting
the statement speak for itself, and there’s gold on the cover! Plus wearable glamour, we collaborated with cult UK jewelers Tatty Devine on a gold mirror necklace based on the album artwork, and we’ve gold t-shirts.”
You recently launched a video clip for the LP’s title track.
How did the content came about? What’s the idea behind
“The Truth Is The New Gold music video is all about the search for truth in melting worlds. Set in beautiful landscapes it’s also unsettling as we stride across the narrows, caped in gold and morphing into new shapes ourselves.
It was entirely shot using drones, and the drones became characters too, like surveillance machines. Kat directed it, along with David Morris from Flying Film Labs who did the amazing filming.”
Any memorable anecdotes of the ‘making of’ in the studio?
“No trashed TVs just trashed hard drives! A lot of the sounds on the album were
taken from field recordings that we made and interesting objects. We were doing
lots of experimental sound making, using things that would disintegrate and never
sound the same again.
For example, never use crystals as percussion instruments!
Listen carefully and you can hear the sound of crystals
In Feral Five we have our studio language. When one of us says ‘can
we make it sound more silver’ we know exactly what that means.”
I suppose you got this question already a million times. What about
the Artificial Intelligence vocals? What does that mean? How does
“Playing with reality in sound, we collaborated with Berlin technologists Birds on Mars who created an ‘AI Kat’ for us. Kat had to record her voice, and they trained their AI on it to give us AI vocal synthesis that we could use to make new and unique otherworldly vocals on four of the tracks.
It became a character too, an instigator, an oracle. In Silver Sky it almost sounds like an AI child, retorting to Kat’s human vocals telling her: “it’s not the end, it’s not the end.”
GOLDEN RULE is one of my favourite pieces. It’s about what we need to survive: togetherness. Should we be hopeful that this can actually happen in these troubled times?
“It’s great to hear that Golden Rule resonates with you. That was the reason it’s the final track on the album. Togetherness is key, and yes that can happen. The more chaos there
is in the world, the more people respond to each other as humans, and that is a superpower.”
Will you go out and play THE TRUTH IS THE NEW GOLD on the road?
“Yes for sure. We are working with a leading audiovisual artist on a new show that will bring the album to life, make it grow, and create a unique performance in each location.”
Is this the end of a FERAL FIVE era, a continuation or
the harbinger of a new beginning?
“We’re all about newness and new beginnings. Feral Five is on a continuum.
Anything can happen in Feral land. This is just the start.”
Thank you very much for this interview.
May the road rise with Feral Five!
BURN THE LOUVRE is the musical moniker of Canadian
singer-songwriter-guitarist Jordan Speare and his sidekick
After releasing 11 songs – one per month – last year, they assembled them into their
debut album, baptized Silhouettes (stream/buy below). A collection of electrifying pop sparks, catching tunes, and self-reflective musings. Spicy stuff to feed your hungry ears.
Turn Up The Volume advices you strongly to discover these inspiring musicians. We’ll
help you with this chat with mastermind Jordan Speare who does everything himself,
who doesn’t really want to burn down the world-famous FrenchLouvre Museum,
about Twitter billionaire Elon Musk, about a girl and about 2023.
When and how did BURN THE LOUVRE start its musical journey?
“Okay, I will try to make this long story as short as possible [laughs]. I started Burn The Louvre as an indie rock band with my brother Dylan about 10 years ago.
He had his songs, and I had mine so we decided to combine our ideas, edit each other’s work and do this properly. We went through a few different bandmates during the 5 years we were active and released 2 EPs together: Post-Romance EP in 2014 and We’ll Be Just Fine in 2017.
However, shortly after we released that 2nd EP, my brother decided that he didn’t want to do this anymore. So that was difficult for sure. I basically had to start all over again from scratch. Fast forward through a couple more line-up changes that didn’t work out and I found myself without a band for the first time at 28 years old.
I really didn’t know how to be a solo artist, but I had these 11 songs all finished and ready to go that would end up becoming Silhouettes, I knew I had to record them. I enlisted help from my friend Andrew Billone of indie rock band Silvertone Hills to play lead guitar and bass for me on all 11 songs on the album and asked my friend & fellow singer/songwriter Stephanie Deshane if she would sing with me on “Alison”.
My friend Mickey Ellsworth recorded, mixed, mastered & produced the entire record himself and was instrumental in the sound and the finished product. We finished wrapping up the recording of Silhouettes late 2018, shortly afterwards I received an
email from my current guitarist Sean Cooper. He was answering a “Musicians Wanted”
ad I had put up on Kijiji, I had forgotten to take it down.
So we ended up getting together for a beer, we hit it off, we got together to jam the following week and we’ve been getting together an average of once a week ever since.
So now we’re an indie rock duo, if you will. I’m sorry, I know that wasn’t exactly a short answer [laughs].”
Who came up with the band’s name and is there a story behind it?
“So I came up with the name when my brother & I first started the band about 10 years ago or so? The name Burn The Louvre actually came from a Fight Club quote! It’s not in the movie, but it’s a line in the book. I just loved how many different ways a name like that can be interpreted, which is fitting as to how many different ways our music can be interpreted. Lots of genre-mashing in there.
But just to clarify, we are definitely just an indie rock band and not a terrorist group [laughs]. Fight Club is definitely my favourite movie and I really loved the book as well. It just made sense to me, right? The thing that I love the most about our band name is that there are a couple different connotations surrounding it depending on how you interpret it.
The two extremes I see are either: A) “Down with the upper echelon! Let’s burn The Louvre!”, which is pretty self-explanatory: rise up and revolt, right? Or as I like to interpret our band name: B) “People don’t care about art anymore. If art is so undervalued, then let’s just burn The Louvre down and see if anyone misses it. Mankind doesn’t deserve The Louvre anyways.”
