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What have I been up to?

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The start of summer has flown by and I can’t believe July has already settled in. Lately I have been really busy so sadly I’ve neglected the blog a little bit, but now I have put aside some time to write and give you a little update. I hope to be able to blog at least once a month to document what I’m getting up to and hope this will be more achievable than a weekly post.

So, let’s roll back to the end of May. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that the band and I were little busy bee’s as we had some gigs planned. The first one on the list was Rock + Bowl Festival which took place in Market Drayton. I had never been here before so I was looking forward to what they had in store. The weather had cheered itself up, so the day was looking to be a good one. On arrival, we were treated like royalty, with the artist liaison making sure we knew where we were supposed to be, moving all our equipment for us onto a trailer to take backstage (what a genius idea!) and even providing us with a backstage dressing room decorated in fairy lights. If that wasn’t exciting enough, the Main Stage we played on was a pretty impressive one. There was even a camera crew on stage filming us for the video screens at the side of the stage, so the crowd at the back could see us. That felt pretty cool, I must admit. The field which the stage overlooked began to fill and soon it was 3pm and time to take to the stage. The set was so much fun to play on a stage that size with the sound being brilliant too, and a great audience to match – we could get used to this. We walked off stage feeling very happy, and soaked up the rest of the sunshine, watching the afternoon acts play into the evening.

R O C K  +  B O W L  F E S T I V A L  2 0 1 7   28.05.17

With a gig that good, it felt like the ones we had lined up were going to be hard to beat.

Audlem Festival was up next, and it was our third year playing it. The weather had turned blue again, and drizzled whilst we set up our equipment. But as we began to play, people refused to be put down by the weather, as they passed by and took cover under the marquee to stand and watch our set. The crowd kept growing as we played and it was so humbling to see them take an interest in what we were doing. I was even surprised to see people dancing to some of my songs (which never happens) and of course to our cover of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. The audience were so enthusiastic that I didn’t think it could get any better, but as we finished the crowd started shouting for more (now that really never happens). I had been working on something on the side lines, just in case I had the chance to play it at some point, and this turned out to be the perfect opportunity. Following the horrendous terror attack at the Manchester Arena only days before, I felt it was only right to pay tribute to the event. Choosing Oasis’s Dont Look Back In Anger, I sang with just the piano and watched in awe as the whole crowd began joining in, singing and clapping along with me, and it was the most amazing thing to see, and it really does prove that music brings us all together.

A U D L E M    F E S T I V A L  2 0 1 7      29.05.17

The next morning began with an early start, and still full of adrenaline from the night before, the band and I, joined by BBC folk award winner Ciaran Algar, headed down to London. We arrived at The Half Moon in Putney for a headline gig. I was very impressed to find that my name was quite literally in lights, above the venue we were to be playing at. I was a little nervous as to whether anyone would actually turn up, seeing as I have barely played London, but a small crowd of 50 people filled the room and it was a pleasure to play for a new audience. Because we were headlining, we had support acts Lauran Hibberd and Carl Olander to open, setting the evening off to a fine start. We played for an hour, which was actually our longest set of original music to date, and it was a joy to bring back some old songs that we hadn’t played in a while. It was also a fun experience to have Ciaran Algar play fiddle for us throughout some of the tracks, adding some more dynamic to the sound. We left feeling humbled and happy with our first ever headline, let alone being in London and with such a positive response.

H E  H A L F  M O O N,  L O N D O N    30.05.17

Rehearsals continued for the next coming weeks in preparation for a gig that was a little different to usual. We’d been booked to play at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester for a live European conference event, with half our set being cover songs. It was quite hard at first to find songs that suited our style, as we didn’t want to take away from our original sound, but we soon found what we were looking for, and mixed my songs with a collection of covers ranging from Gnarls Barkley, Florence + the Machine, Fleetwood Mac and Adele. Entering Victoria Warehouse for our sound check, we were amazed by the scale of the room and the size of the stage, with a large screen behind us which projected us being filmed. I was suddenly nervous as we waited to go on stage as 350 people sat before us. The nerves soon vanished though as we began playing and the audience were full of enthusiasm, and it wasn’t long before they were all up dancing to the music. It was a wonderful feeling to watch everyone laughing and enjoying themselves and have a good old boogie.

