Tag Archives: Interviews

Windmills Interview

Windmills is a one man band formed in April 2011 by an experimental loop artist Cory Myraas. Based in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Windmills keeps on creating a huge buzz for his unique and breath taking live shows. Playing electric indie folk-rock, this original and very talented artist shows us a different way of music making by creating the sound and melodies by looping, all by himself. Windmills’ debut album Keep Moving has been released at the beginning of this year and consists of 9 excellent tracks. Cory’s vocals blend perfectly with the music and the whole record creates a very special atmosphere you ought to experience.

Windmills is currently working on his new EP album. You can find out more about it in the interview below together with a discussion about his interesting music making process, live shows, debut album, future plans and more.

Your style of making music is very original. Could you describe the usual process of it?

The life of a loop artist is not quite as lavish and jam friendly as the usual suspects found in bands. It’s a long, or sometimes brilliantly short process in which one part is usually written or conceived, and the rest comes after countless sessions of trial and error. It can be quick and painless, or it can be hours of tweaking making sure each line works, the timing is all right, and the right parts are coming in at the right times.
I can pin-point each song I’ve written down to its genesis guitar line, from the opening notes of “Great Divide” to the bass line in “Creating Something Beautiful”. Every song starts with one line I can’t ignore; the rest is simply built upon it until a song is born.

What made you decide to create music in this particular way?

I played in a 4 piece rock outfit for a few years and when that ended I thought long and hard about what I wanted to pursue next. It literally took me 8 months, probably 6 and a half months of not thinking about music, and then the last month and a half of a kind of light-bulb moment in which I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I never considered looping as a solo act seriously until one fateful day of messing around with my pedal. From there I started writing feverishly and trying to figure out how to make it work and not be the same clichéd solo looper. My good friend Rob Raybould (who happens to co-produce and engineer my records) forced me to push myself to do something unique. I’m not standing on stage with a guitar and a loop pedal screaming and whining, I’m forcing myself to add together all the parts to make an entertaining and lasting memory//sound.

Do you remember your first live show as Windmills? What was the reaction of the audience like after hearing all that sound coming from just one man?

My first show as Windmills was May 28th, 2011. I was opening for 3 other bands and was so god-damn nervous I’m not sure how I managed to play. In the beginning I had written 5 songs, “Great Divide”, “We’ll Be Alone”, “Salt”, “Fire”, and “Rise”. Originally I had thought about releasing a concept EP as those 5 songs seemed to all be linked lyrically. Also at that show I hadn’t acquired a floor-tom yet so I was percussion free with the exception of the tambourine on “Salt”. I think the crowd expected me to be terrible as a solo act, they weren’t expecting looped vocals, reverse and double time loops, or anything really. I played “Great Divide” terribly, that’s what I remember. But shockingly after I played I had around 5 people asking for a CD. I was humbled to say the least, from there Windmills just… kept moving.

How much time and energy does it take you to put a song together or prepare for a live show? 

Oh man, good question. It’s a constant ongoing process I find. There’s a song on the new record that has gone through probably 4 different variations, countless hours of tweaking something as simple as a chord progression or literally adding 2 notes. Other songs such as “Great Divide” or “Kiss” were written in an evening, somewhere in the 2 hour ballpark. It’s really a balancing act. You know when you write something that is going to make it to the final cut, just like when you’re unsure of something it probably won’t make it past the jam room.
Preparing for a live show depends on the venue I’m occupying, if the venue is quiet and intimate, my set-list will be full of the more emotional, down-tempo songs that suit the environment, if it’s a bar/pub show I’ll throw in an upbeat cover and play the fast songs that get the audience involved.

Your debut album is called ‘’Keep Moving’’ and from what I’ve seen, you often like to use the phrase ‘’Windmills keep moving’’. What is your philosophy behind this?

