Twin exclusive: L Devine brings it home for ‘Growing Pains’

17.11.2017 | Blog , Culture , Music | BY:

“The first time I spoke to Liv I knew that we had something special to create.” Says director Emil Nava, the brains behind videos of stellar hits such as Selena Gomez’s  ‘Kill Them With Kindness , Aluna George’s ‘I’m In Control’, and Calvin Harris’ video for ‘This Is What You Came For’.

The partnership between director Emil and the 19 year old Newcastle-born singer has seen itself manifest in a new, long form video release to accompany L Devine’s latest EP, ‘Growing Pains’. 

A truly exciting name to watch, Devine got her first break after she uploaded a Beyoncé mash up onto YouTube, attracting the attention of American producer Mickey Valen. After having saved up three months rent, she traded northern life for London – and the gamble has paid off.

Marrying a knack for astutely evoking relatable scenarios with catchy, memorable melodies, L Devine makes the kind of modern pop that is easy to get excited about. For the launch of her new track, the singer partnered with Emil Nava to create an evocative video that brings together a melange of important women from the singer’s life. “Each of the women in the video has lived life with no restraints, and certainly never let their gender get in the way of working hard, doing what they love and being who they are.” Says the singer of the new film. Rooted in real life experience, the video brings Devine’s close friends and family into the story, harnessing the candour of shared memories and experience of love, sexual curiosity, and transition into adulthood against the sometimes stark, sometimes electric backdrop of the city.

Following on from the success of ‘School Girls’ earlier in the year, this new video, shot on 16mm film, perfectly captures the twilight moments between adolescence and adult life. Check out the full version below.

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Austra’s Utopia

05.12.2016 | Blog , Music | BY:

The third album from Canadian electronic band Austra, Future Politics, is a record for now. Using rich visuals throughout which lend an aesthetic sensibility to the album, Austra (led by by Katie Stelmanis) explores the themes of future: dystopia vs utopia, creativity through individualism and injustice in a closed world. Written, produced, and engineered by Stelmanis, her mellifluous vocals ride over a catchy synth beats to create a songs that are designed to inspire listeners to get involved and take control of their future. Twin caught up with Katie Stelmanis to talk musical influences, the challenges of a third album and Trump.

Why was it important for you to create this album?

I saw Massive Attack play a show a few years ago in Belgium and having not really listened to them previously, I was totally blown away by the show. I loved how they fused politics and music together in such a way that that felt emotional, rather than being lectured. I think when you receive political commentary through music it allows you to more easily welcome what you are hearing as it seems more genuine and compassionate. I wanted to try to do something similar with my new album; rather than speak about the sadness surrounding a personal breakup, I wanted to communicate the collective sadness felt by our generation and myself concerning the terrifying state of our world atm.

How has the social and political climate shaped the final product?

I actually completed this record months before Trump won the presidency, and started it years before he was even a candidate. So in a way the album wasn’t even intended to be a commentary on what we are currently going through though the themes fit pretty well. I was more obsessed with this idea of the future as being something mutable and controllable and something that we need to tackle with radical ideas, and I think this message is more important than ever.

How did living in Mexico City and Montreal influence and inspire the album?

I lived in Montreal during the winter when it was cold and dark and I hibernated for a few months. The songs that came out of that time are definitely the darker ones, I was feeling quite hopeless personally and also with the state of our world. When I move to Mexico I was immediately inspired and re-awaked, it is visually the complete opposite of Mexico with colour and light everywhere, and the energy of that city if reflected in the songs on the record.

Austra - Photo Credit Renata Raksha - General 005 - 300dpi

This is your third album, how did you feel your sound developed on the record?

I actually feel like I reverted to old techniques in making this record being that I made the whole thing on my laptop, just like Feel It Break. I wanted to do that so I could maintain control of the whole process again. I did however learn a lot about production while making it, which is part of the reason I wanted to do it myself, to gain that knowledge and experience.

Does it get easier to put out an album with experience, or do you feel that you’re still learning?

I think it gets harder in a way. The more you know, the more critical you are. There is something so wonderful about naivety and what can come out of that, I often miss being in that place, although I feel that from where I am now I just have to keep learning in order to be able to make music that sounds like what I hear in my head.

Where there any challenges of creating a soundtrack that reflected and embodied your beliefs?

It is challenging to try to make your ideas come across as concise and sensical. When I was writing these songs there was like a million things I wanted to talk about and I had to work really hard to narrow it all down to a few key points. That was very hard!

Musically speaking, who are you influenced by?

This record was influenced by Massive Attack, Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, Chancha Via Circuito, Grimes.

What are your goals with the album? And how will you be spending the rest of 2016?

My goal with this album is to get people really invigorated by the idea that the future is in their control – that we can start spreading ideas we want to become reality in the underworld and that those ideas will eventually make it through to the mainstream.

Future Politics is released Jan 20th 2017, you can pre-order it here.

Photo credit: Renata Raksha General

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Gordi: Healing Time

01.06.2016 | Music | BY:

Aged only 22,  Gordi (real name Sophie Payten) may be writing lyrics within an established lexical field of relationships and existential probing, but her production fuses traditional guitars with synth to give a bright new contribution to an established canon. Born in Canowindra in rural New South Wales, Australia, the singer has since made her mark on Sydney’s music scene. With a new EP out this month, we asked her to lend some insight into this exciting new chapter.

Were you always interested in music?
Music has always been a big part of my life, I learnt to play the piano from about age four and have always sung. My Mum is a piano teacher so there was always music in the house, and in my teenage years I started writing.

You’re also training as a doctor, are there any parallels between medicine and music? 
I’m currently in my 5th year of my medical studies, so still training! I think the biggest parallel is the connection you can make with another person. I guess they both heal people too. The thing about medicine that interests me is hearing someone’s whole story and then piecing together what the problem is – writing music is a bit like that.

How did your environment growing up inspire your sound?
I grew up on a farm and I think because it was so quiet and there was so much to explore it really inspires creativity. I like to explore space in the music I write and I think that comes from always appreciating the quiet.

You have a unique sound, and I wondered if you could talk a little about the music scene in Australia – do you think you’re working with or against the general sound at the moment? 
I think I’m working with it. The Australian music scene is really booming at the moment and there are so many great artists coming out of our country. I think there’s definitely been some strength in the electronic movement which has influenced the production on my tracks, but the alternative music culture in Australia which is supported by Triple J have always championed the songwriter and so that acoustic influence is definitely there.

What were the main musical influences of this record? 
We always started the recording process with really clear references in mind and they mostly came from Asgeir, The Tallest Man on Earth, Bon Iver and Volcano Choir, and Bonobo.

Do you find you write songs as a reaction to a feeling or to delve into a certain mood? 
Probably both. It’s about taking hold of an idea that might be a particular emotion or circumstance and exploring it to its depths.

How are you enjoying the process of touring so far? Any mis-haps or revelations?
There’s always mishaps! I do find it a bit stressful at times but overall I love it. Getting up on stage each night and performing is certainly the best part and each time I do it reminds me why I’m going through all the hours of transit with 100kg worth of bags and eating fast food for a month in the same three outfits.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2016?
I’ve been really look forward to this tour to the UK, US and Canada and after that I’ll be doing a run of headline shows in Australia in support of my EP. And soon I’ll be getting back in to the studio to make some more music which is always an exciting prospect.

‘Can We Work It Out’ is out now on Jagjaguwar

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Whitney’s Golden Days

29.03.2016 | Music | BY:

Trundling round Europe in a white van, spending their time listening to The Band and Bob Dylan, drinking too much whiskey and beer: the antics of the six-man band Whitney have a something of a cinematic quality about them. On the icy Sunday that I meet them, they’ve just come over from a festival in Holland where they played to families and partied with the locals until the early hours. One small jaunt across the border and they’ve arrived in London, much to the delight of Hackney’s finest, who are queuing down the street to get into the small garage space which is already 100 degrees too hot from the expectant fans inside.

Maybe it’s just the home-made, half-drunk Tom Collins in hand, but as the band sound checks you can feel their magnetism entrance the crowd. By the time they’ve launched into their first song, the sense of joy from the stage and throughout the audience is palpable.

The band – made up of Max Kakacek, Julien Ehrlich, Josiah Marshall, Malcolm Brown, Will Miller and Print – are an exceptional live act. They literally move in rhythm, playing their separate instruments (trumpet, keyboard and a rhythm guitar alongside guitar, bass and drums) as though they’re all in sound together. It’s an unparalleled and unique chemistry. The lyrics are melancholy yet hopeful, expertly worked out by Julien, Max et al. Julien’s silky, pure vocals ride over melodies that swing from soft and searching to the downright groovy, led by ex-Smith Western’s Max on the guitar. Whitney are a band singing about crossroads and transience, about lost loves and moving forward and having a lot of fun together whilst they do it. “I’m searching for those golden days” Julien sings in one particularly enthralling track; judging by the reaction of the crowd, it feels like Whitney might finally have found them.