V I C T O R I A   W A R E H O U S E,  M A N C H E S T E R    11.06.17

The following week, the sun was out in force and we were having a heatwave. This was perfect because we were back for a festival! We returned to Middlewich FAB Festival for the second year, and the weather was glorious. The field was filled with festival goers revelling in the sunshine and that feel-good atmosphere that festivals always bring. We were playing the main stage which was another exciting stage to play (this is starting make me sound like I don’t get out much!) and we melted in the heat as we set up for a sound check. By the time we began to play it was early evening, and the audience were relaxed and ready for a night of music. Ignoring the fact that my sunglasses continued to slip down my face in the heat, the set was such an enjoyable one to play and really felt like summer had arrived.

M I D D L E W I C H   F E S T I V A L  S O U N D C H E C K

M I D D L E W I C H   F A B   F E S T I V A L  17.06.17

The next gig scheduled in was at The Biddulph Arms, which is not far from where I currently live. A charity event set up by Craig Pickering for Cancer Research, it was clear to see that a lot of effort had been put in to make it a wonderful event. The venue was full to the brim with people excited by the local bands who were booked to play. We played for 40 minutes to an audience who listened so devotedly that it was a pleasure to play for people who really appreciate local music. Once we had finished and packed away our equipment, we stuck around to catch some of the other bands. The highlights for me were The King’s Pistol and Nixon Tate and the Honeyclub who I have had the pleasure of playing with before, and each time I watch them I am amazed by their skills as songwriters and musicians. It was wonderful to see so many musicians and fans come together for such a good cause, and the money raised so far is £1,800. A success I would say.

B I D D U L P H – U P – I N – A R M S  S O U N D C H E C K   24.06.17

B I D D U L P H – U P – I N – A R M S  24.06.17

Astonbury Festival brought the start of July in nicely, as we played to an audience of essentially picnic-extraordinaires. The field was filled with picnic blankets, chairs, tables, food, drinks, BBQs and candles, and you could say this was the epitome of summer. Live music from acts such as Callum Wright, Dave Gorman and yours truly, got everyone in the festival spirit and we stayed to watch the headlining tribute act who had everyone up and dancing under the fairy lights as the dusk turned to night. One of my favourite summer evenings this year so here’s to more to come!

And that brings us up to date! I have had so much fun this past month, and intend to keep it up, so thanks to anyone who came to a show! We have some exciting things planned so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

M x

RAG’N’BONE MAN AT SHEPHERDS BUSH

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Rag’n’Bone Man at Shepards Bush

Rag’n’Bone Man at Shepherds Bush 20th April 2017

My first time at the renowned Shepherds Bush Empire, I step into a crowd full of energised people, the room overflowing with electricity and excitement.

Dan Caplen is on stage as I arrive, warming up the crowd in anticipation for Rory Graham, better known as Rag’n’Bone Man. Walking in half way through Dan Caplen’s set I am impressed. His area of music is not usually my cup of tea, as it’s loosely based around R’n’B, but he throws in unexpected ideas, one track I catch he even plays the cello and the piano within the same song! The band surrounding him are as equally energetic as him and it’s no wonder the room seems so enthusiastic. He ends his set on a high, as he encourages the audience to join him in the chorus of his final song, one that probably very few people in the room have ever even heard, and that in itself is an achievement.

It’s safe to say that Shepherds Bush is now hyped up and ready for Rag’n’Bone Man to make his way to the stage. After a little wait he does just that, walking on to the stage, calm and collected considering the crowd is now in uproar at his humbled entrance. Reaching for his guitar, Rory begins the set solo, starting with St James Infirmary Blues made famous by Louis Armstrong and the high-ceiling room echoes with his astonishing raw voice and the accompaniment of his electric guitar. This soulful beginning is only a taster for what the rest of the night will bring.

Rag'N'Bone Man at Shepherds Bush

Within seconds we’re straight into one of my favourite tracks Wolves, and the curtain bearing his stage name drops to the floor, revealing an even bigger backdrop and more importantly, his 5 piece band who are as happy to be there as Rory is. I’m impressed that throughout the set, he keeps a mix between songs from his new album and his tracks from his older one too, sticking to his roots such as his collaboration with Dirty Dike, and the mournful but soulful Lay My Body Down and Life In Her Yet. It’s clear to me that he has also been working on his stage craft, as the last time I saw him play Manchester’s Sound Control a year ago, his stage presence was quite different, somewhat shy and very much kept himself behind the microphone. Still as humble, he now however makes use of the stage walking up and down to connect with the audience, and having a little shimmy every now and then, and expressing his genuine happiness at being able to play there. Oh, and he also keeps checking to make sure we’re all happy too, which of course receives ecstatic applause and cheers. Alongside telling us how happy he is, and laughing that his songs might not outright show that, he is also ridiculously appreciative. Continuing to thank us throughout the show, it’s obvious that he is almost surprised and amazed by the love and support of his fans, something he very much deserves. Looking around the venue, I’m somewhat surprised by the age range of the audience who are mostly all older than me but may be the liveliest audience I have ever witnessed.