You’re an indie DIY duo. What does that really mean in reality?
“Well, when you’re an independent musician, DIY really means DEY as in “Do Everything Yourself”. It’s an enormous amount of work, especially when you’re working a full-time job on top of trying to carve out a music career.
So releasing 11 songs in 11 months this past year when I was handling every aspect of the release by myself, song registration + tracking, social media, promotion, marketing, PR, bookings etc.
Let’s just say I did not have a whole lot of fun in 2022 [laughs].”
Which of your songs would you pick to introduce yourself as an artist to people who never heard of BTL?
“I would probably pick “Lost With You”. It’s our most popular song according to Spotify with over 15,000 plays since it was released on 05/31/2022. It’s a fun, upbeat indie pop song and clocking in at only 2:35, I feel like it’s the perfect introduction to our music for the modern music fan’s attention span [laughs].”
You released your debut album SILHOUETTESlast month. It features all 11 tracks you released this year, one per month. What/who triggered the idea to do it this way?
“Well I had these 11 songs ready to go and I knew they belonged on an album together before I went into record with our producer extraordinaire Mickey Ellsworth. I also knew that it makes very little sense in 2022 for an independent artist to release a full-length album all at once without any kind of label support. Streaming services like Spotify are set up to reward artists for releasing material consistently. They recommend a new single every 4-6 weeks or so to fully benefit from the algorithmic bonuses you’d receive, so in order to appease these Spotify algorithm gods [rolls eyes], I was kind of forced to treat each song as its own individual release in an attempt to capitalize on the potential for more playlist adds.
The fact that you can only pitch one song per release to the Spotify Editorial Playlists
also influenced my decision. So what that means is, say I released Silhouettes all at once as one album, I would only be able to pick ONE song off of the record to pitch for Editorial Playlist consideration…whereas by releasing the songs individually as singles first, I was able to pitch each of them for consideration instead. That’s its own slippery slope and it is extremely difficult to get placed on one of those Spotify Editorial Playlists, but the potential pay-off was too great for me not to at least try my luck and give each song a fair opportunity to make the cut.
So the decision was kind of made for me as to how I was going to be releasing this album and because there were 11 songs to release, the only way I could release them all in the same year, so that it would qualify as an album, was to release the first single in January, which would mean that the last single “Honolulu”, would be released in November.
At which point I re-released everything as one full album. The waterfall strategy of releasing the singles individually before the album is out, if you will. The timeline
worked out perfectly, as I know that it’s typically not very effective releasing anything
new in December, as people are so preoccupied with Christmas and the holiday season, nobody’s really paying attention to anything else, so this gave me ample time to release everything before Christmas.”
Is the album’s title in any way related to the whole of the record?
“So, after my brother left the band back in late 2017, I had these 11 songs that had kind
of been sitting on the sidelines for a little while; I had written them all from age 24-27 and they all just so happened to be about ex-girlfriends and women that I used to know [laughs], total coincidence.
So after spending time on these 11 songs, I realized that they actually fit really well together and kind of told a bit of a story about a young man’s growth from moving on from a short-term relationship where maybe he wasn’t as good as he should have been to re-discovering life as a single man, to finding new love, to then losing that love as well and by the end of the album he’s stuck reminiscing about what went wrong and he’s left longing for the girl he lost in the first place.
I decided to put these 11 songs together on an LP called Silhouettes, named after the title track. Silhouettes is a bit of a nod to the fact that the women who inspired these songs are silhouettes of my past. I think there’s a certain beauty in the idea that people who were once a big part of your life become nothing more than shadows after the relationship ends. This LP is my way of paying tribute to these women who impacted my life in some way.”
Who created the LP’s artwork and what did you want to visualize with it?
“Isn’t it beautiful?? My friend Billy Pozeg created the album artwork for this record and I could not be happier with how it turned out. Billy is a graphic designer and he used to run one of the biggest independent live music venues in Hamilton called Club Absinthe; we would play there all the time.
He actually created the artwork for Silhouettes as a show poster for our first EP Release show back in November 2014. I loved the poster so much I asked him if I could use it for
an album cover one day. He was gracious enough to just give me the design, we altered it very slightly and what we are left with is one of the most beautiful album covers I’ve ever seen.
The fact that the design of The Louvre on fire is inside of a silhouette of a woman, whereas all of the songs on this record are about different women in some regard, it just made too much sense. We’ve definitely gotten a ton of compliments on the album art, so if you’re reading this Billy, you are the man!”
DUMB is definitely one of my fav tracks? What’s the song about?
“I am so glad you like that one! Thanks again for including it on your 30 Best Tracks Of 2022! Honestly, that one really humbled me. So “Dumb” is one of three songs on the album that is about my on-again/off-again ex-girlfriend Maya . “Achilles’ Heel” & “Easy” are the other two. They are tracks # 6, 7 and 8 on the album and they kind of play out together like a trilogy whereas: “Achilles’ Heel” is about when we first got together when everything was wonderful.
“Easy” is about the first time we broke up (“nothing’s ever easy”) and “Dumb” is about the aftermath of said on-again/off-again relationship, where I find myself desperately missing her, but I’m too proud or in this case “too smart” to give in and go back to her. The ironic thing about that is that we’ve gotten back together again at least twice since I wrote and recorded that song, so I obviously am just “as dumb as I thought I was”.
This was a really fun song to write though. I was listening to a lot of The Dirty Nil at the time, so this one (along with a couple other tracks on this LP) is heavily punk-influenced. This song is me attempting to write a Dirty Nil song, so I was basically just doing a terrible Luke Bentham impression the entire time. The general message of “Dumb” is to stay strong, be proud and whatever you do, don’t be dumb enough to go back to the person who hurt you; and then I decided to sneak a bunch of lines in there joking about killing
I made sure to add some lines in later that cemented the fact that the whole thing is meant to be an obvious joke. She had heard this song long before I recorded it and actually really liked it, appreciated the humour in it and completely signed off on it.