Before there was the album I tended to end my Facebook updates with “windmills keep moving” and I think very quickly, and very easily, it became Windmills philosophy. With the imagery of a windmill or a group of windmills constantly in motion, to my own constant challenge to myself to “keep moving” and write songs that haven’t been heard, put together in new ways, looping vocals and drums to create a new one-man band performance. Even treating my live shows as performance pieces, the stage banter, the humour, it’s always in a state of movement or progression. The day you stop moving you die. When the decision to name the album came around I battled with the idea of a self-titled release of a release with a name and a purpose. Naturally “Keep Moving” fit perfectly.
On a side note a few people have asked why I’m called Windmills and not Windmill, and I’ll answer it here. A) Windmill just sounds terrible to me, and B) while Windmills is plural and I’m a solo act, the idea of looping vocals, guitars, and drums in a way that no solo act could pull off without the pedals and set-up I use gave birth to the S. I’m very much a full band in a solo act.

Are there any tracks on this album that are more personal to you than the others and if yes, can you tell us why?

Every track on “Keep Moving” has come from a place of personal experience in the last few years of my life. That said, I know there is a melancholy tone on some of the tracks, and words like “break-up” have been used. However, I try to write songs that take elements of my life and creatively exploit them. I would never write a break-up song about a specific girl, because then you’re giving away the power of that emotion. Instead I focus on the collective joy of new-love, the collective heartbreak, the collective new beginning.
The track “Corona” is extremely personal, and breaks the rules I’ve just stated above. There’s a very special place in my heart for that song, just like there’s a very special place in my heart for the girl who inspired it and continually inspires me.

Windmills trivia: The chorus line in “Great Divide”, “and she thinks she knows me but she hasn’t got a clue” was inspired by the MTV Show “Diary Of…” specifically, “You think you know me, but you have no idea… diary of Christina Aguilera”. The creative process, she is bizarre.

You have recently mentioned working on a new record. How is that progressing?

I’m currently in the tracking process of a new 5-track EP set to be released this fall. I can tell you I’m ridiculously excited for this follow-up. I can tell you the songs have matured and have more purpose. I can tell you I’m adding more to this record in terms of instrumentation, textural effects, effects, and ambience. Whereas “Keep Moving” was ideally as close to my live sound as possible, this record will be more advanced. I’ve got some new, older influences for this record. I can tell you that the EP has a title, and the cover art has been chosen. But you’ll have to wait to find out what it is/what it looks like…

What kind of music do you listen to in your free time and are there any artists/bands you draw your influences from?

My musical influences are wide and cover everything it seems. In terms of my song-writing I draw inspiration from the likes of Andrew Bird, Aidan Knight, Sting, and Timber Timbre. The birth of the double-time loops, or the reverse loops comes from Minus the Bear. One of my favorite bands in general. I also love the moodiness of Interpol, or the juxtaposition of cheerful music with dark music a la The Smiths. Johnny Marr is a guitar inspiration, and Morrissey is Morrissey, you can’t say much more than that. The reason I play guitar is because of John Frusciante. My favorite bands jump from contemporary to older artists almost as frequently as I can write new music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Brian Eno lately, and a lot of St. Vincent. Somehow that works.

Have you ever been to the UK? And is there any particular place or festival you would like to play in the future?

Sadly I have not made it to the UK, the closest I’ve been is France and the Netherlands in person, and the English Premier League from the comfort of my couch. It’s one of those places I know I’ll make it to eventually, sooner than later. There are countless festivals, especially in the UK that I’d love to play, but for now I’m on a constant look out and drive to enter all the festivals I can in and around BC. It’s hard because I’ve only been Windmills for just over a year, but my ideal goal/dream is a European tour, small intimate venues and living rooms, and build the fan base internationally. I’ve had so much love sent my way from the UK, Europe, and all over internationally that I need to give some of it back.

What would you like to achieve with your music in the next year or so? 

It will be hard to top this past year of Windmills, so much has happened with the release of “Keep Moving”, being given a FACTOR Canada grant in March, and playing the amount of shows I’ve played. This next year I really want to “keep moving” in that uphill direction, getting the new EP all over the interwebs and everywhere in between, hopefully getting more album reviews, and playing as many shows, festivals, and events that I can. I’ve got a music video set to come out sometime in the near future, and I’m thinking of a possible video project for the new EP, or some sort of multimedia experience to accompany the new record. Time will tell.

