Popopopops! That’s right, pop! This band does exactly what it says on the tin. Immediately giving away the fun-loving tunes and raise your hands in the air vibe. The Rennes-based electro pop group that formed in 2007 is currently enjoying a tidal wave of praise. Having released their first album Swell to a cacophony of applause, just last week, and scoring 19,400 views so far on YouTube for their first single, Pure, these boys mean business. Victor, Guillaume, Vicent and Simon form our band of the moment with a talent we’ve not seen in a while.
The quartet were innocently performing at a national music celebration La Fête de la Musique when they were spotted by a music professional who brought them to the bigger scene of the Trans Musicales, a prestigious music festival held in their hometown. Before they had time to think the boys were swept up in the international scene (Holland, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Spain), where they preached their energetic rock with electrifying performances. Heads full of dreams and memories, the band got back to their base in 2011 to write new tunes and record the mysterious alchemy that came together as their album, Swell.
And why the name, Popopopops? It’s dedicated to their favourite song of the same name from the ‘90s rap band NTM. Fed by English pop from the eighties and influenced by American and British artists such as such as Frank Zappa and Jim Morrison, our four young French faces sing in English, so we can better understand their lyrics on love, friends and everything inbetween. When the band is off the scene, they chill at home, clean and go to gigs. Girlfriends..? Our French romantic lovers stay quiet and referred to their perfect date involving an unusual diner on an industrial train rail! Invite us next time?
Young, blonde, blue-eyed and with a beautiful voice to boot, Leslie Clio is almost too cute to be true! She writes all her lyrics herself, refuses to have a stylist and with her sunny disposition goes against every cliché of the cold blonde from the high North of Germany.
Photography by Paul White
From looking at those big baby blue eyes, you wouldn’t expect a boldly refreshing artist who has a voice full of drama and emotion. As soon as you start listening to her latest single “I Couldn’t Care Less” you realise that this is a girl who knows what she wants, what she doesn’t and who does things in her very own way.
Born in Hamburg, Leslie moved to Berlin after she graduated in 2010, loving its “poor but sexy” appeal. It was there that she unexpectedly met her producer, Nikolai Potthoff (guitarist of the popular German Indie band Tomte) who was the missing ingredient to her music and helped her create her sound that she describes as “modern Soul-Pop with a touch of retro.”
Together, they created her just-released Album “Gladys“. Why Gladys you may wonder? Well, Leslie just liked the name, that it was short and pretty! This project was like a baby for her, the folder containing the lyrics always called Gladys on her computer. Now that it’s been born, she describes herself as a super proud mum.
Photography by Kate Bellm
Her sound reminds us of Dusty Springfield and Adele but at the same time it’s filled with some flashes of self-assured girly pop, a la Lily Allen. “Everything kind of involves heartache,” says Leslie of her songs but as you’ll find out, it’s as shameless and as direct as a slap in the face!
While there’s always a bit of autobiography in songs about love and relationships, Leslie says she’s not giving the finger to former boyfriends but that she’s just making art, recording the soulful sounds that have been echoing in her head all these years and following her dream.
If you’re anything like us, you won’t be able to stop swinging your hips while you listen to her latest single “I Couldn’t Care Less” and her album definitely gets a special place on our summer play-list ranking.
Don’t be mistaken by this baby face and cute set of curls, DJ MDMX’s bold choices of electro, techno and hip hop mixes should be taken very seriously. Sophie – who’s alias on the scene is MDMX – first took to the mixing desk at just 17 and before she knew it was moving to London to induldge in the capital’s wild world of DJs and creative hub of music. We caught up with MDMX and spoke to her about her debut back home in the country side of Paris and how moving to London inspired the evolution of her beats and curly bob.
How did MDMX come to be?
