Category: General Interest


Healthy Junkies is an explosive London-based rock – punk rock band. On the music scene since 2009, the heart of Healthy Junkies is Phil Honey-Jones (guitar, keys, drums, backing vocals) and Nina Courson (vocals). Dave Whitmore is on bass and Tony Alda is on drums. Yes, you’ll hear shades of influence from Sex Pistols, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Iggy and the Stooges, but don’t be too quick to pigeon hole Healthy Junkies. You’re likely to recognize influences of Bowie, Sonic Youth, as well as some reggae and blues. There’s a lot going on in the music and each of Healthy Junkies’ studio recordings (Trash My Love, 2010; Sick Note, 2012; The Lost Refuge, 2013; Box of Chaos, 2015; The Absinthe Session, 2017) will give rise to different impressions – which means buying all of them to really get into the band. And not to forget live performance. You’ll find that the lead, the rhythm, and that special something – the wild card – is all there in great musical and physical abundance!

HVUM: Thanks, Phil and Nina for your time and willingness to join us on HorizonVU. We read from the band’s bio sketch that Healthy Junkies is the outcome of an evolution that goes back to Soho’s Punk and collaboration between the two of you. Will you tell us your story and maybe fill in the spaces with high points between the first meet-up and today?

HJ: After we initially met, we spent about a year together not really connecting musically at all. We both had separate bands, Nina’s was called Altercation, a grunge band and mine Hiroshamour, a psychedelic rock band. In terms of writing we were on different planes altogether. Then one day we decided to write a song for Nina’s friend Lucy on her birthday. Lucy had not been well at all and the song was something we felt we could do for her at least. This song is called “Glam sister” and it is on our first album, “Sick Note”. We still play it live sometimes.. After breaking the seal as it were of our writing partnership, other songs naturally followed, we recorded demo versions at home and then one day we were offered a gig by a promoter in Brighton for a festival there. We agreed to the gig then of course had to get together a band pretty sharpish. We found Steve Nightmare, who was a tall, goth like guy with whom we had recently become acquainted, he showed an immediate interest in playing drums, then my bass player from Hiroshamour took on the job as bass player for us. The gig was a disaster, running so late that we only played 5 minutes before the festival was shut down. The promoter ran off with the money, the only band I believe that got paid was Goldblade, Jon Robb telling us at the time that they ‘always’ get paid . I believe him.

So we had a band. And we just played anywhere that would have us, mostly in London at random gig nights, squat parties, even the side of window on scaffolding at a protest to an imminent squat closure. Until we played a show at a venue called Bridgehouse 2 in Canning town. The venue is no longer there but at the time it was smack bang in the middle of an industrial wasteland. We didn’t really expect anyone turn up, in fact one of the bands on the bill didn’t. But there was a female fronted band called Gun Dogs on the bill, they were from Birmingham and brought with them a bunch of fans, who came down on the train especially. That was an eye opener in itself because in London its pretty hard to get people to travel from North to South or South to North as they always claim its too far. Also at this gig was a man called Steve Iles. He liked what we did, chatted to Nina and then introduced us to a whole world of gigs up ‘North’ . Steve is from Manchester and he pretty much knows all the female fronted band in the UK and even in Europe, the Americas and Australia. This man supports bands 6 nights a week. It is his calling and its because of him and other such fanatics that an underground live music scene exists at all.

So Steve booked us countless gigs all over the UK, some were better than others but at least we were doing it, out on the road, getting more confident, writing songs as we went. I suppose the result of all these gigs on the ‘punk’ circuit was getting invited to play firstly Nice and Sleazy festival in Morecambe, then the mighty Rebellion festival in Blackpool where we headlined the new band stage, at the time it only ran for one day, the Thursday. Now it runs for all 4 of the days as the festival continues to expand. We met loads of bands and punks and skin heads and alternative people during these gigs and at the festival all the time appreciating our being included in this burgeoning scene. After recording our first 2 albums we split with the other 2 band members. As anyone who has been in bands knows, 2 or years in each other’s pockets, internal pressure, external pressure, people wanting different things, dramas all can contribute to a break up in a band. So we found ourselves on the way to Bristol in a car at 6 PM on a Friday with no drummer and no bass player. It was to support the amazing UK Subs, not an opportunity that we were about to let slip away. As luck would have it, a good friend and former drummer of the Lords of the New Church, Danny Fury, had seen us the night before and offered his help if we ever needed it. I’m not sure he quite expected to be learning our songs in the car on the way to a gig the following night though. But that is what he did. We had also called a bass player up, a guy called Peter Lock who had told Nina that he had learned some of our songs from YouTube videos, we took a gamble on doing this but actually the gig was amazing, felt so freeing and like we had done it against all odds. We got on very well with Subs and have played with them a few times since, Charlie is always very supportive of us and loves Nina. So we had a temporary new line-up which has chopped and changed a bit over the last 3 or 4 years but we managed to record a 3rd album which was released on Manchester label STP Records as was the second album. Now we are ready to record the 4th album with drummer Tony Alda who has toiled with us on drums for 3 years now and the wonderfully crazy Dave Whitmore on bass who we found just over a year ago. Many gigs have been played, in the UK and a couple of tours of France.

The last tour of France was with UK band Neon Animal and we took loads of footage filming the bands live and behind the scenes. This we have edited into a documentary which we will release soon for those who may be interested in what its like for an underground band to be on tour abroad nowadays. Recently ( the Beginning of July ) we hosted a 3 day festival at a pub called the Unicorn where we have been hosting a monthly free night for bands and a DJ. It’s called Punk’n’Roll Rendezvous . Part of the premise of this night is to always have at least one band playing on the bill from outside London,. we often get a return invite to play in their towns later as a kind of return the favour thing which has worked very well. Another feature of these nights is that the bands all support each other and do not just go home after they have played. This shows a real sense of community spirit which is seriously lacking in some circles.

Well I’ve been as brief as I can, in filling in the gaps for several years, but one thing I can tell you is that its been a gas. Had loads of fun, met loads of people and would like to continue doing so health permitting. Very important if you are a Healthy Junky.

HVUM: Great! A couple things really stand out and I hope some of our younger followers get the message. First, when you’re starting out you play, play, play. Don’t try to cherry pick venues. Second, keep us in the loop on your documentary, this should be a HorizonVU feature. You mention changes in band members over the past years; particularly bass players and drummers. Now that David Whitmore (bass) and Tony Alda (drums) have joined, has Healthy Junkies stabilized?

HJ: I mentioned the changeable line-up that we’ve been subject to. Its like this. People come and people go. Life can be like that. Stability is something we definitely like but people have their own agendas, commitments financially and timewise. Nina and I write 99 percent of the material and do pretty much all the driving, organising, funding, make most of the decisions, decide what direction we want to go in often simply depending on which way the wind is blowing so its really not suprising that people either want to abandon ship or get pushed into the ocean by a slight slip of the hand on occasions. The reality of being in band with very limited support network is a hard, cruel fact of our lives. Its just the way it is.
All we can hope to do is capture the essence of whoever we are playing with at any given time, guide it so it brings out the best in all of us, make sparks and hope we don’t get burned too much doing it.

HVUM: Generally, what do you think is the toughest challenge to keeping a band together? Most rock bands have a life expectancy of…a week? How do you approach managing a band?

HJ: Well, it seems I am determined to answer each question in advance of the question itself. Keeping a band together? It may be that we are not the most qualified to answer this, as our line-ups have only ever lasted a max of 3 years. However, there are some very obvious strategies that can be employed for the continuation of a group. Now despite the fact that I’ve already mentioned that Nina and I basically call the shots, we are all about fairness, justice, equality and consider all members to be as relevant as the next. Our most recent bass player Dave, for example, wrote a tune that we play live often and its called Theft. We all love this tune, it will be on the next album, it’s a stand out live track. We actively encourage contributions from other members. Its important to feel as a band member that you are as relevant as the next member and that Healthy Junkies is your band too. Getting on with each other helps too, something that you can’t force of course. Splitting the money , what there is of it anyway, is important and of course trusting each other.

HVUM: How did you get to Healthy Junkies for the band’s name? Is there any kind of a topical aspiration you have in mind for the band?

HJ:The name Healthy Junkies usually comes up in interviews. When Nina came up with it way back before we even had a band, it was a joke. I have been drinking Kamboocha tea for many years now, I make it at home. Nina calls it my magic potion. However at the time I was probably smoking too much pot as well so she came up with ‘Healthy Junky’ ..

We are not Junkies in the heroin sense though, and I think anyone that knows us realises this. In the early days of the band we got a lot of criticism from people about our name, they said things like ‘You’re glamourizing drug use’ or I lost a friend because of heroin. Well, guess what? I’ve lost several friends due to drug misuse too. What I do believe in is personal choice though and I am looking forward to the day that we follow California and lets face it we always follow the U.S. , in the legalisation of that plant that grows wild, that admittedly has been manipulated my mankind to produce varying stains of marijuana fit for various purpose. But what hasn’t been manipulated by man? The strongest joint I ever smoked was a gift from someone who knew Richie Sambora, who in case you don’t know is the guitarist in Bon Jovi. Anyway Richie sent me this gift by way of a friend and when I smoked a tiny amount I literally felt like I had lost my sync with time. I had to take a Valium or two and for a while felt like I had entered into the sphere of madness and would never return. This was an outdoor grown straight forward weed and it beat in strength any hybrid skunk whatever plant I have ever had since. And bare in mind this was in 1993. So that really completely destroys the current argument that the strength of marijuana available today is more dangerous somehow than the shit the likes of Jack Karouac smoked on the road way back when.

So having lumbered ourselves with this shall we say non pc non commercial name, various discussions have been born and had along the way about the pharmaceutical industry for example. Where doctors are quite happy to take the easy way out and prescribe the likes of Prozac, or whatever its current counterpart is, and of course aniobiotics, pumped into our food, water and each other. Its no wonder that the bacteria is becoming resistant and fighting back. Healthy Junkies is an oxymoron. It has a ring to it, the punks seem to quite like the name, and our next album will be by ‘Healthy Junkies’ .

HVUM: Listening to your music, it seems straightforward to pick up on threads of rebellion, anger – perhaps isolation (“Resistance”, “Trash My Love”, “I Don’t Give A Damn”, “I Can’t Stand Anyone”). Standing back a bit and taking a broad-brush assessment, how do you characterize your music?

HJ: Yes, there are definitely certain themes that crop up lyrically in our songs. Nina is quite the activist, feminist, revolutionary leader for sure. I said earlier that we are passionate about certain things like equality, standing up for yourself, fighting for your rights and now more than ever we can see how the corporates have taken over the world. You only need to travel ,though London to see the amount construction sites that are simply crushing and squeezing any alternative life that may still be left in the city. Venues closing left right and centre, fewer opportunities for up and coming bands to learn their trade and make their way forward. The main music industry of course has become generic, bland , un adventurous and processed for fast food music to the masses. So yes we have plenty to rebel against and much to resist and sometimes we do feel so much despair that we simply shout ‘ I don’t give a damn’ because no matter what we do or say it seems that this disintegration into oblivion seems inevitable, the city has been sucked dry, people cannot endure this infinitely and there is a huge price to pay. This country has a wonderful history of music, art, literature and culture and its been strangled, devalued and cast aside like an unwanted Christmas present.

We basically write about what we feel like writing about at the time. Sometimes Nina leads the way and sometimes I do; it depends on the song and maybe who is the more inspired at any given moment. Most of the lyrics are written between us though which we both find stimulating. There is nothing more thrilling than riding on the crest wave of an idea and seeing it sprout wings and fly before your very eyes. Not always knowing where its headed or whether the thread of the song will ever return gives me goose bumps, and it’s when the theme of an idea does come back at you like a boomerang and hits you right between the eyes, its like ‘Yeees’.. that means something to mean I hope it will mean as much to someone else who hears it.

HVUM: Is there a song in your catalogue that stands up especially well?

HJ: There are certain songs that stick out for us. “Copycat” was our first single, it got a bit of attention at the time and continues to be a winner live. Certain songs have been favourites for a while like Manifesto and then not played so much, maybe we over played them. But when you do go back to an almost forgot song that you once played all the time, its like seeing on old friend again after along break. You simply pick up from where you left off. Witches of lust off the second album is great song to play live as is If you talk to her its over which has expanded live into a psychedelic epic. Someone mentioned the Doors as an influence that they had heard in that song, that’s fair enough, we love the Doors.

HVUM: Let’s have a look and listen to that first single, “Copycat”.

Off the third album “I don’t give a damn” is ferocious in its way and I love to play “Just a fool” which does always make it onto the set but I thing is one of our best songs. As far as listening to the recordings go, I am still moved very much my some of the more moody, atmospheric tunes like “Shine a line” from the second album and Captive from the third album. I would like to do more of that kind of moody, atmospheric song.
We also released an EP recently called “The Absinthe Sessions”, which is basically a set of what we call B sides that we never thought would see the light of day. All recorded at home and pressed up simply because we needed something else to sell on a French tour. I am still very fond of that EP and it represents DIY in its purest form.

HVUM: Yeah, “I don’t give a damn” is one of our favorites. Let’s check it out.

HVUM: What drives you? What is the source, or sources, of inspiration?

HJ: Well I’ve done it again . Answered a question before its been answered !
Everything we see, hear, experience, dream about, long for, suffer the loss of, the dramas we ignite between us, the fights, the making up, the past, the future, now , London, the world, the main stream, the music industry, being on the road, personal therapy, madness, living your dream, no future, better days ahead…Its all there in the songs…

HVUM: Getting more personal, Nina and Phil, what are your music backgrounds? Formal training? Self-taught? Keep in mind that we have a lot of young readers that are really interested in knowing the path taken by performing musicians such as yourselves.

HJ: My mother was a classical concert pianist, she had 6 kids of which I was the second last to be born. She got divorced and brought us up herself, teaching piano every day and every night. She taught until the day she died. So naturally when I so much as looked at a cello at the age of 6. She had me in lessons and then orchestras at school. Now while I love the sound of a cell played well I could never get it to sound as good as I’d have liked . I picked up a guitar at 10 years, then an electric guitar at the age of 12, taught myself and never really looked back. In terms of rock music, I was given or somehow it came into my possession, a card board box full of 45s from artists from the 60s and 70s. Bands like The Kinks, The Who, The Amen Corner, The Beatles , T.Rex, The Stones, Marvin Gaye, The Troggs… I had a cheap plastic record player in my bed room and I would listen and love these tunes when I was very young.

Nina had a similar experience with her parents who still are to this day huge fans of Rock music, the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Bowie and Bob Dylan were played during her childhood. Her father was the singer in a psychedelic rock band called Metamorphosis, their biggest claim to fame was supporting Can at a festival in France.. Nina is self-taught as a singer although she has had some lessons since we met which she says have given her confidence especially with her breathing.
So you can see its in the blood..

HVUM: Nina, tells us about your journey from Paris to London. How did that happen? We’d really interested in knowing what attracted you London as far as music is concerned.

HJ: I was kind of obsessed with London since the age of 14 when I saw the song ‘Do you really want to hurt me’ by Culture club on a music program in the 90’s and became really intrigued by the eccentricity of Boy George. It then later got me into new wave then punk and finally grunge which is when I really started my own band after seeing Kurt Cobain play Reading Festival on TV.

There wasn’t much of a grunge or punk scene in Paris by the time I was 19 and that’s when I decided to move to London. Lots of my heroes and inspirations were from England and it just seemed like the only thing to do. I also always loved the fact that there were artists like David Bowie, Mark Bolan and the Sex Pistols who had such an outrageous look and you only seemed to get that in England. That aspect alone attracted me. The idea that you could be who you wanted to be and wear what you want.

It’s always been a bit more macho in France. It’s more rare to see a man wearing make-up. I’ve been growing up all these years thinking about living in London and learning the language thanks to a lot of Internet friends who lived in England and America. It seemed to me like there was more of a scene in the U.K. than in Paris and a lot more venues to play too as an underground band. And I was right. Since I’ve been in the UK I haven’t stopped touring.
It just feels more possible to be an underground musician in London than it is in France. More opportunities. Although now lots of venues are closing and things are changing compare to the time I arrived but that’s another story.

HVUM: That’s really interesting. Thanks for your honest view of the Paris scene. You are so right (I can’t help but say it) we find the Paris scene is so not-a-scene for indie rock. If you want to play anywhere but your own basement you pay the venue up front – and that sucks. Okay, moving on, you have an affinity with punk and post-punk. Going back to the 70s and punk as we knew it (Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, The Slits) how do you view the evolution and the relevance of punk today? Is it still about creativity exploding with hard-edged anti-authoritarian views on society or stripping away b.s. from everyday life? What do you think?

HJ: We actually think that punk is as relevant today as it was in the late seventies. People feeling disillusioned, with no future, doing minimum wage jobs and never being able to move beyond that.

Of course nothing is shocking nowadays ( to quote Jane’s Addiction ) or is it ? People are maybe a little too afraid to say what they think nowadays it seems for fear of being prayed upon by the social media police. Judged or simply trolled. The punk rock of today, other than some of the original bands that are still going like The Damned, The UK Subs and Sham 69, is the punk that is thriving in the Underground scene. That is where its at. And yes singing and shouting about what’s happening in the world today, what they see and how they feel is still as important…

HVUM: In your view, where are we with the music scene today? Where do you think we’re heading? Your outlook for independent music? Is there any kind of vision?

HJ: Well, the pop music of today seems to have reached a point of generic-ness previously unrivalled. I occasionally still tune into radio one or Capital radio just to see what is being played and I am usually disappointed. I hear people say all the time, ‘it has to change’ , something good must come out of all this zombie nation fast fodder, producers dominant stage that we are currently in and have been for some time. Once again I turn to the Underground music scene where you can find many great bands who are not manufactured and express how they feel in the most genuine way. Not simply thinking about what they think the public want to hear or what they will buy, these bands keep playing shows against all odds, financially and otherwise so I cannot say enough times… Support the Underground bands at the smaller gigs otherwise they are in danger of becoming extinct…

HVUM: Amen. Does the band have a plan? What’s next?

HJ: Yes we do… We have a bunch of dates in the UK and Europe to see us through this year and into next. We are currently refining, learning, jamming a bunch of new songs and getting ready to record them for our next album. We intend to be in the studio no later November/ early December. That is our priority. Also the plans for visiting the USA have been stepped up, this is a major thing for us because we are DIY and we don’t have a big label behind us so the costing, the logistics, accommodation, transport and finding of the gigs is all down to us. So be it, at least we don’t have to answer to anyone except ourselves and the people that come to our gigs.

HVUM: Finally, and just for the fun of it, describe Healthy Junkies as a painting? What’s that look like?

HJ: Well, I would say one of Jackson Pollock’s pieces. Paint splattered everywhere randomly that after a while starts to make some kind of sense. Or maybe that’s just inside our heads. Perhaps Healthy Junkies is a multi headed series of shadows is the form of tormented human heads straining to push their way through some kind of plasma layer that is being stretched but seems unable to be broken…I can almost hear the stifled screams…Ok maybe that’s a bit dark, but we are very much about acknowledging the darker side of human nature rather than using energy to hide it or deny it.
I really think a visual image of Healthy Junkies would change on a daily basis depending on our mood.

Nina and Phil, again, thanks so much for sharing your story and your honest opinions. It’s always great to talk with musicians that put it all out there for people that follow us. I really hope that you’ll give us the word net time your in Paris. We promise to be there!

Wolf Alice
Visions of a Life
RCA

Ellie Rowsell (vocals, guitar), Joff Oddie (guitars, vocals), Theo Ellis (bass), and Joel Amey (drums, vocals), aka Wolf Alice, have put forth an album of rock, grunge and shoegaze blended with lyrics that are sometimes melancholy and sometimes hostile or pernicious. The band’s arguably at its best in dreamy alt-rock as with the opening track “Heavenward”. The bad-tempered “Yuk Foo” brings out rage and hostility – “I want to fuck all of the people I meet” and “St. Purple and Green” alternates between a composition which is mellow and wet and grunge. The final track “Visions of a Life” is an adventurous journey through disquietude clocking in at just under eight minutes. In addition to the performance, the track is notable for both it’s production (Justin Meldal-Johnsen) and mix (Tom Elmhirst).


Sally_newsfeedSally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

Find Your Signature Sound
by Sally

I love Broadway musicals and I love singer-songwriters and their creativity and I love pop music. But frankly I’m getting a bit bored by it all. Why?

Each genre has a vocal “sound” that has become the ideal and it seems that almost everyone sounds the same! What happened to unique voices? What happened to individuals sounding unique – sounding like themselves? Isn’t that what artistry is all about?

You can probably hear my frustration jumping off the page! I train singers. I train them to use their natural instrument as it was meant to be used and get out of the way. I train singers to find their unique, signature sound. Why be a bad imitation of someone else when your natural sound is so compelling?

You may be thinking that your voice isn’t all that compelling – unless you do something extraordinary when you are singing. That just ain’t so.

What is most interesting to an audience is simply – you. What makes your voice unique and how your voice sounds naturally.

The majority of the training I do with singers is to help them get out of the way so their natural voice can sound.

Here are some singing tips that help to promote your signature sound…

*Use your inhale to open your body, your instrument
*Open all the way to the pubic bone to engage the powerful low abs and back muscles
*Let those powerful muscles do their job without interference
*RELEASE your breath and sound as you sing
*Observe – do not judge – observe your voice and how it sound
*Observe – do not judge – observe how your abs are working
*Let it work without pushing or straining

Voice work is always best done with a great teacher because it’s counterintuitive. What you think should be right 99.9% of the time actually adds tension that strangles your signature sound.

SING OUT WITH COURAGE AND CONVICTION!!!

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World Radio Paris’ Jessica Brassington explores the city’s music scene on Paris Music Fix – a show full of interviews, music and a run down of the week’s best gigs. A graduate of University of Sheffield with an MA in modern history, Jessica has worked on several projects on cultural research in theater and film. Her radio experience includes broadcasting and production. As a journalist, she specializes in music, interviews and website content.

Jess Brassington spoke to Jessica Gabrielle, a Franco-American musician who has settled in Paris, and brings you the usual music releases and recommendations for the week. From Amy Winehouse to Joss Stone, Jessica Gabrielle’s musical universe mixes her powerful voice with popular rhythms to create a soulful and groovy atmosphere.

Visit Jessica Gabrielle at http://jessicagabrielle.com/


HVUM: Katie Garibaldi is an international, multiple award winning singer-song writer based in San Francisco. She’s best known for her “to die for”
expressive and richly beautiful soprano voice matched by intelligence and charisma. She regularly engages audiences across the United States and her multiple studio recordings bring new meaning to the Americana-Folk-Acoustic tradition.

HVUM: Katie, it’s so great to have you with us. We’ve been following you for years now, so we know something about you from listening to your award winning songs and watching your performances, but tells us about your background. How did you first become interested in music and pursuing a career in music?

KG: Thank you, and the pleasure is all mine! I became interested in music way before I had any experience with instruments. I feel like the music was always inside of me and when I learned the guitar around age 11, I finally had my way of bringing the music from the inside out. I’ve always been a melody maker first and foremost so I would sing melodies all the time and words would eventually form out of them. My parents always had on records from the Beatles and the Beach Boys for me and my brother growing up, so I think that just fueled my love of melody even more. I learned the piano because my mom plays, and though I loved the sound, it didn’t inspire me to song write. But the guitar was like my magnet for songs. I started performing in high school at cafes and volunteered at retirement homes to sing my music for the residents. Looking back on it, I think that was a really crucial time when I was seeing that music had a healing impact. I remember a time when I played at a local cafe and I must have been about 16. I sang some song of a broken heart and a man came up to me afterwards and said he was touched by everything I said in my song, and then proceeded to ask me for advice about his marriage. I think he and his wife were contemplating divorce and he was asking me what I thought he should do. It’s really funny when I think about it now—picture this 16-year old shy girl sitting at the counter drinking her tea and this stranger asking her for marriage advice. I was probably terrified! Haha. But these types of moments just show how music brings us together in the most basic human form. It doesn’t matter what age we are or where we come from. We all go through the same things and music reminds us that we’re not alone. In high school I recorded my songs at a friend’s house and made CDs to give to people. Pretty soon I started selling them and I became more interested in how to be an independent artist as a career. I started educating myself by going to music business conferences and reading books about it and I got really into the marketing side of things. So I became aware pretty quickly that this was my path and there was basically no going back because I was too in love with it already.

HVUM: Did you receive formal training along the way and did you have any teachers or mentors that inspired you to become a professional musician?

KG: When I was in elementary school, my teacher one year had an acoustic guitar and she would regularly have these singalong sessions where she would play and sing folk songs with the class. I was also in the school chorus and the teacher led us with an acoustic guitar. I was completely obsessed with the guitar and it was love at first sight! I would look at it with stars in my eyes. Both teachers were women and I think seeing these women sing and play this magical acoustic instrument was pivotal for me. I asked my parents for lessons, and my brother wanted to learn guitar too, so we took private lessons. I knew it was my instrument after the very first day. We took lessons for a few years, but I was a pretty bad student. My teacher would give me exercises and scales to learn, but I would go home and just write a bunch of songs instead of practicing. Pretty soon I would stop pretending to act like I had done any homework and would just bring him the songs that I wrote or ask him how to play a Jewel song or something. But he was a great teacher and I learned what I needed at the time in order to express myself.
HVUM: You studied at Notre Dame de Namur University, were your studies there influential in driving your music career?

KG: Yes, they really did. Though I knew music was my love, I knew from the get go that in order to do this as a career, I needed to learn the business side of things. So I majored in Communications with a minor in Business and took classes on marketing, advertising, website design, public speaking, etc. I learned how to write a press release, what it took to make a marketing plan, and things of that nature. I tried a music studies class, but it wasn’t as exciting as just doing music, which I was doing while in college—gigging and touring. So I focused on the business of it and I used so much of what I learned when I was starting out, meanwhile gaining live performance experience. I was able to take over my own website with the program I learned and really got my business going. While in college, I was able to intern at music related companies and for my communications senior final, I was able to interview guitar player Joe Satriani and go to his concert with a ‘press’ pass. It was great!

HVUM: Recognizing that you are more than capable across genres, you are widely recognized for your Americana roots. What is it that draws you to that acoustic-folk tradition?

