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MP3 of the Day #546: Crystal Fighters

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Considering I just returned from dear old blighty, this Crystal Fighters remix is perfectly timed. Called ‘I Love London’, the song has been redone by Kitsune signing Is Tropical, electronic fans will have a lot to love here. Enjoy it below and if you like it, it’s a free download too.

 

Interview: Gary Barber of Is Tropical at Underage Festival

 
By on Thursday, 11th August 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Just after Is Tropical’s amazing and dance-inspiring set at this year’s Underage Festival, I sat down with Gary Barber of the band and asked him a few questions. We talked about the story behind their debut album’s name and also the possibility of the band going naked on stage in the future. Read on to find out more about the band.

Hello! You played Field Day last year, how does it feel like to play Underage Festival this year?
It’s always cool to play to young kids cause they don’t get the chance to get to clubs and many things like that, so I think it’s important to play to people who can’t easily access to your music other than online. And seeing a band live is a completely different experience to watching them on the Internet. So yeah, it feels great. It’s a shame we didn’t play a bigger stage. Next year we’ll play a bigger stage.

I look forward to that! Let’s talk about the video for ‘The Greeks’. It has gone viral and there’s many bi-polar responses! Some say that it is poisoning the youth and inflicting violence while some say it’s the best music video ever made. How do you guys react to all these diverse responses?
(Watch the video here.)
We try not to read them. If you believe the good ones, then you’ll have to believe the bad ones as well. I say the most important thing is to do something that’s artistic and that you’re interested in, otherwise if you listen to too many people you’ll end up compromising and then you’ll be a worn down version that no one wants to listen to or see or get into your band. I think if you do stuff that is true to yourself and the band, then it’s gonna come across well. Even if it turns people off, it’s a good thing; you don’t want those people anyway, it’s fine.

Moving on to’ Native To’, regarding its title, I wonder to what one’s native?
The thing is, we wear masks and stuff and are inspired by lots of different cultures. If you look at photos from Brazil and Africa, you know, you can just access absolutely everything and communicate with loads of different people from all over the world through the Internet. I don’t know why anyone would like to be so homegrown. It’s important that you go elsewhere. That’s what we’re trying to do, the title is just a representation of being native to everywhere. The songs jump around stylistically, our intention spans grow and just shoot one thing to another. That’s it! ‘Native To’ just sums up the whole attitude we have.

That’s quite a story behind the name! The album seems to have a lot to do with the sea! ‘Seasick Mutiny’ and ‘South Pacific’ are obviously sea-related. What is all about the sea relations?
We’re brought up in a coastal town, a 100 miles south of London. Everyday I’d spend the day down the beach. It wasn’t intentional, we didn’t sit down and think “oh okay, we’ll write about the sea!: But these things are inherent in maybe our childhood and subconscious? If we write about things that interest us, I guess that’s becoming important in our lives.

Did you intentionally do that to contrast the gloomy weather in London?
The name was an escape from the way we’re living, and the songs are an escape as well. But at the same time, there are some dark subject matters on them as well as some drug references and stories about dark times. We tried to put them across in a positive way, so it doesn’t sound like a melancholy song that no one wants to listen to.

Out of the 12 tracks on ‘Native To’ (Coco’s review here), which one is your personal favourite and why?
I don’t like any of them anymore. I’ve heard them too many times. [laughs] Errm, I’d say, maybe… it’s not even on there, the B-side to ‘South Pacific’, ‘Tan Man’. It’s one of my favourites, it’s the funnest to play live.

Oh! That’s the first song I’ve heard by you guys.
Yeah, with the album we did so many mixes of it to try and get it right, you kind of become sick of it. It’s nice to give it a rest. I haven’t listened to it for ages. But with ‘Tan Man’, it’s something that we did at home, done, and then we put it out there. You forgot about it, but when we play it live, it’s got good energy and it’s kind of dirty. It’s the sort of direction I personally want to head. Quite a dirty sound. [laughs]

Just out of curiosity, why isn’t ‘When O’ When’ included in the album? It’s one of my favourite tracks of yours!
It’s nice to have a hidden gem somewhere else, isn’t it? It’s on the Japanese version, and ‘Tan Man’!

Unfair!
They have to pay money to import records, lots of money. So they always have to have an extra couple of tracks so that it’s worthwhile. It’s just fair enough. But I think it’s one of the first songs we wrote as a band, which is cool. We really like it, but that’s stood for a certain time and then we made a pop record, we really didn’t think of it suiting the pop aesthetic. We wanted to make a record where melody was key. All the songs on ‘Native To’, even if it’s an instrumental, they’re melodic. That’s like the key in front of our minds. ‘When O’ When’ just didn’t seem to fit anywhere in between them. Even if it would go on there, but for us, as a package, it wouldn’t fit. You always get this other thing we did before, which people can go ‘I really like that!’, so it’s like a little, hidden bonus.

So they have to know you guys enough to find the song!
Yeah, certainly! When I get into a band, I get into their album, and then I search and see if I can find their obscure track. You know the Coral?

