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catherine duc

Catherine Duc serves synth-crafted ambient nostalgia with, ‘Remember When…’, featuring Jonas Isacsson.

For her latest release, ‘Remember When…’, GRAMMY-nominated composer, multi-instrumentalist and remixer, Catherine Duc, teamed up with guitarist Jonas Isacsson to create a synth-crafted ambient nostalgia hit that will allow you to drift back to the 80s via the soaring guitars and delicately arranged glassy synths.

So far in her career, Catherine Duc has received a GRAMMY award nomination for Best New Age album in 2016, scooped the award for instrumental artist of the year during the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2006, and remixed for the likes of the Corrs and XYLO.

With her intrinsically connectable sound and the emotions she’s able to evoke through instrumentals alone, we’re sure that the accolades won’t end there.

Remember When… is now available to stream via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Out Of My Chest: Gregory Rhodes senses the tide changing for the better on Love Song For Catherine

Recorded in Anchorage with Grammy-nominated audio engineer Geoff Stanfield, Gregory Rhodes sings with rare emotion made for the movies on the exquisite Love Song For Catherine.

Gregory Rhodes is an Alaska-based indie alternative singer-songwriter, music producer and multi-instrumentalist who creates sumptuous tunes to explore vividly.

The album encompasses a blend of sonic influences drawing from a wide range of genres, from 1970s acoustic rock, to 1960s minimalism, lo-fi experimental alternative, and orchestral classical music, as his lyrics drive deep into an emotional psyche, exploring hidden worlds, shifting narratives, archetypal imagery, and religious longing.” ~ Gregory Rhodes

Feeling the affectionate rays simmering in his soul like a young spirit floating to a new romance to savour, Gregory Rhodes has assembled something rather ear-soothing and might put shivers on many bodies with this top effort. His vocals are effortless and you sense the sentiment drifting all over this gifted visionary.

Love Song For Catherine from Alaska-based indie alternative singer-songwriter Gregory Rhodes is a groovy wonder all about finding that true romance in a world packed with sneaky trees which can hide romance away. Guiding us through the wonder and into so much reflection, we find a rather special soundtrack to get enthusiastic about for its intrinsic value and heart.

Listen up on Spotify.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Test Card Girl shines on synth-pop treasure ‘Holds Me Down’

A fantastic mesh of indie, folk, synth and soul all wrapped up in a cute bow by Test Card Girl on ‘Holds Me Down’.

Test Card Girl is a solo project by Manchester singer-songwriter Catherine Burgis who started unexpectedly writing songs in 2019 aged 35. Bored of an admin-based existence, Catherine set off on a song-writing journey into all corners of her mind, simultaneously becoming a stand-up comedian touring the country with a novelty miniature keyboard. In late 2019 she began working with producer Dave Fidler on upcoming debut album ‘Seven Dolls‘ and featured on Tom Robinson’s’ Fresh On the Net ‘Fresh Faves’ list in June 2020. She takes her name from the iconic image of the girl and clown used on UK television to signal the end of evening broadcasting – a girl trapped in a technicolor world of screens and machines.

Holds Me Down‘ is an optimistic lofi Indiepop love song stacking folk harmonies over retro 80’s/90’s synthesizers. Test Card Girl draws on the musical giants of her Manchester heritage echoing the punchy synths of New Order and the confessional songwriting of Guy Garvey and John Bramwell.

A tale of love loss and gained here. On one hand you have lost some love as they tried to wrap you up in a box and keep you confined. On the other, you have learnt something and will perhaps love yourself more?

Manchester’s Test Card Girl is rather splendid here and Holds Me Down’ is a terrific track that hits the highs and there are no lows here. What a talent and we are so happy that she is no longer stuck behind a desk.

Click here for the stream link.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Burlesque Icon Dita Von Teese Touts Her Own Brand of Feminism

Born out of a time capsule from Hollywood’s golden era, glamour girl and burlesque goddess, Dita Von Teese has been captivating imaginations around the world since she burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, first on the cover of Playboy Magazine, and then draped on the arm of controversial rocker, Marilyn Manson. Since then, Dita has carved out an iconic reputation for herself as the most famous and sought after burlesque performer in the world. Vanity Fair has dubbed her a “Burlesque Superheroine,” and Elle has declared her an “all around icon.”

The raven haired, fair skinned, hourglass shaped glamour girl who never leaves home without the perfect red lip and vintage sunglasses, Von Teese travels the globe performing burlesque shows that pay homage to the vintage artform, but with a modern interpretation. She performs to sell-out crowds and mesmerizes with costumes perfectly adorned with breathtaking crystals, and over-the-top stage props and accessories placed just so, including her signature martini glass bubble bath routine. Incidentally, the crowds are packed with Von Teese’s millions of female fans who draw inspiration from her old world, finely crafted sensuality.