KG: There is something special about the sound of an acoustic guitar that makes my soul feel at home. It conjures something that is bigger than me and can sort of take me out of my body. To me, there’s nothing more vulnerable than a singer standing with his or her guitar, playing songs written from the heart for people to witness. It’s a strange dichotomy of real and otherworldly; beautiful and scary; weak and strong. I enjoy electric and big production music too, but a song for me needs to hold its own with just a voice and single instrument like the acoustic guitar or piano, for me to go deep with the music. I feel like there’s a real rebellious nature to it too. Like, since I started out doing music everyone in the industry would try to tell me what to do, trying to put rules on music: “You can’t have a song title with only one word. You’re not supposed to have that long of an intro. The chorus should start at less than a minute into a song. This doesn’t follow equation XYZ!” I’ve never listened to anyone when it comes to “supposed to” in songwriting because music is not “supposed to” have any rules, at least that’s how I feel about it. I mean, what happens if a chorus is one measure “too long?” Do we all die? Does the world implode? What happens?! I’m not interested in music with rules or the anatomy of a hit song. I’m interested in whatever moves me. I’m interested in what heals and has an emotional effect. And when it’s just a singer with their acoustic guitar playing whatever they want however they want, that’s just badass to me and I love the freedom of it. No click track, no amplifiers, no barriers, just the ebb and flow of a story with a melody.

HVUM: We listen to your music posted on Soundcloud. Your most recent song there is “I Am”. Tell us about that song? What is behind it?

KG: “I Am” is from my EP release Rooted Clarity, which has a theme of discovering faith and the true roots of ourselves. At one time I was feeling alone and misunderstood and just kind of lost. One morning I was drinking my coffee in a sun spot at home and got that itch to pick up my guitar. My fingers quickly went to these chords and I started singing a melody, and it happened so fast that I grabbed my notebook and started scribbling down lyrics. The song felt like it wrote itself. I finished it and sealed the deal with writing “I Am” as the title. Then I reread the lyrics and I realized that the song was actually from God’s perspective and he was talking to me. In a way, he was answering my unspoken prayer through a song: “When you lay your head down thinking nobody cares, and you look around thinking nobody’s there, I am.” It was honestly a really emotional moment when I realized what the song was saying, and an extremely healing experience for me. I think God has this really fun sense of humor too and in the days following, I kept coming across references to God as “I Am,” which I hadn’t thought of when I wrote it! I would hear on TV, “…and God, the great I Am,” or read in a book a really random reference to God as “I Am.” And the obvious reference in the song dawned on me. I just walked around laughing all week like, “Ok, I get it!” It’s always an emotional one for me to sing live because I think it’s an important message for people to understand that we’re never really alone and that we are loved.

HVUM: Let’s have a look and listen to “I Am” performed live at Two Old Hippies, Nashville!

HVUM: Particularly for our young aspiring artist friends it’s always interesting for our guests to share “war stories”. Along the road, you’ve no doubt had some really great “ups”, but just about everybody in the business has at least one experience they could have done without…can you share a high and a low with us?

KG: There are so many highs but one that just came to mind is when I recorded my album Follow Your Heart and got to work with an orchestra arranger (Minna Choi) on writing string parts for a few songs. I have always loved stringed instruments and had gotten a small taste of having a violin on a song or two in the past. But when I got the opportunity to work with Minna, I was able to really dive in during the pre-production and it was a dream come true for me to have full orchestral arrangements on my songs. I was able to describe what I wanted and also hummed a lot of the parts that I wanted to hear. Minna then took those directions and ran with it, arranging full parts for violin and cello. Hearing actual melodies that I hummed come to life with an orchestra was really exciting. This was a big high for me because it opened up a whole new world of inspiration, which led to me using live string players in the studio for my next album Rooted Clarity, and the whole direction of that album, which is actually now part of my signature recorded sound. I really found a big part of myself as an artist and producer during that whole process. As far as lows, there have been plenty of them, but I don’t look at them as lows now because the biggest lesson I’ve learned in life is every time a low happens, it opens up the opportunity for a high. So in hindsight, we look back at those lows and say, “Thank God that happened, otherwise I would have never done XYZ.” But of course during the low you say, “Why is this happening?!” I think it’s all a test of faith. But one of those moments for me was when I was planning to work with a producer on a project a few years ago. We had done all the pre-production and signed a contract and everything. I think it was about a week or two before we were scheduled to go into the studio for our first session, he emailed me to say that he could no longer do the project because another project came up that paid more money so he took that job instead. (I know, what a standup guy, right?) At the time I was devastated because I had already made all my plans for the record and was really excited about it. So in the moment it was definitely a low point. But I don’t even think of it anymore because if that hadn’t fallen through, I would have never found another studio and team, which happened to be one of the best experiences of my life. So, dear person who has horrible character and rudely abandoned me, I sincerely thank you so much!

HVUM: As a successful female artist, do you have some words of wisdom about building a career in music? Can you suggest a definite “must do” and a definite “do not do”?

KG: The best advice I can give from my experience is be your true self and always follow your heart. This can be really scary sometimes and it takes a heck of a lot of courage, but the world needs brave people who dare to do what lights them up, whether that’s music or something else. Fear is a given because that’s just life, but don’t let it control you. It’s better to risk than to regret. I used to get really stressed out when people in the music industry would say, “Find out who you are and what makes you unique and market that,” that sort of thing. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, who am I?! What’s my thing?’ But you don’t have to have everything figured out at once, simply just be. Don’t worry about what other people are doing, just be naturally you and do your best. That’s what’s authentic. Don’t overthink it. The other thing I would say is don’t be hesitant to invest in yourself and your business. I think some people get stuck because they don’t take financial risks, but if those risks are smart then they’ll most likely pay off. And if they don’t, you just try something else. But you have to bet on yourself to get anywhere. I’m always conscious of how certain areas of my business are feeling. If I’m feeling stuck somewhere and not moving forward, it’s time to move on to another avenue—try different things. See what works and what might take you to new opportunities. Don’t settle and hold yourself back. Always be willing to try something new once because you will learn from it and grow either way.

