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Fearless

Apostola leads us into her inner fabric on vivid interview with A&R Factory

A&R Factory had the massive pleasure of interviewing Cyprus-based indie singer-songwriter Apostola. This fearless young artist takes us deep inside her universe with a rare glimpse inside.

We appreciate you reaching out, Apostola. You’re one of our first ever interviews, so let’s do this.
Thank you! It’s nice to have a ‘chat’ as I don’t tend to over-share on social media; I like my music to tell the story, and I am also a bit camera shy!

Firstly, please let everyone know where you’re from and based currently.
I am an island girl! I come from a Mediterranean family and was born in London, England, where I spent my childhood years. We left the UK just before my teens and moved to Cyprus – the smaller, warmer Mediterranean island where my parents are originally from. For a few years, I bounced back and forth between my two home countries but have been permanently living in the sunshine for some years now as I don’t like the cold at all and crave the sea. Last year’s summer single ‘My Heart Belongs
to an Island’ captures that unique island feeling and why I love it so much!

Being yourself in this wild world is so key to being happy. Which specific moment drove you to write your latest release?
My latest release is a compilation album ‘Pop!’ and prior to that, it was ‘Suitcase Full of Dreams’ for the summer. Both releases are upbeat commercial pop, but they were released as a bit of an antidote to the serious ‘World for Sale’ album released in March this year. I have to admit, when I wrote and released the concept album, I was not happy. It was a dark time for a lot of people, and I poured all my frustrations and fears into those 10 tracks. It left me very emotionally drained because there was a lot of ‘me’ in the songs whereas I most often song write by ‘acting’ the role of someone going through something. As a result, I haven’t been back to the studio to record new music since… it really took something out of me. The concept albums with more serious themes started with the ‘Broken World’ album in 2021, which coincided with the pandemic, and this album was the next step; part 2 of issues I felt I needed to sing about as a form of expression and catharsis for me, and hopefully, others.

Realising the need for balance, ‘Suitcase Full of Dreams’ was released for a more ‘fun’ summer, and I then collated all my happier, more upbeat pop tracks and released the compilation album ‘Pop!’ in September. I wanted to remember that I don’t just write heavy narratives and to also bridge the gap till my next releases with something more positive.

Summertime is for Dancing is an absolute anthem and seems to perfectly illustrate current times. Does it feel like the music scene is back to normal in your hometown or not yet?
Thank you! I hope it gets people dancing! We had a very good summer that felt ‘back-to- normal’ with people enjoying themselves dancing, watching live performances and remembering how to have fun and live moments to the fullest. I think this is all the sweeter when you have come out of very uncertain and unchartered territory and have experienced what it means to lose freedom, music, dancing and good times. Let’s hope that people will be able to boogie to ‘Summertime is for Dancing’ for years to come!

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?
This is something I struggle with. I kinda did myself a disservice by releasing two styles of music, but at the end of the day, it is all within the pop genre. The singles tend to be commercial, electronic pop, but the EPs and albums are adult contemporary concept releases with much heavier lyrics and a more ‘serious’ vibe, which I have been told are musical narratives. And so, I cannot really find a good way to link the two under one description!

As indies, we are advised to create a strong identity with consistency, but just like humans don’t have one emotion or have fixed tastes, my music is also based on that rollercoaster of emotions and preferences; we don’t eat and wear the same things every day, because we don’t feel the same every day.

How would your best friend describe you?
I have a cluster of different besties and not just one main best friend. I think each of them would describe me differently because we are different things to different people. I think generally they would all say that I give good advice and am a good listener and a supportive friend. I think they would also say that I give thoughtful gifts, as I always quietly take note of things they like or want. I tend to be the friend in the group who is wearing the bright colours and big patterns, which some like, but others find just too garish and over-the-top! I am also the one in the group who will go with the flow to keep the peace!

Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians just starting out?
I could write a book on this topic as a lot of it is trial and error. There are so many companies and services out there waiting to take advantage of indie artists; our inexperience in the industry and our desire to get heard as a tiny drop in a very vast ocean of music that is controlled by the majors. I would tell newbies that often it is not about how good your music is. If you haven’t got the resources to get it out to an audience it could be the best music in the world, but no one will know it’s there. There are also new gatekeepers; the ‘influencers’ and the playlist creators – select those you work with wisely! And so, I would strongly advise that the first thing they do (after creating their music, of course!), is to go on a blog called ‘Passive Promotion’ written by the wonderful indie musician Brian Hazard and binge read it! Brian tries out many services for indies and reviews them, offering a treasure-trove of information free-of-charge. Everything I know about the industry, I learnt from him!

Lastly, do you have anything exciting planned in 2023 music-wise?
As I mentioned, the ‘World for Sale’ album took a lot out of me, so I haven’t been in the studio lately despite my intentions for several planned releases. This took me by surprise as the studio is my happy place and I have the material ready. I am going to snap myself out of this and plan to get back to recording in December and release some more concept EPs in 2023, possibly giving each the theme of one specific emotion. But before that, we have Christmas! I have two Christmas tracks: ‘Christmas Smiles’ and ‘Christmas Card’ and both have an animated, accompanying video which has proven popular. Christmas songs are great in that they are timeless. They hibernate all year, then pop up for the holiday period, as fresh as the day they were released! These two tracks tend to do well on radio stations as there are many that are dedicated just to Christmas songs,
so I am looking forward to introducing them to new listeners for Christmas 2022.

Listen up on Spotify.

Find out more on Facebook.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Are You Still Burning: Lithuanian pop artist Alen Chicco wonders where the love is hiding on ‘Wanna Know’ (feat. Ziggy Sound)

Encapsulated by a striking video that compellingly captures the moment so precisely, Alen Chicco used to feel the love so intensely but senses that something has changed on ‘Wanna Know(feat. Ziggy Sound).

Well-respected Lithuanian indie-pop solo artists Alen Chicco and Ziggy Sound, have joined forces as one team to show the world that their country is a force to be reckoned with musically.

This is a song about uncertain feelings that we all experience through our lives. Although me and Alen Chicco are very different artists and we both came from very different backgrounds, at the end of the day we are just two human beings, who share same perception about life, we have same emotions and we both want love.” ~ Ziggy Sound

With their mindsets aligned and the thirst for creativity at its ultimate peak, Alen Chicco and Ziggy Sound are both radiant and filled with vocal mastery that shall take you deep into this love-lost story of discovery. The lyrics are powerful and lead you behind the curtain, as they bravely show you their souls that are looking for that natural companionship.

Wanna Know(feat. Ziggy Sound) from the fearless Lithuanian indie-pop artist Alen Chicco is a statement track that shows us that two different artists can indeed co-exist if they want it enough. With vocal stimulation at its best here and featuring visuals that might shock many, this is a performance that needs to be admired.

In a dog-eat-dog world where too many artists are trying to compete unnecessarily with each other, this is a dazzling display that asks a lover where their true love has gone. Knowing where you stand, has never been more important in such a divisive time for humanity.

Check out this new video on YouTube and see the rise on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Defend Our Domain: Entertaining Chicago band Shampoo Drive-Thru excite our intrigued senses on catchy ‘Midnight Roomba’

Taken off their debut album called ‘Next Window Please‘, Shampoo Drive-Thru steam in hot with their sunglasses on and their hair-dryers in hand on the catchy bat-swinging single called ‘Midnight Roomba‘.

Shampoo Drive-Thru is a hair-wig-wearing Chicago-based indie synth rock band who bring in a highly unique music style to the mix for us to gulp on naughtily.

Heavily inspired by world class acts such as Devo and also Paramore, you feel a rampaging blend of ravaging riffs and full-blooded vocals you can’t help but be entertained by.

We are your brand new hairdo pit crew.” ~ Shampoo Drive-Thru

This is an ear-heating single with natural substance, that is highlighted by tasty noises for the soul to nourish on – and includes a real synthy-sandwich mega-meal to munch happily into – as this new band drop this enticingly named single for us to sink our teeth deep inside. With a defend-our-house mentality, this is a fascinating release from an outfit who are packed with creative juices in their cheeky mixer.

Midnight Roomba‘ from the fearless Chicago-based indie synth rock act Shampoo Drive-Thru, races into your mind and revs up your mood to start dancing again as you forget all previous worries. This is the story of defending your home when intruders think that they can roam free like wicked night riders, as you show them who is actually boss in this crib. The call to action track presented will have you stirred like a Bond martini, as you make sure that your castle is well-protected.

Hear their new single on Spotify and check them out on socials via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen