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The Blend – ‘Back to Business’: Prepare for Brick Top Approved Brit Rock

Ahead of the Blend’s debut release of their latest single ‘Back to Business’ I caught up with guitarist and vocalist Dylan Smith to find out how their latest single came into creation.

It’s no secret that the band’s sound is rooted in the landscape of the classic field of Brit Rock, yet, what they have achieved with their sound is no mere revival, it’s a reinvention of the classic fit for the contemporary.

Here’s how it all came into fruition…

How do you see the future of guitar music, is it written in the past, or the futurism of electro?

Well, the main problem now for guitar music and bands that ‘actually play’, is that computers are trying to program our musicianship. Drummers are being turned into drum machines, singers sound like synthesizers. What the fuck has happened? Most producers have become lazy, sometimes what they do isn’t an art anymore. It’s a shame. Any uni kid in their bed room with a laptop is a producer now. I mean most ‘guitar bands’ these days are shit anyway, so realistically it doesn’t matter how their music is recorded because they don’t know the difference. For bands like The Blend, it is very frustrating. It’s hard to tell what the future will be like for guitar music, but I think the next real band to make it big will be the last of the last. Everyone’s selling out.

Honestly, I do like electronic music when it’s done properly. Our new track ‘Back to Business’ has some real good electronic sounds in the mix… But they were actually created on real instruments! My brother Freddie is absolutely tearing it up some of Pete Townshend’s synths on this track. We recorded it at Pete’s place.

What was the riff that made you pick up a guitar?

I was never really into playing catchy riffs as such, I just loved making real powerful gritty sounds and still do. It’s my style and what I love, but I suppose The Stone Roses really got hooked and I do really like a lot of their melodic riffs… ‘She Bangs the Drums’ and all that.

There’s plenty of angst towards society in your earlier tracks such as ‘Don’t Waste My Time’, how does the current political climate inspire your music?

‘Don’t Waste My Time’ was a great music video, it is a very bold statement. Totally rips X Factor and the whole ‘boy band’ thing. We were basically saying all these so called ‘artists’ and pop stars are all toys and puppets being controlled by the media and the machine. We’ll always stand by that.

As for the current political climate inspiring our music… we are living in mad times! Too many people are scared to open their mouths. It’s something that I am actually writing about at the moment.

How did you end up working alongside Alan Ford with your latest single?

Well we’d finished recording ‘Back to Business’ at Pete’s. Then we were ready to do the music video. I won’t give too much away before the screening but, it’s a pretty hardcore video. Very ‘British gangster’ related.

So, we had this great idea of how the music video should be, but we needed the right person to direct it. It had to be done properly and couldn’t be ‘fake’. After having a good think about it, I met up with my good friend actress Carol Harrison. She’s really looked out for us, she’s great. We met at the BBC. I asked Carol to direct it, she agreed to, then we put together a script and storyboard.

We needed a proper hard man actor and thought Alan would be the perfect man for the job, he is Brick Top for fuck sake! He can be one nasty fucker, that’s what we needed. Knew him through a few friends so called him and asked if he’d like to do it. He said yes, think he loves our attitude.

Biggest fear as an emerging artist in the UK?

We don’t fear anything. We will be the new biggest band in the world.

If that doesn’t get you excited for the Blend’s release of Back to Business, then I don’t know what will.

The Blend will be launching their new record and music video starring Alan Ford (AKA Brick Top from Snatch) on September 18th at a private event in Soho.

You can catch them performing their new material at their live event alongside Terminal Gods, Big & the Fat and Graves at Nambucca, North London. Head over to Facebook to find out more.

Stay tuned for a review of the live debut.

In the meantime, check out the Blend’s music via their website and connect with them via Facebook

Review by Amelia Vandergast

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.


Radio Pluggers, the London based music-plugging service, has revolutionised the world of music promotion by creating the biggest digital database of worldwide radio contacts in the industry.

Founded by Dave Wiltsher aka Weedy Dave, Radio Pluggers is one of the most powerful radio plugging companies in the world.

Their story started over 20 years ago when Dave, who was working in the industry as a Label owner and also as an artist himself, realised that the radio plugging game needed a serious overhaul – too many pluggers were doing too little, at too high a cost – so he decided to build a business that puts artists first.


 To make a difference, Radio Pluggers shifted from traditional radio plugging by creating the biggest and the most powerful digital database of radio contacts.

“We set out to create the world’s biggest verified database of radio contacts, and around that, we set out to build a service that would help artists get their music heard by as many of our industry contacts as possible.” comments Dave Wiltsher, Radio Pluggers founder.  “A service built for musicians, by musicians.” he adds.

Radio Pluggers allow bands, DJs and independent musicians to get a supreme level of exposure on a global scale, thanks to an unrivalled database of over 24,000 radio contacts, with 9,500+ connections in the US, 3,500+ in the UK and over 8,000 across Europe.


 “Whether you’re an established or independent artist, you can benefit from our digital plugging solution. Our powerful 3-step music promotion is managed from start to finish by industry experts to ensure you receive global audio airplay”, says Wiltsher.

To gain the musicians the exposure they deserve, a dedicated Radio Pluggers team create an Artist Profile featuring the actual record, artist biography and their social media handles, and distribute it to the ever-expanding list of verified media contacts and radio stations for a one-off cost. With extensive reporting, you get to see who engaged with your profile – and who listened to your music. The digital capabilities available make this service the most comprehensive in the industry.

Our offer is a completely transparent online music promotion service with a verified and maintained global database of radio contacts. We don’t make empty promises, but we can tell the musicians exactly who has been listening to their music, and share their feedback.” Dave Wiltsher comments.

Ready to take your music to the next level – visit


A&R Factory Interview: Jason Davis

Jason Davis has been an entertainment industry executive since 1999. His broad range of titles includes award-winning songwriter, award-winning author, A&R executive, entertainment consultant, executive TV producer and former Senior Vice President of Dolly Parton’s Management Company. He is the founder of multinational entertainment corporation One One 7. We had the pleasure of asking him a few questions him last week.

1.  What was your first job in the entertainment industry and how did that mould you in to who you are today?

In the beginning of 1999 I broke into the music industry as a songwriter, writing on several major label albums that year. With being a songwriter I learned a lot about publishing, radio airplay, how to get paid as a songwriter and how to negotiate in the industry.

2. What advice would you give to any unsigned musician looking to break into the music industry.

Being surrounded by the right people is one of the most important aspects of being a new artist. As a new artist they should work with current and established songwriters and producers. Another very important aspect they should know is to hold out for great whether that is with the people they work with or the quality of what they are producing and don’t settle for good.

3. What websites/tools would you advise unsigned artists to use to help with promotion.

The typical social media including Soundcloud, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are all very good to promote music as well as communicate with fans.

4. What is the one key thing you look out for when signing an artist.

The number one thing I look for is how coachable an artist is. In this business it’s really 20 percent talent and the other 80 percent is the passion to work on the craft, so with that being said being coachable is the most important thing.

5. What is the future of A&R

I think it is really what it has always been which is having the right songwriter and producer relationships, a great ear for songs and finding artists that understand the business.

6. What are the next plans to expand one one 7

We have started signing on and finding more actors that have great track records of being in successful movies which is something we are very excited about. Also growing our record label Awaken Records.

For more information please visit: