Anyone walking down Oxford street last Wednesday may have struggled to pass through the huge crowds outside our Topshop flagship, as hoards of music fans and passing shoppers came to catch our Chlöe Howl gig instore!
Taking to a specially made (and super pink!) stage, Chlöe performed a chilled acoustic set, accompanied by two members of her band looking cool wearing Topshop. Along with her summer jam ‘No Strings’ and new single ‘Paper Heart’, Chlöe got us feeling all festive with the cutest rendition of WHAM’s ‘Last Christmas’.
With New Year just around the corner, everyone’s talking about the ones to watch for 2014. And while our NEWGEN designers are the latest fashion names to know, we’ve got our money on Laura Welsh as the next big thing in music.
Blessed with a mesmerising voice that could be described as Adele meets Jessie Ware, Laura’s minimal electro-pop has landed her huge props from music critics already, as well a support slot with Topshop band crush London Grammar. Following the release of her beautifully sounding EP ‘Cold Front’ (complete with an equally beautiful black & white video) – we chatted to the Staffordshire-born singer about her style and sound:
How would you describe your music?
There are two sides to my sound – one is more minimal electronic soul and the other has more of a euphoric raw feel.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To trust your instincts and don’t be pulled about by other people’s opinions.
What’s the most flamboyant piece of clothing you own?
I’m drawn to the more minimal look so I don’t really own anything too flamboyant. I have some really cool patent crop trousers from Topshop that I wore for a gig recently – they are most definitely a bit of a statement piece!
Tell us about the first single you bought.
The first tape that I got was Michael Jacksons ‘Bad’ which I remember playing over and over. It was stolen from my sisters record collection!
If you could record a track with one person dead or alive, who would it be?
There are so many, but right now I would probably say D’Angelo. I love his records and the rawness of his voice. Every time I’ve been to see him play he just gets to me like nobody else.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Finishing my record was a definite high! Being able to work with some amazing musicians and producers has been a truly humbling and inspiring experience.
Tell us about the best gig you’ve ever played.
Playing the iTunes festival was amazing this year. It’s such a great venue and it was the first time I heard people singing lyrics back to me. My band and I felt totally locked in with each other and the audience that night.
British popstar Chlöe Howl may be only 18, but this mouthy redhead isn’t afraid to tell it how it is. Her edgy lyrics have drawn comparisons with the likes of Lily Allen, mixed with soulful melodies and electro pop hooks that will get you dancing. Recently nominated for the Brits Critics’ Choice Award and the BBC Sound of 2014 list, she’s a hot tip for the New Year.
If you like the sound of her (or maybe you’re already her biggest fan) be sure to come down to our London flagship on Wednesday (11th December), where she’ll be taking to the stage to play a live festive set for us. We caught up with her in the lead up to her Topshop gig:
We last chatted with you in October – can you tell us what the last few months has been like for you?
Things have been great! I went on tour with John Newman which was so much fun. Then when I got home, I found out I was on the BBC sound poll and nominated for a Brit! So it’s been pretty mental.
How would you describe your style?
Not very girly or colourful. I only ever wear Dr. Martens, so I usually look pretty tomboyish.
How do you wear Topshop?
I own a lot of Topshop stuff. I always go there if I need something nice for a night out!
Looking forward to playing at our flagship Oxford Circus store?
I’ve shopped there since I was a kid and it’s pretty iconic, so I’m very excited.
What’s next for Chlöe Howl?
I’ve just announced I’m supporting Ellie Goulding on tour around Europe so that’ll be amazing. And then my album will be released in the summer.
How does it feel to be nominated for the Critics’ Choice Award at the Brits?
Absolutely insane! Just to be nominated is ridiculous. Especially next to Sam Smith and Ella Eyre, who are amazing.
See Chlöe Howl play at Topshop Oxford Circus, Wednesday 11th December, 6.30pm and join the event on Facebook here.
Sasha Keable’s soulful vocals could have come straight outta the sunny stoops of Brooklyn. Her seductive lilts and r’n’b hooks are reminiscent of all the classics – Kelis, Mary J – and her innovative take on the genre transcends her mere twenty years. Truth is, this South Londoner is about to explode. Inbetween gigging with Disclosure, hitting the studio with Dev Hynes and signing a five-album deal with Disturbing London/Polydor, Ms Keable found some time to talk vinyl and her affinity for tartan skirts.Plus we premiere her newest music video, Nice Side, below.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is mainly a mix between Soul, R’n'B, Hip Hop and my new stuff is quite heavily influenced by 80′s Dance and Soul music.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?
I’m the worst with remembering people’s advice, but I’m lucky to have my family, friends and a great management team (Disturbing London) who care about me a lot, so I get good advice every day.
Tell us what’s in your wardrobe and describe your style.
I wear a lot of dark colours and I’m quite boyish with my style but right now I’m loving cute tartan skirts. I have a great navy blue cashmere jumper I bought from Topshop that I’ve been wearing with everything! Also I just stocked up on winter wear in opening ceremony and Paul Smith last week so I’m excited to wear all that stuff.
What’s the most flamboyant piece of clothing you own?
I got this amazing baby pink oriental silk coat from a charity shop a few months ago, it’s so ridiculous but it’s beautiful! I’m waiting for the right occasion to wear it.
Do you dress differently on stage? If so how does your onstage style differ to the everyday?
