Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stab in the Dark || Sam Brittain

"I was beginning to see the real sacrifices that have to be made as a touring artist in order to be successful.  The loved ones you leave behind.  Losing a dear friend of mine a few months prior to a stroke was a shotgun blast to the heart… It was a blatant reminder that none of us are invincible and you never know when your time is up."

I went on a roadtrip with my best friend recently, and this was the soundtrack. Sam Brittain's Stab in the Dark is a love-at-first-listen song, and its a song that you'll happy fall in love with every time it's played. Sam Brittain is an artist that'll take you along for the ride. And trust me, it's a ride that'll want to strap in for.

First off, thank you for making music! Your new track Stab in the Dark has been on high rotation, can you share a little bit about the story behind it?
Yeah I guess the song came about after a quite a long few years slogging out busking and touring Australia and heading to Europe for the first time.  I was all set to play a few festivals over there and busk in Ireland which had for a long time been a dream of mine.  During the making of my previous album a dear friend passed away, a friend I had planned to tour Europe with, a fellow musician.  To deal with the grief I threw myself into my work 150% and just avoided facing the reality of what had happened for a long time. 2014 was a tumultuous year, one that brought extreme highs and lows my way but also allowed me to meet some incredible people.
I felt this insane pressure to keep pushing so hard and work every second of the day whilst those around me in Europe really were encouraging me to slow down, take stock and put some fuel back in the tank rather than always running on fumes. Stab in the Dark is a song that came about after some serious self-reflection.  I was burned out, worn down and didn’t know why I kept doing the things to myself that I knew were the cause for my exhaustion.  I think it’s really easy to bury your head in the sand and pretend there is not an issue, or in kind to pass the blame onto someone or something else.  It’s a much harder thing to face the fact that perhaps the things that hurt you are your own doing and all you have to do is take control, turn the sails and head in a new direction.

You’ve toured with some well-known names; how do you compare this to working on your own show?
I’ve been really fortunate over the last few years to play some big shows, performances I will never forget and am extremely grateful to have been a part of.  I think it has given me a great work ethic and perception of what is really required to be part of that top 1% of artists who get to headline big venues.  I think is also taught me to be really grateful to the people who do come out and listen to my music, buy my records and support what I do.  I have met a lot of people in the industry who seem to think they are owed something or playing a small noisy bar is somehow beneath them.  I mean I understand you want people to listen to your music, I get that, but it’s your job to make them want to listen.  Not every single night is going to be like stepping on stage to a full room of people whom immediately hush when the room goes dark, I mean it’s great when that happens but you have to know how to deal with both ends of the spectrum and stay positive.
I think the minute you lose the love for playing music regardless of its its to five people or five thousand you may as well hang up the boots.  They have paid their money to get in, the thing you owe those five people talking at the bar is the same performance you would give the five thousand.  I like to take this work ethic into my own shows, regardless of the venue size give it everything I have got and perform to a small room or a big theatre with exactly the same approach and energy.

The album release is fast approaching; how would you describe it to anyone eager for a sneaky preview?
I’m really excited for everyone to be able to hear this new record.  We went into the studio with one focus in mind, recording the best songs we had as a band…live to tape.  There is a certain organic quality that inherently comes with that.  There’s nowhere to hide, good songs work and lesser songs don’t.  Your forced to make creative decisions really quickly.  The end result is something we are all really proud of and sounds authentic.  Sonically I guess it’s a blend of styles somewhere between Jason Isbell, Passenger & Ryan Adams…Our record falls somewhere in that world I guess, or at least fans of that alternative country/folk Americana style should enjoy it…hopefully.

How do you go about the process of writing an album? Where do you write?
That’s a hard one to answer.  For me there is no real formula or procedure to writing.  It just happens when it happens.  When I sit down to write a song intentionally, nine of ten times it is absolute shit.  I find most of my writing just happens haphazardly when I am on the road, touring and travelling, generally just doing other things and experiencing new places and meeting new people.
After I have made a record and put it out I like to tour for as long as possible, see as many new places and meet as many new people as I can until I feel like I have the next bunch of experiences and stories to write about.

