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Unveiling the Sonic Frontier: An Interview with The Lethargics

Get ready to dive into the uncharted territories of Americana Rock as we sit down with The Lethargics, a band hailing from Knoxville that’s rewriting the rules of the genre. With their guitars in hand and a fearless approach to music, The Lethargics stake their claim in the abandoned landscapes of Rock & Roll, reshaping it into something entirely their own. Drawing from the rich tapestry of influences including Dylan, Springsteen, and The Clash, they’re about to release their new 2-song EP on September 1st, 2023, featuring the tracks “Meteorite” and “Shelter In Place.”

Your music is often described as genre-averse Americana Rock. How did you arrive at this unique blend of influences, and what drives you to explore the unexplored corners of Rock & Roll?

The Lethargics have been steeped in music our whole lives and have absorbed sounds and influences from all over the musical map. When we play, all of that just blends – or maybe crashes – together. We hope listeners both like it and recognize that there is space for music that does not strictly fit a certain genre. Forcing songs or bands or people into easy definitions is lazy – and potentially hazardous.

Born amidst the beauty and history of Appalachia, how has your environment influenced the stories you tell through your music?

It is a beautiful geological region but can be a tough place to try to live. First, there are a lot of broad-brush misperceptions about the people that can be impossible to overcome. Second, the economic developments of the region have been generally deadly to the environment and the folks doing the actual work. There are other factors I am leaving out, but it all adds up to a lot of poverty and lack of options and hopelessness. This significantly drives the violence and alcohol and drug addictions that perpetuate the situations. The Lethargics have been affected in many direct and personal ways by all these things and tend to write a lot about it.

Your upcoming release on September 1st 2023 features the tracks “Meteorite” and “Shelter In Place.” Can you give us a glimpse into the themes and inspirations behind these songs?

Meteorite is pure Rock swagger come-on. There’s not a lot of deep message in it, just someone saying, “If you don’t want to, that’s cool – but are you absolutely sure you don’t want to light up the sky?”

Shelter In Place could apply to any group of people fed false promises that they really had no choice but to accept as true…but find that after all the miles and years the prizes in those promises may always stay just out of reach, The Plenty has been laid to waste, there is always another storm…and there’s nothing left but to shelter in place, wherever or whatever that is.

Collaborating with The Relapsing Remitting Hillbilly Choir on both tracks is an intriguing choice. How did this collaboration come about, and how did it enhance the sonic landscape of the EP?

Ah, the RRHC. They have been on a couple of our previous releases. They truly just show up when they want and grab a couple of mics if they like the tune. They are even more privacy-conscious than The Lethargics – which is saying a lot – so I won’t allow much beyond the fact that they exponentially multiply the sound and the mercurial energies in Holler Studio.

The upcoming release is just around the corner. What do you hope listeners will take away from “Meteorite” and “Shelter In Place,” and how do these tracks signify your growth as a band?

As a Broke-DIY-Indie band, we’ve had to learn a lot about how to make things sound like we want throughout the recording process, as well as song structure and the like. Our hope is that this 2-song EP is more accessible and relatable to more listeners than our earlier stuff – and therefore more popular. We want people to hear us and think The Lethargics are a band with great songs that don’t sound like anything or anybody else. But mostly we just hope a lot of folks enjoy the music.

Interview: The hugely likeable Lucy Chan drops her much-awaited debut album Music

Telling us all about her debut album Music and so much more, the elegant creative Lucy Chan returns to A&R Factory and we’re so ecstatic to speak with this dynamic rising singer for a 2nd time. After previously chatting with us about Mr Apologetic in January 2023, it feels like we’re speaking to a confident but humble young woman who knows exactly where she’s headed.

Llewelyn: Thanks so much for your time, Lucy. Firstly, how are things with you and how has the reaction been since you released Music? Did you enjoy the process and would you change anything about it? What was the inspiration behind your project?

Lucy: Hey! Thanks so much for having me. I’m doing pretty good, I just finished up a week of study at the Berklee College of Music in the USA, which was truly the coolest experience ever. I got to meet and work with some incredible musicians. The reaction has been so great – I love it when people send me a message and tell me what their favourite part is!! And especially when people tell me it gives them a nostalgic kind of feeling, which is essentially one of the things I want to show through my music. As for inspiration, it’s a project that reflects all aspects of my life. The album is called ‘Music’, because it’s the one thing that can get me through anything. So, every single song I wrote on this album is really personal in that sense.

In regard to the sound, I really wanted this album to sound like the one genre that makes me feel the most excited and ‘at home’. The incredible Aubrey Johnson told me last week, that when you’re searching for your sound, you need to think about the type of music you grew up listening to, as that is what shapes you into you. For me, ever since I was a little kid, I went to rock concerts all the time. Billy Idol, Bon Jovi, Queen, Blondie, and so on; this was the sound that shaped my childhood. I think that being at a live rock concert is unlike anything else in the world – there is no better feeling. So, I hope that after my listeners hear the album, that’s what it feels like for them – that they’ve experienced that kind of Rock N Roll. I’m very grateful that I had an incredible band – Phil, Gabe and Aiden, who also happen to be people that are super close to me, bring my stories and music to life. It was the most beautiful process, and I’m super grateful for everyone that’s helped me and supported me along the way. My parents and my sister are my greatest supporters, and Gordon my mixing guy, Jack my recording guy – I’m so grateful for you all.

Llewelyn: Do you have a particular favourite single from your debut?

Lucy: Oh, that’s a good question. I think for me, the song that encapsulates the album as a whole the best, is ‘Music’, the title track. It’s the kind of sound that I’ve been searching for, for the longest time. Lyrically, it’s about having a special song with someone, and how it brings you back to exactly how you felt the first time you heard it, every time. However, other songs like ‘Over The Summer’ and ‘Compare To You’ mean a lot to me as well – especially ‘Compare To You’, it’s truly such a vulnerable moment for me on the album.

Llewelyn: Lyrically, we really like your storytelling and you really let us into your current mindset. Do you feel that writing is becoming easier for you over time?

Lucy: Thank you so much!! I think that as an artist I’m continuously trying to improve and grow, and it’s a process that comes naturally as you mature and experience new things. With this album, I was able to completely write exactly what I was feeling for each song. I do think that songwriting is something that’ll come more naturally, the more you experience. So, as you grow up, and as you meet people and experience things like heartbreak and love, the songwriting will reflect that. It’s almost impossible to write a song that doesn’t show your current state of mind, as you can’t lie to yourself in your songwriting. At least I can’t. But I’m hoping to continue to improve my storytelling, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement!

Llewelyn: Please tell us how it’s going at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (The Con). It’s your 3rd year now…are you still relishing it and what has been the highlight so far?

Lucy: Yes!! It’s going great. Obviously, it’s always hard to balance my career with my studies, but I think I’ve kind of found a balance to it all. I only have a year and a half left, and I’ll be finishing up and graduating!! Definitely trying to take in every single moment, as I know it won’t be long until I graduate. It goes so quickly; I can still remember starting my first day here so clearly. I think the highlight of the Con so far has definitely been meeting people and being able to grow into the musician I am today. The Con definitely has a very high standard, and I think that’s a good thing – I’ve pushed myself outside my comfort zone so many times and it’s been so beneficial. The musician that I was when I first auditioned, and the musician that I am now – two entirely different people. It’s been so crazy. Hopefully I can continue to grow leading up to my graduation.

Llewelyn: What’s it like being a 20-year-old singer-songwriter and actress in this rather weird world?

Lucy: Honestly, it’s so great and so weird, as you said, at the same time. It’s great in the sense that I am able to do exactly what I’ve wanted to do my entire life, but also hard in the sense that these dreams aren’t rare, and there are so many talented people out there. I think for me, as long as I keep working towards my goals and trying to achieve these things, I’ll be content, and fingers crossed that I can get to where I want someday (if I’m lucky). I’m willing to work as hard as possible and sacrifice my free time to do these things, because I love music, and it just makes me so happy.

Llewelyn: We see that you’ve been back in Boston lately. How has the vibe been there and what have you been up to?

Lucy: Yes! I’ve just been back in Sydney for around a day. The coolest thing happened to me during my trip…Laufey was on my flight to LA!!! I got to meet her and chat at the airport as we were waiting at the gate, she’s like one of my biggest musical inspirations. She studied at Berklee, so it was like a cool thing that the universe let me experience before I hopped on a plane to go to Berklee. Boston is…the most incredible place!! I was there for around a week, just doing a summer course at the Berklee College of Music, which is insane…it’s been one of my dream colleges for the longest time. Being able to live like a student there, even if it was for a week, was just the most surreal experience ever. The people and teachers that you meet, are the most amazing. The vibe is definitely a highlight – you’re surrounded by the most ambitious, creative people and it inspires you to become a better artist. I had the opportunity to perform my originals there as well. I got to work with an incredible group of people, including a live band, vocal coaches, as well as incredible artists for masterclasses and I loved every minute of it.

Llewelyn: Lastly, what plans do you have for the rest of the summer and can our USA readers catch you live anywhere?

