Porches

In The Eye Of The Storm With Porches

01.02.2016 | Music | BY:

“The storm was beautiful, but now there’s lots of it to slowly melt and just slush away” comes creator of Porches Aaron Maine’s melodic musings from out of my iPhone on a dismal London night. I’ve called to chat about Porches new album Pool, which has been three years in the making and marks a peak of Maine’s impressive output. Talking to the frontman, the sense of excitement about having an audience for the new record is palpable, which is understandable given that it’s been ready to go for months. And it’s been well worth the wait.

Sonically the album marks a new, more experimental direction for the band (which includes his partner Greta Kline aka Frankie Cosmos). Guitars are swapped for synths and drum machines to intoxicating effect. Indeed, speaking to Maine a couple of days after New York’s recent blizzard feels like apt timing. With a sound that’s both surprising and familiar, cosy and alienating; it’s wholly immersive and will whip up another storm in 2016.

You existed in a couple of guises and line-ups before Porches, what was it about this name and group that stuck? 
I guess Porches the name and project started a while ago, like five years ago, when I came back from a tour with my rock band. Back then everyone was living in different places and we weren’t practising, so I made a new batch of songs that felt really different. I don’t really remember why I called it Porches though. I’m not particularly fond of it anymore but…. it’s just a name. And it took a while to start playing those songs live and to figure out how to do it. It wasn’t until Cameron and Greta joined the band that it felt like the kind of line up and instrumentation was finally something special. Before that we were messing with backing tracks and different members.

What was the inspiration behind the album? 
I listened to more music, saw more things and experienced new things by living in the city. For me it was important to make something different, that made me feel different that made the audience feel different too. I was paying more attention to music that was being made currently and in drum machines and electronic music saw this cool, exciting potential for something new, and how far you could go with it. It feels really fresh still, even though its widely done to me it felt more exciting than guitar music.

Yeah, it feels like you’ve managed to create something surprising from what at first sounds familiar. I’m interested especially in the motif of water throughout the album, both lyrically and in the quality of the sound, was that a conscious thing or did that evolve naturally?
I was actively trying to make something that made you feel that way… Watery.

And when you’re writing, are you speaking from personal experience or as a character?
The songs are definitely personal. I know in this album the lyrics are pretty abstract, they’re not experiential or based on actual events in my life, but they are a collage of my mood, or whatever I was feeling like that day. Kind of like a set of emotions I put together to paint an emotional landscape.

They’re kind of like impressionist paintings?
Yeah and it was exciting to do that for the first time. I feel like I have always just clung to an experience and it was freeing to not have to experience something psychically to write about it. It taps into a different place. It’s not based on any specific instances so it’s just like a portrait of myself emotionally. Because of that I still feel in it (the album) and still like the songs and can get behind them.

So are you quite considered in your approach to making records? 
I definitely live in the song for a while, or at least I live in the recording for a long time. I kind of like that vibe of a recording that’s been loved and given the attention that it deserves.

I’m interested in the eye contact element of performance. Do you ever find it uncomfortable? What’s your performing technique?
I actually made a conscious decision to perform with my eyes open. I realised that I was always closing them or looking down. It’s funnier and more interesting to scan the audience, to look at everyone and how they were feeling.

Have you ever got up on stage and completely screwed up?
Um (long pause) I mean I’m sure… I don’t know! I’ve l tried smoking weed before performing and I just can’t. It’s fun and sounds very special but I’d be psyching myself out. We try to be really focussed and professional. That wasn’t always the case, but it’s been like that for a while now! I

What was the evolution into music, could you have been a banker?
Hah, no. I went into college to study painting but always knew and felt more passionate about the fact that I truly needed to make music. And it was just a matter of time before I realised that it could be a thing.

It’s easy to romanticise creativity in the city, but what’s it actually like being an artist in New York these days? 
There’s an insane amount of creative people but I don’t really know if New York embraces them, but at the same time that’s where people get their energy from. It’s something to, not rebel against, but to struggle with. It’s very not chill. You kind of have to be on your shit if you want to make it happen and want to stay around. I love that.

Pool is released 5th Feb 2016 on Domino

Main photo: Jessica Lehrman

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Frances | Jenna Foxton | Communion

Meet Frances: heiress to the vocal powerhouse throne

12.11.2015 | Blog , Music | BY:

She’s got a voice and she knows how to use it.

That’s 21-year-old newcomer Frances, the British vocal-powerhouse who could sing you out of the room in karaoke (watch out Adele), and who could also give Florence Welch a run for her money in the wonderfully wild red mane stakes.

Hailing from Newbury, she’s got a set of lungs that sound like they’ve been soaked in 90% proof emotion, serving up a high intensity of feelings to comfort you, before hitting you round the head with a massive chorus that stirs you. She’s already supported Sam Smith live, performed for Radio 1’s Live Lounge and sold out her first three UK London tour dates.

The new soulstress on the block you should know about, we caught up with Frances to talk love and fears, nostalgic moments and the best woah-oh-oh ever.

What’s your earliest memory of music?
Dancing around the house with my mum to ‘Poetry In Motion’ by Jonny Tillotson.