Just so everybody knows.
I thought it’d be funny to write a song from the perspective of the person who was left where you’re basically fantasizing about killing your ex throughout the entirety of the song (“I’ll give your best to your new boyfriend and let him know that he won’t ever see your face again”), before reiterating (over & over again) that you’re not “dumb” enough to ever actually act on it. I really had a strong feeling that the cowbell would really work really well in this song and I am so glad it did. The cherry on top of this stupid fucking song [laughs].”
Do you have another 11 singles ready to make us happy in 2023?
“So that’s a hard no [laughs]. This LP was a long time coming. I was working on it
since my brother quit the band back in late 2017. I overcame a lot of adversity putting these 11 songs together and had to deal with countless roadblocks on the way to
Obviously, the recording/mixing/mastering process for an 11-song LP is a very long one and definitely not something I’m eager to do again, although Mickey did an INCREDIBLE job on this record. I only want to release singles and EPs from now on. Being a DIY artist means I did 100% of the PR and promotion for this album by myself.
So sending out thousands of emails every month for 11 months just absolutely drained my mental health. As soon as I’ve wrapped up promotion on this record, I’m going to spend most of 2023 taking a long break from social media & email and mainly focus the majority of my time on gigging, practicing & improving instead of promoting/marketing, which I really hate.”
“Having said that, we have a LOT of new material. I have at least 10-15 songs that I feel deserve to be recorded and Sean has at least 5 of his own as well. So we are definitely going to spend the majority of 2023 demoing these new songs and trying to perfect them before we head back into the studio to record; hopefully with the great Mickey Ellsworth again! I can’t say enough good things about him as a producer. But from now on, 4-6 songs per year is my new threshold. Releasing 11 songs in one year was far too much work for one person to do all by themselves.”
Suppose your album was a movie, which one would it be?
“I am so glad you asked this question because I actually have a GREAT answer for it [laughs]. So, as I had mentioned earlier, my decision to release Silhouettes as 11 singles was mainly to appease the Spotify & streaming service algorithm gods [rolls eyes again], but I figured that if I was going to release this album in 11 parts, why not release the songs all out of order?
That way it gives people an extra reason to go back and listen to the entire album in the correct order once it’s released, right? The inspiration for my release strategy came from the movie (500) Days Of Summer, where the movie tells the story of the relationship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s & Zooey Deschanel’s characters entirely out of order.
The movie keeps flipping back and forth between various moments throughout their 500 days as a couple and as it does this, the picture gradually becomes clearer and clearer. I felt that seeing as this LP dealt with similar themes of love and loss, it made sense to me to draw inspiration from this cool indie rom-com. Silhouettes essentially is an indie rom-com [laughs].”
THE event of 2022?
“Honestly, probably Elon Musk buying Twitter. That man rocks so many boats that nobody asked him to, I absolutely love it. Leaking the “Twitter Files” where there is likely nothing for him to personally gain from it, just shining some extra light on all of the political corruption we’re living through. I can’t wait to see what he does in 2023.”
Now that 2022 is over, what’s the best track and album you heard this past year?
“I love these questions! Best track is a very tough one. I don’t know if I could narrow it down to 1 song specifically. But if I had to pick my favourite album of 2022, I couldn’t do that either! [laughs] The best I could do would be to narrow it down, in which case it would be a 3-way tie between Cool It Down by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Formentera by Metric. and Blue Rev by Alvvays. Just three spectacular records by three spectacular bands that in my opinion, each deserve consideration for Album Of The Year.”
Name 3 things you really want to happen for BURN THE LOUVRE in 2023
“1. Personal growth as musicians and songwriters. I feel these new songs we’re working
on are excellent and very different from these ones, so I am very excited to get these down and just become better at what we’re doing. We’re looking into adding some new members, so I’m excited for what that does in terms of our sound.
2. Another recording session. While I know it’s unrealistic to say we’re going to release
new music next year when I know how long the entire process takes, it would be great if we could be at least ready to head into the studio by the end of 2023 to record another 6 songs.”
3. More radio play. We’ve already gotten a great response from radio for these songs so far! So that’s been extremely encouraging, but I still have a fair amount of pitching to radio still to do for the first month or two of 2023, so I am hopeful we’ll continue to get accepted and get our music out there into the world.”
Thank you, Jordan, for this interview.
May the road rise with Burn The Louvre in 2023.
Do not hesitate. Buy/stream SILHOUTTES
here via Bandcamp
The eternal Stooge-punk-father released his 19th LP Every Loser last week.
But today we return into the past, to the year 1982, when the passenger stopped
at the legendary American TV Show with David letterman and talked about his unusual upbringing, why he likes to hurt himself on stage and working with David Bowie.
Eternal working class hero JOHN LENNON was killed on 8 December 1980.
More than 40 years later his songwriting Beatle brother PAUL McCARTNEY remembers the sad event in an interview with SiriusXM’s The Beatles Channel: “It was difficult for everyone in the world cause he was such a loved character and such a crazy guy, you know, that he was so special. And so it had hit me so much so that I couldn’t really talk about it. I remember getting home from the studio on the day that we’d heard the news he died and turning the TV on and seeing people say, ‘Well, John Lennon was this,’ and ‘What he was, was this,’ and ‘I remember meeting him’.
And it was like, I don’t know, I can’t be one of those people. I can’t just go on TV and say what John meant to me. It was just too deep. It’s just too much. I couldn’t put it into words. I was in a building that would become my recording studio, and there were just a couple of little empty rooms upstairs,” he explained. “So I found a room and just sat on the wooden floor in a corner with my guitar and just started to play the opening chords to ‘Here Today.’”
