Pages - Menu

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Interview: Luke Pickett

Your debut album is due out this year. Could you give us a confirmed date and your personal favourite track featured?
Unfortunately there is still no confirmed release date. I keep saying it but it really is very close now and I hope people will think it was worth the wait.
It’s hard to pick a favourite track because I love all the songs for different reasons. I have a few to be honest and they keep changing all the time but the one I’m listening to most at the
moment is a song called ‘Keep yourself together’. It’s quite different to my older material. It’s a lot more up beat but is quite dark lyrically.

What genre of music would you define your work as?
I’m sure my older stuff would be defined as acoustic, but I think that will change with this new record. It’s really hard to say because people always have a different opinion. The easiest thing to say would be pop, but I’ve taken influence from soul, RnB and my more acoustic roots. So I don’t know, maybe a unique blend of all four.

Do you prefer working solo or as part of a band?
I’ve been in bands before and being a solo artist is definitely easier. But when I’m playing live I do like having other musicians accompany me on stage. It takes the pressure off a bit I guess and you can feed off each others energy.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a singer?
It probably wasn’t until I was about 16 that I knew for sure that’s what I wanted. I had sung in bands before that but once I started writing my first EP I think I grew more confident in my vocal ability and felt that it was something I could pursue.

You have been hailed as an excellent live act, what is your reaction to this and what do you enjoy about these performances?
It’s obviously great to know people are saying good things about the live aspect of my show and I’m very humbled by it. It let’s me know I’m doing something right and it’s something I’m proud of.
I think what I enjoy about playing live is seeing people’s reactions to the songs. It’s the one place where you truly get an honest reaction to your work. It’s a great feeling coming off the stage knowing you’ve given a great performance and the audience has enjoyed it.

You are a skilled guitarist, any advice for other budding musicians?
I’m never sure what to say other than the usual clich├ęd stuff, but keep on plugging away, practice hard and you’ll keep improving. It’s always good to try playing with other musicians and test yourself as well.

How do you feel about the reactions to your EP releases on iTunes?
All in all I’ve mostly had a pretty positive reaction to my EP’s on iTunes so I’m pretty happy with what people are saying. It’s great to know people are enjoying my songs and it gives me the confidence to continue writing new material. I keep striving to better what I’ve written before so hopefully I can continue doing that.

As a songwriter, do your lyrics come naturally or are they a reflection on your own personal experiences?
My lyrics tend to be a reflection of my personal experiences, and I like to set the stories in an almost fantasy like world. I’m a massive fan of mafia/gangster films like ‘The Godfather’ etc, and I use a lot of references to those types of movies in my lyrics. Hopefully people will pick up on that and can relate to the story I try to create in my songs.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I’d love to say selling out the O2 arena but we’ll see. Honestly as long as I’m still making music that people appreciate and I can make a living from it then I’ll be happy.

Thank you for your time and we wish you the best of luck in the future!
Thank you also!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Film: True Grit

The Coen brothers re-adaption of True Grit fails to not impress. The genre (western) would make many want to fall asleep however True Grit proves fun and compassionate. It is a travelling tale of vengeance and proves thrilling throughout.

The movie narrated by the adult Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfield),  plays out the story of her childhood. As the eldest child in her family she has come to sort her murdered fathers affairs and bring his killer to justice. She inquires at the undertakers upon who would be the best Marshal to assist her and is given numerous options .  She is a feisty and witty child who presents much control over her elders.Proving a skilled business woman and persuasive, she convinces the local business man to re-purchase and compensate her father's property, due to the murderer Tom Chaney making off with her father's horse placed into his care.

Spending her second night in the local boarding house she awakens to Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) with a proposition for her. He proposes that he attempt Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), as he been doing so for numerous months and bring him to justice for a separate murder within Texas. He suggests she still convinces Cogburn to assist her as his local knowledge and brash exterior will prove useful.  Mattie disregards the proposal and wishes Chaney to hang for her father's murder specifically. With money now in her pocket, Mattie makes a successful attempt of gaining the support of U.S Marshal Reuben J. ‘Rooster’ Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). On instruction she awaits for him the following morning so that they may depart, on arrival she discovers a note telling her to return home and leave him to his duty.

To her dismay she sets off towards the river and seeks passage on the ferry, on refusal she crosses, clutched to her swimming horse. Safely on the other side she continues with persistence.  On discovery that the two men have arranged an alternative agreement, Mattie threatens to have the Marshal arrested for fraud. After an uneasy scene of disciplining by LaBoeuf the Marshal sends him on his way reluctantly letting Mattie accompany him. The pair come across an isolated shack inhabited by two outlaws and enter. The Marshal begins his tactics and tries to subdue them, eventually turning one against the other and leaving them both wounded and near death. The younger informs the Marshall that the notorious gang led by “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper) should be arriving later in the evening. On belief that Chaney accompanies the ruffians Mattie and the Marshall await their arrival.

However, to their disadvantage LaBoeuf rears his head. Upon the gangs arrival he is lassoed and Cogburn opens fire upon the unsuspecting party, killing three members and wounding LaBoeuf. That night the trio rest while Cogburn drowns some non-existent sorrows, offending the Ranger and causing him to depart once more.

Mattie wakes early and begins preparations. As she collects water from a nearby stream she comes across her foe Chaney. She demands her fathers remaining California gold piece and clutching to his pistol takes aim, catching Chaney’s shoulder but misfiring the killing shot. Chaney captures Mattie and returns her to Ned Pepper’s gang, where she is proclaimed as their hostage. He tells Cogburn to depart immediately or Mattie’s life will be cut short, as he leaves hastily Ned does also, leaving Mattie in Chaney’s care. Chaney opposes the plan, as the gang attempt to locate a new hideout but Ned disregards his exclamations, stating there is few horses and he must not harm Mattie.

As they are left alone, Chaney assaults Mattie attempting to silence her. LaBoeuf springs from the cliff-face and knocks Chaney out cold. He explains that on hearing shots, he adamantly returned and came across the Marshal whom he schemed a plan for rescue with. Atop the cliff Mattie and Laboeuf watch the Marshall upon the plain below. The encounter between the gang and the Marshal unfolds rapidly with an impressive shoot out sequence. Two gang members are shot dead and another flees, leaving leader Ned in direct contact with the Marshall. The Marshals horse is shot from under him and as it lands heavily upon him. Ned takes his aim and is shot dead by LaBoeuf from a distance. A crack is heard upon LaBoeuf’s skull and he topples in a slump, Mattie grabs his rifle and takes a finally successful aim. The force sends her flying back into a deep mineshaft, swarmed by rattlesnakes. In her struggle Mattie is bitten, Cogburns rescue attempt is swift and he sucks the poison from her wound.

Knowing she is near death, Cogburn in appreciation dismisses LaBoeuf and assures he will send help. Hastily he makes his way to a doctor. The duo ride through the night in a beautiful and picturesque sequence on horseback. As Matties horse falters, Cogburn makes a paternal attempt to save her. He picks up her weak and dying body and sprints onwards.

We cut to a scene twenty-five years later. Where the narrator is now prominent. The adult Mattie now concludes her story. The ending is unexpected and leaves a saddened audience. The rough U.S Marshall is now admirable and the estranged LaBoeuf is finally at peace on completion of his quest. On reflection this quest explores revenge, love of individuals and the best of the wild west.

The critically acclaimed True Grit is currently in cinemas nationwide. Do not avoid this merely on a genre basis, you will be pleasantly surprised by its individual appeal and suitability.