Having been fascinated with her image for some time, I sat down with Dita Von Teese to discuss everything from her captivating appearance and stage performances to her thoughts about femininity, motherhood, feminism and her current tour, Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe.

Allison Kugel: How do you define femininity?

Dita Von Teese: I grew up admiring movie stars of the 1940s and 1950s. To me, that was always the epitome of feminine, and it made a mark on me from a very young age. I guess I have always associated that exaggerated femininity with the definition of feminine; the way a woman enhances herself with the tools in the beauty box, so to speak. I’ve always thought of glamour as feminine. That’s what I love for the outwardly feminine. On the other hand, I have a different closed door feminine as well, where I can remove those layers and get to the essence of what we are trying to exaggerate with the hair and makeup and the high heels and all the things we do to be hyper feminine in public.

Allison Kugel: Why not keep your natural blonde hair? And your birthname, Heather Sweet, was a sexy name. Why the change to brunette, and why the name change to Dita Von Teese?

Dita Von Teese: I started becoming Dita when I was about nineteen years old, so I wasn’t really thinking it through. I didn’t think about long term, and I certainly never expected to become famous for being a burlesque dancer and pinup model. It started as a hobby that I was doing, and in my little mind I thought by the time I was thirty I would be finished. And at the time, I was looking to Gypsy Rose Lee and Lili St. Cyr, and these [burlesque] stars from the past. These were choices I made when I was younger, and yes, I always liked the idea of that big Hollywood makeover. Rita Hayworth’s name was not Rita Hayworth, and Rita Hayworth had black hair and a widow’s peak that got removed with electrolysis. There was that big Hollywood machine, and I was always fascinated with the idea of these raw beauties becoming transformed into Birds of Paradise.

Allison Kugel: In watching you perform, you truly look like you’ve stepped out of a time machine from the 1940s and 1950s. It’s surreal. Are you comfortable living in this time period, or are there things about this era that you’re ill at ease with?

Dita Von Teese: I’m not living in another time. A lot of my clothes are modern, and I think about a lot of the modern things I do, such as updating my apps (laughs). I love so many things about modern technology. Although, I do have a huge collection of vintage clothing. There was a time in my life when I only wore vintage lingerie, I only drove my vintage car, I only wore clothes from the 1940s, but I’ve kind of evolved from that. The burlesque shows we produce are much different than a show you would have seen in the 1940s. We’re trying to capture the essence of those times, but the whole point is to evolve into something much different than it ever was; to evolve the history of burlesque. I never want anyone to think that I’m living in the past. You can look at the past and get inspiration from it, but it can end up being dusty and irrelevant if you don’t find ways to make it something that no one’s ever seen before. I do love to sit down with some of my favorite glamour girls of the past. I’m quite good friends with Mamie Van Doren who was a big 1950s bombshell and is still around to tell her stories. And I’m friends with Julie Newmar who, of course, was a great dancer and actress. I love to ask them about the past, and I love getting advice from them about the times we are living in and how to navigate being a glamour girl in modern times.

Allison Kugel: Would you ever consider, at least temporarily, sacrificing your brand and your hourglass figure to become pregnant?

Dita Von Teese: There are a few choices that I have made, like making a conscious decision not to have children, because I think it may be a good moment in time for some people to step away from that idea of feeling that it’s required. I think it’s a conscientious choice for modern times, because of over population. Throughout my life I always felt like I was going to quit [burlesque] and have a child, because I always thought I wanted them. More recently I have given thought to the unsustainable population growth and global climate change. Do I think it’s fascinating when women tell me that the most important and wonderful job they’ll ever do is raising a child? Yes. Then I think, “Oh wow, that’s interesting. I guess I won’t know what that’s like.” This is such a personal thing to ask a woman about, because what if I couldn’t have children? That’s not the case, but it’s such a personal topic.

Allison Kugel: I thought it was a relevant topic to discuss because you’ve spent so much time and energy cultivating this look, this body, this image. I would imagine it would be a big emotional undertaking to forfeit that for a pregnancy…

Dita Von Teese: One of the things that’s important to me is letting my fans watch me go through different stages of life. I think even if I had decided to have a child, or if I still decide to, it will be fun to navigate that. I just did an event where there were pregnant pinup girls, pinup girls with their little children all dressed up in 1940s clothes, walking them around. It’s not that much to do with losing my look or anything like that. There are so many other factors for me, like being in a relationship or not being in a relationship. Is this the right person to have a child with? I’m actually quite into fate. I try to control what I can, but I have always been about, “If it happens it happens.”

Allison Kugel: In your current show, Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe Tour you have another model on stage with you, Gia Genevieve. What inspired you to cast her in your show?

Dita Von Teese:  I had always wanted to have a blonde bombshell in the show. I had a hard time finding this kind of quintessential “Playboy” blonde. I met Gia a few times over the years and she always had this effervescence, and she was sexy and fun. I knew she wasn’t a dancer, but I wondered if I could teach her how to do my bubble bath act, simplify it and have her get her personality across on stage. She’s a lot of fun to watch and she’s the perfect example of, you don’t have to be dancing all over the place and doing backflips on stage to be wildly entertaining.

Allison Kugel: Tell me about your collaboration with Absolut Elyx for the Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe tour.  

Dita Von Teese: Being famous for bathing in a giant cocktail glass (laughs) I was open to a partnership with a cocktail company. I loved the ideas that Elyx had. They were just about beautiful, whimsical imagery that’s a tribute to what they do with their copper distillery. I was very familiar with their brand and loved the idea of making these tributes in the show to their imagery. I took a giant shell and dipped it in their signature copper. And I made a cocktail glass that’s a tribute to their style. We had a lot of fun creating the show and bringing it all together.

 Allison Kugel: What other imagery on stage will reflect this tour’s name, The Copper Coupe?

 Dita Von Teese: With every tour, I’ve redone a version of my martini glass act. I have a six-piece set of gigantic glasses at this point. I could have a giant cocktail party! I’m always thinking, “How can I one up that number and make it fresh and new?” For this tour, one of the most exciting parts is the costume. I collaborated with my longtime creative partner, Catherine D’Lish, we put our heads together and came up with the most extravagant costume we’ve ever done, to date. A big part of making the show was this gown. I can’t tell because I’m wearing it on stage, but from what people are telling me it lights up the entire room.

Allison Kugel: I know you’re the Swarovski queen. I’m assuming everything is crystallized…

Dita Von Teese: Everything is crystallized on this costume. We haven’t weighed it yet, but I keep asking to. It’s completely covered, and we’re using a new version of their aurora borealis stone. They’re cut like diamonds, and the effect is mind-boggling. People have been asking if my costume is electrified or plugged in. It’s really something to see under the lights.

Allison Kugel: You’ve been quoted as saying that burlesque is a new kind of feminism. How so?

Dita Von Teese: It’s become that for a lot of women. The feminist movement must be respectful of other women’s ideals of what it is, and what it means. More than ever, we as women have to respect each other’s choices. Like I always say, and this is the truth, my audience is mainly female. My social media following is about 85% female. When I started in the 1990s I had a lot of male fans, and when I was a Playboy model I had a lot of male fans. It shifted in the early 2000s when I came out with a book and told my story about why I loved pinup, why I loved burlesque, and what it meant to me to have that to look to for my beauty icons. That resonated with a lot of people and I could feel that was when it all started to shift, when I exhibited my vulnerability about why I love this.  I like to say that it’s an alternative feminist movement.

Allison Kugel: What do you say to the women who cry out that burlesque is objectification?

Dita Von Teese: Something that could have, in the past, been considered degrading to women, I think that idea has been turned upside down when my audience is mainly female. They’re getting inspiration from this and feeling like they can harness their own sensual power in a different way and be in control of it. I would never say that striptease and burlesque should be for everyone. I have always loved things that walk that fine line, where one person looking at it thinks it’s inspiring and magical, and another person thinks it’s dirty and bad. It’s interesting to me the way people see things. I find things that are polarizing to be interesting.

Allison Kugel: Do you think femininity and feminism can peacefully co-exist in the #MeToo era? And have you found yourself in the crosshairs of a certain segment within this current feminist movement that doesn’t agree with your idea of feminism?

Dita Von Teese: Yes. But for me, I have always understood feminism to be about having choices. I don’t see how you can put rules on that, especially now. Whatever you do, there’s always going to be someone who criticizes it. I think more than ever it’s about sticking close to people who share your beliefs. You try to understand other people’s point of view, but you don’t have to take it for your own or feel like someone is pointing a finger at you. We have to stop pointing fingers at other people.

Allison Kugel: You perform your show all over the world. What are the differences in how burlesque is received in the U.S. versus in other countries?

