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Quickfire Questions #74: Daniel Pearson

 
By on Wednesday, 9th April 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Indie English singer/songwriter Daniel Pearson is busy preparing for the upcoming release of his EP ‘Escape Acts’ on the 14th of April and a scheduled performance at Live at Leeds on the 3rd of May. He took the time to answer our Quickfire Questions as part of an e-mail interview, which you can read here.

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Oh man, Phil Collins, I think. My parents liked him and I remember that. My first record was actually ‘TURTLE POWER’ from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I must’ve been 8 or something. I’ve still got it on vinyl somewhere, and yep, I’m proud of it!

What song makes you laugh?
A lot of Eminem’s stuff makes me laugh out loud. He gets away with some crazy things about celebrities.

What song makes you cry?
‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys. It’s perfect.

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What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
When I had my very first girlfriend, she used to love Blur and I used to love Oasis so we’d listen to their albums and argue over who was better. And then make out. So anything from ‘Parklife’ or ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory)’ reminds me of that.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born To Run’. It’s brilliant, and distills everything that’s great about rock n’ roll into 4 minutes. You hear that at a show, and you realize what being alive is all about. [I think I could only love this answer more if he'd chosen 'Thunder Road'. -C.C.]

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Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
I couldn’t choose just one! Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain and Ryan Adams would be high on the list. So would a lot of writers, screenwriters and poets. I think we should celebrate creativity and imagination more, ‘cos it’s dying out in the mainstream.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’d be an English teacher. I was one. I love books and performing and doing good things for people, so it’s a good fit. The idealist in me loved it, but the reality is very different and very misunderstood. Aside from that, playing for my beloved Everton FC would be a dream occupation!

Special thanks to Daniel for taking the time to answer our questions and also thank you to Jamie for helping sort this out for us.

 

Video of the Moment #1491: Gary Numan

 
By on Tuesday, 8th April 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

I was lucky enough to catch the legendary Gary Numan at the Hype Hotel on the last day of this year’s SXSW. One of the songs he played in Austin, ‘I Am Dust’, now has a promo video utilising Tachyon + technology. The song figures on Numan’s latest album, 2013′s ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’. Watch the video below.

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Live Gig Video: Daughter play ‘Shallows’ with a classical ensemble at AIR Studios in London

 
By on Tuesday, 8th April 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

On the coach back to DC over the weekend, I had a listen to Daughter‘s 2013 debut album ‘If You Leave’ (reviewed by Cheryl here) and was reminded just haunting it is. So it’s perfect timing that the band have released the first of five very special videos of them performing at the famous AIR Studios on Oxford Street in London with a 10-piece classical ensemble. Watch below as the stark beauty of ‘Shallows’ is transformed into something even more poignant than the album version with the addition of classical backing. It seems like lifetimes ago I saw them perform at SXSW 2012 at the Communion showcase at St. David’s church.

The full five-track session will be released as a digital EP on 4AD next week, on the 15th of April, and a limited edition 12″ follows on the 26th of May.

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Interview: Daniel Pearson

 
By on Tuesday, 8th April 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

Singer/songwriter Daniel Pearson is a true “indie” artist, releasing music on his own record label and promoting his work on the Internet via social media. His most recent studio project is an EP titled ‘Escape Acts’, due for release on the 14th of April. His previous albums ‘Satellites’ and ‘Mercury State’ both received positive critical reviews and earned him more than a few fans along the way. Following the release of ‘Escape Acts’, Pearson is scheduled to appear at Leeds music venue Milo as part of this year’s Live at Leeds Festival on the 3rd of May. We caught up with him for an e-mail interview before that flurry of activity, and he was kind enough to share with us his down-to-earth perspective on the past, present, and future of his music career.

You’re a new artist to TGTF, but you’re not new to the music business. Could you give us a little background on your career? (Have you played in other bands? What kinds of music have you played previously?)
I’ve been a solo artist for the last few years and have released two albums, ‘Satellites’ and ‘Mercury State’. I’m a fairly prolific writer so I wanted to get music out there quickly – I don’t really need a year to write and record an album and like to keep momentum building. I try to keep things independent and honest and people respond to that. Before going solo I was playing in different rock ‘n’ roll and punk-type bands and that taught me a lot about songwriting and performing. I did that as soon as I started playing guitar as a 15-year old – no YouTube covers, no talent shows. Just straight into writing songs and playing them in bands at gigs. It wasn’t all good stuff! But you learn what works and what you want to say in your music.

As far as genre is concerned, I find it increasingly difficult to put artists into neat little boxes. As one of those genre-bending types yourself, how would you classify your own music?
It falls under the singer-songwriter bracket for sure, but that’s such a strange term that it can be a good or a bad thing. It can mean anything from James Blake to a kid uploading ukulele Ed Sheeran covers in his bedroom. I love guitars and melodies, so that’s always going to be a big part of what I do. There are rock n’ roll, grunge, country, folk and pop influences, but I think it all comes out sounding like me in the end.

Your new EP ‘Escape Acts’ contains four new recordings, two of which are new songs and two of which are reworkings of songs you’ve already released, is that correct? How did you decide which songs to include, and what was the reason for reworking the two older tunes?
At the moment I’m kind of in between albums; ‘Satellites’ established me as a solo act, which was the first step, and that was very much a relationships album. It got some good press and radio support and built a small fan base. ‘Mercury State’ was a more serious record about the recession and hard times, and was much more sparse and downbeat. The reviews I had for that were great and I felt like it was much more of a statement piece.

Since then, I’ve been working hard to expand my audience, and ‘Escape Acts’ is a natural part of that. I’ve got songs for the next album, but there’s no theme connecting them yet, so it made sense to put a couple of the new songs out there for people. I want to wait a while before I put out another full album – three inside 3 years might be overkill! The re-recorded songs were done because I felt like I hadn’t done them justice the first time around, that there was more to be done with them. The arrangement on ‘Promises Promises’ is much bigger, and the version of ‘Satellite Town’ is the way I’ve been playing it live, which I think is much more subtle than the originally recorded song.

On first listen, the ‘Escape Acts’ EP is quite eclectic, in that each of the four songs has its own unique flavor. (‘Lost My Way’ has a kind of pop sense to it, ‘Promises Promises’ is more of a blues rock, ‘Satellite Town’ is acoustic folkish, and ‘I Dug Myself a Hole’ feels almost like a country song.) What is the common thread that unifies them on the EP?
They’re all diverse songs, which I think reflects the different aspects of my songwriting. I like to change things up a little and keep it interesting. Lyrically, they’re all about escaping or wanting to escape from a situation in your life, so that’s why I think they hang together as an EP. I think everyone experiences those feelings at points in your life.

The most obvious common feature among these three recordings is your lyrics. I would describe your lyrical style as very straightforward and uncomplicated, occasionally elegant, but always emotional. Would you say that’s a fair assessment? Is that the effect you’re going for, or do you have an intended effect at all?
I’ve been going through a process of refining my lyrics and trying to distill them down to something universal and simple. It can be really easy to write overly complex lyrics and get too sophisticated – but in most cases you can say what you want in less words. I love poetry and the work that speaks to me the most is the most emotionally direct, the stuff without pretension. So I’m going for that rather than trying to cram in sophisticated words and too many syllables. I actually like repetition in writing – that idea of repeating the key message, or making subtle changes to a lyric as a song progresses to change the meaning. The audience is so eager to move on to the next song, the next band, the next thing, so you’ve gotta get your point across quickly and in a memorable way.

I understand that all of your records are released on your own label, Saint In The City Records. Would you like to tell us a little bit about how that came about?
When I recorded ‘Satellites’, I spent a while shopping it around labels looking for distribution but the whole process was kind of self-defeating. You get into discussions about how they think it should sound or find yourself waiting to hear back a lot. You end up looking for validation from others too much, and I’ve seen bands chewed up and spat out by the industry and how it works. So I got sick of waiting around and decided to put it out myself. I figured that I knew enough about it to at least have a go, and it’s worked out pretty well so far. It’s very hard as an independent artist, as people judge you against X or Y band who might have a million dollar recording, marketing and touring budget from a label. I think that in the mind of some people, they can’t see past what’s on Radio 1 or MTV and assume because you’re not on there, you can’t be any good. But it feels great to be in control and know that any success that comes my way has been earned and not bought. There are more and more indie success stories coming through and it’s awesome to be a part of that.


You’ve mentioned on Twitter several people who worked with you on the ‘Escape Acts’ EP. Would you like to give us a little more information about them here as well?
I’m lucky in that I have talented friends who’ll work with me on my projects. Ed Heaton is a great producer who worked on ‘Escape Acts’ and ‘Satellites’, and he really knows how to get the best out of me. He works out of Eiger Studios in Leeds, it’s a great set up and he’s worked on a lot of good records. He’s just set up his own label too called All My Friends. I’d recommend him to anyone looking for a studio and producer. Jeremy Platt is a longtime friend of mine, and he’s played on most of my records – he’s so talented, it makes you sick! He can play piano, organ, bass and it all sounds great. He’s put out his own album and it’s good stuff. Ed Fielding is another guy I mentioned on Twitter – he’s a really cool photographer who’s worked with Florence and the Machine and Paloma Faith. It’s nice to have people you can call on, good people you can trust and it’s nice to give them some support back.

Speaking of Twitter, that is how you and I came into acquaintance. You seem to be quite active on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Have you found social media to be a good way to reach out to new fans?
I think it’s the future, but it’s already here! If I want to tell my fans about a release, or show them a video, I can let them know there and then it removes the middle man. I’m a big believer in interacting with people; after all, these are the people buying your records and tickets, so I’m amazed when bands think they’re too cool to do all that.

Twitter’s been an invaluable tool for me in building and interacting with my audience, and I think its part of our lives now. Facebook is the biggest fish in the sea, but it’s gotten greedy – now I have to pay so that my fans can see my posts easily, so I’m not so crazy about that platform right now. Of course, when you level the playing field it means everyone can join in – and that means people are bombarded with a lot of bad music too. I think key to using it well is being yourself and not having a superiority complex. The folks you’re interacting with are usually pretty smart, so if you’re a good, interesting person with something of value to offer they’ll get on board with what you’re doing. Just like you did!

Cheers Daniel for answering our questions! Stay tuned for his answers to our Quickfire Questions to post tomorrow, as well as a review of ‘Escape Acts’. In the meantime, you can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

Live Review: Fenech-Soler at Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn, NY – 5th April 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 8th April 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s in our blood, it’s in our blood,
It’s in our blood, in our blood tonight
Even if I have to dance alone,
I don’t want to go home,
don’t want to go home…

It took several years that felt like an eternity, but English electropop band Fenech-Soler are finally beginning to release their music here in America. Practically just as their debut EP ‘Stop and Stare’ released a long while ago in the UK became available in the States, the band lined a short stint including a Neon Gold club show appearance and headline shows in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and San Francisco. New York isn’t exactly my backyard but I am very fond of Fenech-Soler and made the trip up, trying to be as productive as possible, also lining up this brilliant interview with Ben and Ross Duffy while I was in Williamsburg.

Glasslands Gallery near the water in South Williamsburg isn’t that small (300 capacity with a balcony), but it has an almost urban rusticity, with wooden floorboards at the entrance, three well-maintained if oddly unisex toilets and a wonky DIY aesthetic with clusters of sawed off PVC pipe with bulbs inserted in them as makeshift chandeliers suspended above the stage. In my interview, Ross Duffy noted that they felt most at home at this size of venue, since that’s where they started when they first began gigging, and it was only recently that they headlined Shepherds Bush Empire in London before Christmas 2013.

I think the size and intimacy of the venue also benefitted the band: generally speaking, when it comes to dance music, it’s all about people being in the dark and crammed in – within health code regulations, of course – and having a certain critical mass of excited, entirely up for it dancegoers, not to mention the collective energy generated by that critical mass. Glasslands filled up admirably, so that by the time the band originally from Kings Cliffe took to the stage, there were quite a few very excited fans down the front, yours truly included. This is my kind of gig! And I was about to see songs from my 3rd favourite album of 2013 performed in a few short moments.

If there was ever any question whether Fenech-Soler are an electropop band, any confusion would be quickly brushed away as soon as you saw their complicated stage set-up. The Glasslands stage is not all that big, and I’m not sure how they managed to fit five people (the four guys in the band plus touring keyboardist and backing vocalist Tom Butler) and all their equipment, but somehow, they did it. It restricted singer Ben Duffy’s movement while onstage; I had become so sure that at some point, he was going to jump down into the crowd and dance with us. Sadly, that never happened, though I am positive with the kind of moves he had in what space he was offered, he wanted to.

The majority of my photos of the night are terrible, as the lighting wasn’t very good, but in my defence, I also have another very good excuse: none of the band members were ever stood even somewhat still long enough for me to snap any good ones. This included Ben Duffy, who was extremely charismatic, engaging the audience throughout the set, starting with the irrepressibly catchy pop number ‘Last Forever’ in its sun-kissed glory recalling carefree summer days, all backed by the punishing drumming of Andrew Lindsay. The amount of energy he and his bandmates throw into their performance is, in a word, stunning. This is what you want from a dance band: music that gets hands in the air in raising the roof fashion and bodies moving, and they achieved both of those goals, barely stopping for breath between songs.

By playing the hits from 2010′s ‘Fenech-Soler’ (the frenetically buzzing ‘Lies’, the glitter of ‘Stop and Stare’) along with the newer songs including single ‘Magnetic’, the ever expansive and dreamy ‘Maiyu’ and set closer and huge first single from 2013 ‘Rituals’, ‘All I Know’ (single review here), Fenech-Soler proved they didn’t suffer at all from the sophomore album slump and their talent in writing unforgettable melodies with strong, epic dance instrumentation underlying it all will continue to pay off for them. The crown jewels of the night for me were ‘In Our Blood’ (promo video here), their latest single off ‘Rituals’, the syncopation of its compressed synth lines as if running through Ben Duffy himself as his body contorted effortlessly to the infectious rhythm of the track, and ‘Somebody’, which I wasn’t a fan of when I reviewed the album last autumn but live, it proved a hugely wonderful surprise on the dance floor.

I’m not a big fan of being shoved around (call me crazy, but I’m little!). Mostly and thankfully, the fans I encountered were excited and dancing about, but also extremely respectful, so respectful that I never made it stage right to take photos of Ross Duffy on guitar, because I felt *I* would be rude doing so. This is how I found myself stood in front of Daniel Soler and his mad bass and analogue synth-playing skills all night. This is not at all a bad thing; as some of you know, I also play bass and so mesmerised by the nimbleness of his hands on his Fender P-bass for single ‘Magnetic’, I thought I might faint. I definitely need to compare notes with him when they come to DC, which the brothers Duffy have promised me will occur in due time. Hopefully this will happen sooner than later and America will finally come to realise what Radio 1 and the British music-buying public have been missing all these years and take to Fenech-Soler’s music in droves.


Many thanks to fellow fan Chris who kindly allowed me to use
these photos she took at the show; they were better than mine.

After the cut: Fenech-Soler’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Fenech-Soler at Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn, NY – 5th April 2014

 

Video of the Moment #1490: Frankmusik

 
By on Monday, 7th April 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Groundbreaking electro pop artist Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik, has taken to wearing spectacles and has shed his ‘slick’ suited image and traded it for the boy next door with jumper, as evidenced by his latest promo video for ‘These Streets’. I follow Vincent on Facebook and it seems like he’s been through a lot emotionally over the last year, and I’m wondering if his more chill sound is a result of all that tumult. There’s something about the video that makes me sad for some reason, but maybe I’m just reading into it. Watch it for yourself below.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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