Friday, February 20, 2015

NYUON // Interview

You see music about LA, about NYC, about places in America. But Melbourne?

Well that's changed thanks to the hip hop powerhouse that is NYUON. His debut single Your City is breathtaking in the best way.

Hold on for the ride, it's set to go top speed.

  • Relocating from Ethiopia to Australia must've been a major change, where did music come in? How did it affect your life?
To be honest I don't remember much about Ethiopia, I was only there until I was 1 or 2 years old, so my memories there are mainly storied that my mum tells me. Most of my early childhood memories growing up were in a different refugee camp called Hagadera in Kenya. Originally me, my brother and both of our parents were scheduled by the UN to relocate to Canada but the waiting list was taking a long time and my parents just wanted a better life for their kids, so they applied for Australia and luckily enough we ended up in Australia. I arrived here in 2001 when I was 6-turning-7, so being that young made it extremely easy to adjust and make new friends. I remember in Primary school when I was in grade 1, I couldn't speak English. At that age boys and girls were at that stage where girls hung out with girls and the boys stayed with the boys. So sometimes the boys would come up to me and say, "Hey Nyuon, go to that girl over there and say 'I love you'". I would usually do it and then they would all laugh and chant "ha haa Nyuon loves and so" which I think  is funny now that I think back. I would have done the exact same thing to them back then.

  • I've been told there's a sweet story behind your name. I love learning the meaning behind names, could you share yours' with Love 'Em?
The name Nyuon is very well known within all of South Sudan within all of its 60 plus tribes simply because it belonged to a great high ranking officer in the SPLA (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army), Nyuon Bany. Nyuon Bany is a man that helped lots of people during the beginning stages of the country's civil war. Growing up, whenever a Southern Sudanese person found out my name they would instantly become a friend of not only me but also my family. They would also always bombard me with all the great things Nyuon Bany had done over the years, followed by the high expectations they had for me (I still get it today). Over the years those high expectations have become my aspirations and one day hopefully people can talk about all the great things I did.

  • What was your experience like placing runner up in the Melbourne Music Bank Competition?
Naturally at first I was disappointed because I really wanted to come first. But after it sunk in I was stoked! It was a state wide competition and out of all the contestants the entered, I was really proud to make it so far.

  • Your debut single Your City was originally recorded by a high school friend, what was it like recently re-recording it?
Re-recording it was a challenge because I was at Sing Sing Studio and because it was such a famous place to be recording I felt a bit overwhelmed and nervous. When I recorded it at my friends house it felt natural because I was in the comfort of a familiar place, you know?

  • How has the song changed? Has it changed from the first recording of Your City?
The biggest change is the quality of the recording but other than that it's still the same song. We stayed true to the original with the re-record.

  • Why did you want to write a song about Melbourne? What did it mean for you to write this song?
I just wanted to make a song that could be an anthem that all my friends would sing when we hang out or when they go win basketball tournaments in other states ahah. I also wanted to let everybody that listens to my music know that I'm from Melbourne. I guess the reason for this is because when I'm listening to my idols even though I've never read a bio about most of them, it's usually really easy to tell where they're from just from their music and I wanted to have that effect on people when they listen to my music.

  • What was it like working with George Kalpa for the amazing music video that accompanies Your City?
Before I met George I had this picture in my head of a really slick Producer that had no idea what hip hop but maaan was I wrong. He's the dopest guy ever! I felt like he was one of my boys and I couldn't have picked anyone better to work with. He was also really into some of the music that I listen to and the fact that he really liked Your City made everything flow more naturally. I think we'll definitely be making more music videos together in the future.

  • How are you feeling coming up to the official release of Your City (available form February 20th) and your show at The Workers Club Melbourne on March 12th?
I'm extremely nervous and I honestly don't know why...but with that being said, I'm also really excited and [I] hope to see everybody that can make it down to The Workers Club in Melbourne to come check out my show.

[Tickets available:]
  • So what's next for NYUON
My quest is to live up to the high expectations of my name and also [make] more music! Maybe a mix-tape...album...EP...? Whatever I'm cooking up just be for it because it's nice!

  • Thanks for chatting to Love 'Em!
Thanks for chatting with me!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Andrew Swift || Sound The Alarm

Andrew Swift is the type of guy I'd want to sing at my wedding. Maybe not the breakup song that is Sound The Alarm - despite my slight obsession with the song - but his voice is what I've always imagined dancing to.

This Melbournite is my current favourite - although a friend thought he was Chet Faker... I've had his song on repeat for so long that I'll actually probably not want to listen to it by next week.

If you haven't listened to his amazing music, pop some on and have a read of my interview with this super talented guy!