Lucy: Before I start the next uni semester (in August), I’m going into promo mode for my album. Also preparing for concerts and shows, I’m planning a pretty big one before the end of this year. I’m hoping to also use this time to write more, not just songs, but also the screenplay (s) I’ve been working on!! At the end of this year, I’m planning on flying back to LA, and this time I’ll get to actually visit, not just LAX hahaha. LA has always been my dream place to live, so I’ll be exploring the place and I guess preparing myself, for life after graduation (which is pretty soon). As for live shows in the USA, I’m definitely not there yet, but if I’m lucky enough, someday!!! Definitely one of my biggest dreams.

Hear this terrific album on Spotify.

See more on her IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Interview: Curtis Melton teaches us all about persistence and teamwork

Calming all stressed minds with a superb interview, Curtis Melton shows us deeper into his fascinating life with terrific insight into the life and challenges of a musician. This well-respected music educator does what he is best at, and acquaints us about the importance and teamwork while doing what you love. Ready? Let’s go.

Cheers for having a chat with us and taking time out of your busy schedule.

Thank you for the opportunity!

Firstly, what does it feel like to be a musician and are there any perks of the job?

Being a musician has many perks – you get to create and express yourself in your own unique way every time you get to play/perform/create music. You get to have your own unique “signature” on how to express yourself. In my case, through performing (whether it is on an instrument or being a conductor) – it’s all its own art form. And then of course with composing, you get to make something unique that you get to introduce into the world. It really is such an outlet to be expressive, passionate, creative, and to contribute something that is truly “you” to the world, that no one else BUT you can share. Everyone has their own “voice”.

Not to mention, being a music educator, I get to share my passion and music with students in my high school band program each and every day. You get to instill that love for music in them. I know first-hand what music does for students; it gives them a sense of belonging to a group, gives them a sense of expression, and allows them to also find who they themselves are. Music teaches lessons that they will take with them throughout their lives, such as teamwork, perseverance, and creating something beautiful. As a music conductor, director, and teacher, I get to conduct and express myself in a way that most musicians are not able to do.

I consider myself very lucky I experience music through composing, performing, conducting, AND teaching music – each and every single day.

Secondly, how did it all start with the music? Did you play when you were younger or start a bit later?

I started when I was in 4th grade when I took guitar lessons at my local music store. And then in 5th grade – I took piano lessons from my aunt. My aunt played piano and I wanted to learn how to play, so I started doing weekly lessons with her. Then in late-5th grade, before I entered middle school, I wanted to join band in middle school. I was originally thinking I wanted to learn how to play the saxophone, but my dad told me he played drums and could teach me. So of course, I was like – that sounds cool – and it’s FREE (I would have had to pay for lessons for saxophone), and my parents both said “Also, you always hear the drums and are always seen!” – so I went ahead and started learning from my dad the summer before 6th grade.

Couple that with having taken prior piano and guitar lessons, I knew how to read music, play complex rhythms, count music, and find the pulse. I entered the 6th grade musically way ahead of my other peers who were just getting started on their musical journey. Because my middle school band director recognized my prowess so early, he moved me up to the top band in middle school at second semester – being the only 6th grader in a class with 7th and 8th graders. So then I got to take part in the spring band festival trip and go to Disneyland, and then I was in the top band all through 7th and 8th grade. In mid-6th grade I got a drum set for Christmas, so then by 7th grade I joined the jazz band – and played drum set in that class along with concert band. So naturally, I loved it, and continued being one of the top drummers in my middle school band; making the district Honor Band, performing solos at district solo festival and receiving Superior Ratings, and just enjoying playing. I found my passion at a very early age, and that took me well into high school and beyond.

I also borrowed my middle school’s 8-track recorder while I was in middle school – and me and my dad in the summer of 7th and 8th grade would make recordings of my first compositions on cassette tapes! That introduced me at a young age to recording, mixing, bouncing tracks, etc.

So by high school, I was advanced enough to make my school’s advanced concert band, the top jazz band, and also play snare drum in marching band on the drumline, all of these spots I played in all through my 4 years of high school band, along with Honor Band, All-State Band, solo festival, etc. I figured out in high school that I wanted to become a high school band director, and major in music education in college. And that is exactly what I did. I graduated in just 3 1/2 years with a music education degree (a record I still hold at that school!) and have been teaching high school band the last 18 years in the Las Vegas, NV area, 10 of those years are in my current position at Legacy High School in North Las Vegas, NV.

Please tell us more about a day in the life of a high school band director.

In the summer I always prepare for my high school marching band camp – which are three weeks before school begins, where I get the music ready for the students, get the room ready, and get us prepared for three weeks of learning the marching band show, teaching the band how to march, teaching them how to march with instruments, how to then PLAY and march with instruments, and get ready for our first THREE performances, just a week or two into band camp. We have three performances before school even begins.

And in actuality, (for me personally) preparing for the marching season (which runs from July through November) starts in December of the previous year, when I begin composing the marching band music that my students will perform the following year. I think of a general theme I want to convey musically, and then I compose for the full marching band a 7-9 minute show worth of music and movement. That involves writing music for the woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections – I usually write a 7-9 minute show – all on my music notation software, and I also think of a visual theme to go with it to “pump the crowds up”.

All springtime I am writing the show, selecting visuals, and also I recruit all year-long at the middle schools to garner new interest in the program – by getting new students to take my Beginning Band class, and of course to recruit the current 8th grade band members to continue on into my high school band to join marching band and the concert band programs.

I also compose and dedicate a concert band piece to my band students every year that we perform at our end-of-year band concert. Last year’s end-of-year concert in May of 2022 was a very emotional one as we performed a piece I had written for the band three years prior in 2020, but due to the COVID shutdown we didn’t get to play it that year. We finally got to perform it in 2022. There was not a dry-eye in the house! It was a very emotional one and one of my favorite concerts we’ve done at my school.

Last year, I also got to finally hear the premiere of a piece I was commissioned to compose for a local Las Vegas student community group in 2022 after not getting to hear it in 2020. It was awesome!

Again, these are all things that I do with my band, most band directors just purchase pre-written music for their marching shows, or hire someone else to arrange existing music for their shows.

On top of all that, we perform at local marching band shows in our area, and we also start our jazz and concert band programs the first week of school. So our program puts on 5-6 concerts a year, we perform at 4-5 home football games and the local marching band shows every year (where we perform my marching band shows I’ve composed for the students), we also perform at special engagements and do fundraising for NASCAR events where we usher racing events to raise money for the program.

And also I take my band on a performance trip out of state each year – we’ve performed at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and also marched their St. Patrick’s Day Parade, we’ve performed in the Disneyland Parade, and also on the Santa Monica Pier and other places around the Southwestern United States.

Not to mention (hey, you asked what I do every day LOL) – balancing and keeping track of the band budget, setting up the performance rehearsal calendar each and every year for the students, parents, and school, daily rehearsals where we prepare for concerts and judged events, keeping track of instrument and uniform inventory, keeping a music library up to date, and of course my recruiting efforts, keeping in touch with parents, inputting student grades and assessments, and staying until 8:30pm a lot of of nights per week (getting to school by 6:00am each day) – my life as a band director is super busy and involved, but also very rewarding!!

How do you compose music and who do you compose everything for?

I start by coming up with a theme or a feeling I like to compose for. For example, this past year’s marching show (2022) I wrote a marching band show called “Bioluminescence” – because I wanted to incorporate light and shining lights at the audience for our visual, plus I wanted to emulate a heroic and bright musical theme. So I came up with music for the marching band show that emulated that idea. The release I had A&R Factory review just recently “Firefly Lullaby” is my studio recording version of part of that show that they performed.

This year (summer/fall of 2023) we are performing a show I wrote called “Fear, Incorporated” which is a horror-themed show. Much darker in tone, but also fun and intense.

Most of my compositions I write for my students. They are my biggest inspiration when it comes to composing music for them to play. I think about what they will like, how it will come off to the audience, and I always think of ideas that I believe they will enjoy playing. I also write music in “uncommon” band keys.

Most published band music is published in “easy” keys because they are “easy to teach”. A lot of “band music” is written for students in keys that do not have a lot of sharps or flats – so as a result, a lot of published band music sounds the same. I challenge my students by writing in keys with a lot of sharps and flats so they become “whole musicians” and not just “musicians that can play really well in a handful of keys”. Plus those “uncommon band keys” are so fresh sounding. I have written for my kids in F-sharp minor, E-flat minor – it’s fun and they are able to do it. As a result, they know how to play ALL their fingerings and ALL their instrument. It is really important to be able to know the whole instrument!!! I take great pride in my students being able to read those keys and play anything I give them to play – as I see them become “whole musicians”.

As far as studio recordings, I have always wanted to make studio versions of my music. My debut album I released in 2020 called “Skywaves”, many of those tracks are studio versions of the pieces/shows I have written for my marching/concert band. Of course there are other tracks I have composed that aren’t previous marching or concert pieces, but it’s fun to turn those marching and concert band songs into studio tracks. My two singles I have released since “Skywaves” – entitled “Restless Twilight” and “Firefly Lullaby” are also previously performed marching band songs, but they are studio versions.

Do you have any advice for young aspiring musicians who might be a bit scared to share their art?

Just go for it. Express yourself in your own unique way and be yourself. Music (and any art form) is such a rewarding art.. Put yourself out there, and go for it!!

Last, what message do you stand for in such a seemingly combustive world?

BE YOURSELF! There is only one of you, so be it. Also – whatever you decide to do – be the best you can be at it. You never know who’s lives you are changing by just being YOU.

Listen up more on Spotify.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Interview: Malcolm Duff leads us into the tragic loss of his beloved wife and the love for music on For You

For You by Malcolm Duff & Maristela Da Silva

Gracing us with a massively honest interview which teaches us so much about true love, Normandy’s Malcolm Duff kindly opened up the door and let us all inside his career, heartbreaking loss and new music to help ease the pain, For You.

Where exactly in the world do you live and what constitutes a healthy meal in your home?

Malcolm: I am lucky to live in Normandy, in a house surrounded only by fields and forests, so it’s quiet enough for me to write. And France has turned food into a fine art, so whatever we eat, it’s fresh.

Do you recall the first time you played the guitar?

Malcolm: I started playing the piano at age four (it was the only instrument the family had), moved on to guitar and harmonica at around seventeen, and have always played something or sung whenever I can.

Please tell us more about your new album For You.

Malcolm: When my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I retired early to take care of her at home, but continued to write songs over the ten years her illness lasted.

The songs on “For You” were recorded during the last three years of her life. It took me that long because I could only go to the recording studio for a few hours on a Friday afternoon (such is the life of a carer), and I played all the instruments on all the tracks, laying one down each week.

At home I nonetheless managed to write a novel, entitled “The Escorts”, based on my experience as a carer and singer-songwriter (it is to be published this year in English, French and Spanish). I was lucky enough to have two love affairs, and while one was tragic (my wife), the other was magic. And each song reflected how I felt, as I explain in the book.

“I wanted to thank my father for everything he had done for me; to tell him that I loved him and that I would always remember him. But I could not say that to him, so I wrote a song instead, and for the first time, I mentioned the woman and love I had found as he had suggested, when I told him of [my wife’s] illness. I showed the lyrics of the song to my father just before he died. We both knew his end was close. To my surprise and great pleasure, he said he liked it, understanding everything.”

The First Time
“I hear the tap of high heels approaching. Maria opens the door to her apartment. Long flowing brown hair, emerald eyes, ruby lips. She scents the bunch of red roses I hold out to her.
“You make me feel like a princess,” she says, and gently laughs. And to my parched throat, her laughter was like water bubbling up from a spring in the desert sand.”

“She had her own life to live and would leave; sometimes for a few days on a photo shoot, sometimes for a week or two on a modelling job, or sometimes for longer to go and see her family. And each time she left, I thought it would be the last. I would be left high and dry, lost and forlorn, surviving from one day to the next, eking out the days and weeks until she came back.”

Green Eyes
“My wife gave me a reason for being; Maria gave me a reason to live. Thus she became synonymous with music. Every time I thought of her, a melody would come to mind. The vision of her smiling, emerald-green eyes conjured up tunes out of nowhere and nothing.”

Goodbye for Now
“She would blow me a kiss before closing her door as I walked down the creaking staircase to the lift. […] The dream would continue until I got home and mentally prepared myself to carry on my own road to Calvary. I would send her a message letting her know I had arrived safely; she thanked me for the time we had together, and I thanked her. So, our love affair slowly grew more painful for both of us.”

Senhorita Suite
“She smiled, despite the pain. I had taken my small portable recorder and played the latest take of the last song we had written. I showed her the hand percussion I wanted to add and sang stupid harmonies to the soundtrack until she laughed and hugged me. Then she fell back exhausted onto the pillows, already half asleep.”

“As [Maria] began to recover and could walk again, on occasion she went to mass. Putting on a scarf which she knotted below her chin, lighting a candle or two, she prayed. The tiny yellow flames danced in the dark of the cathedral, reflecting brief glints of light in the eyes of those on their knees beside her. And like I, some stared with astonishment at the candlelit face of the beautiful girl by the altar, whispering and crossing themselves as if they had seen the Madonna herself.”

Hi There
“I would think of her and a tune would come to me, a haunting melody. I would hear it, and then listen to it, and then hum it out loud, and in doing so, it would take physical shape. […] Do not pray to the gods. Pray to those you once loved who are no more. […] Sometimes those guardian angels hear us, watching over us as they fly by, and let a little gold dust from their wings fall upon our own ears.”

Whisky Waltz
“My brothers did not ask questions. If they were curious, they did not say so. If I needed to talk, they listened. If I needed money and they had any spare, they sent it, and sent it immediately. Generosity was another trait our respective families did not share. And that of courage in the face of adversity; when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I found out that brothers in arms are brothers in deed.”

For You
“Each time I had to leave Maria, my heart ached, beating as hard as when I was on my way to see her. I knew I would meet her again, however, and it made our parting the sweetest of sorrows. But there is no greater pain than to lose someone close to you, and know it is forever. […] I could think of nothing better than to go home and start to write a song for her, in the hope that somewhere she might hear it.”

Singing The Blues
“It was nice to cross paths again with someone at the low end of the music business, playing parties, bar mitzvahs, old-age homes, trying to make ends meet, pay the rent at the end of the month, but still play music. Perhaps it was all the singer could do, but it was all she wanted to do, and so she did it with heart and soul. That was what made her beautiful and happy.”

In the Meantime
“Acceptance became understanding one afternoon a few weeks after I had placed my wife in the nursing home. […] I talked a little to her as she ate little pieces of cake, and she looked at me in surprise each time, not remembering I was there or knowing who I was. I was just someone kind by her side, and as I held her skeletal hand in mine to keep it warm, I saw the small smile stay on my wife’s face as she fell asleep, and dreamt on.”

“A few weeks after she died, to comfort our dog Idaho, who was as lost and lonely as I had been since her disappearance, I took in a little Cocker Spaniel, a refugee, to serve as his escort. I stopped drinking and smoking. I no longer needed either. For Maria, who, out of respect, had refused to come to the house as long as my wife was alive, my lovely, beloved Maria finally came to visit.”

How did you connect with and what is the relationship like with Maristela Da Silva?

Shortly after I retired, a friend who ran a small record company came for lunch one day and told me he wanted to make a record with me. I had considered taking up music professionally, and seized the chance, because it meant I could also join SACEM, the French Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music. I saw an ad on their website from someone looking for a composer, replied, and it was Maristela. We met a few months later. I fell in love with her at first sight – it wasn’t difficult – and we’ve been together ever since, even when we’re apart. She is the muse in music, and continues to inspire every melody I write.

What do you miss most about not living in the UK?

Malcolm: My family.

How has music kept you sane during these tragic times?

Malcolm: In my case, whenever I am sad, I sing. My mother once told me that she had a nurse to help her when I and my twin brother were born (she already had two young boys), a woman who could not have children of her own, and she sang me to sleep. Singing soothes me the same way even now. And the studio where I recorded the album became a second home for me because my sound engineer believed in the songs as much as I did.

Last, what is your hope for humanity and the future?

Malcolm: For humanity, some sanity. For me, making enough money from music to continue making music.

Follow the music on Bandcamp.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

London’s QURE destroys all fragility with weighty electronic piledriver ASTER

Edging the crowd on with something so thunderously entertaining, QURE lacerates the tires with a sensationally stimulating techno beat-slammer to knock all shyness away inside with the finger burner that is, ASTER.

QURE is a well-established London, UK-based indie electronic music producer and DJ with a rave-like single to get truly excited about.

Aside from music production and disc jockeying, I am also an aspiring audio engineer.” ~ QURE

Sometimes you hear a track and it invokes so many memories which were previously forgotten about. ASTER from the underground legend QURE is an exceptional entry into any playlist imaginable.

ASTER from London, UK-based indie electronic music producer/DJ QURE is one of the most powerful songs likely to be heard in 2023. Gosh, there is a hardcore component here which will thrill many, and scare others away under their blankets again.

Steaming through the curtains like a runaway iron, we find a truly ear-popping single to elevate all moods like a natural booster.

Listen up on Soundcloud. See more on the IG page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Path That I Chose: Solemn Pledge aches for the return home on Wretched Warfare

Wishing for the war to end so they can get back into a happier place away from so much brutality, Solemn Pledge sings with fearless frankness and honourable desire with the catchy new mood changer called Wretched Warfare.

Solemn Pledge is a rock music duo that combines the rather emphatic project of Maria Genevieve Elia and Michael Justin Lee.

Maria, a heavy metal vocalist with a very distinctive timbre and a vocal range of three and a half octaves, has performed on rock and symphonic rock projects with artists around the world. Michael, a member of the Songwriters Guild of America and the Society of Composers and Lyricists, has written and produced three previous albums that are streaming on all the major platforms worldwide.” ~ Solemn Pledge

Lathered in so much to get lost in, Solemn Pledge has reminded us that those true battles are worth it if you get to come home. With vivid details and so much to intertwine inside, we are introduced to a quality anthem to get behind.

I myself (Michael) am of Chinese descent and I wanted to create a portrayal that clings closer to the classical story than most productions do. With Rock music, I present a portrayal of Mulan’s ten years as a soldier (that’s right, it was ten years). No love interest. No mysticism. It’s a story of courage through the horror and wretchedness of war, and of her intense longing for home.” ~ Michael Justin Lee

Wretched Warfare from the rather impressive rock music duo Solemn Pledge is a rather searing effort made with a hugely enjoyable tone and flow, with vocal highlights mixed in with groovy melodies to get rather thrilled about no matter the day of the week. Soaked in a delectable blend of ingeniously crafted layers of transcendence, this is a timeless track to enjoy in 2023.

Open up your ears on YouTube. See more on their website.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

The Impossibility of Legacy in the 21st-Century Music Industry


When history leaves no room for modernity; when nostalgia is a greater incentive to engage with ‘culture’ than contemporary innovation; when legacy pedestals went out of production in the 90s, what hope is left in the music industry?

The post-pandemic era of music is becoming increasingly alien to what we have known before. It is not technology adding tentacle-ESQUE appendages to the industry. For the past 50 years, the rapid rate of technological progress has been integral to the way music has embedded into our daily lives. Industry oligarchs relentlessly pushed for progression to increase profit margins with every artist gambled on. Now that digital streaming services have reached the pinnacle of music consumption convenience, there is little to anticipate. Sans Musk embedding Neuralink chips in our skulls, and we can stream music directly into our brains.

We can point the finger at the culture of streaming platforms until Rigor mortis sets in, ignoring the three fingers pointing back at ourselves with our strange transfixion on the past that dictates modern-day legacies do not last.

The unattainability of legacy especially rings true within the confines of indie, rock, and alternative music. The alluring sentimentality of nostalgia and reminiscence is the real reason why fame is fleeting; success is slender in supply and why music fans are now eulogising their only music icons on Facebook every five minutes.

Even if an independent artist hits number one in the official music charts in 2023, it means almost nothing in terms of standing in the industry. It is only a matter of time before they downrank under the perpetual dominance of Nirvana, Nickelback, and Pink Floyd.

To go full circle on how streaming has affected the music industry, the contemporary irrelevance of official music charts has even started to change how albums hit the market. Why bow to the pressure of raw sales when streaming is king? And in the words of Post Malone, why compromise the artistic and authentic integrity of a record to ensure an arbitrary number that is no longer of any consequence is reached?

The Fame-Talent Dichotomy

As someone who has spent the past six years in the music industry listening to new artists, I find it impossible to subscribe to the theory that the fixtures in the rock n roll hall of fame are portraits that contemporary artists cannot hold a candle to.

The painful awareness of the off-kilter correspondence between fame and talent is something the average music consumer will never see. If they did, they would be infinitely more open to the suggestion that living and breathing artists who aren’t inches from being six feet under are as capable of ground-breaking music as the artists made divine in their blind eyes.

May be an image of 3 people, people standing, people playing musical instruments and indoor

The addiction to the bittersweetness of sonic nostalgia is undoubtedly a stark sign of where our collective psyche stands at this strangely sour point in history. Yet, if we continuously ignore the irony between the statements that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” and the complete unwillingness to listen to what they ARE making, we are setting a generation of artists up to fail. Not that it is surprising people of a certain age are somewhat ambivalent about that. Given what they have done to the rest of society and the economy.

While there are sniffings of viral TikTok fame for some contemporary artists, one-hit-wonders can only get with their passive fans in their unsustainable careers. As a new generation comes of age, they are shown that history is required for legacy – unless you’re lucky enough to get the jump up from nepotism or selected as a media plant.

Music as a Mausoleum: A Tale of Two Cities

As a Manchester-based music journalist, I’m no stranger to music cultures led by ancient tastemakers and epitomised by records that have been collecting dust since the 80s. I’ve long since accepted that my words, no matter how sharp, will never be as cutting as the people twice my age who can say they were in all of the right places long before I was cerebral enough to string a sentence together. But this isn’t about me. It is about the absolute exception to George Santayana’s rule of; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Making my first trip to one of Liverpool’s most iconic music venues, The Cavern Club, showed me just how insidious the fetishization and fixation of legacy truly is. Tawdry statues of the Beatles scaled the walls with endless ephemera as a reminder that they were once here. Like graffiti on a dirty public toilet door, they were stamped in history. Tacky memorabillia enshrined behind glass tempted tanked-up tourists to grab a kitsch piece of history and ignore the glaring commodification of culture that reminds every artist that steps foot into that venue that their legacy will always be less-than.

The Beatles Image In A Wall In The Cavern Club, Liverpool, UK Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 81903358.

While there should always be room to rhapsodize artists that were integral to the inspiration of many, became the soundtrack to many lives and earned themselves a place in history, there should still be enough room for fresh talent to breathe.