HVUM: One of our favorite songs and videos regularly posted on our social media is “Delightful” directed by Anna Haas. It’s always interesting to know not only about the song, but the making of the video and the storyline. Tell us about “Delightful”.

KG: When I wrote “Delightful,” I sat down with a darker state of mind because at the time I was affected by a lot of negativity. I let what someone else said get under my skin, and it bothered me that I was allowing an outside circumstance take my happiness. During the songwriting process, the song ended up transforming my darkness around to see the light. I realized no one could actually take my happiness unless I gave it. I believe we’re all born with a light inside us and no one can take that away, no matter how hard they try. Our job is simply to remember that light, let it shine, and also to not shade our eyes from seeing the light in others. We were born to be delightful. The chorus is: “Take these shades off of my eyes and shine all of the light inside. We could be delightful. I can’t believe the world is all scary. What if we were delightful?” The songwriting process for this song was immensely healing for me and I knew this message was particularly important to share with others. This was my mission! I met Anna in Nashville, who did the photos and album design for Rooted Clarity. We had talked about doing a music video because she also directs and when the time came, I sent her “Delightful” to see what concept she would come up with. The story that she created for the video is one where I’m brokenhearted but through the process of taking myself out on a “me” day, treating myself to things that normally couples would do together on a date, I discover I don’t need someone else to make me happy because happiness was mine inside me all along. The relationship spin on the video is different from the song’s inspiration, but it creates a great storyline that a lot of people can relate to and in the end, the message is clear: happiness is a choice and we have the power to own it. I love that the video also celebrates independence and female empowerment. It was a blast to make and I’m so happy to see the positive response that “Delightful” has been getting.

HVUM: You have a Christmas album coming out in the very near future. Tell us about the new recording. Maybe you’ll give us a “sneak” preview of what we can expect.

KG: I’m so excited about this album, it’s ridiculous! The album is called Home Sweet Christmas, and the release date is December 1st, which you can preorder now on my website. I wrote and released a Christmas song called “Tomorrow is Christmas Morning” last holiday as a single. Since then, I was inspired to write more Christmas songs and thought it would be fun to do a full album, maybe half originals and half classics. But I just kept writing, all the way up until the pre-production stage before going into the studio, and so it became an album of all original songs. I included one classic as sort of a bonus track to the album. The songs range from the folky Americana vibe to very traditional classic country to a more pop influenced style, and to even funk and gospel sounds. I recorded the album at a local studio in the San Francisco Bay Area with engineer Justin Weis and I worked with some of my favorite musicians. We created some new sounds on here that I’ve never done before—lots of cool textures and arrangements. I also worked with backup singers for the first time, who I call my “Christmas Choir” and who did a fantastic job. It was a lot of fun for me to sit down and create the choir parts, which was a new thing for me as well. I grew up singing Christmas music and I love listening to it all year round. It’s a dream for me to finally make my own Christmas album and I can’t wait for people to hear it. Expect the unexpected, and plenty of jingle bells!

HVUM: In addition to the new album, what’s on Katie’s horizon?

KG: I just got back from Nashville where I filmed my new music video, which I reunited with director Anna Haas and her team on. The video is for a song off my Christmas album called “Unhappy Holiday.” I was able to see some of the footage and it looks incredible! There’s both beauty and humor in it. It was so much fun to make! The video will be out soon so stay tuned for that. While in Nashville, I also filmed an acoustic performance of a new song that I’m planning to record on my next album, which I’ll be sharing soon. I’ll be playing some Christmas shows at the end of the year as well. Otherwise, I’m writing away and will most likely start recording again next year as my next album is taking shape.

HVUM: Katie, thanks so much for taking time for the HorizonVU Music team and our network of friends. We have no doubt that you’ll enjoy continued success, but we do wish you the very best for all the new ventures that life has in store for you!

Shout Out Louds
Ease My Mind
Merge

Visit Shout Out Louds at Facebook and iTunes

The Swedish band, Shout Out Louds, is back! Adam Olenius, Bebban Stenborg, Ted Malmros, Carl von Arbin, and Eric Edman have released “Ease My Mind”, a stellar contribution of dream pop. The opening track, “Jumbo Jet” makes puchasing the album worth your while. The song was motivated by Olenius’ fear of flying gives some special understanding of the composition and lyrics. If you’re in the market for some nostalgic, shoegaze, indie pop, ” “Ease My Mind” is for you.


The Willowz
Fifth
Thrill Me

Visit The Willowz at Facebook and iTunes

California-based garage punk rock band, The Willowz, is back with more of their trademark fusion of punkrock and blues. The trio of Richie James Follin (Vocals and Guitar), Jessica Anne Reynoza (Bass Guitar and Vocals) and Loren Shane Humphrey (drums) haven’t lost their edge and in comparison to previous work, Follin has done a most sound-worthy job of getting the mix to the next level. The album takes off with melodious and catching “Don’t Let Them See” and “Never Let You Go” at just under two minutes offers up a brilliant adrenaline rush. The final track “Lily” is an achievement of richness bolstered by instrumental (string) embellishment. Not to take away from the sheer enjoyment of listening to the album, but you might want to put on a set of high-end earphones and pay attention to the technical work on this contribution.


Black Honey is a forcible indie rock band fronted by Izzy Baxter whose powerful, yet dreamy vocals captivate audiences. The Brighton-based band’s members are Izzy Baxter, guitarist Chris Ostler, bass player Tommy Taylor, and drummer Tom Dewhurst. HorizonVU first got to know Black Honey at their Paris performance in January and the band’s videos have been repeated posted on our social media pages. Black Honey performs Tuesday, 19 September at Paris’ Supersonic. We’re fortunate to have caught up with Izzy prior to the 19th show.