  • I'm not going to pretend I've listened to Sound The Alarm less than 15 times already. Could you share the story behind the song? 
Well thank you, I'm flattered. Sure, so Sound The Alarm is very much a true story about the night that I met a woman that I fell head over heels for. We were at a wedding, she was wearing a very humble dress that she had found in an op-shop and we were the only two un-partnered people there. We had spoken a few times throughout the evening and when it came to the first of the evening, I grabbed her hand and pulled her to the dance floor. I'd like to say we danced, but as the song describes, it was just a "soft, subtle sway". Nothing more happened that night, just a dance and a connection. We ended up becoming something more, but unfortunately this song was born out of the break up that was to come and the desire to hold onto that moment.

  • How are you feeling about performing it live?
I guess I feel a vulnerability while I'm playing this song, I'm not sure if it's because I'm still getting used to playing it live, or because it's such a personal song. Either way I'm still very conscious of the fact the I'm playing, unlike some of my other songs where I just get lost in the performance.

  • Is it hard to write such a personal song, when you of course know that so many will hear it?
All of my songs are quite personal, maybe not to the extent of this one, but I'm usually writing about my own experiences or about someone close to me. I never expect that a large amount of people will hear my music, I just hope that the people that do hear it will be able to relate to and enjoy what they hear.

  • How do you personally know when a song is finished? When are you happy with it?
I'm such a slow songwriter. I don't write anything down as I go, my theory is that "if it's not good enough to stay in my head, it's not good enough to stay in the song". So I guess that when I can sing a song from start to finish in my head and be satisfied with the lyrics, melody and structure, then I'm happy enough to say it's done.


  • You've already been busy this year, playing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, what's next for you?
It has been busy, as soon as Tamworth it was done, the single was out, so I've had my hands full. I also juggle a full time day job. But next on the list is a run of shows in Melbourne and regional Victoria with a stop in Adelaide, just waiting on a couple of Tassie things to fall into place. But basically [it's] gig, gig, gig, write when I can [and] then off to the States for a few more shows mid year.

  • Do you have a preference between studio recording and live performances?
I really enjoy them both for different reasons, I love performing live - connecting with an audience, the banter and filling a room with songs from the heart. I also love the studio experience, often taking a skeleton of a song in, fooling around with ideas, adding layers and walking out with that finished product. I don't think I have a preference as they're two different experiences.

  • The music video for Sound The Alarm features some pretty amazing ballroom dancing, what was this like?
Ahhh the dancing..would you believe smoke, mirrors and a stunt double? I think I was very lucky that my dance partner, Marina, is a skilled ballet dancer and her sister Stella is a ballroom dance instructor. We had, maybe, two rehearsals before the shoot, the first was a choreography session on their uneven front lawn dodging puppy mess in 40 degree [Celsius] heat. Honestly I'm just thankful that Marina and Stella were able to make me look like a half decent dancer, way better than my standard man dance of tapping my foot and nodding my head. Props also go to Marina for keeping a straight face when I stepped on her toes.

  • Which artists are you currently listening to?
At the moment I have a pile of CDs from new friends I made in Tamworth. On high rotation [are] Megan Cooper, Jen Mize, Harmony James, Paddy McHugh, [and] Mustered Courage. Gretta Ziller, Chuck Ragan and The Gaslight Anthem are always getting a solid listen.

  • What do you hope people take away from your music?
I'd just be happy to know people are enjoying my music, sharing it with friends and hopefully being able to relate to it in some aspects.

  • Thanks so much for chatting to Love 'Em!
Thanks so much for having a chat with me! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

REVIEWS: Anna O // NYUON // Andrew Swift

Symphony - Anna O

{Music Video Review}

Mainly filmed in Dead End Street, East Perth, Anna O's follow up music video to her breathtaking single, Symphony. Hauntingly simple, a constant stream of close-up head shots, the cinematography is hair-raising. I personally really dislike when the music video adds an excessive amount of extra time to a song - I really just want to listen to the music - but this video is the perfect accompaniment. Complimentary to the song rather than overshadowing it is a skill, and Anna O has found the balance. 

Read my interview with Anna:HERE

Watch the video:

Your City - NYUON {Song Review}

Someone once told me that they thought I'd listen to classical music, but it's hip-hop that I really love. [Among some others of course.] There's just something about old school, 90s hip-hop music that I can't listen to enough. Of course, like anything, it has to be done well. And man, does NYUON get it right with his debut single Your City. So very, very right. Basically taking on the persona of his city (Melbourne) this anthem-through-spitting-lyrics is one I've had on repeat lately. If music is an art form then Your City is definitely a masterpiece. 


Sound The Alarm - Andrew Swift

{Song Review}

You know those songs that make you just think 'yep, I could absolutely listen to this all day'? Like your life is so much better because you get to listen to it? Well okay maybe it's just me, but that's exactly how I felt listening to Andrew Swift's Sound The Alarm for the first time. And the second. And the third. And the twentieth, too. Swift's voice and songwriting are so heavenly that I got a bit carried away with the replay button. This ballad to an ex-lover is the most beautiful goodbye I have ever heard.
Watch the video: 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Flywheel || Erin Gough

Title: The Flywheel
Author: Erin Gough
Released: February 2015
Source: Hardie Grant Publishers (Review Copy)

Seventeen-year-old Delilah's crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she's been struggling to run the family's cafe without him and survive high school.

But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, Del has become the school punchline. With all that's on her plate, she barely has time for her favourite distraction - spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road.

All this leaves Del grappling with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And - the big one - is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over? 

I was extremely excited to receive this book and it definitely didn't disappoint. I read and fell in love with the previous book published from the Ampersand Project and Erin Gough's The Flywheel is a deserving winner, too.

I emphasized with the main character of Del right from the start. She had a lot to deal with but she managed to keep it relatively together, which I admired. Although I did get frustrated with her as the book went on; she wasn't always the most understanding person when it came to how the other characters were feeling. I don't want to give any spoilers, but there is a happy ending so I was really glad I kept rooting for Del.

Charlie, Del's best friend, is a firecracker. He was such a surprising person, nothing he did I had expected. He was a great support throughout the entire book, Delilah acted fairly independent but she relied heavily on Charlie. I wouldn't have liked the book nearly as much without Charlie.

Delilah's relationship with the elusive Rosa was a major part of the book and it was the element I adored the most. It's very rare to find a book that can accurately depict a new and emerging relationship, scars and holes and mistrust included. I was cheering for the both of them right from the start until the very conclusion.

The Flywheel is a book I could read and read and read. I put it down many times simply because I wasn't ready for it to end. Do yourself a favour, read this book.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shannon Saunders

Meet Shannon. She's the English singer you really ought to listen to. A cross-hatch of incredible beats and superb lyrics - with the vocals to match- she's the type of singer you want to be able to say "I knew her before she was famous" about. She'll blow your mind, and maybe your speakers too. 

Shannon Saunders deserves full volume.

  • I first heard you on Shed Sessions, what was the shed like to sing in?
Surprisingly very comfortable. The acoustics were pretty good too. Although, I was looking out for any creepy crawlies trying to make their own YouTube cameo by perching on my shoulder.

  • Why was Shed Sessions something you were keen to participate in?
I've known Jack and Finn for a couple of years now and they're such talented, hardworking guys. They asked me to do the Shed Sessions quite early into the whole process of them coming up with it. I was well up for it. It was a great opportunity and they have a lovely fan base too.

  • Has music always been your dream?
Writing music is number 1 love for sure and has been ever since I was young.

  • I have a massive soft spot for your Heart of Blue music video. What was it like filming this project?
It was a great laugh actually. Walking barefoot through Oxford Street was surprisingly pretty liberating. Although I did have to head to the studio straight after with pretty sore [and] dirty feet.

  • Your debut UK headline tour is kicking off soon, how are the nerves?
I've actually just finished the tour! It was so much fun. Meeting the fans and performing my new unreleased music to them was such an incredible experience. They were already singing along to some of the songs after hearing snippets of them in my vlogs on YouTube and Instagram!

  • What can your fans expect from a Shannon Saunders' show?
Lots of dancing and banter. I love getting to know as many of them as possible and creating a friendship with them. I'm so lucky to have such a lovely fan base.

  • Which show are you most excited to play?
My London show definitely lived up to my expectations! It was heaving in there! I stuck around and met everyone after too for a few hours. Signing things, lots of hugging and taking selfies with them.

  • Is there any new music to look forward to in the near future?
Oh yeah of course!

  • When you aren't busy working on your music, what are you doing to unwind?
I love going home and spending time with my family. We all have a great relationship and I miss them so much when I'm away in London. Lots of Lego building with my little nephew and big family dinners.

  • If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would it be? Who'd be in the front row?
I love the  venue Village Underground and recently supported the super talented Kyla La Grange there. As soon as I came off stage I made it my mission to hold my own sold out show there as soon as possible. The front row would probably end up being my cousin, Romani, our 3 closest friends, Dad, Mum, my sister Jade, my managers Kwame & Jonny, and Nan & Gramp (if they're not at home being country bumpkins). It's been like that for a couple of years now. I love how supportive they all are and [I] am very lucky they share the same love for my music as I do!

  • What are you most excited for during 2015?
FESTIVAL SEASON! For my own shows and the shows with Wilkinson! I'm featuring on the song we wrote Breathe, which is looking to be one of his next singles! It's already looking like it's going to be a hectic summer!