I definitely spend a lot more time planning my outfits for my performances, I wear colour on stage which I don’t day to day and I dress a lot more flamboyantly on stage, i feel you have to if you want to be seen.
What does 2014 have in store for Sasha?
It’s going to be a busy year for me, I’ll be releasing another EP around March, doing a lot of live shows of my own and writing and releasing my first album, it’s a really exciting time.
Tell us about the first single you bought and when you bought it. What do you think that says about you?
The first thing I remember buying is my first vinyl. It was Basement Jaxx – Romeo. My stepdad got me into DJing, he bought me these decs when I was 9 and I went crazy, constantly buying records when I could and learning to mix. My stepdad got me into dance music, so I don’t think it says that much about me but the same day I bought Justin Timberlake – Like I Love You on vinyl, I think that pretty much depicts a 9 year old girl in 2003.
If you could record a track with one person dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Probably Frank Sinatra, I would record a really great duet with him, maybe something Christmassy, I think that would be amazing.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far and why?
There’s been so many highlights in 2013! Being a part of the whole Disclosure project and travelling to New York to work with Dev Hynes were amazing but I think the biggest highlight was releasing my debut EP ‘Black Book’. Knowing people have my music on their phones and hearing my tracks on the radio is pretty crazy.
Tell us about the best gig you’ve ever played and what made it amazing…
The best gig I ever played was at Notting Hill Carnival this year with Disclosure, the vibe was CRAZY! Everyone was dancing and going mad, the energy was electric. Also sharing a stage with Damian Marley was an incredible feeling.
Watch our exclusive launch of Sasha’s new track and music video below. Revisit Sasha’s latest video Careless Over You here. Sasha’s EP Black Boots can be downloaded here.
On stage and on the screen Janelle Monae is a musical force to be reckoned with. From her charismatic dancemoves to her vocal somersaults, she seems to peer down from the great heights of performance whilst we all watch in awe. When meeting the infectious troubadour face-to-face, however, Janelle is surprisingly petite. Just 5”2 tall and, although she is wearing her signature monochrome, her black leggings and bomber jacket are nothing on the striking braces, shirt and high waisted-trousers she will rock on the Roundhouse stage in just a few hours. It’s clear that even in an interview she means business and is as serious and meticulous about her answers as she is about the perfection of her stage show.
The single Tightrope from your previous album caught everyone’s attention – how does a song like that evolve?
A lot of my songs come to me in my dreams. I find a lot of lyrics and melodies when I’m asleep. I have to keep my recorder by bed to write down the ideas or sing out what I’ve heard. I love listening to music first, and then I’ll get the melody and then I’ll write to that melody.
Tell us a little bit about your new album, The Electric Lady?
It’s a follow up to The ArchAndroid. This is about community, people rallying behind unity, love and empowerment. And the title is part of the subject matter. I was painting this image of this female silhouette each night. I spoke to friends and even my therapist and they all encouraged me, they said you should name this series, name this painting. I had a really hard time coming up with the name and I knew that this meant whoever this woman was she didn’t like to be marginalised or categorized. The Electric Lady came into my spirit and I started to think about a world where there was a new 21st century woman.
There are so many great collaborators on your new album. Is there anyone who stood out?
Everyone on the album is special and I’m honoured to have them all. I have a song with Erykah Badu, with Solange Knowles – The Electric Lady – I have a song with Esperanza Spalding, with Dorothy Dandridge Eyes, with Miguel and last but not least with Prince.
How was it working with Prince?
I’m still pinching myself. He’s been a musical hero of mine for quite some time. He reached out to me when I realised my first EP Metropolis, he took me on tour with him and we’ve done Madison Square Garden and the Forum. He’s a mentor. I’m still very thankful he agreed to be on the album. He doesn’t collaborate a lot and I also had the opportunity to produce him as well.
How does that collaboration work?
We play with ideas. You know, he was on Jupiter and I was on Mars and we kinda threw back and forth ideas and met on Saturn.
Do you have an alter ego for the stage?
There’s balance. I’m definitely extremely energetic and unpredictable when I step on stage. It depends on what time of day and when you catch me. I try and meditate when I’m off stage and come up with new concepts and new ideas and being nice and humble and happy, and all those things that make you feel good inside. But when I’m on stage it’s The Electric Lady.
You have a strict uniform of black and white – does that have a significance?
Absolutely. I’ve been rocking this before people knew who I was. I started my own record label The Wondaland Art Society and wanted to create my image independently in Atlanta. I had about 500 fans and I look at black and white as minimalism, I see this outfit as my uniform of walking art with a message. On the art side it’s minimalism, on the uniform it’s the message – paying homage to the working class. My grandmother, my mother, everyone who wore suits to help the community move forward and I try and do that through my music and my art.
What artists out there inspired your music?
Stevie Wonder, definitely. He’s someone whose music is like another form of a Bible, his music is the Bible in music. I think Prince as well as he helped show us how far we could take individuality. Those two for right now.
How does it feel supporting Chic at the iTunes Festival?
I love Chic, Nile Rodgers is amazing and I’m so happy for all the success that he’s getting from Daft Punk. He’s a genius. He’s also one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. He’s like a big brother to me and I’m honoured that I’m performing before he goes on.
Don’t forget to download the official iTunes Festival App to get more information and watch all the shows from iTunes Festival live until the end of October using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch or on your computer.