HVUM: Hey, first off, thanks for your time. Let‘s start by talking about one of the band’s power songs that resonates with fans. What can you tell us about “Corrine”? How did it come together?

IB: Corrine is about honouring both friendship and fuck ups equally.

HVUM: We know Black Honey is a Brighton-based band and that you, Chris Ostler, Tommy Taylor and Tom Dewhurst have known each other for a fairly long time. We don’t know very much about you apart from the band. What’s a side of you that most people don’t know about? Give us a run-down on Izzy.

IB: I am a creative so I love to paint and draw. In my free time I give my friends stick and poke tattoos or go around charity shops looking for cool weird things and cult movies. I’m writing a poetry book too, though I think that’s something very typical of me.

HVUM: Did you deliberately point your life’s compass toward music or was it more happenstance?

IB: It was kind of both, I had to work really hard to learn the more technical side of music. I am a slow learner, dyslexic and pretty much have no rhythm. But was completely mesmerised with the emotional draw it had on people and I have always been a very determined person.
It was really no other way for me.


HVUM: There’s a photo of you on Facebook in a jacket with “Problem Child” on the back. Are you really a problem child? How so?

IB: yeah, I’m fucked up. I think that’s ok though, I think everyone is a little fucked up really.

HVUM: Generally, what motivates or inspires you?

IB: I guess it’s all about figuring out the world around me by exploring myself and my surroundings. Artistically I love Andy Warhol, cult movies, seeing the world with my band. I like weird things like guitar tones that conjure memory or beats that feel fierce or twisted.

HVUM: When you perform, what do you want your audience to feel?

IB: I want them to forget all of their worries for a moment.

HVUM: Let’s have a listen to another Black Honey power song, “Headspin”.

HVUM: Critics have praised the song and framing it as Lynchian, meaning something like an uncomfortable sense that you’re in someone else’s dream; the familiar becomes elusive and dark in a weird sort of way. Your view on the song?

IB: yeah that’s pretty spot on, I guess through exploring this weird dark swaying romance I find the colours and the lights in a more honest but complicated way.

HVUM: Technical question…As far as gear is concerned, we see you with the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster. What do you like about it?

IB: I like that it sounds great, has a tremelo arm, really nice tones on both ends of the pick up switch, it’s light, cheap and sturdy so I can throw it across the stage as much as I want.

HVUM: Finally, if you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

IB: I think it would be quite fun to push Trump down the stairs or maybe pull his trousers down during his next rally.

Izzy, thanks very much for meeting us. We look forward to seeing you, Chris, Tommy,and Tom on 19 September. We’ll be there in force and for our Paris followers know that Black Honey will be back in Paris 31 October opening for Royal Blood. Well done!


World Radio Paris’ Jessica Brassington explores the city’s music scene on Paris Music Fix – a show full of interviews, music and a run down of the week’s best gigs. A graduate of University of Sheffield with an MA in modern history, Jessica has worked on several projects on cultural research in theater and film. Her radio experience includes broadcasting and production. As a journalist, she specializes in music, interviews and website content.

Special feature this week on electronica duo Vök with an interview after their concert last week at Le Point Ephémère. Vök was formed in January 2013 by singer Margrét Rán and saxophonist Andri Már. The band was formed to enter a annual band contest, “Músíktilraunir,” competition in Iceland. The problem: They didn’t actually have any songs to perform. Within a matter of weeks, Vök composed several tracks and performed them for the very first time at the band contest. And you guessed it … Vök won the competition. The duo became a trio at the start of the summer 2013 when they introduced guitarist Ólafur Alexander to the fold.
Subsequently they recorded and released the EP, ‘Tension’ via Icelandic indie label Record Records.

Described as dream-pop/indie-electro band their sound consists of dreamy electronics with melodic vocals, distant saxophones and clean reverberated guitars. Vök is easily placed in the realm of indie-electro, thus resulting in everyone from The Knife and The xx to Poliça and Phantogram, but their music is distinctly their own.

Listen to their latest tracks on Soundcloud and follow them on Facebook

Comments or suggestions for the program? Contact jessica@horizonvumusic.com

For WorldRadioParis.com


Midnight Sister
Saturn Over Sunset
Jagjaguwar

Visit Midnight Sister at Facebook and iTunes

This genre-defying debut release from duo Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, “Midnight Sister” (co-produced by Alex Izenberg), conjures up a gripping music buffet of pop; groove; Southern European yé-yé à la manière de Serge Gainsbourg; Beatles-esque, Moody Blues-y, Bowie-Visconti “Space Oddity”(get the idea?) Mellotron-fuelled wafts; woodwinds and strings that are sure to play on your psyche. It’s been said that the album is Hollywood cinematic, which is true, but moreover, it is an mature standout in the line of new releases this year offering the listener a journey, which might feel uncomfortable or weird at times, but it’s worth the ride. You’ll surely be swept off your feet by “Blue Cigar”. The instrumental “The View from Gilligan’s Island” has elements of Baroque pop and with “Showgirl” you’re likely fall into that heightened, magical world of the musical production. By the time you reach the final track don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve been immersed in a Lynchian surreal exposé where the familiar seeems strange – “Mulholland Drive” or “Twin Peaks” Bang Bang Bar – but you’re alright and with “Their Eyes” Giraffe’s mesmeric vocal will leave you feeling that the journey has ended happily and the end credits are rolling.


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