Links – Facebook, Twitter

Click on the image to listen/buy album 

Van Susans / Album Review + Interview

Since the release of Van Susans‘ first EP We Could Be Scenery, the fanbase of this London pop rock band has been growing bigger with each live show. Having the pleasure to tour with The Beautiful South earlier this year, the band is now ready to promote their debut album Paused in the Moment which has been released a few weeks ago. Since then, they’ve played their first show outside of the UK in the beautiful Versailles and this week they are ready to take on the LeeFest 2012.

Van Susans‘ debut album Paused in the Moment is a mix of wonderful guitar meets piano meets violin melodies. Each song on the album stands out in its own way and the whole record offers something for everyone whether its a song with a great guitar or drum riff, soulful piano or violin piece or a heartfelt acoustic ballad. Not only the music stands out but also the perfectly fitting distinctive voice and a strong accent of Olly Van Andrews. The album will cheer you up with its catchy and uplifting tracks like Bricks Not Sticks Or Straw or Popo and warm your heart at the same time with Fireworks, DisappearRat Race or the beautifully emotional If I Succeed.

Paused in the Moment is a truly enjoyable record that should not go unnoticed.

The album launch is going to take a place at the Barfly in London on the 12th of September 2012.

I caught up with the lead singer Olly Van Andrews in London, to discuss the debut album and other interesting topics about music.

How do you feel about your debut album Paused in the Moment?

I am very excited and very proud of the album. We have been getting some positive reviews, which is nice. Some of the songs on it are quite old, I wrote them when I was like 17, 18 but we’ve changed them around a lot. The whole idea behind the title Paused in the Moment is that I remember exactly why I wrote it and how I felt at the time. It’s about capturing the moment, like taking a photo and looking at it after a while and it reminds you of the times.

How was the journey between your EP We Could Be Scenery and this album?

It’s been a very exciting time. Since releasing the EP, we have met loads of cool people, got many great reviews and now that the album is out there it will happen all over again. It’s my favourite time with the band now as so much stuff is happening.  The album is a little more mature than the EP. We took more time with it and it’s more like what we wanted to be.

Would you classify your style as pop rock?

I suppose you can say that but there are so many different types of songs on the album like pop rock, folk, some country, ballads… but yeah, generally pop rock.

The type of sound you play is more common in America than here in the UK. What are your influences?

Yes, collectively we like Jimmy Eat World, Jack’s Mannequin, Death Cab for Cutie but we all have our individual taste in music and that’s why our sound comes out to be so different. Our guitarist and drummer both like metal and that’s why you can hear some quite heavy guitar solos and drums in some of our songs. I am really into folk, lyric stuff and poetry and I like to add it to the music. I really like the band Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst is a bit of a genius really, he writes great lyrics. I’m trying to be creative with the words, not just stick to the melodies. And we have our violinist Holly who joined us a few months ago and she is really good. We are getting her trained up on the singing as well.

How is the relationship in the band and has it changed since Holly joined?

Before she joined it was only the five of us, just five lads, so at first we were a bit sceptical and we thought we have to behave more but she is really cool. Literally she’s like another one of the guys (laughs). But we are really lucky to have found her, she fits in really well.

How would you describe Van Susans live shows? 

We’re trying to make the shows visually interesting, dance around and really go for it. I get really hot and sweaty on stage, pretty sexy stuff  you know (laughs). We want it to be exciting and not to be just a bunch of guys standing there playing guitars.  We’re trying to put on a good show.

How did you guys come together as a band?

Our drummer Rob is my best friend. We met at a studio when I was like 14. The lead singer of my old band introduced us. We were in a band together till we were like 17. Rob, Ed (lead guitar) and Tim (bass guitar) are brothers. When the original band split up we kind of decided that we wanted to be in a band that would be like the ones we are really into. We also wanted to have a pianist in the band, so my brother who is our manager now, he had a best friend called Olly who took the part so it worked out quite well. Holly came through auditions and she was the ideal person to get involved.

How is the music making process? Do you write all together?

It’s a team effort. Rob kind of does all the pop rock stuff; the commercial stuff like Popo, Bones and Cha Cha Bang. Ed does more of the complex pieces like Fireworks and Rat Race and I do the ones in between. We make a really good team. Ed comes up with a good guitar riff or a piano piece and me and Rob structure out the song to how it’s suppose to be and I write the lyrics. Tim and Olly then write the individual parts. I always find it easier to write the lyrics after the whole music is laid up. It’s not like a set routine of how to write songs, it’s just our style of doing it.