We caught up with lead duo Max and Julien to talk the bathrooms in Soho House, eyeballing audiences, Donald Trump and the new album.

How did Whitney happen?
M: Me and Julian lived together. After Smith Westerns ended we each worked on different weird projects that never came to fruition. Then one morning I bought this old cassette tape machine that sounded crazy and we were just testing out the machine and wrote two songs for it just kind of snowballed into something we wanted to make a whole album for.

J: We had never recorded my voice before. And this tape machine had a ton to do with it. It just made everything sound really good and appealing but dry, super dry. And that’s where the sound kind of blossomed.

M: The first song we recorded, if we ever release it, you’ll hear that the affect on Julian’s voice is so  intense and ridiculous and we were kind of going way way far to figure out a voice and then scaled it back.

J: During the demos I was more experimenting with my voice a bit more and we were experimenting with recording it, and right before we went out to LA to record the full length in LA I kind of hit my stride and figured out how to sing.

M: Once we had the unique voice or whatever we kind of built the band around it.

Was there a particular moment when it clicked?
J: I remember a moment that we decided that we were going to drop the other shit that we were working on. It was right after we finished the second song that we wrote. I think we took shots of molly water and were walking around Chicago because it was the first nice day and we were just listening to it out of our iPhones. We were insanely proud of it. We went onto someone’s roof and were still listening to it.

M: Did you almost pee on someone’s couch that night?

J: I think I peed on someone’s couch that night… And then we didn’t really follow up with any of the other stuff that we were doing.

Whitney 2

The band; photo by Sandy Kim

And how did you find the other members of the band?
M: They’re our best friends. They all basically left their apartments, which were five minutes away from ours, and everyone moved in together. It was like an open door thing, like a family.

Do you think Whitney only happened because of your experience with Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra?
J: I don’t know if it was because of other bands, but we were just in the right place in our lives to put all of our energies and songwriting talents into this weird project in the hopes that people would pick up on it, and so far it’s working.

M: I don’t think there’s anything specific I took from Smith Westerns but it’s just learning on a personal level how to arrange things.

Are you still using the tape machine?
M: No that thing broke like after we made that song. We did record the whole album on tape though.

You recorded your album in L.A with Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, what influence did he have on your sound and process?
J: We used basically all of his gear to record it, it’s obvious that he has gotten really good at getting the right sounds out of all the stuff he owns. He’s the type of guy that goes crazy if he’s not recording so we didn’t really have any downtime. Overall it was a great experience.

Do you write the songs together? How personal are they?
J: We really consult each other on mostly everything. Most of the time I concept where the lyrics should to but if I hit a road block we’ll just bounce them off each other. And it goes the same way with every instrument.

Why did you choose this particular sound?
J: Most of the songs are about transition in general. That’s where we were in our lives and it seemed like the sound suited the character at the time, but in no way is it going to define Whitney as a whole. We don’t want people to think that we’re going to come out with a sad record every time. We’ve been listening to a lot of Greenday today so…

How is it playing drums and singing vocals?
J: I’ve always done it, but for backing vocals. So it wasn’t hard to do four limbs and singing vocals.. It was more about learning how to assume the pressure of being a frontman, of learning how to talk in between songs and be more entertaining. But I’m past that roadblock now, I feel really comfortable. We toured with the idea of me standing up and playing guitar but then I looked like a fucking lame dude playing the guitar. I do not look good.

What’s the weirdest thing that happened on tour?
J: Our bass player drank our old guitarist’s piss, by accident. It was a really late night and we were hanging out in a cemetery and then our guitarist went and passed out in the van, and then peed in the half-full water jug. Then our bassist came in and busted off the top…

M: So many good thing’s going on! His name’s Josiah Marshall.

J: He routinely loses tour.

How are you finding the whole touring experience? What’re learning along the way?
J: I’m learning how to pace myself a little bit more.

M: I was pretty prepared for this tour, but I learned that Soho House as an institution is really nice! The showers.. Oh my god.

J: Just the most private bathrooms you could ever imagine, you can do whatever you want it in there.

Whitney 3

Max and Julien; photo by Dominique Goncalves

Alright! What’s the plan for the rest of 2016?
J: Just non-stop touring. Our goal is to sit down and write more songs, but we’ll probably just learn to do it on the road.

How do you find performing the same songs every night?
J: Whitney is a band that changes things every night. We’re always working to put variations on the songs that we wrote a year and a half ago.

M: And at this point, the faces in the audience are always new, so the reaction to songs is always different.