At 17, the age of clubbing, I was captivated by the DJs’ performances. I saved up, bought my first mixer and started spinning records with my dad’s turn table and a CD player. Pretty basic! It was before the internet explosion and the only option presented to me was to teach myself. At 18 I launched my own radio station at University with the exciting mission of putting together playlists, showcasing new talents and promoting musical events. One thing leading to another, I quickly built up a list of contacts in this industry and was doing about three gigs a week. Female DJs were still quite underground then and a girl behind the decks grabbed the attention of promoters.
Was it difficult to find opportunities in the London scene?
My decision to move to London four years ago was impulsive but wise. I knew I needed to make the next step. A bigger city, a different scene. I was excited to trade the commercial clubs for an alternative scene. Everyone likes a bit of challenge, right? I think I was lucky to end up living in East London where the most exciting venues are, from trendy bars and grungy basements to warehouse parties. London’s constantly offering a cutting-edge sound. I adopted the usual method of showing up at bars, emailing promoters and using social media and word of mouth to get connected. 93 Feet East, 1001, Concrete, Vogue Fabrics and Dalston Superstore are a few of the places where you would be lucky to see me spin.
What did you last play?
I play different styles according to the parties and the crowd. I have been mixing a lot of electro which people are responding to very well as well as sounds from the ’80s and ’90s. A good groovy hip hop beat always gives me a good punch but I have lately returned to my first love : techno. Some of my favourite new mixes are the ones below:
Oui, oui… Only if French cheese and saucisson become the national dish! I am now 26, still young, and I find it so refreshing and stimulating to evolve within a creative and eccentric environment where everyone has the freedom to express themselves without being judged. I am not ready to give up on that good feeling at the moment… I feel at home.
Watch out for MDMX in a club near you very soon and follow her on Twitter here. @_MDMX_
If you’re after an album to transport you far, far away whilst in the comfort of your very own bedroom then look no further than the melodic and swelling symphonies of Bill Ryder-Jones and his new album, A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart. Ryder-Jones started his career as the guitarist for the much loved The Coral but soon enough found himslef yearning to do something completely different. From one of indie’s favourite bands to creating a complete concept album. Ryder-Jones went from Mercury Prize nominee to composer as he took novelist Italo Calvino’s landmark work If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller and turned it into a series of original songs. After being lauded by the likes of Alex Turner and Graham Coxon all the while writing for an orchestra, we knew there would be no stopping Ryder-Jones in his next project.
This time around it isn’t a book that has inspired his work but his own life. Holing up in his bedroom in his parents house with his guitar, Ryder-Jones’ let the music flow. “I knew that I wanted the record to be really personal – to be humble and honest,” said Ryder-Jones, “the bedroom feel of those first two recordings were perfect for that, brittle and simple sounding, and once they were in place I decided not to stray too far from those ideas.” So, when you’re after a quiet night in and fancy an album that’s worth a serious listen with a big heart this is it. We caught up with Ryder-Jones before the launch of his April 8th album and a long list of tour dates ahead.
What was the inspiration behind A Bad Wind Blows?
Well, it’s mainly based on my childhood, I guess. Things that have happened in my life, that kind of thing. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
What artist would you most love to collaborate with?
There’s so many. Euros Childs would be top of the list, Warren Ellis too. Steve Mason would be cool. Someone like Grimes too, I think collaborations should be different from what you would do on your own, so someone who was in another world musically to me would be most enjoyable I think.
How did the process of creating this album differ from If?
Well there were differences and similarities. Both records come from the heart and had both probably been brewing in the subconscious for a few years. Practically though it was much more intense, writing the big scores and making all the individual parts work was trying. Having to understand and come to terms with counterpoint and making sure nothing got lost was tricky. Both records were an experiment though. It was me saying “I’m just going to write for an orchestra and see what happens!” and this album was more “I’m going to write about myself”. I was putting myself in a difficult writing situations each time so a lot of the same problems would pop up.
What’s been the best gig you’ve ever played?