Do you feel any kind of a pressure from the industry and think much about how you should sound?

We have a good relationship with our label which is independent and very hands off. They let us do what we want and take care of the business side. We have a musical freedom which is great.

Is there anyone you’d like to tour with or places you’d like to go with the band?

We’ve played with The Beautiful South and that was amazing.  I listened to them as a kid, my parents played their albums in the car as we drove around. But there are other bands we’d like to play with like Jack’s Mannequin or Jimmy Eat World.

I really want to tour America and I’ve always wanted to, it’s my dream. We would really love to play in Manchester as well. We’ve played in Liverpool a couple of months ago which was really cool and we’ve played four different shows in Scotland. We love travelling around and play because that’s what it’s all about.

What do Van Susans want to achieve as a band? Where do you see yourselves in a year or so?

We have high aspirations. We are really proud of our debut album but there is much more to come from us. We will wait and see what happens, how the album does and we’ll just keep on going no matter what. There is so much going on at the moment with the band and it’s so inspiring. The music just keeps coming, we are writing more songs and looking into the future. Hopefully next year we’ll be playing big festivals. We are shooting for the stars really.

LinksWebsite, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Click on the image to purchase the album

Tying Tiffany / Interview

From having her songs featured in the US TV show CSI and the video game FIFA ’12 to composing the original trailer music for the huge movie hit The Hunger Games, Tying Tifanny is a multitalented artist from Italy with a strong passion for anything artistic and original. Unique, charismatic, true to herself and not afraid to express all the feelings from the various beauties of the world, TT’s work is never the same. Her fourth studio album Dark Days, White Nights has been released in January and as her previous works, she takes her sound to a different level and shows us all the great aspects of creating music.

Here she talks about her biggest passions – music and art, as well as her style, upcoming tour and future plans.

You have released your fourth album in January. How does this one differ from your previous work?

It’s a little bit different. I went back to work on some songs that I had left unfinished from my previous album Peoples Temple. I wanted to balance the impact and atmosphere different in attitude and expression, thus was born Dark Days White Nights. I like to generate a powerful wall of sound. Last year a lot of things changed for me and for this reason, I felt the need for a more intimate album. I like to scan the human mind, telling of issues such as the lack of communication, existential unease, the crisis of modernity… This work also talks about the great mysteries of the night and day.

What inspires you to create your music and how do you like to experiment with various forms of sounds?

Throughout my life I have been influenced by many things around me and these obviously are welcome . Like movies, books, magazines, listening to a lot of music, nature but mostly I love to observe the world, people and what it brings to my every day life.  If you take in every situation you see, there is a story behind it.
I like to experiment and discover the different sides of me to grow, without limits or musical boundaries. This pushed me to do what I’m doing.

You’re from Italy. Is the type of music genre you create common over there?

In Italy the music that works is primarily traditional folk or pop.  The remainder is totally underground and  it’s really hard to establish itself outside of these rules and very different than in Germany or UK or other countries in Europe where the alternative music is proposed by radio, various magazines and important thematic festivals.
There are only few magazines of reference, rare evenings trying to bring the genre, often hampered, but we have a lot of people who follow the scene and would like to have more opportunities to spread. Fortunatly there are independent web channels that come to the rescue.

You’ve done quite a few shows since the release of your latest album and you have more coming up, also in Germany. How has the tour been for you so far?

For the moment everything went very well, but still lacks real tour beginning in September with venues across Europe.
The gigs are very important for me. I really love the contact with people, life on the road and never stopping.

It would be great to see you play over here one day! Have you played in the UK before?

I played in the UK last summer. It was great and soon I will come back for other gigs. I have a new booking agency there  called No Wave Production.
It’s not easy to get attention in the UK because there is so much proposal as opposed to the other countries.  This time I would like to plan a tour over there seriously because I believe there is the right audience for what I propose.

You have composed the music for ‘The Hunger Games’ trailer which is a movie based on a bestselling book and has been a huge hit in cinemas. How does it feel to be part of something like that?