Is there a song on the album that you’re particularly proud of?
SlĂ inte is a very special song for me that I am really proud of.  It came about from one of the most beautiful moments of human connection I have ever experienced.  I walked into a bar after a long day busking on Grafton Street in Dublin to get a pint of Guinness and unwind for a while.  I just happened to sit next to a gentleman with a story to tell and no one to tell it to.  I think about Jim often, the things that he shared with me about his life and the horribly challenging time he was going through…I think about it often.  I really hope he is doing ok and I hope to see him again one day…I don’t know if it’s a weird thing to say but the song I am proudest of on the album is one I don’t really feel as if I wrote at all.  It’s his story, I was just lucky enough to be there to hear it.

What should any new fans know about you?
Well.  I’m an Aquarius who enjoys flower arranging, lives for brunch with girlfriends on the weekends and finds solace in long walks on the beach…Is that the kind of thing you were after? HA

I don’t know I guess one thing that seems to come as a surprise to people who have just heard my music but never met me is that I come from a far heavier background musically.  I grew up jumping around the living room to everything from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin to The Clash.  Eventually as a teenager finding my first musical niche in bands emulating the sounds of of Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Piolets and Nirvana.

I believe there are only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.  That’s it…And I think artists, writers and musicians have a lot to gain by listening to music outside of their immediate genre or generation.  There’s great lessons to learn within heavier music melodically and harmonically that can really add something unique within acoustic music.   A deeper understanding of all music will inherently lead to you writing better stuff, the only thing you have to do is listen to it with open ears.  Then when you come to writing keep one rule in mind...What would Bruce Springsteen do? Somewhere in that tremendous back catalogue are the ties that bind it all together…

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Archipelago Heart || Forest Falls

Love has always been a complicated thing. And usually music only lends itself to a few, 'safe' aspects of the journey. Forest Falls, though, are diving head first into modern love in all its forms. Which of course has already produced the stunning Archipelago Heart with more tracks to be released throughout 2016.

Turning the journey of love into a journey of music is possibility one of the most simple forms of genius I have seen for a long time. Quiet and unassuming, these tracks will wrap you in and hold you close. They're intimate, raw and 110% real; this is Forest Falls as you've never heard them before.

It’s been a while since you last stopped by Love ‘Em, what has Forest Falls been up to since this time last year?
Forest Falls had an amazing 2015. We supported Husky (Aus), Paper Lions (Canada), and had one of our best live experiences yet onstage at St Kilda Fest. But 2016 is a huge milestone for us. It’s the year of Modern Love, our collection of a brand set of releases which debut a big, bold, evolved sound and some newly embraced fundamental themes. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Your latest track Archipelago Heart has some serious beat to it, how long has this one been in the works?
You’re right - we are so pleased to be making the kind of music that we’d love to hear playing at a venue, as a punter. It’s so cathartic. The most beautiful thing about Arch is that it’s gone through a huge many evolutions. It started as a piano rendition in 2014 (watch the video here) and then evolved to an a capella, six part harmony version which we sang to sold out Hounds EP tour shows in Melbourne during 2015. We worked on single release version for months. One of the amazing things about having our own studio is that we can workshop songs over a long period of time and give the song the space it deserves to evolve.

How did you guys find the writing process for this one? Was it a challenging track to get down in music?
All songs from the Modern Love collection stem from the same theme, a theme which we’re so excited to be embracing as a band. This collection, which we’re releasing online throughout 2016, is about us - as a band - joining in the public conversation about a whole range of issues affecting contemporary society. Most importantly, modern love - in all it’s incredible nuance, variation and beauty. It wasn’t hard manifesting those thoughts and feelings into a musical form - when you’re honest with yourself, it just flows. It’s allowing yourself to flow that’s the hard part. Everything else follows on from there.

The music clip attached to the song is a pretty epic one, how did this all come together?
Archipelago Heart is about love of displaced people. The themes are complex: the ‘other’, outsiders, acceptance, love, fear, anxiety. From the get-go, the challenge was going to be meshing these ideas together. We are so lucky to have an incredible partnership with Quiet Giant, a Melbourne-based group of incredible talent. It was a true collaboration to put together this clip. They really delved into our want to get across this idea of the ‘overview effect’, the cognitive shift often reported by astronauts when viewing Earth from above and realising that we’re all one people, that we’re all in it together, that there is no other truth. There’s a celestial, almost immortal quality to the music too. It’s powerful and grounded, but spacey and ethereal at the same time. Some of the most beautiful space shots I’ve seen in my life can now be found in our clip for Archipelago Heart, and we couldn’t be more wrapt.

Archipelago Heart is the first in a series of works entitled ‘Modern Love’ can you explain this series to us all?
Released over the course of 2016, each song will represent a different kind of love that manifests in today’s world. The whole idea behind the Modern Love collection is to actively connect our band and our supporters to the conversations being had about acceptance, multiculturalism, and human rights. There is a huge focus on inviting our fans to become a part of the process, of the conversation. We’ve used the #doyoubelieveinmodernlove hashtag to great effect. We even held a public photoshoot for the Modern Love album artwork where we invited anyone and everyone to feature in our press shots for the collection - the portraits will be used throughout the year. It’s been a real joy to begin sharing the journey with everyone. Music-making is a massive outlet. And it can be a two-way street: artists and audience can join together to make incredible experiences.

And lastly, for any new fans out there, what song would you recommend we have a listen to?
There’s no doubt you should start with Archipelago Heart. The reasons are manifold: this is us. This is a real, honest, raw sound that we’ve been working to achieve for quite some time. And then after you’ve listened to that, watch the clip, watch the behind-the-scenes interviews and footage, because you’d start to see the beautiful common threads amongst our new work. We want you to come on the journey with us!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Running Touch || Levitate (It's All Too Perfect)

"Levitate is what I'd consider the most passive approach to talking about obsession. Love is incredible, attraction is timeless. But nothing comes close to the uneasy sensation of obsession. It's almost taboo to touch on, but I think that something that powerful and that unspoken is absolutely fascinating." ~ Running Touch on his latest track Levitate.

Keeping up the momentum since his last single, Courtesy Of, received some serious love from music blogs and Triple J fans, Running Touch has produced another diamond out of his expanding bag of tricks. Continuing to prove why he's an artist to watch, the muso from Melbourne is a one-man band. From writing, vocals, drums, guitar, producing: the final product is 100% Running Touch.

Levitate, a smooth EDM tune with that killer beat riding it all the way, is the perfect new song to attract both old and new fans alike. This is a song of layered goodness, a rich core, deliberate design and some golden flakes to top it all off. Levitate isn't just the cake, it's the icing, the cream and the cherry on top.

As well as a string of solo shows (check below for details), Running Touch has also secured slots for some of Australia's leading music festivals, including Splendour in the Grass, Groovin' The Moo, Beyond The Valley, Listen Out and Southbound Festivals.

Tickets available now

Thurs Sept 8 ­ Secret Show (Details to be Announced) ­ Brisbane 
Fri Sept 9 ­ OAF Gallery ­ Sydney 
Sat Sept 10 ­ The Workers Club - Melbourne

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When Michael Met Mina || Review // Book Tour

Title: When Michael Met Mina
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Release Date: July 28, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Before Mina, my life was like a completed jigsaw puzzle but Mina has pushed the puzzle onto the floor. I have to start all over again, figuring out where the pieces go.

When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees - standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael's parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.

They want to stop the boats. 
Mina wants to stop the hate.

When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael's private school, their lives crash together blindingly. A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.

Randa Abdel-Fattah's latest YA novel, When Michael Met Mina, follows the author's well paved path of boy-meets-girl, white-meets-colour and spins a familiar Romeo and Juliet tale with a modern twist. And produces the result the story was pulling for: empathy. Mina, a former refugee, who fled to Australia for safety with her mother is the outsider in Sydney's prestigious, expensive, majority Anglo-Saxon neighbourhood. Then she meets, or collides would be more appropriate, the very white, very proud, very loud Michael, whose family is a driving force behind keeping Australia free from cultural diversity. 