Dita Von Teese: What’s interesting is that the striptease-style burlesque was invented in America, and it was thriving here in the 1930s and 1940s. That’s the funniest part about all of this. I had to go to France, England, Germany and Australia to get that big mainstream acceptance at first. I performed a lot in the UK during the early part of my career and I would do mainstream television shows over there. I could talk about what I was doing there, and I could go to France and do my show on television. They could show the pasties and the G-string, and it was fine with everyone.

Allison Kugel: In the U.S. there’s this strange sensibility where it’s okay to promote a film with a lot of violence, but it’s not okay to put overt sensuality into the mainstream.

Dita Von Teese: It’s not just sensuality, but decisive sensuality. That’s one of the things people have a problem with. If I had made a sex tape and I said, “Oh, I’m sorry I did that,” it would be more acceptable. As compared to me deciding to present striptease and eroticism and do it in this way because it’s decisive. It’s not “accidental.” I often think of that. Am I inspiring other women to embrace their sensuality in a way that they’re not apologizing for, and is that what upsets people?

Allison Kugel: You brought burlesque to the forefront during a time when it wasn’t part of the mainstream pop culture vortex. What advise do you have for other creative pioneers?

Dita Von Teese: I think I had it better in some ways back then. I feel lucky that I didn’t have the Internet to influence me when I started. I had to use my imagination. I didn’t have anyone to watch, except ladies from the past. There wasn’t YouTube. I had to really forge my own path and I’m grateful for that. I think one of the things getting in people’s way now is the feeling that everything has already been done, because they’re scrolling through Instagram. Or they’ll look through social media and just copy what other people are doing. They don’t have to rely on their imagination. I didn’t have others to measure myself up against. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be inspired by other people, and even if it appears that everything has been done before, there are ways of making it better or making it different.

Allison Kugel: The moral of the story is, there’s going to be some ridicule either way, so why not forge your own path?

Dita Von Teese: For #oldheadshotday, I posted my early headshot on Instagram and someone commented, “But your [eye]brows don’t look good.” I was like, “Listen. I was nineteen years old and I didn’t have a four-hundred page book about retro glamour called Your Beauty Mark (Von Teese’s beauty how-to book/Dey Street Books) to look at yet! I had to make all the mistakes so that I could tell you all the short cuts.” There are always people who must come first and experiment and make those mistakes in order for other people to pick up that knowledge. I certainly did that with burlesque queens of the past, looking at their pictures and thinking about how I could do it in my own way.

Allison Kugel: For people who have yet to go see a burlesque show, what will the experience be like for them to attend one of your shows, on the Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe tour?

Dita Von Teese: They will be very excited to see the diversity of my fellow cast members. You’re on a wild ride of beauty and glamour in its many shapes and forms, and it’s unexpected and inclusive. I think most people walk away thinking, “I’m a little bit like her. I can be like that, yeah!” My show is a warm and welcoming place, and it’s raucous; it’s wild! I’m really proud of the show as a whole, and people will experience the biggest burlesque show in history.

Image Credits: Phil Barton, Jesper Carlsen and Dimitri Scheblanov

Dita Von Teese is currently touring throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. Purchase tickets to see Absolut Elyx Presents Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe at

 Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment and pop culture journalist, and author of the book, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record. Follow her on Instagram @theallisonkugel.

A&R Factory Present: Beware of Darkness

Today, alt rock outfit Beware of Darkness have unveiled their new single “Dope” . “Dope” has already seen spins on Beats 1, BBC Radio 1, plus is receiving early support from commercial rock stations such as LA‘s KROQ and101WKQX in Chicago. The single is from the trio’s forthcoming, sophomore album, Are You Real?, which will be released this summer 2016 on Bright Antenna Records.

In support of the new single and upcoming LP, Beware of Darkness will be giving a special, memorable performance on May 9th atLA’s Resident – presented by

Are You Real? was produced by Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, Foals) and Jim Kaufman (ANTI-FLAG) to help form the band’s new alternative vein that hearkens to the sonic likes of Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, The Kills, The Struts, Skaters and even Nirvana.

Frontman Kyle Nicolaides‘s journey has come full circle, since the release of the band’s debut album Orthodox in 2013, which landedTOP 30 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers Chart, and garnered high praise from Rolling Stone, Fuse, American Songwriter, and more. After touring with Cage The Elephant, The Wombats, Soundgarden, STP, AWOLNATION and Jane’s Addiction, plus making their debut at the Reading and Leeds Festival, the trolling the depths and sludging through the bleak, Are You Real? is the story of how a rock star on the rise fought uncertainty and disillusionment to avoid flaming out. And, more importantly, how Nicolaides has come through the other side revitalized and focused, and with the best songs of his young career.