I grew on a lot of things and I’m still catching on a lot of things, you know. Everything is just new for me and I get to do what I want to do.
Compose a theme for a trailer like ‘The Hunger Games’ and a movie sountrack is totally different from what I usually do in music. It has been a great chance and a release in this mainstream context. I love working for film because I am asked to combine the variety of music and it’s always a welcome opportunity for me to learn more about it.  Anyway, this is one of the most rewarding things I’ve composed.

You have attended the Art Institute. Other than music, which other forms of art do you enjoy?

I love all forms of art and I try to make special and unique everything that’s around me; even things that may seem unnecessary or no noteworthy just like the thought of the Dada Surrealist Movement, like a big F*** YOU to the whole idea of art.
I am always looking for something new, I like to surprise myself and be curious, especially in the visual arts and cinema.

I really like your style. As a woman in this industry, do you feel any pressure and do you care much about being or looking a certain way?

I always follow and believe in my own feeling about the style and music. I haven’t felt any pressure. I like to evolve and change my style to grow up as an artist. Sometimes artists follow the latest music trend but it’s very dangerous to change the style, just to keep the attention of the hyper bloggers. In this way anything good won’t be done, only experimental and throwaway projects.

And finally, what would you like to achieve as a musician in the next year or two?

I’m starting to work on a few new projects which are totally different from TT and I’m going to increase my stuff.

So music, music and music!

Links – Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, No Wave Production

Click on the image to purchase the album

DeepSeaGreen Interview

After an exciting European tour, the four piece garage rock band DeepSeaGreen from London are ready to throw themselves into recording a new LP this summer.

Their previous records DeepSeaGreen and Valsorda provide the listener with a great mixture of passionate guitar-noisy rock, blues and psyche topping it all with a vocal that’s very rock-natural. This band was clearly meant to be and bring back some classic rock’n’roll noise with their own stamp on it.

Trent (vocals, guitar), Marco (bass), Jon (guitar) and Dan (drums) talk about the tour, music industry, influences and their upcoming album.

You only just got back from your European tour. It must have been very exciting and a great experience for you. Can you tell us about it?

Trent: Overall it was an amazing experience. We played 11 gigs in 7 countries, travelled 1000s of km, met some wonderful people, heard some great bands and saw some incredible sights. To be honest, I feel like I’m still taking it all in, so much seemed to happen in such a short space of time that it’s a struggle to process it all. But it was great to share our music with other people in other places and to find them so welcoming, positive and appreciative of what we do.

Jon: The tour was a real experience for us all. There were a lot of unexpected incidents over the course of the tour to deal with as well. The most common being our van breaking down. Hopefully though we made a few new fans along the road as well as getting to experience playing in all those different countries.

How different was the audience in all those countries compare to the UK one?

Trent : That’s a tricky question to answer but my general impression is that audiences in Europe are less judgmental in some way; perhaps less bound by their image of themselves as it relates to their musical taste and just excited to have a great night. In most places they seemed happy to dance and move and express themselves. The vast majority of our performances in the UK have been in London, where there is such a vast number of bands and venues that audiences can sometimes feel a little indifferent to everything, hostile even, by comparison. Having said that, we’ve played to some cracking London audiences over the past year.

Jon:
The audience’s differ a lot from country to country. For example in Austria we found them to be quite reserved and polite, clapping only when they were certain each song had finished. Whereas Germany and France were more interactive with cheers and heckles, much like you would find in the UK.

You play a classic garage rock we don’t get to hear much of these days anymore. How has it been for you over the years to get this particular sound out there with everything in the music industry being so mainstream?

Marco: If the industry wasn’t mainstream, it wouldn’t be called the industry. What the industry delivers to the mass audiences is just the very tip of the iceberg of the music scene. I think that most music genres, including ours, have been around more or less consistently ever since they were invented in the 60s… Unfortunately most bands never made it out of the underground scene, but now, with the internet revolution all these obscure bands are accessible to everyone, everywhere at any time. So, to answer your question: I doubt that any DSG material has successfully reached the industry’s ears at the moment, nevertheless we have a pretty solid underground fan base all around the world, that’s been built on nothing but honest passion for music.

