I’m Scared of Vinyl


Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 30, 2009

An interview with Subplots in West Coast Coffee, shortly before their gig in Andrew’s Lane…

So how did Subplots form?

For many years we were drummerless playing really bad music in my parents’ front room. Then we formed a band called Envelope, did that for a couple of years, then our drummer decided to leave and we were threatened by a lawsuit thing to change our name, so it was a good opportunity to get somwbody else involved, change the name and Mick came into the fray.

We robbed Mick. We kind of half-stole him from another band [the Star Department], though he’s still in the other band…

So what happened with the lawsuit? Was there another band called Envelope?

Yes, well there was a band called Envelopes and they’re just greedy, they want all the envelope-related names there is. We thought we’d be safe if we put a full stop after ‘envelope’. But we weren’t safe at all, so we had to change our name.

What was your best ever gig?

Our album launch was really good, that was a good laugh. We did a nice little gig in the Odessa, they have an old Georgian room up on the fourth floor, you can get 60 or 70 people in there, that was really fun. We set up weirdly that night too, so we were all in a line, that was fun as well.

If you could have a famous person join your band, who would you pick?

Dougal from Father Ted, to play the triangle.

Or, ideally, we’d like to get a second guitarist, Steven Seagal. But there’d have to be a strict rule to enforce his ponytail at all times. And he’d have to play shirtless at all times as well.

So what are you up to in the next few months?

We’re leaving for New York tomorrow morning to do CMJ, so we’re at the airport for about half seven…. I don’t think we’ve even thought past CMJ to be honest, it’s going to be the end of a chapter I guess, because we’ve been dealing with the first album. It’s been pretty mental for the past year, because it been like ‘get the album done, release the album’ and then we found out literally three or four weeks later that we were playing the CMJ. I think we’re probably going to start recording when we come back. We’re going to work on changing the live set a bit, we’re going to try to involve lighting a bit more, make it a bit different, that’s our goal for next year. We were also talking about releasing some songs online before releasing the second album, but it’s just an idea. We’ll see what happens.

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Jack White

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 25, 2009

Jack White paid a very low-key visit to Dublin last week, to give a talk at the University Philosophical Society. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to see it, which is probably most people – since the talk was on a Sunday and there was a handful of seats – here’s the transcript of the full interview.

Jack White speaking at Trinity College, Dublin. 18/10/09.

Upon receiving the honorary patrons medal:

Well I’ve been patronized in a lot of different ways, but this is the nicest.

Did you have literary heroes?

I had a lot: Shakespeare was probably the first one that was out of childhood years that spoke to me in a different sort of way and opened up a new life. Everything else was sort of children’s stories until then. It’s funny what you said [about Oscar Wilde], because there’s a quote from Oscar Wilde in the airport when we walked in this morning, saying that the only thing he had to declare was his genius at Customs.

And who did you have on your wall poster-wise as a kid?

Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare.

What was it like filming It Might Get Loud with Jimmy Page and The Edge?

It was a pretty incredible experience to work with those two guys. I liked that there was no real idea what the movie was about: it was two sentences that said ‘this is about guitars and guitar players, let’s talk to each other and see what happens.’ Some people have a huge five page summary of what they think something is going to be about: a movie, or a video, or a project or an album or whatever, and it seems to get less and less interesting as you read. And when the door is open to be creative and let things happen in the moment, that interests me, so that was incredible and of course they’re just incredible musicians.

Was Jimmy Page the first to launch into a song?

He was the first to pick up a guitar and start playing. At the time it was striking because we were caught off guard thinking ‘I didn’t expect that to happen so soon, so it was a pretty funny moment.

Did you get performance anxiety in front of Page?

I was reading in the last couple of days about the philosophy of anxiety, and it’s such an interesting notion to me, because the word seems to mean about 16 different things to me. Sometimes I think it means nervousness – I don’t really have much nervousness, I’ve always wondered why I don’t have more and maybe it’s to do with anxiety being synonymous with the word dread – I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately too, because the definition which I have of anxiety in my brain is energy which can be turned to something good, sort of like kinetic energy. (more…)

Miracle Bell

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 17, 2009

A quick chat with Miracle Bell in Filmbase on Friday afternoon of the HWCH festival:

So how did the band get together?

We were all friends in school. Three of us jammed together for years throughout school and stuff and we only started to take it seriously a few years ago when John my cousin joined on guitar. We’ve been playing with John for about three and half years.

Any plans for an album?

We’re working on that. We were away for three months in Monastrevin in the middle of nowhere – we wanted to get away from everyone. We rented a huge house down there and set up a studio, and then we wrote the album over the three months. We’re recording it next week, in the Nutshed, down in Clara in Co Offaly.

So what was it like living in a house together in the middle of nowhere for three months?

It wasn’t too bad…. it was actually deadly. We got up first thing in the morning and the first thing you did was start writing or work on an idea you had, so we didn’t have time to get on each other’s nerves.

Any touring?

The dates are all in April, the album’s not going to be released until then so all our tour dates are after that. The launch is in Whelans, so we’ve just got a few scattered gigs until then so we can road test the new stuff.

Best gig?

Our last single launch was in Crawdaddy and that was brilliant, the place was packed. Or else YSI, did you ever hear of that? It’s this Transition Year student convention thing. Basically it’s just three or four hundred screaming 15 and 16 year olds, mainly girls, who just go mental when they hear loud music. The teachers are telling them to sit down and they’re up on the chairs and jumping around. It was in some four star hotel somewhere.

So you were chased by a load of fifteen year olds?

Yeah, it was pretty good, we were signing autographs!

Who else are you going to see this weekend?

The Villagers, they’re from our neck of the woods, from Clane. We’ll watch the Yes Cadets too, and we’ll probably wander around just seeing bands.

You can download a free Miracle Bells track, ‘Into the Trees’ from their website by clicking here.

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Hard Working Class Heroes

Posted in News by Catriona on October 16, 2009

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since the last Hard Working Class Heroes festival and this year, I’ve been running around like a crazy person, doing lots of interviews for www.inkywrists.ie. I’m going to post a couple of the band interviews up here, but you can find the rest of them (and believe me there are a LOT) on Inky Wrists.  For the full list of bands and line up, check out the HWCH website.

It’s Michael Jackson time… Navi comes to Dublin

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 4, 2009

Now that poor old Jacko’s dead, everyone wants him more than ever. Navi, his arch-impersonator, will shortly be descending upon Dublin…

A quick trawl through the internet will give you a sense of just how big a following Navi has. Much like the M&S ads, Navi is not just any Michael Jackson tribute act, but appears to have been unanimously crowned with the title of “The World’s No.1 Michael Jackson Impersonator.” Navi is no lightweight; he takes his job seriously, even to the extent of having spent years having plastic surgery to keep up with the deceased superstar’s ever-mutating facial features. As a result, Navi bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Michael Jackson and was formerly employed to act as his decoy, which led to him being invited to Neverland, a privilege normally reserved for the under-12’s.

Many blogs speculate about the extent to which Michael Jackson used his decoys, and as with everything in Jackson’s life, the boundary between illusion and reality was blurred to a considerable extent. Navi’s remarkable physical similarity to Jackson has led to him repeatedly being mistaken for the real thing, such as the publicity stunt in Trafalgar Square, London, last year, when Navi attracted a full-scale mob during a promotional event to mark the re-release of Thriller. Navi and a team of dancers had been briefed to give an impromptu performance of “Thriller”, but the publicity stunt went ahead with difficulty due to the size of the crowd attempting to see “Michael Jackson”.

A favourite amongst the hard-core Jackson fans, Navi is one of the longest running tribute acts in the business, with a career spanning over two decades, and has been invited to perform in front of the man he mimics on several occasions, most notably as the opening act at Jackson’s birthday party in L.A. in 2003, when his performance was applauded by Michael Jackson himself. With a track record like this, it’s no wonder that Navi performs over 150 shows a year, and has played in 54 countries to date, and counting.

It’s easy to see why Navi has created such a lucrative business out of imitating one of pop’s most legendary icons: as well as looking remarkably like his hero, his vocal abilities combined with his choreography are near perfect, achieving an impressive resemblance to the real thing. Navi’s vocal’s are spot-on; it is surprisingly easy to mistake Navi’s version of a song for the real thing. His dancing is similarly accomplished, and even won praise from the real King of Pop, who called him an “amazing dancer” and asked him how often he practised.

Tribute acts are frequently undervalued, and it is all-too-tempting to dismiss them as merely living off the backs of better-known artists. Navi, however, showcases the potential of this art form, and has received worldwide acclaim for his prowess in providing a studied, accurate imitation of the groundbreaking work of a now-deceased legend. Consider Navi’s achievements in relation to the average musician – the number of tours, the elaborate performances, and the level of respect he has won in his respective field – on all these counts he has far outstripped many entertainers. Due to his status as an impersonator, Navi’s actual achievements tend to be overlooked because of the imitative nature of his work, but the degree to which Navi has pushed the art of the tribute act is extraordinary.

Perhaps Navi takes his job a little too seriously, as some parts of his online biography appear to be more of a testament to his extreme obsession with Michael Jackson rather than his success as an impersonator, such as the information that he was inside the courthouse during Jackson’s infamous trial back in 2005. Still, it all emphasises the curious role of the impersonator, whose real craft lies in their ability to imitate rather than innovate and whose personal success is wholly dependent on the career path of another. It’s hard to tell the effect that Michael Jackson’s death must have had on Navi, now that the man that he has religiously followed for two decades is no longer alive. One thing’s for sure: the demand for Navi’s performances is certainly higher than ever.

Ed Banger Tour 2009

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on October 1, 2009

Ed Banger Records. The legendary record label that churns out the crème de la crème of French electro house music. If you have the slightest interest in dance music, chances are you’ll already be queuing to buy your ticket, and the only additional information you’ll require is which of their artists will be DJing. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, keep reading.

France has long been the home of electronic and house music since the emergence of Daft Punk, and Paris is a base for a significant proportion of the most prominent artists and DJs in this genre. The tight knit group of musicians who are signed to the prestigious Ed Banger Records are a pretty elite bunch, including artists such as Justice, SebastiAn, Mr Oizo, DJ Mehdi, Uffie, and of course, Busy P, aka Pedro Winter, label founder, DJ and all-round legend. The current status of Paris as the hub of new wave electro and house is partly thanks to Winter, who, as well as managing Daft Punk for twelve years, set up Ed Banger in 2002 as a division of Headbangers Entertainment. The label has represented some of the most memorable electro artists around, as can be seen from their compilation albums, which rival the Kitsuné Maison compilations for their exciting remixes and innovative sounds.

Heading up the tour is the Busy P himself, whose inspired remixes of the artists on his label along with his (admittedly limited) range of solo work always makes for a good set. In an interview with Pitchfork last year, Busy P said that his ambition was to make music that people wanted to party to. It certainly seems to be working – his appearance at last year’s Ed Banger night at Transmission had me dancing on the stage, it was that fantastic.

Joining Busy P is Feadz, who has recently released his latest EP, “P*N*M*B*” (People, Numbers, Money, Business), as a follow-up to last year’s “Happy Meal”. Feadz is a long-running fixture on the Parisian club scene, working with Mr Oizo on his debut album, Analog Worms Attack in 1999, and was also largely responsible for launching the career of labelmate and former girlfriend Uffie. He’s also done remixes for the likes of Modeselektor and Justice.

The next member of the Ed Banger line-up is So Me, who is an art director and graphic designer for the label as well as doing the odd bit of DJing. He’s a man of many talents, as well as DJing, he’s also the designer for the clothing line Revolver and he has directed several music videos for artists such as Justice and Kanye West. Have a look at Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” video – So Me designed every one of the countless tshirts featured in the three minute video. As a label, Ed Banger is well-known for its distinctive visuals, and So Me has played a strong part in shaping that image.

Breakbot is the final name on the line-up and his style differs considerably from the other three, going for a far more classic disco vibe, remixing a variety of artists and traditional French pop to create a disco-tastic sound packed with slick synths that always manages to stay on the right side of cheesy. By day, Thibaut Berland makes the most of his love of animation, creating music videos and commercials, by night he creates electronic music, experimenting with beats, layers, keyboards, vocals and Daft Punk-esque bass lines.

The event that prompted the upcoming Ed Banger tour was a little odd – to promote the label’s collaboration, with, erm, the backpack manufacturers Eastpak (who, yes, made that dodgy looking schoolbag you had back in fourth class). Extensive research on the Eastpak website confirmed that although they are making a major effort to draw in the cool kids with their roll-call of carefully market-researched collaborations, their principal stock-in-trade is still schoolbags. Still, whatever the reason for a repeat invasion of the Ed Banger crew, make a note: keep Friday 16th October free, because, if last year’s tour was anything to go by, it should be epic.

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