Sparkling Italian synth-guitar-pop act THE BANKROBBER is centered
around siblings Giacomo and Maddalena Oberti. Turn Up The Volume is
a vivid fan since their 2018 album Missing with its effervescent shaped
pop-ular tunes without frontiers.
This year the band came back with a stellar new 6-track EP, named LIGHTERS and is voted Best EP of 2022 by Turn Up The Volume.
Say no more.
Enough reasons to have a chat with capobanda Giacomo about the EP
but also about their Euro tour, a scary night in France, The Clash (of course),
the siblings’ inspirational father and more.
But, as usual, we start an interview with a piece of music. Here’s one of my
fav tracks off the EP where they went from bankrobbers to bankrockers.
When and how did THE BANKROBBER started its musical journey?
“We started as a band many years ago, playing the songs we loved. We had
the rehearsal room in the cellar under the house, after the first gigs we wanted
to start writing our songs and over the years the project has changed shape
up to today’s line up.”
Who came up with the band’s name and is there story behind?
“We were kids and we mostly listened to punk music. We had a list of names
from songs or album by artists we loved like “Shadow Play” by Joy Division and “Bankrobber” by The Clash. I decided for The Bankrobber because it sounded great
to me and it still does, I also love the meaning so I really like our band’s name.”
Your father was in a prog rock band in the 70s and now his daughter and
son are making music for some time. Were you inspired by your dad?
“Sure! We grew up in a house full of music and records so it helped a lot
to build our passion for music and our creativity. He also always bought
us the records we wanted and encouraged to make music but without
Father Oberti on the far left – drummer for
with prog-rock band Men Of Lake in the 70s
Which of your songs would you pick to introduce
THE BANKROBBER to people who never heard of you?
“Hard question! I think our music has a soft romantic side and a more energetic side,
so I will probably would say “Blood” which was released between the two albums.”
The brand new EP ‘LIGHTERS’ is a great work of pop
excellence. Does the title relate to the 6 songs?
“Actually it’s not, we are going to release another EP called “Lovers” and the full album’s title will be Lighters and Lovers. We chose this name from one of the songs we were producing for the record but then we decided to save it for a future release.”
With song titles like ‘Kill My Name’, ‘Hate Me’, ’Bury Me Softly’
and ‘Leah Dies’ it’s like the EP is not really a happy one.
“We define this new work something between Dark and romantic, there are often
both elements. introspective, abstract and dark lyrics that somehow speak of love.”
WHITE SKIN is my absolute fav piece.
What’s the song about?
“White Skin is a love song about distance. A love letter.”
“The video for ‘White Skin’ is top too.
What did you want to express with the clip?”
“To get a more precise answer we should ask my sister who conceived and directed
the video but it is set during prom and she wanted to give the protagonist an almost magical aura to make the story dreamy and romantic.”
Next year another EP named LOVERS is coming out.
What can you already reveal about it ?
“It’s going to be a five songs EP, we produced everything in the same
period so the whole project sounds heterogeneous but with common
We can also say that there will be a feat. In one of the songs.”
Any anecdotes about your recent Euro tour?
“We are very happy to be back after two years without concerts.
During this tour everything went very well except for a couple of scary
accommodations and a crazy adventure by night. We were in France and
we almost had to cross the country in one day. So after the concert we
headed back to the next city but we were too tired and we looked for
rooms to rest a bit.
At one point we entered the parking lot of a motel to see if there was the
possibility of staying overnight when we realize that the gate had closed
behind us blocking us inside.
No one was answering at the motel’s phone number so we
had to wait for someone to come in or leave. We decided to
sleep in the van while we waited and after a few hours
a very drunk man came in opening the gate and leading
us to freedom!”
What’s the best track/album you heard all year?
“I loved Skinty Fia by Fontaines D.C.”
Suppose you were asked to cover a Xmas carol,
which one would it be and how would it sound?
“Christmas songs sound too happy for us, haha. Actually, I like almost
all Christmas tunes but I don’t really know if I don’t know if I could make
a version with our sounds while keeping the spirit but let’s try with “The Christmas Song ” by Nat King Cole.”
Which track will you play when the clock
strikes midnight on 31 December.
“This is unpredictable! It will depend on the moment
but I think I would put something really powerful.”
Name three things you really want to happen in 2023?
“In terms of projects I’m building my production studio and I hope to work
a lot in it, I also would love to play with my band at some great festivals and
of course, I want to feel good with my friends and family.”
Thank you for this interview, Giacomo!
May the road rise with The Bnakrobber in 2023.
They rock, they roll, they have swagger, they have looks, they are for real, they
are THE DARTS. After being locked up for about two years, like all of us, the female,
4-cylinder powerhouse from Phoenix came back with tons of energy and an appetite
for a love tsunami these past 12 months. They dropped a new 3-avid-tracks EP last April and kept on touring in the free world for months.
And the future looks even busier. Not only one but two longplayers are waiting to
be unleashed in 2023 followed by gigging as much as they can. Thanks to upfront
dart Nicole Laurenne we get more details about this and next year.
But before starting the chat, Turn Up The Volume, as usual, starts an interview with
a slice of music. Open up your ears and your eyes for The Darts‘ brand-new super-duper single SNAKE OIL, the smashing title track of the upcoming LP.
What’s the story behind the band’s name, Nicole?
“A lot of people – well, people without boobs anyway – don’t realize it, but shirts made for people with boobs have to have seams sewn on the sides of the chest area to allow extra room. In English those seams are called “darts”.
I wanted a name that was unique to people who identify as female without being too obvious, and for some reason an image of a 1940s bullet bra came to mind, with its extreme darts! The bullet bra was one of our first logos, designed by artist Justin Barker.
I love that most guys don’t even know there is an alternate meaning of the word “dart”.
Which of your songs would you pick to introduce
THE DARTS to people who never heard of you?
“Probably “My Heart Is A Graveyard” and “Love U 2 Death,” because they both have that vibe of being dark but not too serious. That’s a big part of The Darts thing, lyrically, musically, even visually. We might smile a lot, but there’s always a little blood on the teeth.”
You played a live session for renowned radio station KEPX in Seattle this year.
But, as you told me before, Covid-19 almost blew the planned performance.
What exactly happened?
“We worked really hard for a long time with DJ Brian Foss to finally get that coveted slot on KEXP sessions. They gave us a date in July 2022. The pandemic was finally lifting a little and the station said if anyone tested positive for covid the day of the session, they would have to cancel us. We weren’t worried. We had a new EP out and we were finally back to touring after two years of lockdown, and we were totally ready.
We headed out around the USA for the first two legs of the tour… and them Christina
and I came home with covid. Like really nasty, can’t-move-for-a-week, no-food, no-music covid. This was three weeks before the KEXP appearance. We tested every day, sometimes multiple times a day, praying to the gods of rock that we would test negative in time for the session. Literally two days before we left for Seattle, exhausted and desperate, I finally tested negative.
We arrived in Seattle at KEXP and they rigorously tested everyone – the band, the DJs, photographers, studio people, everyone – before anyone could even go into the building. We all tested negative. And the session was one of the most amazing things we have ever done to date. It was a covid miracle.”
Full KEXP show
Last April the band released a 3-track EP, titled ‘LOVE TSUNAMI’.
Is it the harbinger for a new album in 2023?
‘It is definitely a taste of things to come, but Love Tsunami was actually recorded before the pandemic, by a new producer for the band, Gerald Schöenherr. Our friend Etti Bowen sat in on drums for the recording. With everything locked down right after that, we had to wait forever to get it out there.
Our European labels Adrenalin Fix Music, Dirty Water Records, Beluga Records, and Ghost Highway Recordings got together and put it out on vinyl and the 7” vinyls arrived literally on the last day of our European tour. Yeah, we’re good at timing apparently. But we love this little 7”, the songs are so much fun to play live.”
“There’s a big tempo-change in the middle of the track “Underground” that was a new writing challenge I gave myself, and that has turned out to be one of my favorite parts
of the live set now. The lyrics to “Shit Show” are cathartic every night after all these years
of, well, shit, and “Love Tsunami” is just a surf-y, girl-group party song.
Our next album, “Snake Oil,” was recorded in April 2022 by our long-time producer Bob Hoag, with new drummer Mary Rose Gonzales on drums, and with Jello Biafra very involved in the sound and production. So the new record will definitely have a different feel than the EP; definitely a little darker at times, and with some pretty epic ballads that we are super proud of.”
You were all fired up when I saw you playing in Antwerp (Belgium) last October, like young Amazons happy to get on stage again after the awful lockdown period. Why is playing live such a booster for all of you?
“Playing live has always been the life-blood of this band. There is no better rush than playing a song you’ve written and rehearsed in an empty room, and then finally hearing
it explode on stage and watching the audience explode right along with us. And after a couple years of not having that feeling, we were all hungry for it. It’s hard to make music
in a vacuum without that energy and feedback from an audience.
Seeing everyone again, especially so many old friends in Europe, was absolutely
the best reward for getting through the pandemic, and we didn’t take it for granted
for one minute.”
Darting in Antwerp – 2 October 2022 (photo by Turn Up the Volume)
Which big-name artist(s)/band(s) would you love to tour with and why?
“I’m pretty sure everyone in this band would give you a different answer to this question. We’ve toured with The Damned, played with The Ventures and Joan Jett and Jello and L7 and Devo and so many incredible legends. But our current bucket list would have to include Amyl and the Sniffers, Nick Cave, Ty Segall, Jack White, and Billy Childish.
But there are also acts like Deap Vally, The Coathangers, LA Witch, Plague Vendor, Night Beats, Wet Leg and Smalltown Tigers that would make awesome tourmates for us, if you ask me. Our influences come from a lot of different places, old and new, and all of these artists inspire us a lot.”
What movie would you pick to soundtrack THE DARTS’ music, Nicole?
“Anything directed by Quentin Tarantino, obviously. But I recently
binge-watched the series “Killing Eve” and thought over and over that
our music would have fit perfectly with its black-hearted humor
The best track and album you heard this year?
“We’ve all been digging “Chaise Lounge” by Wet Leg, like most of the world. But on a personal level, I’ve been getting oddly attached to Dry Cleaning’s new album “Stumpwork.” Maybe all that blaisé, detached vocal stuff is a nice change of pace for me after screaming into a microphone or something.”
THE event – good and bad – of 2022?
“Playing on KEXP was the highlight, but a couple of the Europe tour shows
were also unforgettable. Making two new records and having to wait endlessly
for vinyl manufacturing is definitely the lowlight of the year. I’m not good at waiting.”
Your fav Xmas carol, Nicole?
“Santa Baby,” but only when sung by Eartha Kitt of course.
Ok, it’s not really a carol but it should be.”
“Which song would you pick to play on New Year’s Eve and why?
Our entire new album “Snake Oil,” on repeat. Because 2023
is going to be its year and I can’t wait!!”
Name three things you really want to happen in 2023?
“I want to release not one, but two new full-length albums, spend most of our time touring internationally, and write and record a third album before the year is out. This is all going to happen, I am visualizing it.”
Thank you very much for this chat, Nicole.
May the road rise with The Darts in 2023.
Christina and Nicole – Darts sisters in garage rock crime (Photo by Turn Up The Volume)
While waiting for the new LP you can stream/buy
the latest one I LIKE YOU BUT NOT LIKE THAT here…
VIOLET NOX is an experimental electronic tandem from Boston – Dez DeCarlo and
Andrew Abrahamson, from Boston – who collaborate frequently with other artists. They operate sonically somewhere in a bright void between earth and outer space where they create synth symphonies for dreamers, romantics and all of us who want to escape from reality now and then, enjoying relaxing and mind-pleasing soundtracks.
Intriguing, right? Absolutely. Discover more about these architects of transcendent trips in stereo in this upcoming chat. But first, as usual, Turn Up The Volume starts an Q & A with a piece of music. In these case, listen to one of the highlights of Violet Nox‘s stargazing 2022 EP ‘Eris Awakes‘.
When and how did VIOLET NOX start its musical journey?
DEZ: “The idea for the project was originally inspired by John Coltrane‘s music.
One night when listening to Coltrane, the music clicked with me deeply and I
understood the improvisational space he was coming from.
I really wanted to create a project that was experimental combining electronic
sounds. In 2016, Karen Zanes and I got together with Eric Jackson, an electronic
drummer, and Violet Nox was born!”
What’s the story behind your project’s name?
DEZ: “Violet, is a very high frequency color and energy that I love.
Nox came from the word “Equinox” meaning change, transformation,
new beginnings, reset.”
Which artists is your work influenced by and why?
DEZ: “I’m heavily influenced more by life experiences that transform
me and melt into musical sounds and patterns. I like sitting in silence,
taking space, then creating from a blank page.”
ALEXIS:“The artists who may have influenced my contributions to Violet Nox
include: Can, Albert Ayler, Brian Eno, Silver Apples, Konono Nº1 & Sun Ra.”
ANDREW: “I think that is something that unites Dez and I in the creative process,
the idea of starting from a blank page as much as possible. In my mind we’re making functional music, so the mental effects of things like binaural beats and extended
drones are more of an influence to me than particular artists or genres.”
. You’re an indie DIY act. What does that mean in reality?
DEZ: “Everything, really. Andrew and I both came from punk rock backgrounds.
We record all our own music, create our marketing and publicity and manage our
press contacts. We also produce our own events. Community is very important
We have a team of solid amazing friends who we work with that create videos
for songs and visuals for our live performances. A big shout out to Allison
Tanenhaus and DebStep for all their creative input and help with Violet Nox!
It’s a lot of energy networking, connecting with people, releasing your records,
organizing shows, but it’s all possible! I highly encourage any artists who are
waiting for things to happen, to take the lead and do it yourself!
We have been lucky to have some great small independent labels release music
for us too! UK labels: Reverb Worship and Sleep Fuserecords, USA Infinity Records,
and German labels, Aumega Project and 23 SWRecords-which is a sub-label of Aumega Project.
We also had 2 songs included on the recent German compilation “Empire of the 4 Moons, Gruselthon records. We released various remixes with UK duo “The Deckadent Movement” and Boston artist J. Bagist.”
. ANDREW: “So many talented people beyond the band contribute so maybe
a Do It Together ethic is more accurate. I’d say Do It Ourselves but DIO is taken.”
Which of your songs would you pick to introduce
VIOLET NOX to people who never heard of you?
DEZ: “I’d say “Eris” from our Eris Wakes EP that came out last March.”
ANDREW: “I’m going to say “Wolfe Visitor” off of ‘Whispering Galaxy’ just
because I went back through our catalog to answer this question and
forgot how much I like it.”
This year saw the release of your excellent ‘ERIS WAKES’ EP.
Are the songs related or are all six standing on their own?
DEZ: “The songs are definitely connected with more of a space, star, galaxy vibe for sure.”
ANDREW: “Writing and recording that EP was a transformational period for the band artistically. For me that struggle toward a new sound is what unites the songs. The Eris Wakes has other meanings but it captures that well.”
. Who/what is ERIS?
DEZ: “Eris is the Greek goddess of strife, discord and chaos. She is the patron Saint of chaotic creation, rebellious, transformative, awakening, the truth-teller, she is pure fire. Eris is also one of the first dwarf planets to be discovered in the solar system.”
Who developed the EP’s artwork and what
did you want to express with the image?
JEFF: “My name is Jeff Bartell and I’m an artist living in Brooklyn, NY and I created the artwork for ‘Eris Wakes‘. Like with any artwork I do for music projects, I sought to create something thematically fitting and visually satisfying in terms of connecting with the overall album or sonic expression.
In the case of this particular record, I wanted to balance some sense of the chaos, while blending that with a sense of surreal dreaminess. I think this dichotomy is represented in the album and now, the artwork.”
Artwork ‘Eris Awakes’ EP (stream below)
Suppose your music was the soundtrack of
a movie, which one would it be?
DEZ: “From the “Eris Wakes” album I would say “Spaceport 5.”
ANDREW: “I’d say “Senzor” from “Empire of the 4 Moons” Gruselthon Records Germany, since that whole comp is already sort of a soundtrack to a science fiction novel of the
same name by Enko Landmann.”
What’s the best track and album you heard this year?
ANDREW: “If I only get one, what I’ve had on regular repeat is Taravana
by Luigi Tozzi off Deep Blue: Volume 3 on Hypnus Records. Anything on Hypnus if I get more than one.”
NOELL: “Best album Cat le Bon “Pompeii” and best
track “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Roy Ayer’s”
If you were asked to cover
a Xmas song which one would it be?
ANDREW: “If my hand was forced I’d opt for all tracks
of the William Shatner Christmas Album simultaneously.”
DEZ: “The Chipmunk Song.”
NOELL: “Whams! Last Christmas for the win.