How did you come up with the band’s title? Any special meaning behind it?

Trent: What can I say? We needed a band name and we searched high and low for one and eventually found ourselves inexplicably looking at colour names. We came across DeepSeaGreen and took to it. I’m not sure why except that it had something about it, it seemed evocative and imagist. So no, it doesn’t have a special meaning just an indistinct sense of meaning.

Who writes all the music and lyrics and what or who influences you while creating?

Trent: I wrote a lot of the music initially, but now we have a mixture of methods. Sometimes one of us will come up with a whole idea for a song or just bring bits and pieces to rehearsals, which we develop together. As the singer, it seems natural that I write most of the lyrics and of course have ultimate reign over the vocal line. In the end everyone has creative input into the music, one way or another, and that’s vital for the band, for every band really. I don’t see how a band could work at it’s best without that.

In terms of influence, I personally try not to be directly affected by other music when writing. I want the music to come from us as a band, not just be an imitation of something we like or think others will like. Of course you can’t help familiar sounds creeping in and colouring what you do, but we all have a such a broad and individual range of listening habits that indirect influence could come from literally anywhere.

So far, you have released a debut album in 2010, an EP last year and you’re recording a new LP this summer. How will it differ from your previous work and what can we expect?

Trent: I think you can probably expect a record that is roughly comparable to our EP Valsorda. We had a lot a of good material which didn’t make it onto that recording just because we had a limited budget, that will be on the next one, and we’ve since written a lot more along similar lines with maybe a few unusual and hopefully surprising songs here and there. But it’s hard to say for certain just because we have a lot of music with a variety of musical emphasis from which we take a selection. So I suppose that could go either way to making the album lighter or heavier, more grungy or bluesy, or whatever really.

Marco: The first album was recorded just a few weeks after we became a band. I think it sounds a bit mono-dimensional compared to our later material. At the time we just wanted to get some recording done as quickly as possible in order to be able to start getting gigs etc, so we booked 2 days at a local studio, live recorded and mixed 10 songs and that was it. Today i see it as a good starting point but nothing more than that… We don’t really play those songs in our gigs anymore.

The new record will arrive sometime in the fall. We have a lot of good material lined up for it. We have some videos on YouTube of rehearsal studio performances of a few of the new songs and people seem to really like them.

Jon: We haven’t actually finalised where or who we will be doing our new record with so it’s a little hard to say exactly how it will differ in production. Though we have to keep moving forward and I think you can see the improvements between the first and second record, so we have to keep pushing ourselves and make sure that this one will be the best yet. Also the new songs are sounding great, maybe a touch heavier and fuzzier than the last EP.

Who does all your amazing artwork for album covers and t-shirts?

Jon: We generally come up with a rough idea of what we want for our artwork and then go to someone we think could bring life to those ideas. Stacie Willoughby did our last T-shirt; she is an amazing artist from the USA. She has done artwork for a lot of great bands including Radio Moscow and The Black Keys if I’m not mistaken. The Valsorda EP was designed by Elizabeth Tetlow who is an up and coming UK based artist.

For people who haven’t seen you play live, how would you describe your usual set?

Marco: Because of the nature of our music style, I think the live environment is the best way to experience it. Our records don’t rely on a lot of studio magic, so what you hear on those, is pretty much what you get at a concert. On top of that we try to put as much energy as we can in our live performances: that seems to be the best way to engage the audience, make them loose their inhibition and really participate in the performance… Once that cosmic vibration exchange mechanism is triggered, the show immediately escalates to a different level.

Will there be any more UK shows in the coming months or are you going to dedicate yourself to recording?

Trent: We haven’t booked any gigs in the UK for the coming months, just so we can focus on preparing new material for recording, not to mention post tour recovery. But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that we’ll put on a few last minute shows here and there in London, and we do have a few coming up in Italy and France over the summer. I’m looking forward to getting back into rehearsals and then back out performing.

Marco: We’ll be playing in Italy on July 14th and we’re booking dates for a mini-tour in late August around the Celebration Days Festival in Lille on the 17th.

Links – Website, Facebook, Twitter, No Wave Production