Nope.
They’re a band from Liverpool. They’re amazing. They’ve got 4 amazing albums. Then you go online and you find their rare B-sides, you go “Wow! This is amazing!” They’re just as good as any album tracks you’ve heard. You’re able to explore yourself, which makes it special, as opposed to you being given it. If someone puts it in your face, you’re being obliged to like it. Whereas if you go off and search for it, it’s like your own discovery, it feels more special in a way.

I agree. I really enjoy the process of searching for different bands.
Yeah! It’s cool! I think the Libertines did that as well. They always had lots of session stuff and acoustic versions that are really badly recorded, but in this half-hour session of random noise-making, you’d hear an amazing song and go ‘Wow what’s that?’. You’ll have to search the album yourself, I think it’s interesting. We’ve got so many songs at the moment, our old songs that we’ve never recorded, which we only played on an acoustic guitar or piano. We have a dozen songs that we’ve never even got to the point of even trying to put it down. I’ve got songs that I haven’t told the others about, and they’ve got songs that they haven’t told me about. Maybe there’ll be songs in the future that, if we put it down, it’ll be someone’s favourite song. I think it’s nice.

We’re done with ‘Native To’. I bet you must be pretty sick and tired of people asking about the masks.
But if you wear them you have to expect people to ask about them, so we don’t really mind.

Ha! Can you tell us some anecdotes that have to do with the masks?
Eh, the reason why we wear them is to separate ourselves as performers. They’re a proper pain in the arse, honestly. You get really hot. On a day like today, you put a mask on, it’s just sweaty. You get little bits of material in your mouth. One time I breathed in, and the material went down my throat and I was nearly sick.

Aww.
It’s horrible.

Have you ever had any suffocations on stage then?
Nearly! One show in Brighton, we were supporting Mystery Jets, and it was really hot. I was at the point like I thought I was going to pass out. I’d been really drunk the night before so it just wasn’t good. But we had to keep it up, cause it’s cool, right?

Yeah!
Masks are cool. They’ve always been cool. They got a certain romance about them.

I do think so, they’re kind of mysterious and stuff.
They’re even older than clothes!

Really?
Yeah, like tribes back in the day, you see old drawings of tribes, they’ve got a huge wooden mask and no clothes on, but they’ve got a mask.

Do you want to try that on stage sometime?
Naked? Yeah, I’m not sure. But not at an underage gig (like this festival). We’d be arrested. [laughs]

 

Underage Festival 2011 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 10th August 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: The press restrictions at Underage Festival disallowed anyone over the age of 17 to enter the festival grounds. Even members of the press. So it’s a good twist of fate that TGTF just happens to have a writer young enough who could cover the event for us. Take it away, Coco!

Held exclusively for youth, Underage Festival took place at Victoria Park this year like it has since it began in 2007. The day before the festival, it was raining in London. I was really worried about the weather for Underage: really, I suppose no one really wants a festival with rain? Luckily, the rain had stopped and it was sunny all day long.

I arrived at the venue 2 hours prior to the event because I signed up for some volunteer work. After that was done, the gates were open and the excited swarm of young people dashed into Victoria Park. The act that I first saw were Ghost Eyes, they played an early session, at around noon. Having listened to their tracks on their Soundcloud before seeing them, I anticipated ‘They Left’, my favourite track by them. They did play this and a couple more of songs, including their latest single ‘Phantom Mountain’. As a whole, the performance was all right, but the vocals were too soft, to the point that I could hardly hear any!

A while later, I saw Crystal Fighters at 3 PM. I couldn’t stay until the end of the set because Dutch Uncles were playing at quarter past 3 and I wanted to catch them as well. Crystal Fighters were mental. They drove everyone crazy (in a good way). Everybody in the crowd danced like as if it were three in the morning instead of 3 in the afternoon. The sun was bright but that didn’t affect the disco-like atmosphere that filled the air in the main stage. I was really glad that they played ‘I Love London’ within the time I stayed. How cool is it to listen to ‘I Love London’ being played live in London?

I then ran frantically across Victoria Park and arrived at the Artrocker stage for Dutch Uncles’ performance (pictured at top). They mainly played songs from ‘Cadenza’, their new album (Mary’s review here), and only 2 songs (‘Face In’ and ‘Doppleganger’) from their previous releases. My personal high point of their set had to be ‘The Ink’. I was really hoping that the track would get played and my wish came true! Duncan, the vocalist/pianist ended their set by saying “they’d stay around the tent” and the audience could ask them questions if they had any. How sweet!

The next band I saw played at Artrocker stage as well, so that saved me from a lot of leg movement. They were Is Tropical. I previously expressed my love for them in the review of their debut album, ‘Native To’ (read it here). So to me, seeing them live was a big, big bonus. They began their set with ‘Tan Man’, and the crowd grew bigger and bigger as they played on. I was dancing in the crowd with a lady from New York City. However, we were outdanced by two young girls who were in front of us. They went literally crazy and shook their heads as if they were on MDMA or something. I think everyone had a real good time watching Is Tropical, and the performance from the band was breathtaking. (Because we were too busy dancing? That might be the reason!)

Lastly, I saw Bombay Bicycle Club at the main stage. They headlined the festival and played the very last slot. Sad to say, I was somewhat disappointed by them. They weren’t as good as I expected them to be. The crowd enjoyed it nevertheless, and a poor girl blacked out during their set and had to be sent to hospital. I truly hope she was fine afterwards. Bombay Bicycle Club played some songs from their upcoming album as well as some good ol’ favourites.

This was my first festival experience and I loved every single millisecond of it. My thanks go to Jamie and Paul at Zeitgeist Agency who made it possible, Eat Your Own Ears and the Orange Dot for organising it and last but not least, all my friends I met up with who really made the whole day worthwhile.

Coco also chatted with Crystal Fighters, Dutch Uncles and Is Tropical at the festival…so stay tuned for those interviews coming soon on TGTF.

 

Is Tropical / September and October 2011 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd August 2011 at 9:30 am
 

London’s masked marauders Is Tropical will be bringing their mad dance beats to venues across the UK in September and October. Get your tickets now.

Coco reviewed their debut album ‘Native To’, which you can read about here.

Tuesday 20th September 2011 – Southampton Joiners
Wednesday 21st September 2011 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Friday 23rd September 2011 – Nottingham Bodega
Saturday 24th September 2011 – Sheffield Harley
Sunday 25th September 2011 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Monday 26th September 2011 – York Stereo
Tuesday 27th September 2011 – Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
Wednesday 28th September 2011 – Liverpool Wolstenholme Creative Space
Thursday 29th September 2011 – Bristol Croft
Tuesday 4th October 2011 – London Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen

 

Album Review: Is Tropical – Native To

 
By on Friday, 10th June 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Before I start the actual review, I must say that I’ve been a huge fan of London-based trio Is Tropical since I first listened to them. Funnily enough, the first song of theirs I heard was not a proper single, but a rather epic instrumental B-side ‘Tan Man’. I was so captivated by the synth work and the relentless drum beats. Ever since, I had to have my regular dose of Is Tropical.

The track which opens the album is, coincidentally, the A-side to ‘Tan Man’ – ‘South Pacific’. I always considered it very calming, with its graceful video featuring shots after shots of the blue ocean (watch the video below). The next track, ‘Land Of The Nod’, alongside with ‘Berlin’, caught my attention upon the first listen of the album. The lyrics from the chorus “drift me onto the Land of the Nod” seem to work very well as I always doze off to it under too many inappropriate circumstances. Anyway, the track is fun and bridges the listeners from the rather calm ‘South Pacific’ to the crowd mover ‘Lies’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqYi_z_zW3A[/youtube]

The rich beats heard throughout ‘Lies’ keep the whole song subtly-paced. Not too fast, not too slow, but at a moderate speed that people can still dance to. Next comes ‘The Greeks’ (snag the free mp3 here), with a video that has gone viral within days of its upload. The secrets of having over a million views on YouTube after 5 days of its upload? Not only the video content is ridiculous (ridiculously good!), but also because its refrain constantly loops in the song. Needless to say, the refrain is utterly catchy. I guess these are probably the reasons why ‘The Greeks’ is now a big hit online.

Moving on to the latter part of the album, ‘Oranges’ sounds fresh and juicy, just like the fruit. The thrashing guitar opening definitely makes a statement. The song itself serves the same function like orange juice, as suggested by Is Tropical, “to keep one awake”. If you’re feeling a little bit sleepy, I’m sure the energetic intro can wake you up in no time. The next track, ‘Berlin’, is definitely a highlight of the album. It never ceases to put a smile on my face, even on the darkest days: a very happy song with an encouraging-sounding chorus: “I let myself go/ Just let yourself go”. The last two tracks on the album share a lot of similarities and go very well together. Both of them have a perfect match of sick bass line and also intriguingly intense drums. In ‘Zombie’, the guitar riff heard right before entering the next verse is just pure awesomeness. Finally, here comes the last track, ‘Seasick Mutiny’. It can almost be treated as an instrumental as it only has a tad of highly distorted vocals.

On a whole, the album is an enjoyable journey. I had a lot of fun listening to it, as well as reviewing it. Want to give it a listen before purchasing it (on limited edition vinyls maybe)? You can now do so now on Is Tropical’s Facebook page.

9.5/10

‘Native To’ will be released next Monday (the 13th of June) on Kitsuné.

 

Video of the Moment #495: Is Tropical

 
By on Tuesday, 7th June 2011 at 6:00 pm
 

For Is Tropical‘s promo video for their single ‘The Greeks’, MEGAFORCE, the folks behind the video, indulged their inner little boy fantasies. (Read more here on Kitsune’s journal.) While the video may be silly (and supposedly NSFW?), the song is killer. No pun intended.

You can grab a free download of ‘The Greeks’ from CoCo’s earlier MP3 of the Day post about it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwrbyVaC6EU[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours 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 no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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