I fell in love with Randa Abdel-Fattah as soon as I finished the first book of hers I read - which, if I remember correctly, was Does My Head Look Big In This?. As a writer, she strays from nothing, the hard topics aren't hard and the easy ones aren't insignificant enough to be skipped over. Mina was portrayed as the underdog from the beginning of the novel, however I felt the most empathy with Michael. Possibly because, as a white Australian myself, his story was closer to mine than Mina's - despite the major difference in how his family treated asylum seekers. Michael was the strongest character in my opinion and had the more interesting storyline. Although Mina's struggles were well written, she could often come across as preachy or unable to see another view point. Even when she was right (and generally she was), this made her feel cold and hard to sympathise with. While Michael's character growth was enjoyable and seeing him form his own opinions was one of my favourite parts of this book, Mina felt like she stayed still. Her ideals and my own aligned completely, but I would've liked her character to be more active and involved, rather than just sprouting already formed ideas.

I loved that we were given a large amount of Mina's backstory and this felt necessary to the story. For me this was when I felt for Mina the most, despite obviously not completely being able to understand what she went through. Mina was such a complex character, and so sure and strong in her opinions, that I also felt that this background was important for readers to be able to empathise with her. Her story, too, felt validated by the author's own heritage and cultural similarities to Mina. It felt authentic and dramatic without being dramatised, kudos for this!

This could have been a book solely about politics. After all, asylum seekers are a hot topic in Australia at the moment. However Abdel-Fatth has instead created a rich story about first love, being true to yourself and learning that it's okay to stand alone to do what's right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

We're all only walking in Lost Woods

With a well-earned place in the Adelaide music scene already established, Lost Woods aren't the first to try their hand at a national audience. But, and it's a biggie, these guys have a killer track in Lost Woods as well as an equally enjoyable story of its creation. I wouldn't be doing the guys an justice by retelling it in my words, so read theirs below!

I have to start with the story about your latest track Vodka Ocean, can you share it with Love 'Em?
The story is a bit of a humorous that occurred at Splendour in the Grass 2013. I did the twenty-plus hour drive with my girlfriend from Adelaide to Byron Bay. I was mega ecstatic to see Frank Ocean close the festival. When the news broke on the first day that he was cancelling his performance I stared blankly at the ground for a long time. Following that, I drowned myself in vodka. Following that, I was taken to the medical tent for some serious medical attention (ie. giving me a foil blanket and water whilst rubbing my back and saying "you'll be okay mate; drink up"). Following that, my girlfriend dragged me to our tent where I threw up all over her rucksack and clothes leaving the rest of the tent vomit-free. She is still yet to fully forgive me and naturally a song was born.

You guys have been on the music scene for two years, what do you think is the most important thing for people to know about Aussie music at the moment?
Aussie music is getting a lot of attention globally at the moment, which is awesome! But thinking in more of a context of where we're at in the Adelaide music scene, there are so many great bands and musicians around that are worth checking out: Larsen, The Informers, SKIES, Jesse Davidson, Tyson Kraft, anything Louis Donnarumma’s in, Orelia, Auguste, Conchilia, Ollie English, Dan White to name a few. Adelaide has plenty of cool live music venues too! There’s some great vibes on weekends but it’d be great to see people coming out a bit more and soaking up some live awesomeness throughout the week… I have a lot of hopes for Adelaide’s live music culture… All the ingredients are there!

You guys are known for being seriously tight musically, where did you guys learn your craft?
All of the lads bar me (Pete the lead vocalist) studied Jazz at the Adelaide Conservatorium. It’s been amazing playing with all of them... Also, Tom and Sam Baird, our guitarists, are identical twins so one of them thinks of something and the other one plays it and vice versa.

When you started Lost Woods was there anything you guys wanted to achieve that you already have?
This question comes at a good time because the dream is always to be played on Triple J and Vodka Ocean was played for the first time last week! We’re stoked to have received a lot of airplay on community radio stations as well like Radio Adelaide and Three D. There are so many other milestones… like playing interstate and going on our first national tour. As cheesey as it sounds, just playing with mates is pretty darn ace too.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
The Guitarists do. They always take off their shoes to play. I curiously asked them why one day to which they responded with “We don’t want pissy pedals”. ie. They don’t want shoe piss from pub toilet floors getting onto their guitar pedals when they play. I’m also pretty fond of running off somewhere to warm up with some vocal scales… So essentially we are a bunch of nerds.

Describe the band in a sentence.
Lost Woods are a bunch of cockeyed optimists brimming with unbridled enthusiasm that have been mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.