Yet, there is little oxygen left for new and emerging artists to share. Creative sparks diminish as soon as they are lit in our suffocating atmosphere where cover bands get all the cash and artists with any modicum of distinction about them are chastised for sticking out from the mould.

Mindless connections with music and music culture are infinitely more dangerous than the perils of Spotify and Ek’s ilk. You can’t keep your head in the sentimental sand for decades, pop back up for daylight and bemoan the changing technological tides that have removed gatekeepers for many, and provided the platforms for even more.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Take Your Stress: [USER] Salv.E drops powerful 2nd single Rose

With frostbite on the lips and much to ponder, [USER] Salv.E attempts the leave the darkness behind forever despite the added pressure, which is causing much stomach churning pain on Rose.

[USER] Salv.E is a mysterious hip hop artist who is infused into a music group who are based on the abstract concept of internet anonymity.

This song follows the events of a man in a toxic relationship. It aims to portray the feeling of being stuck bearing the responsibility of someone’s issues and the numbness that follows.” ~ [USER] Salv.E

Bringing us one of the more high-quality underground singles so far in 2022, [USER] Salv.E rolls through with a smooth flow and proceeds to drop a truly impressive single. Truth loaded and with so much to think about each element, this is a terrific release to feel excited about.

Rose from the anonymous hip hop artist [USER] Salv.E is a hugely admirable release which shows us how getting too deep into someone else’s life can cause so much unnecessary stress. Searching for the right path to break free from the choppy waters, we slide into a mesmerizing swim of striking realization.

Sometimes it’s best to veer far away from anything disruptive before it’s too late.

Check out this new single on YouTube. Follow the journey on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Dj Nebifar Interview: Meshing World of Warcraft and music together rather splendidly on Barrens Chat

We sat down with Dj Nebifar recently who let us deep within the music and gaming worlds. Filled with so much passion for his craft and so much more, this is an inside look into the life of a highly skilled creative who is only just getting started.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today, Dj Nebifar. Please tell us more about your latest releases and what the vision was behind the projects?

Dj Nebifar: Well, I made 2 albums and called them “Barrens Chat”. It’s a well-known location amongst the WoW community where people usually hang out and chat, and that’s where I drew the inspiration. The WoW community. I always wanted to create music for the people, something they can turn on in the background and do their favourite things and enjoy the moment.

What’s it like to be a musician and a World of WarCraft player?
Dj Nebifar: I listen to my music all the time as I play WoW so it feels like I did something good for this world and I hope the rest of people will feel the same way.

How can the music scene be better for its artists and fans?
Dj Nebifar: I think we definitely need more exposure, especially for new aspiring indie artists, I know a lot of new indie artists (myself included) that create wonderful music that are kind of lost in the shadows, and maybe having a new way of connecting artists and fans would do a lot.

How did you get started in the music industry and what do you enjoy most about it?
Dj Nebifar: I have been listening to my own playlists and noticed that I got tired of my favourite music due to the lack of new releases especially with genres I can relate to, so I decided that the best way is to create the music myself. The most enjoyable thing is when people listen to your own music and give you feedback saying that they like it and can relate to it.

If there was one country you could tour, where would it be and why?
Dj Nebifar: I bet it will be somewhere in Europe, Ive been to Tomorrowland and I wish that one day I will go back there, but as an artist.

Last of all, where can we find you live next or do you have any exciting projects lined up for 2023?
– Both of my releases are on most of the streaming platforms. And I am currently on a trip to Asia, getting inspiration for next album! You can follow me on Instagram if you want to catch me live or get new updates on my whereabouts.

Listen up on Spotify. See more news on his IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Chamber Pop that illuminates: Heren Wolf’s ‘Far’ is a spectacular song filled with warmth

Chamber Pop that illuminates: Heren Wolf’sFar‘ is a spectacular song filled with warmth and deep energies that filters into our hearts.

Heren Wolf is an Italian pop singer-songwriter based in London who has a voice that pieces through you, you can feel the raw beautif and how incredibly well this song has been constructed.

‘The imagery of the‘womb’, representing the safe and primordial place, in which pain hasn’t yet left its mark.’- Heren Wolf

With a soothing start that has stunning piano riffs that are so touching and encapsulates how safe the world should be. After making a fresh move to London, this is all about a new times. Taking the time to heal from all that happened in the past is key, moving on is even better as it enables you to start again. New friends and new memories.

Heren Wolf’sFar‘ is such a masterpiece, the layers here are so magnificently meshed together and you can’t help but appreciate this new song. Music like this doesn’t appear all the time and this is a track that needs to be hear and played to get that extra bit of beauty back in our lives.

Click here for the Soundcloud page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen