We Have Band

For the last couple of years I’ve been going to an event called Bug at London’s National Film Theatre, or to give it it’s new pointless name the BFI Southbank. Hosted by Adam Buxton, with whom I have since fallen in love, it’s a look through the latest exciting music videos with some youtube banter in between. It’s great, but the selection is always quite swayed to the trendy rather than anything very popular.

One of the videos last time round was for the suitably trendy We Have Band. Their single ‘We Came Out’ features the delightfully silly/scabby lyric ‘We went out, and we got wasted! You went home and turkey basted!” sung over and over again by the yelping Dede. Colin covered them in Attitude a few months ago and we caught them live at Latitude (best festival ever) a few weeks ago. They are right on the edge of being fun DIY and so trendy they infuriate. On the whole though, their basslines are quirky and bouncy and the repetition of lyrics mean you can start singing along within about 20s of each track. Why oh why they decided to cover Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’ then is beyond me. Not only is it almost a straight cover but they’ve removed all the quirks and really zapped the energy levels.

Anyway here is the video for ‘We Went Out’:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtGJ1lD23-U[/youtube]

The video involved the band lying still for two days in a studio while 4,816 separate stills were taken to create the face-painting effect – you can see all the individual pictures over on flickr.

Beware the 456

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUMipXqC6Wo[/youtube]

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the screening of the first episode of the next Torchwood series. Entitled ‘Children of Earth’ it’s a mini series that will be shown on BBC One at some undisclosed point this summer. As a massive fan of the modern day Whoniverse, it was exciting enough to see the show, never mind sit next to RTD in the orange juice and pastry lobby. I knew I was going to be interviewing lovely Welshman Gareth David Lloyd who plays Ianto the next day, but to make things even better we were taken into another room after the screening for roundtable sessions with John Barrowman, Gareth, Eve Myles and RTD himself. On a table with experience telly journalists all fighting to get their questions in it was quite an experience. Also watching a show with the cast and crew is a strange experience because they find random bits HILARIOUS.

My Torchwood piece (incidentally my first ever print TV article – exciting) will be on the shelves in Attitude out next week but here are some sneaky cuts that didn’t make it into the finished edition

* ‘I love his tongue in my mouth.’

* ‘He’s been my long time lover for years, that’s why we’ve given him more lines.’

* ‘I have to walk through the Tardis…’

* ‘It’s in John’s contract that we all look at him with doe-y eyes’

* ‘That person up there on the screen has changed my life.’

* ‘There are a couple more snogging scenes, but most of our time is spent saving the world’

Tiga says ‘Ciao!’

tiga0409

“I had a great idea for the artwork,” smiles Tiga saucily, “It was going to be like a clock – the minute hand was the shaft of the penis and the balls made up the hour hand. Sadly it got left on the cutting room floor.’ It certainly might have made stocking the CD in HMV a bit difficult.

Initially turning our heads back in 2001 with a gorgeously dark cover of Corey Hart’s Sunglasses At Night, Tiga’s 2nd album ‘Ciao’ sees him taking a deliberately more serious approach. While his debut ‘Sexor’ was quite a heavy club record, ‘Ciao’s aim is to be a “proper album you can listen to anywhere, without skipping any tracks.” Produced mainly by Soulwax over in Belgium, a country Tiga describes as ‘steak, fries and a huge amount of sauce’, it’s an electronic album peppered with hits you can still dance to in a club (‘Mind Dimension’), rave out to while driving (the seriously epic ‘Love Don’t Dance Here Anymore’) or simply waggle your arse to while you’re doing the hoovering (‘Sex O’Clock’ – 6.09 apparently). Mission accomplished.

Having worked with Jake Shears previously on their silly cover of Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’ and Tiga’s last shot at chart success ‘You Gonna Want Me’, the glittery one was happy to be back in session on the heavy ‘Gentle Giant.’ “I love being in a studio with Jake because he’s got so much energy that he’ll go crazy and try something in 20 different ways just to see how it sounds. I’ve known him for years and it’s made me very proud to see how well he’s done.” Also involved on the track was LCD’s James Murphy – ‘the greatest producer in the world’. “I found him quite intimidating to work with,” Tiga confides. ‘He’s just so cool, with the whole punk and disco thing going on! Not of cool as me of course, but he was great fun. He makes you really argue for your point if you want to do a bassline a certain way. It made me stop being so lazy.”

The first single from the album is the deliciously silly ‘Shoes’. Sounding musically like something Peaches might trot out, with a stomach flipping bass and chatty vocals, Tiga demands for you to ‘take off your shoes’. Could we have found this diminutive Canadian’s secret fetish? “Oh no! I love shoes, but not like that,” he squeals. “I like gloves more! You feel strong when you wear gloves, particularly leather ones. I’m not a very big man, but gloves make me feel big and strapping, like I can break things!” Dressed quite plainly save for the biggest, brightest red trainers we’ve ever seen, Tiga knowingly tells us, “Shoes are an indication of what type of man you are though. I can tell almost everything from a man’s shoes.”

Sexuality is always something Tiga’s played with but despite not being gay, the scene has had a big influence on his music. “Montreal (his hometown) is a very gay city. When I started DJing it was in gay clubs, and most of my friends were gay. They had the best names. The first club was called ‘K-O-X’ and there was a regular warehouse party called ‘Sterile Cowboys’. It didn’t mean much to me at the time…” There was nothing though that could prepare him for the time in Denmark when a man bit his left ass cheek and ‘held on like a dog’. “It wasn’t the least bit a turn on,’ Tiga asserts. “I was wearing jeans but he actually broke the skin so I was bleeding. Yet he claimed he was a fan!’.

Written originally for Attitude Magazine’s 15th Birthday Issue

Torchwood Returns

torchwood

The first promo shot for the new series of Torchwood has just been released by the BBC. Rather than a 13 week series, this year Torchwood is subtitled ‘Children of Earth’ and will run over five nights in one week, currently scheduled for June. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be interviewing (and trying not to visably swoon in the face of) Gareth David Lloyd who plays Ianto Jones in the show for Attitude Magazine. If you’ve any questions you’d like me to ask, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best!

Year of the Boots

In one form or another, I’ve been banging on about Little Boots since 2005 featuring her old band on cduk.com, getting ‘Stuck On Repeat’ played on Radio 1 and generally pimping her out to any media outlet I possibly could. Now, signed to a major deal on Atlantic Records, and appearing on this week’s Jools Holland, 2009 will no doubt be her year.

As part of a feature about new female popstars I worked on for Attitude with gaypop, I interviewed Victoria for the mag and here it is. FYI my other selections for the main feature were Lady Gaga, As In Rebekka Maria and Janelle Monae.

Little Boots is as small as Kylie. She’s also going to be just as big. Her mission statement is to create epic disco pop and from what we’ve heard, she’s the best thing to come out of Blackpool since Chris Lowe put on his tight yellow sweater.

We first met ‘Boots, or to give her her real name, Victoria, as part of glamourous Leeds indie band Dead Disco back in 2005. Like an evil version of Girls Aloud, their super catchy tunes, and Victoria’s presence as a frontwoman was incendiary. Despite getting signed up to a major label she decided to go solo late last year, waved goodbye to the illuminations, headed to East London and leaked her first song onto the internet. This was the suitably epic ‘Stuck on Repeat’ and almost immediately bloggers fell in love. Produced by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, it was 7 minutes of pulsating disco euphoria peppered with sleigh bells and a hypnotic vocal that got world class DJs like Pete Tong straight on the phone.

But Victoria didn’t want to rush things. As we talk to her in the middle of London Fashion Week, she’s hungover from her very first live performance in front of friends in her studio last night. Instead of getting straight on the road, she’s been writing her debut album with the likes of Greg Kurstin and Pascal Gabriel and learning to DJ. Arriving in London she was skint and after learning to spin some tracks in a pub, she went out as tour DJ for the Wonky Pop Tour and now finds it hilarious that people are flying her to America to play gigs as some amazing electro DJ .

But back to ‘Stuck on Repeat’. Coming out properly now as a single in November, it’s the song that really introduces the concept of Little Boots, even if the album itself is filled with shinier pop songs. Sounding like it’s fallen out of the stars, it reveals Victoria’s obsession with space, unicorns, crystals and the cosmic disco sound of the late 70s and early 80s. Citing people like Dee D Jackson and Klaus Nomi as influences, Victoria isn’t prepared to do things by halves. “Everything has to be epic. I don’t like twee DIY stuff, Kate Nash singer songwriter vibes just isn’t my bag. I’d rather try and do something ridiculous, that ends up being funny. Anything Studio 54 inspired works. My hair’s in braids, there’s glitter, it’s just epic. That said I don’t just want to be the one in the wacky outfit.”

Epic certainly seems to be where it’s at when Victoria tells us about her live show. As well as geeking it up with lots of synths, a Theremin, stylophone and an amazing Tenori-On she’s also got lasers, smoke machines and fake wolves and owls with eyes that light up! Planning to make the shows as extravagant as possible once the money starts rolling in, the dream is to travel up to space and do a gig with Richard Branson in orbit. Obviously!

But don’t worry if you think we’re getting hung up on someone so cool that you won’t be allowed into her gigs unless you’re wearing the right brand of glittery eyeshadow. Victoria’s dream is to be “massive, massive, massive, massive”. Despite being heralded as part of the blogeratti, she adamant that she’s not arsed about the critics. “I hate all that hipster stuff, it means nothing. I don’t give a shit if idiots in London that reckon they’re super cool don’t like me.”

Victoria’s wild imagination means we have no idea what might happen next. But we’re sure whatever it is, ends up being epic. “I just want to make amazing pop songs”, she claims with a glint in her eye. “Whatever anyone says about manufactured pop, it’s rubbish. The people who write pop songs are so talented and there’s no special magic formula to get it right. It’s just a myth. Writing pop music is the most challenging but also the most enjoyable thing I can do.”

Watch Little Boots on this week’s Jools Holland doing a very melancholic version of ‘Stuck On Repeat’.

Review: Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads

When we heard the Kaiser Chiefs‘ 3rd album was going to be produced by Mark Ronson, we were worried. After all hasn’t everyone grown a bit tired of Ronson and his relentless trumpeting? Fortunately we can report that, thanks to co-producer Eliot James, the wonky parping has been kept in check.

After the massive success of the usually ‘notoriously hard’ 2nd album, ‘Off With Their Head’ is the Chiefs going at it old school with quirky British rock influences a plenty. Jaw-dropping lead single ‘Never Miss A Beat’ could easily be mistaken as a forgotten Beatles demo with it’s call and response hook (best bit – ‘What do you want for tea? I want crisps!’). ‘Tomato In the Rain’ gives a hammond organ it’s best use in years, and Ricky’s Northern charm shines in the comical ‘Addicted To Drugs’.  Ronson’s star pulling power is in effect too, with Lily Allen providing backing vocals on the summery swagger of ‘Always Happens Like That’, orchestral maestro David Arnold looking after ‘Like It Too Much’ and grime boy Sway pulling in a star turn on the XTC reminiscent & surely future #1 ‘Half The Truth’.

A sprightly 35 minutes, it’s yet more proof the young pretenders have nothing on this lot when it comes down to personality, wit and intelligence. Tunes to get your converse dirty to.

Originally published in Attitude Magazine.

Review: Heartbreak – Lies

Disco’s all the rage. 80’s all the rage. Put the two together and you get something that sounds like Heartbreak, the pairing of the fabulously named Ali Renault and Argentinian Sebastian Muravchik. They both look like they’ve fallen straight out of East London, complete with skinny moustache, so it’s no surprise they’re making that italo-disco sound all the cool kids are talking about.

‘Lies’, their debut album, is a somewhat mixed affair. While at times, Sebastian’s voice can sound epic and flamboyant, it also has something of a ‘Jake Shears gone evil’ tone to it, none more so as in the absurd sounding ‘Robot’s Got The Feeling’. ‘Akin To Dancing’ transports us to a seedy NY discotheque, while the pulsating Moroder beats of former single ‘We’re Back’ pound along with high drama. This 7.30 minute epic, which sent all the hipster blogs into a frenzy back in August, is their masterpiece, with the eerie and creepily sung lyric “You have not heard it all before, cos we’re back from the disco to the radio”.

Close but no mirrorball – we’re not entirely convinced by this album – if we wanted italo disco we’d listen to Sally Shapiro, and if we wanted creepy 80s synth pop we’d go for Cut Copy. If nothing else we can thank Heartbreak for the best song title we’ve heard in a long time – ‘Deathly Pong of Love’. Brilliant.

Originally published in September’s Attitude Magazine

Here’s Little Boots’ cover of the epic “We’re Back”.