The music video for this song is amazing.
Go watch it!”
Name 3 things you really want to happen in 2023.
DEZ: “We would like to release a full album which we plan to do in late Spring 2023.
We definitely will release more videos and remixes. We would love to tour more and possibly performing in Europe would be the dream!”
NOELL: “In 2023 I would like to see Global Action and attention towards Climate
change, women and trans rights, the end of Ukraine crisis, a resolution to Iran’s
civil unrest, Somalia’s famine. Covid is still with us! I would like to see more people
wear a mask. Lastly, on a personal level, I just want to hang out with more cats!”
ANDREW: “I can’t get the reins around just 3 things on a world scale so I’m going to restrain my picks to what I’d like to happen in my personal realm of music. For that much simpler 3: I’d like to see collaborations spawn collaborations. I’d like to be near people listening and seeing in ways that surprise them. I want to remember as much of it as possible.”
Thank you Dez, Andrew, Noell ad Jeff for this chat.
May the road rise with Violet Nox in 2003!
Glaswegian post-punks MEMES are a sharp-teethed and politically/socially outspoken
2-motor engine that produces loud and clear uppercuts. From their steamed-up debut single, Blah Blah Blah, (released in 2019) on, my ears fell in love with the duo’s blistering sound.
And when I saw them cheering up the crowd in Antwerp (Belgium) last April, when playing
a whirlwind post-Fontaines D.C. show I knew they are here to stay, leading us to more big bangers in 2023.
But first this chat with the nephews (yep, they are family) about nonsmokers, Wham, Steve Lamacq, the Scottish national anthem and more. And as usual Turn Up The Volume starts an interview with a slice of music. Here’s MEMES newest single Leader.
How/when did you start jour musical journey?
“We were playing in another band together with some other musicians. It became really difficult and really expensive to drive drum kits around in vans to gigs so we decided to try and simplify our sound as much as possible and see if we could play a show with only the bare essentials, that is how MEMES were born.
Our first gig we played Blah Blah Blah four times as we only had 1 song. Our second gig was a BBC 6 Music live session for Steve Lamacq (note TUTV: a former legendary NME writer) so we had to hit the ground running.”
What’s the story behind the band’s name?
“We wanted something short and snappy the same as how we intended our songs
to be short and snappy. We originally wanted to call ourselves MUCK but
that name was taken.”
Which song would you pick to introduce MEMES to people who never heard of you?
“Probably Blah Blah Blah as it captured the true essence of what the band is.”
Well, BLAH BLAH BLAH worked for me. With that nasty bass riff,
it made me an instant MEMES fan. What’s the song about?
“Blah Blah Blah was recorded in a bedroom in 2 hours, no overdubs no fancy production tricks just one take of everything and wham bam it was done. You can’t get more punk than that. We were just having some fun and I think you can hear it in the recording.”
Who/what inspired your blistering post-punk sound?
“When we started experimenting with the drum loops on the laptop we realised it sounded good with a heavy distorted bass guitar, we wanted to keep it simple and angry. No gimmicks and focus on the essence, this is what people we admire like Lou Reed and Chuck Berry wanted to achieve .”
My number 2 on my fav MEMES list is CHEER UP. There’s not a lot
to cheer about lately. Name 3 things we should cheer up for anyway.
“The lyrics to Cheer Up change every time we gig depending on who we want
to poke fun at that day. You are right there is not much to cheer about
lately that is for sure. Cheer Up because 100% of nonsmokers will die.”
Suppose you were asked to write your own version of the national Scottish item how would it sound and what would it be named?
“It would definitely sound angry and we would name it ‘Jock Around The Clock.’”
You played several shows in Europe this year. Any special tour memories?
“We loved touring in Europe it was so much fun, especially after being locked down like caged animals for a year and a half. A particular favourite was playing Supersonic in Paris, good times.”
Cheering Up In Belgium (Photo by Turn Up The Volume)
There’s a lot of media attention, fortunately, for the growing financial costs/problems of touring, affecting obviously smaller bands/acts.
How do you manage to do want you do in these difficult times?
“As we mentioned earlier, the price of van hire and petrol etc is making it really
difficult for bands to tour, we are stripped down to the bare bones and it is still
very difficult. But where there is a will there is a way.”
Which artist(s)/band(s) would you love to tour with and why?
“We really love Black Midi and would love to tour with them.”
Black Midi – Antwerp, Belgium (photo by Turn Up The Volume)
If MEMES music would soundtrack a movie, which want would it be?
“It would have to be Braveheart then we could put our version
of the Scottish national anthem in the soundtrack.”
The best track and album you heard this year?
‘It’s a few years old but we have been listening to it a lot this year which is Damo Suzuki from CAN with Black Midi as his backing band, live from the Windmill in Brixton, London. Damo Suzuki and Black Midi together it doesn’t get much better than that and we highly recommend it.”
If MEMES would cover a Xmas song,
which one would it be?
“Last Christmas by Wham!”
Which song (s) will you play on New Year’s Eve and why?
“Hopefully one of our own songs if we can get a gig that night.”
Name three things you really want to happen in 2023 for the band?
“Our priority for 2023 is to make our debut album. We would also love to tour Europe more and see some new countries. Thats only 2 things but we can’t think of a third.”
Thank you for this chat, John and Paul. May the road rise with Memes in 2023
DIM GRAY are three Norwegian musicians coming from different places, both musically and geographically. All three have contrasting backgrounds in genres as diverse as black metal, progressive rock, blues, folk and film music, but in fusing these together they have developed their own distinctive sound.
On their excellent second album, named FIRMAMENT the trio floats in a universe
where the poignancy and starry-eyed melodrama of Sigur Rós and the spiritual
vocality of day-and-night dreamers Fleet Foxes become one.
