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.
Before there was Wildcub and Big Deal, there was Best Coast. The surf pop duo was born in 2009 by songwriter and guitarist Bethany Cosentino and partner in crime multi-instrumentalist, Bobb Bruno. Inspired by The Beach Boys and The Beatles the pair bring a lo-fi, sun-soaked sound paired with lyrics that are both cute as a kitten and sharp as a knife. Although winter may well and truly be here in London, we still can’t stop listen to their sun-soaked tunes that fill us with cheer even on the rainiest of days. The 26 year-old with killer tattoos and a wardrobe that’s all floral dresses and sailor shifts took some time to talk inspiration, collaboration and hanging out at home with her cat.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
I feel like Best Coast is really straight forward pop music from the heart. It’s just music that is meant to make you feel like you’re not alone in this world with all your problems but I feel like the sound is meant to kind of hype you up and make you feel good about things, even though the lyrics are kind of downers.
What artists do you admire today?
I really look up to Stevie Nicks, who has been my hero pretty much since I was a little kid but I feel like more modern artists that I look up to are strong, powerful female front women/artists like Beyonce, Hayley Williams, Gwen Stefani, women who just have their own amazing thing going on and are so great at what they do.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Drake. He’s like my #1 dream collaboration. I love his music so much, and I just love how honest and real he is. I feel like I relate to what he’s saying, and I feel like we could make a really amazing, super emo and honest song together. What’s the main inspiration behind the new album? And how does it differ from your last one?
It was really just inspired by what was going on in my life at the current moment, and the changes I had gone through since we made the last record. I overcame a lot of obstacles and I feel like I grew up in a short period of time, so I feel like naturally that inspired it. I feel like this album is a lot poppier and more upbeat than the last record. It has more of that “best coast” sound that people enjoyed so much with the first record. It’s less of a downer than the only place was.
How has Best Coast changed since you first started out?
i mean, we have gained so much success and so much as happened for us- but i feel like we as people have not changed at all. we are still the same, and no amount of money or success has changed us at all. i feel like when i started this band, i did not expect fame at all- i just wanted to make music, and everything just took off so quickly. i feel blessed everyday.
Tell us about your favourite gig?
When ‘The Only Place’ came out we played a sold out show at the Wiltern in LA which is this amazing old theatre that so many amazing bands have played at. It was packed from wall to wall, and people were just so excited to be there and to support us and this new thing we were doing. Jon brion, who produced ‘The Only Place,’ joined us on stage for a few songs, and that was really amazing. I just remember thinking that night how lucky we were, and how insane it was that we had gotten to a point where we could sell out a venue like the Wiltern. It was such a special night.
Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
Not really. I just kind of sit around and hang out, sometimes I watch stuff on my computer, or I listen to music but I don’t have any specific things I do. Bobb listens to metal before we play which is so funny, because our music is so far from metal but he says it pumps him up.
How would you describe your style and fashion choices?
I am really inspired by the ’90s, and I like to just feel comfortable. I don’t really wear anything crazy on stage, I just dress like I normally would in my every day life. Lately I’ve been really into oversized vintage shirts, and wearing leggings with crop tops and platforms. My style evolves all the time but I feel like the ’90s is always the era that inspires me the most.
What do you do when you’re not playing music?
I hang out at home a lot, I spend time with my friends, I go shopping, I like to cook, I just do normal stuff. I’m not really a crazy party girl, but I enjoy going out sometimes. Most of the time I just like to hang out at home and drink wine and hang out with my cat and watch TV.
What’s next for Best Coast?
We are going in to record album 3 in November, and then we are going on tour with the Pixies early next year. It’s been an amazing year for us, and we can’t wait to start fresh and do something new.
Get Best Coast’s mini LP and extended EP ‘Fade Away’ next week, listen to it here.
Britain’s new megababe Chlöe Howl is what we call a proper popstar. Showing some real chops at only 18, the mouthy redhead is not afraid to tell it how it is by mixing soulful melodies with edgy lyrics. Putting an old keyboard under the hands of little 13-year old Chlöe was probably the best idea her parents ever had. Howl came bounding out of the blocks earlier this year with her EP “Rumour” and now her snappy single “No Strings” is the perfect calling card for the mouthy girl from London’s suburbs. Full of cockiness a la Kate Nash and Lily Allen she may be creating songs with mass-appeal, but she her infectious pop goes so easy on the ears that you have to sing along to. Yet for all the praise and triumph, she’s no brat and got witty with us when we asked her questions about being Chlöe Howl.
When did you know music was for you?
I’ve been singing since I was super tiny and always loved music. But I never really thought of it as something I could actually pursue. I wanted to be an author because I loved making up stories. Then when I was about 13, my mum’s mate handed me down this keyboard, and that’s when I started to actually think about writing songs and realised I could tell stories through them – which was way more fun.
What do you like about current music?
I think it’s in a place where people are exposed to such a huge range of music so easily, whether it’s on the radio, on TV, or online. Because everything’s so accessible these days! You log onto Twitter, and something’s trending, or you accidentally stumble onto something on Soundcloud. It gives you the opportunity to explore a lot of different types of music, and be more open minded to stuff you may not usually like. I think that’s reflected in how today’s artists are influenced.
What’s your favourite festival?
Before this year, I’d only ever really been to Reading festival twice with friends. And now, I’ve had the chance to go to Glastonbury and it BLEW MY TINY MIND. It’s so big and there’s so much going on! I don’t even think I got to see a quarter of it! I feel bad for all the smaller festivals I’ve been to since then, because my expectations have been massively raised since the 16-yr-old Strongbow-fuelled Reading days.
What do you like to wear to perform in?
My main rule on stage is ‘don’t get sweat patches – you’re a lady’. So if I wear a T-shirt it has to be loose fitting, and if it’s tight-fitting, it has to be sleeveless. Haha. I jump around too much for embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions! Recently I’ve been lucky and been able to wear shorts a lot on stage, due to the glorrrrrious weather. I normally pair one item that’s a bit more colourful than my usual attire with black. Sometimes I bust the sequins out – If I’m in a good mood.
What’s your staple outfit off duty?
Generally, I don’t wear a lot of bright colours or patterns. I’m very picky when it comes to prints! Though I recently bought this amazing oversized printed T-shirt from you guys. I tend to wear a lot of basics that have an interesting cut or feature to them. Essentially, the only thing that stays constant with my outfit, day to day, without fail, is my DMs. I’m a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, and I think my scuffed up collection of DMs suit me perfectly. Love them.
Any guilty fashion pleasures?
I wore fishnets the other day. I could see the skepticism in everyone’s eyes, but I felt like ‘The Worst Witch‘ and it was fabulous. They were these amazing House Of Holland double layer ones. I think they’re making a comeback now anyway so maybe that’s not so guilty…
What are you up to you when you’re not doing anything musical?
Not a whole lot… I haven’t moved up to London yet so I still live around all my friends. We’ve all just turned 18 so I won’t lie to you – there’s the occasional (ahem) night out. I’m kept quite busy these days, but when I do have a day off it’s nice to do nothing with cool people.
People have associated you with ‘teen angst’ and ‘Lily Allen’ – how do you feel about that?
I feel like I wouldn’t get the Lily Allen thing if it wasn’t for the English accent, which 100% came from the fact that, despite my efforts, I cannot do an American accent AT ALL! So singing in my own accent was the only way. And lyrically, the frankness can be attributed more to Amy Winehouse’s early stuff which was on repeat in my dad’s car when I was younger.. Teen angst!? I love that! I am an angsty teenager so it’s unavoidable for my songs not to sound like that too! I’m just writing exactly what is going on with me and my peers, and angst just happens to be a part of that.
Is Howl your real name – it’s so cool!?
It was my real… Twitter name! Haha. Add another E, L, and S in there and yes it’s my actual, home-grown, surname.
How would you describe No Strings and what can we expect for your forthcoming debut album?
I wrote No Strings after being at one of those awful, suburban, birthday parties in a village hall when I was like 16/17. I had this sobering moment where I stepped back from it all and observed all the tipsy teenagers hooking up and thought it was a bit weird and wanted to write about it. I just thought it was an interesting relationship, that was very prominent amongst my peers and hadn’t really been addressed. I haven’t sugar coated anything cos it is not a sugary experience. To be honest I didn’t really even think about it, I just wrote what happens. As for my album, it’s written! There’s some less gossipy tracks, and there’s some more laidback tracks, but really it’s just a collection of songs that document my experiences as a teenager the past few years. I’m excited about it!
Keep your eyes peeled for Chloe’s new video due out on Monday and her next single will go online in November. Wanna see her live? Chloe’s next show will be on the 21st of November in London – buy tickets here.