Katy B

katyb

20 year old Katy B is suddenly becoming an iconic British musician for the sound of 2010. It feels like she’s blown up onto the Radio 1 A-List from nowhere, but in fact she’s been a-toiling via a Brit school education for a few years and having teamed up with Rinse FM and their label, has been working with the likes of Zinc and Benga on her new tracks.

‘Katy on a Mission’ is her first single proper out August 20th, but I’m much more about in love with ‘Louder’. I like a popstar who can enunciate, and here her warm yet scratchy tones couple with wobbly dubstep basslines (which I think I’ll always find a bit amusing’) on this tale of an unwillingness to stop the party.

‘I’ve been awake for a day now, 24 hours, yet still I want it louder’

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Ynf2ScKiA[/youtube]

Love her.

Also I mention DJ Zinc like I have an idea who he is. I don’t, but Ed just sent me this other production from him. Total party anthem.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKB3hJBvAZY[/youtube]

Play Me, I’m Yours

When I was a little girl I used to bang about on the piano at my Auntie Agnes’ house in Burscough. All her family were musical and there are plenty of photos of me looking adorable at various pianos aged about 4.

Then when I was 7 or 8 I actually had piano lessons from a very old (or so she seemed) lady in Blackpool called Gladys Jolly. I didn’t find her or the music particularly exciting so after doing a couple of grades packed it in. I can’t actually remember who taught me to read music, whether it was school or Miss Jolly but it’s always been a skill I’ve cherished.

I wish I’d stuck with the piano though. I have one at home home and can quite happily sit down with a piece of music and very slowly bash my way through it but I’d love to be able to do it properly. My cousin Lorilee is a music teacher and plays piano to concert pianist level. She can play anything after hearing it and we’ve spent many fun nights together playing and singing our way through musicals, or brilliantly me playing her a Pet Shop Boys song on Spotify and her transforming it into a wildly detailed piano piece instantly. A couple of years ago she started playing a piano in a hotel lobby and I love the idea that one day I’d be able to just see a piano and pounce on it.

So I was super excited (and very jealous I can’t really get involved) by the Play Me, I’m Yours project that’s currently running in London. The idea of British artist Luke Jerram, 21 pianos have been placed with London’s Square Mile with the intention that anyone can sit down at them and do whatever they like. It’s interesting to think about the very British reserved nature and whether they’ll actually dare to try them, but I’m sure if you see someone do it then you’ll want to get involved.

Pianoincemetry

I love the idea of a ‘public space’ and don’t think there’s enough of them in London. This idea demands a space become one and enables everyone to be creative, regardless of their personal situation, and express themselves through the power of music. You might not know how to play, have played for years, or ever had the chance to own your own piano, but this enables every single one of us to get involved. Also it’s brilliantly not just a bloody London centric thing – it’ll be hitting Belfast, Burnley and Blackburn later in the year.

I’m hoping to find one to tinkle out a little Cole Porter on this weekend.

I have touched Neil Tennant’s arm.

Tonight the Pet Shop Boys will be given the Outstanding Contribution to British Music award at The Brits, and boy do they deserve it. Although I wasn’t exposed to most of their material during the time it was released and don’t know every song in their back catalogue, I would label them one of my two favourite bands. They look like such unlikely pop stars but their music and the telling lyrics always are spot on. Plus Chris Lowe is from Blackpool so double woop for him.

I adore It’s A Sin and always thought it was my favourite PSB song but recently I’ve been swayed towards West End Girls. It’s so bleak and the video captures London in the 80s so magnificiently. What London locations can you spot? Does it start on Roman Road? I am rubbish at playing spot the London location!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAHfoIfo_7A[/youtube]

On the other hand here’s a brilliant Pet Shop Boys production but a terrible video from the 80s. It’s Dusty’s ‘In Private’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1z5DZEse3I[/youtube]

Marina & The Diamonds

Marina & The Diamonds

Landfill indie is dead (save those terrible Brit nominations) – 2009 is undoubtedly the year of the the leftfield pop girly and we’re already overwhelmed with possibilities for the success stories of the year.

Marina & The Diamonds somehow avoided being mentioned in the BBC Sound of 2009 list earlier this year. She has, however, just joined the winner of that poll, Little Boots on Atlantic Records subsidiary, 679, and looks set to be releasing her first big single before the summer is out. First though, comes Obsession a strictly limited release on the uber cool Neon Gold label, out on Valentines’ Day.

Despite the name, Marina is a solo artist, and to crudly compare her to someone else she sounds like Regina Spektor doing a dance of the seven veils with Kate Bush. Half Welsh, half Greek, I certainly think she’s going to crap all over Florence & her similarly mythical Machine’s expected party, never mind the concern it might cause Kate Nash’s forthcoming 2nd album.

Normally Marina’s banging on the piano, but her label have just sent out a gorgeously dreamy new remix of ‘Obsessions’ drenched in synths and creepy italo disco soaring which you can get for free right here

Download: Marina & The Diamonds – Obsessions (Pink Stallone Crush Remix) [Free MP3]

Review: Piaf at Donmar Warehouse

[Originally posted on Londonist.com]

Her last major role was as Eva Peron in the 2006 West End revival of Evita, and now Argentinian Elena Roger has gone from one iconic woman to another undertaking the role of Edith Piaf in Piaf. Opening last night at the intimate Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden, Pam Gems’ biopic returned to the West End stage in a revamped format 30 years after it was first performed.

Telling the story of Piaf’s life from being discovered on the streets of Pigalle, through involvement in murder, the resistance, affair after affairs, and ultimately a destructive spiral into alcohol and drug abuse, this was 95 minutes of high drama, albeit with several laugh out loud scenes. Save Roger and the chuckling Lorraine Bruce as Toine, each of the other 8 cast members play various characters throughout Edith’s life. Katherine Kingsley, in particular, is dazzling as Marlene Dietrich and long suffering assistant Madeleine. With sex scenes and swearing aplenty, this is no leisurely ride and at times it felt eerily close to comfort with visions of Amy Winehouse’s current problems easily conjured up, in particular in a scene set in the Ritz.

But ultimately – what a performance. Elena Roger nailed Piaf’s singing techniques and manged to be convincingly French in what must surely be an award winning performance! We’ve never seen a standing ovation last for over 5 minutes as this did, but we were certain it was deserved. Plus, if you’ve not been to the Donmar, we urge you to try it. A blank floor and backdrop are surrounded on three side by seats, with a small three row circle. You can see from everywhere and it’s intimacy made this intense show even more so. Unfortunately advance tickets for Piaf are sold out so it’s down to the 10 day seats, and 20 standing spaces available on the day of performance each day from 10.30am.  A lot of effort, but it’s worth it.

Piaf runs from now until September 20th at Donmar Warehouse, Earlham Street. Find out more here.