I don’t really remember that many individual gigs. One that comes to mind was the first Coral tour before the first album came out. We toured under the name ‘Urban Parisians’ which was from a bootleg Verve gig. I think it was in Leeds. There was maybe 30 people watching when we started but by the end of the first song, it was rammed.
What have you been listening to recently?
Recently I’ve been re-discovered hip hop so lots of Wu-tang clan, Ghostface Killah, Ice Cube as well as my usuals: Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Syd Barret and lots of Smog.
What current artists most excite you?
By the sea are the most exciting band out there at the minute for me but I’m most looking forward to albums by Grimes and Lykke li.
What’s your favourite track on the album and why?
It would be hard to say really, I’ve been rehearsing for some gigs and Anthony and Owen has been one I’ve really enjoyed playing.
Watch the first music video from Ryder-Jones’ album below, He Took You in His Arms which is out April 8th. Or catch him live in March 21st – Liverpool, Camp & Furnace, May 8th – London, The Lexington, Aug 16th to 18th – Beacons Festival and Sept 13th – 15th Festival Number 6.
Caitlin Rose’s obsession with punk didn’t last long. Before she knew it, her home roots had taken over and she was finding herself playing and falling in love with country music. We can’t blame her. Growing up in a city where country is still emphatically part of the culture- Nashville, Tennessee – and with a mother who won a Grammy writing tunes for Taylor Swift, there doesn’t seem to be a much better grounding for the birth of a stand-out country star. The buzz has been considerable. She wowed the critics with her Rolling Stones cover in 2008 and left the crowds speechless at Glastonbury in 2011 and now she’s back with a much-lauded album and a massive world tour. If you didn’t think country music was your thing, this might be the girl to change your mind. There’s a little Zooey Deschanel in her tone and even a hint of Patsy Cline. We caught up with the Own Side singer whilst she was in London.
What’s the inspiration behind your music?
Skeletons in the closet, other peoples’ secrets and an invisibility complex.
Did you always want to play music?
Playing music is something I started doing in high school for fun. It was never a career goal. I don’t remember when the shift came. Maybe it never did.
What music do you listen to on the road?
I play Richard Hawley’s “Cole’s Corner” a lot. And mixes from a certain someone that have tons of bands that I’ve never listened to before. Without people pushing newer music on me I don’t really seek it out. I make mixes too so I listen to those. The most recent one starts Beyonce into J Roddy Walston & the Business into Tina Turner. It’s good to keep things interesting.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
The Ryman in Nashville, TN. We opened for The Decemberists but that opening slot kills any headlining show we’ve ever done. I don’t think anything will ever beat the feeling of being on that stage.
Who would you most love to collaborate with?
It feels presumptuous trying to answer this question… I’ve always adored Herman Dune and David is a friend so that could be fun. I’d also love to sing with Caetano Veloso some day. Or Nick Lowe.
How would you describe your sound?
I wouldn’t. I’d let someone else do it for me. All anyone does anymore is compare. It’s debilitating for people I think. Either they’re right and you’re disgruntled or they just don’t understand. So who cares? Apprehensive or “restrained” are the only words I’ll own up to. It’s all search engines now.
How would you describe your style?
Bob Fosse, substitute teacher, Rhoda Morgenstern.
What are your must haves when touring?
Pocket sized books of poetry, headphones, travel bottle of Miss Dior, Benetint lip stain, one gigantic black sweater, a sense of humor, my telecaster.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
I love to edit… so maybe film direction. I love to delegate and to edit. Direction seems like a job that gives you complete creative control. I dig that.
What sets the latest album apart from your previous ones?
All three are very different from each other. ‘Dead Flowers’ was my first time in a studio, it’s casual, fun and country. OSN was different in that I was pulling all of that ’70s AM pop radio sound into things. I wanted everything to sound like Fleetwood Mac or Ronstadt and all that, but I wasn’t quite there yet. ‘The Stand-In is less directly personal writing-wise, but somehow feels more like me, just a little more confident.
Watch the teaser of Catilin’s latest album below and see her on tour, here.