What’s the worst song you ever wrote?
J: I wrote a song about that sci-fi movie Event Horizon with our bass player

M: I was in a really bad band called ADHD when I was in eighth grade, and we had a song called Sexy Police Officer. We sang about George Bush a lot, I was really active.

What’re you going to do if Donald Trump gets in?
J: We have a thing where during shows I’ve made the crowd flip off Donald Trump and yell “Fuck Donald Trump.” Besides that, I don’t think Whitney wants to comment on political affairs…

Light Upon the Lake is released on Secretly Canadian, June 3rd 

Main image: by Sandy King

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Låpsley – The Perfect Comedown

14.01.2016 | Music | BY:

After sweeping the net with her ethereal lo-fi offering ‘Station’ (which had Annie Mac gushing), Liverpool’s soulful stirring vocalist Holly Fletcher, aka Låpsley (it’s her middle name), is the 19-year-old still on everyone’s minds, radiating an inner warmth with her teary and introspective lyrics, achingly beautiful harmonies and haunting minimalism.

A multi-instrumentalist with a classical background, her non-traditional route into the industry as a bedroom producer (via Soundcloud), saw her tipped for big things, and later as a studio producer, her debut EP followed as XL’s latest signing, the label that brought us ground-breaking and innovative records from the likes of FKA Twigs and M.I.A.

Låpsley’s self-motivated vision and creative control continues the uprising of women in electronic music – a traditionally male-dominated genre – with the internet providing a platform and voice to be heard.

We caught up with the singer / songwriter to talk musical heroes, owning a loch one day, and why she’s already broken one of her new years resolutions.

Hello, so how are the New Years resolutions going – did you make any?
I am trying to be vegan for January. It was going well until I went to Italy and they force fed me Parmesan!

And what about NYE, do you remember anything past midnight?
I stopped drinking at midnight but somehow can’t remember anything between then and 8 in the morning so must have drunk my bodyweight in Prosecco.

Haha! So you probably missed London’s NYE music-a-thon fireworks on the TV then, I reckon David Bowie’s going to feature on that playlist quite heavily this year – who are your musical heroes?
Arthur Russell is a genius, his work is so honest. Joni Mitchell as a songwriter and of course Bowie as someone who was such a creative innovator and set an example for generations to come to not be afraid to go against the perceived norm.

What about the first record you bought, embarrassing or a good’un?
I think it was Kings Of Leon ‘Only By The Night’ – that’s a good’un to me, wouldn’t really listen to them now however as a 12 year old emotional wreck I clung onto the words.

I bet you made emotional mix tapes for yourself and your loves right?
Yes. I made loads. For boys that I fancied, for best friends, for parties, for promiscuous year 11 times, for everything really.

And what else did you listen to growing up?
My parents music. From my Dad it was Joy Division, The Smiths and Depeche Mode. From my Mum it was Fleetwood Mac, Bjork and Kate Bush.

Did you have pop poster crushes on your walls?
Mum wouldn’t let me put blu tac on the wall so I had lots of framed art of things like squirrels and other wildlife (British wildlife) ha!

And if you could choose a song that completely sums you up now, what would it be?
For January it’s that Internet sensation ‘Peel the Avocado (guacamole)’.

Oh that song! Dr. Jean should officially be on the NHS as an anti-depressant. So tell me more about Låpsley – what’s the story behind that name?
It’s my middle name so no exciting story there. It’s Scottish, it actually means keeper of the loch, hopefully one day I’ll own a loch #buymyalbumpayformyloch (#bmapfml)

Nice hashtag! And you went from bedroom producer, gaining fans like DJ Annie Mac, to being signed to a label really quickly – are you still in control of your overall soundscape, so it’s still a personal and natural growth?
Yes I’m totally in control of my own sound but also take advice and am open to help developing my sound.

You’re experimenting more with new genres too, how would you describe your sound?
Experimental [laughs]

Ha! And how are you evolving, do you know where you’re going to, as Diana Ross once sang?
I think with every new song I finish I learn something new. Fuck knows where I’m going though.

And what about your impact on the electro music genre, it’s still very much a male dominated scene – how do you bring a female perspective to it?
Hopefully lyrically women will be able to relate to my lyrics because men are heartless bastards (fuck my ex, #fme)

Well that told him. So from where you’re sitting, apart from the heartless ex, what does it mean to be a woman in 2016?
It’s sick, Tom Ford has a new make up range that just came out, what could be better? Still pissed that tampons are classed as a luxury item by the government though.

The ‘Understudy’ EP is out now. Låpsley’s debut album will follow later this year.

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