Interview: K.Flay

What you stand for, and an interesting fact about yourself?
I hope I stand for music that’s original and authentic.  In my music life and my normal life I try to be an independent thinker and general proponent of weirdness.  Interesting fact: my second toe looks like ET.
Who was the most enjoyable artist you have performed with and why?
I just finished a great run with Wallpaper.  He’s got this totally crazy outlandish stage persona, and it was really fun to watch him transform each night.
What is your favourite mix up on MASHed Potatoes?
Crazytown.  I think that we live in age in which corporations and institutions suppress a lot of natural – and potentially beneficial – psychological variation in the name of “mental health” and that as a society, we suffer for it.  Feeling insane, depressed, out of control – those are the ingredients for great art and interesting people.
You like to manipulate your music and manage to create something beautifully unique. What instruments can and do you prefer to use?
I do a lot of sampling, which means I sort of have the whole musical instrument spectrum at my fingertips.  But in terms of what I actually play, it’s mainly controllers and guitar.
Any plans for your own tour?
Right now I’m enjoying life as an opening act.  I think it’s important to be able to adapt your live show to different kinds of crowds and learn from other, more experienced artists.  Plus, the vague threat of getting booed off stage means you have to make sure you aren’t completely terrible.
Best performance to date and why?
I actually think my best show was my latest show, in London the other week.  Often, when I’m performing, I find my mind wandering off – everything’s so automatic that I don’t have to think about it.  But I was super stressed that day, with jetlag, meetings, travel, and I was able to release all that energy on stage.
You are credited on your educational success often, are you glad you went to University and at the same time pursued your musical career?
I’m extremely happy that I finished university.  At the end of the day, when the show’s over, I’m stuck with myself.  So I’m glad I like reading books.  Because books are more interesting and less frustrating than me.
What are your inspirations for your music?
The things I see and feel.  I’ve been in a very introspective space as of late, so a lot of my writing has stemmed from that.
Your work is original, are you looking to create your own genre?
Not really.  Just trying to make music that’s a bit surprising, a bit left of center.  I’m still figuring out my sound, but I’m getting closer to where I want to end up.
Who came up with the stage name?, was it a previous nickname or just a play on words?
K.Flay was my nickname in college.
Do you prefer to perform in the US or further afield?
I’ve only performed a bit outside the US but it’s been awesome.  I definitely hope to do more international touring this year.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In a studio, working on some new shit.
Something about you that others perhaps would not expect?
I cry during movies.
A message to all your fans?
Thank you!  And stay tuned for new music.  Loooots of new music.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Album Review: Chase & Status 'No More Idols'

Other famous collaborations include ‘Heavy’ featuring Dizzee Rascal, ‘Hitz’ featuring Tinie Tempah and ‘Brixton Briefcase’ featuring CeeLo Green. The album also presents a collaboration with the up and coming Claire Maguire.
The boys have roped in some pretty big names in the business. It does make one wonder though if perhaps they are compensating for something. The introduction of other genres also supports this. Do the boys believe they cannot go it alone on their raw talent? Such as the great DnB artists such as Pendulum manage to do.
There is no doubt the album is superb but it is hardly a solo act on Chase and Statuses part. These big names are definitely a support to the boys. Ah but we have been here before with ‘More Than Alot’, the help of other musicians helped to boost Chase and Status into the mainstream. A place where they are desperate to stay.
‘No More Idols’ represents this desperation. The album features more collaborations however and the diversity of genres could be looked upon in a positive light also. Sure the boys are leaving their original roots and developing to fit the appeal of today, but isn’t this what we demand? We should embrace these changes, opening up to alternative audiances means a little something for everyone.
Chase & Status are best live, where they can present the raw energy of their sets. The album merely lacks the masses dancing to it. The songs are made to be blown through club speakers. ‘Hitz’ is particularly impressive. The fusion of genres works extremely well, Tinie’s old school hip hop infuses perfectly with the boys cleverly manipulated sound. ‘Brixton Briefcase’ proves a bit of a disappointment but of no fault of Chase and Status, It is not the best performance by CeeLo and sounds like a very dodgy and simplistic club track. It lacks the soulful aura that CeeLo often presents. One of the best songs however on the album has to be the opening ‘No Problem’, with an intense beat and sly vocals. It features tribal rhythms and sick trance beats that will ensure you get to and stay on your feet.
Overall, the album is very good. With the intense beats, variety of featuring artists and memorable lyrics this album fails to not impress.
1.    No Problem
2.    Fire In Your Eyes (Ft Maverick Sabre)
3.    Let You Go (ft Mali)
4.    Blind Faith (ft Liam Bailey)
5.    Fool Yourself (ft Plan B & Rage)
6.    Hypest Hype (ft Tempa T)
7.    Hitz (ft Tinie Tempah)
8.    Heavy (vs Dizzee Rascal)
9.    Brixton Briefcase (ft CeeLo Green)
10.    Hocus Pocus
11.    Flashing Lights (ft Sub Focus & Takura)
12.    Embrace (ft White Lies)
13.    Time (ft Delilah)
14.    Midnight Caller (ft Clare Maguire)
15.    End Credits (ft Plan B)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Film Review: Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky has made film history. The gripping and striking Black Swan is art in its best form. Mixing the mediums of dance and film he has created a movie with mass appeal. The psychological thriller is an innovative piece of work, based upon a subject matter that many would shun from. Ignorance is not so blissful in this case; to make a judgement on the quality of the film merely on the facts that it is an exploration of ballet would be a rather abrupt decision to make.
The film is based upon the life of a young Nina, a secretive woman who seems a little too dependent on her mother for comfort. Natalie Portman plays this vulnerable role. The plot is based upon a production of Swan Lake. The prestigious New York City ballet company requires a ballerina to be cast as both the main and separate roles of the Swan Queen. There is a theme of contrast, the pure and delicate white swan in comparison to the seductive black swan.
Nina an adamant and skilled ballerina is desperate for the role, as she has put many years of hard work into the company and needs her break. She conflicts with the confident and whimsical Lily (Mila Kunis), who also wishes to claim the role. Both girls represent the different personalities required to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. Nina in graceful desperation is perfect for the white swan and Lily fierce and hard-edged an image of the black.
Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), the director of the production appears to be a sexual deviant. He presents himself to Nina and makes it evident she must compete and open up to the role of the black swan if she wished to succeed. After a passionate confrontation with Nina, he makes attempts to tarnish her virginal stature and on failure tells her to explore herself. This is the awakening for Nina and she begins to find a darker side to her personality.
The movie makes an apparent and real reflection of the trails of being a competent ballerina. The film opens us up to a world full of gruelling and painful training sessions, where women’s feet appear distorted and crushed. A world that demands one must be of perfection in body, mind and performance. There is an exploration into eating disorders, self-harm and mental instability. Reflecting that to make it in such a world, you must give everything of yourself.
We see Nina in her home environment and begin to understand why she is in such a frail state. She is mollycoddled by an overbearing mother. This over protective nature has left Nina in a state of flux. She is expected of highly by her mother, a failed ballerina due to her pregnancy of Nina. As Nina begins to find herself we soon see numerous domestic tensions of what appears to be the behaviours of something expected from a young teenager.
On succession of achieving the role Nina is presented to her new glitzy world. This is much to the distress of her predecessor Beth (Winona Ryder), who in turn strikes fears into the vulnerable Nina and is a living example of how both girls are just tools of the trade.
As Nina progresses it becomes apparent that she is a wavering psychotic state. She presents numerous delusions and hallucinate episodes. Her paranoia progresses at the bold Lily. The retorts of Thomas play in her mind, she begins to change and let go of her perfectionist attitude.
As the plot progresses Lily approaches Nina at her family home, much to the dismay of her Nina’s mother. The duo spend the night out and dabble with drugs, on return Nina has an elaborate argument with her mother, resulting in the girls locking themselves in Nina’s room. They engage sexually and on awakening finds Lily absent. Nina rushes to the company and on arrival is furious in finding Lily acting as her role. She continues picking fun at Nina for what she says was a fantasy sexual engagement.
The night before the first performance we see Nina vigorously continue to perfect her routine for performance. Her mentality worsens and she is faced with severe hallucinations, on believing to see Lily and Thomas intimately she flees. As she arrives home her body begins to distort and she begins to form as animalistic swan. On fear of her delusions she knocks herself out upon her bedpost. As she awakens her mother’s controlling nature continues, she states that she has contacted the company and that Nina will remain absent from the opening performance. Nina is enraged and violently removes herself from the home, rushing to the performance and immediately beginning preparations.
The production is constructed of four acts each showing the detailed changes of the Swan Queen. Nina’s hallucinations continue to play tricks on her resulting in drastic consequences. These remaining minutes are Nina’s epiphany. She concludes whispering softly, “I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect,”
Swan Lake surprises down to the last few seconds, the film is truly a marvel to watch. The actors perfect their roles and the amount of dedication they were enforced is evident. It appears that Portman and Kunis are in fact professionals of the art. The film is gripping throughout and presents many moralistic values. Mainly to be whom you are, for if you stray from your identity the results may not be to your advantage.