Turn Up The Volume wanted to know, and you probably too, about these symphonic pop architects. But as usual, we start an interview with a piece of music. Here’s Mare, one
of the highlights of the longplayer.
How/when started DIM GRAY start its musical career?
Tom: “We first met in 2012 when we all started to study for our bachelors
degree in music in Olso, and Dim Gray was formed soon after early 2013.”
What’s the story behind the band’s name?
Tom: “We had our first gig and needed a name. We had several suggestions,
and I think all of them had a colour in them. After several suggestions back
and forth between Håkon and me into the wee hours, we ended up with “Dim Gray.”
Now all these years later, I feel we have grown into the
name, and give it even more meaning with our music.”
Which song would you pick to introduce DIM GRAY
to people who never heard of you?
Håkon: “Maybe Mare, Avalon | The Tide and Black Sun is a good start
to get to know Dim Gray and we still enjoy playing them live also.”
Oskar: “I think Avalon | The Tide from Firmament would be a good
starting point. I feel like that song is “quintessentially Dim Gray,” with
important contributions from all three of us, and I also think it’s
one of our best ones yet.”
Tom: “Personally I would pick Mare or Ashes from Firmament.
They are pretty different, but still hold the essence of Dim Gray
in my ears.”
Last September you released your second album called FIRMAMENT.
Is there an overall theme or do the songs stand on their own?
Oskar: “It might be a stretch to call Firmament a concept album, but nevertheless
there are some common themes running through the album. We wanted the album
to feel like a journey, and the sequencing of the songs is very deliberate with
regard to the lyrics.
The idea was that each track should work on its own, whilst painting a greater picture when taken together with the rest of the album. And so while each song might mean something very specific to its respective lyricist, we use recurring imagery in order to
tie up the greater story.”
The album’s artwork is so stylish. Who developed it
and what did you want to express with that image?
Oskar: “Thank you! The artwork and design was done by my brilliant girlfriend Linnea Vestre. She has made the artwork for every release we’ve ever done. Where the cover for Flown was muted and subtle – and that was correct for that album – I felt that it should look more vivid and iconic this time around, to reflect the more direct, colourful, and diverse sound of the album.
I knew I ideally wanted a wave to fit with the album’s watery theme; The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai (note: Japanese painter and printmaker) (as well as the album cover for Keane‘s Under The Iron Sea were on the mood board. The moment I saw Linnea’s first draft I knew that it was right. I think the way that the wave wraps around the physical version is ingenious!”
Were all three of you involved in the making of the longplayer?
Tom: “We were all involved in one way or another. Music and lyrics have
primarily been written by Oskar and Håkon, but we have all had a hand in
arranging and creating the finished result.”
Håkon: “Yes, I think it is good to collaborate in the writing process
to get more ideas and find a fresh perspective. We start writing by
ourselves and then we meet up to figure out the shapes and sounds
CANNONS is one of my favs off the album. What is the song about and
what story did you want to tell with the funny accompanying video?
Håkon: “The song started with the main guitar riff and it took a while to
figure out how to use it, but luckily all the parts fell together in the end. It’s
about the frustration of when you get older, there are so many chores and
the same routines every day.
It made me a little crazy at the time and I waited for something big
that could wake me up. We did a music video and wanted it to be fun
We know a magician friend named Mats Svalebjørg and decided
to do a more literal interpretation of the lyric with a cannon.
We are really happy with the results and it was an amazing experience!”
Which big-name artist(s)/band(s) would you love to tour with and why?
Oskar: “Joining Peter Gabriel on his newly announced tour wouldn’t be half bad.
He’s a very important hero of mine and I think it would be a good fit musically.”
Tom: “I think that to tour with Muse or Porcupine Tree would be very cool!”
Håkon: “I think Jack White, PJ Harvey, Wilco or Paul Simon
would have been incredible.”
What movie would you pick to soundtrack your music?
Tom: “Tough question. Either a Studio Ghibli film or
a nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough!”
Håkon: “I daydream that The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings
of Power series wants to use one of our soundtracks one day!”
Oskar: “It could be anything from somber drama to vivid fantasy
or dark sci-fi. Maybe something like Arrival; although Jóhann Jóhannssons
score for that film is already perfect.”
Tom: “Regarding Dim Gray, I think it must have been the way we were
received in Stockholm when we supported Marillion on their Weekend there.
A night I will never forget.”
If DIM GRAY would cover a Xmas song, which one would it be?
Oskar:“I would be very surprised if we ever did, but never say never.
I’ve been playing with Big Big Train this year, and one of the songs we did
is a beautiful, melancholic Christmas song titled Snowfalls. It’s one of my
favourite Big Big Train songs and probably my favourite Christmas
song too, so I wouldn’t mind doing that one.”
Håkon: “Very hard to choose! It would have been fun to
do Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues (Feat. Kirsty MacCool).”
Tom: “I’m not sure if it would fit Dim Gray, but one of my all-time
favourite Christmas songs is ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ by Carpenters.
Which song will you play at New Year’s Eve and why?
Håkon: “Auld Lang Syne is a classic and I need to hear this at least once before midnight!”
Oskar: “I might live out my inner synth-pop fantasies with Til/slutt from Amalie Holt Kleive’s excellent debut album, released this year. It’s in Norwegian, but it’s a banger!”
What do you really want to happen in 2023 for DIM GRAY?
Tom: “Would love to go on tour again. We had a blast traveling with
Big Big Train in September, so hopefully we’ll get to tour again during 2023.”
Oskar: “I want us to achieve the lofty goals we have set in terms of writing,
recording, gigging, and putting ourselves out there in 2023!”
Photo by Emile Vestre
Thank you Tom, Håkon and Oskar for this interview.
May the road rise with Dim Gray next year.