And when did you start performing?
I had my first performance when I was three, but I’m not sure if that counts. I’ve always performed in some way since I was a toddler – it just felt so natural.

I first heard of you when I came across the track ‘Fire May Save You’ (the Cesare Remix), and I remember sharing it on my Twitter account as I loved it, and you messaged me back to thank me. Are you officially the nicest person in pop?
Haha! I appreciate so much any support for my music, so I think it’s so important and only polite to say thank you!

But what about when you become too famous to even peel your own banana, what will your tour rider consist of?
Haha! Everyone should peel their own bananas, its part of the experience! Hmmm. Sparkling water, cereal bars for a quick energy boost in case I’m lagging, and some speakers for the tour tunes. That would do me fine.

Well as you’re so nice, I really want you to record a mellow stripped back piano version of Whitney’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and totally belt it out – can you do that especially for me on the next EP please?
That’s an amazing idea… I’m going to say YES!

Awesome, I’ll wait for it! And talking of vocal belters, you supported Sam Smith this past Summer for a live show – that must have been a pretty intense experience?
It was an amazing experience – he’s such a star and the nicest guy on the planet. I loved every minute.

Were you and Sam trying to outdo each other back stage with who could sing the highest note?
I’m pretty sure he’d win if we did!

What about other performers you admire…you might spontaneously combust if you found out you were sharing a stage with who?
Carole King. That would just be insane.

Wow, what a duo, you two would be musical ear porn! How would you describe your own sound?
Well it’s all about the song for me. So I want to sing songs that people can relate to and share with their loved ones. And in doing that I hope that my voice sings those songs in a way that people endear to, and feel they want to carry on listening.

And how have you evolved and grown with each release?
I think I’ve grown as a producer. So I’m finding new ways of delivering my songs and how I can use some different sounds on top of the piano and my voice to enforce meaning in the songs, lyrically and musically. But I’m also maintaining that actually keeping things simple is still a great approach for me for some songs, as nothing gets in the way then.

What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learnt so far on your musical journey?
I’ve had to learn that other people do really care about my music and career. It can be hard to believe at first but once you work with the right people you learn that people have got your back!

You’re among the Next Gen of female singer / songwriters to make their mark on the industry – what other female performers keep you on your toes, for a bit of healthy competition and sisterly respect?
I’ve got so much respect for so many female performers. A few that stand out though are Aurora, I think she’s incredible, so haunting and beautiful. Rukhsana Merrise is amazing too, I love her song ‘So They Say’. And then there’s of course Alessia Cara, Adele, Florence, Maria Mena and more.. I could go on forever!

What about if we looked through your record collection, would we find any embarrassing moments?
I still have my Vengaboys CDs.. loved them. And I’ve probably still got my Aqua – Barbie Girl CD too, haha!

Ha! Well my Bucks Fizz Greatest Hits beats your Barbie Girl. What else makes you nostalgic?
My childhood. It was so fun, I had (and still have) a wild imagination and just lived in a world of my own most of the time.

Is that why you’re quite emotively explorative in your lyrics, you’re very deep and reflective for someone so young?
I’m very sensitive to emotion, both my own and others. I tend to over-think and analyse everything so that means I think about things at quite a deep level.. which can be good and bad I think!

Do you think it’s easier to love or be loved?
I always say you have to love yourself before you can love another.. but I also think you need to know that you’re loveable.. so that’s a tricky one! I guess they both become easier  if you have value for and love yourself.

Good answer. And are you fatalistic?
In some ways I am.. but then I also believe you can create your own luck and opportunities. But ultimately we’re all destined to do something, whatever that may be. We all have our own piece of the puzzle.

What’s your greatest fear?
Disappointing someone I love.

But you’re not ashamed to admit that you love…?
I don’t think we should be ashamed to love anything, but I guess my love for Christmas films is quite intense.

And where is your happy place?
Snuggled up with my dogs watching a great film. That’s just the best!

And when not snuggled up indoors, what’s your go-to feel good song before a night out?
‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire.

What about the best woah-oh-oh you’ve ever heard in a song?
It’s got to be ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyonce! Or for a more emotional ballad-y one, it would have to be the ‘Oh’ section in ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay.

Ok, so you’re off to karaoke – which three singers would you take with you and what’s the song you’re going to sing?
I’d bring Sam Smith, George Ezra and JoJo and we’d sing ‘Lose My Breath’ by Destiny’s Child.

Ooh nice! So what’s coming next for you and what can we expect from your debut album?
I can’t wait to do my album. It’ll be here next year sometime. It will be in a similar vein to my EPs, but a bit more accomplished I hope, I want to show I’ve grown and developed as a songwriter and for people to really connect and relate to the music.

So taking inspiration from the title of your latest release ‘Let It Out’ – how can we all really let it out today Frances?
Dance in a shop. If a great song comes on it deserves to be danced to. You’ll brighten up your own day and someone else’s!

The ‘Let It Out’ EP is out now and you can see Frances live on her UK tour which kicks off in 2016. For more information head to francesmusic.com

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