Rag'n'Bone Man at Shepherds Bush

He sends the audience into another frenzy with new single Skin, which stepping away from the full band version, he performs using only his voice and the piano to serenade the room. This is a highlight of the show for me as stripped back this way it takes the song to another level, and it’s so clear that this man really is something special with genuine talent. As the song comes to an end, the crowd erupts and Rory stands in awe as applause and cheers and enthusiasm continues long after the song finishes.

Another highlight for me is track Guilty from album Wolves. Already a fan of this song, there is something electrifying about see this gritty song live that I can’t even explain it. If this doesn’t get the crowd going enough, then slipping straight into his hit single Human sets the place on fire with exhilaration will. It goes without saying that the audience practically scream the words as they sing along to the well-known track. It’s all over too quickly, and the end of the night is in sight. To close the set (although of course everyone knows there will be an encore- there has to be!) Rag’n’Bone Man ends as he began: along on stage. However, this time there’s not even an instrument in sight, just Rory’s incredible voice and let’s face it this is what it’s really all about. Completely exposed his rich voice captivates the entire room with his rendition of Blind Willie Johnson’s Die Easy and we are all left speechless.

Although the last song would be hard to top, the gathering of fans continues to scream, cheer, holler and stomp their feet in hope that if they make enough noise, he will come back on stage. And sure enough, the band, who have all also been amazing throughout the night, especially his exceptional backing vocalist who even has a solo during the set, come back on stage full of pride. The final songs of the night Bitter End and Hell Yeah! (another favourite of mine) are the perfect ending, with Hell Yeah! being so full of life and energy that it’s contagious.

Rag'n'Bone Man at Shepherds Bush

The third Rag’n’Bone Man gig I have attended, I can confirm that this is the best yet and I hope this talented man will continue as he has been doing. It would be a shame to see him get sucked into the mainstream pop world as there is so much more to him than that and he deserves every success he receives.

M x

JOSIENNE CLARKE AND BEN WALKER

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JOSIENNE CLARKE AND BEN WALKER
All photos by Nick Barber

12th April 2017: Biddulph Up In Arms welcomes BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, and I find myself lucky enough to join them as a support act.

Held at The Biddulph Arms, the night is actually one part of Josienne and Ben’s tour, as they head up and down the country over the next month or so. It seems that the local folk enthusiasts of Biddulph are out in full force as the doors open for the evening and the small room is soon brimming with 100 people, claiming seats at the front to make sure they’ve got the perfect view for what hopes to be a promising night.

Once everyone is comfortably seated with drinks in hand, I make my way to the stage where my piano sits patiently waiting to be played and listened to. I open the night with what I call my ‘most upbeat’ song, A Year From Now, letting the audience know that the rest of the set will be melancholy so it’s best to make the most of this song, which gathers a nice little chuckle from the crowd. I’ve taken to playing my favourite Joni Mitchell song A Case of You when I play solo so I thought it would be the appropriate setting to include, before I continue to play my other originals Abigail, Drown and With Time. It’s a wonderful feeling to play to a full room of appreciative ears, sitting in a somewhat eerie silence to listen to what I have to say and sing. The audience continue for the rest of the evening to be as equally welcoming and warming for Josienne and Ben.

A folk duo, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have been writing and covering folk songs since they formed in 2011. Ben’s talent as a guitar player is mesmerising and combined with Josienne’s haunting mournful vocals the perfect folk sound is created. A couple of songs into their set I am gripped by the first cover of the evening, The Banks of The Sweet Primroses. A traditional English Folk song, it has been influential to the folk scene especially since the 1950’s and it fits perfectly into their set. It is also the song they recorded live for BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards in 2015 to which I shall leave a little YouTube link here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCWTHwUlyRw

Not only is their sound captivating and beautiful, but as the night unravels Josienne lightens the melancholy mood with her funny and sarcastic wit that she uses in between songs to explain the reasoning and meanings behind her song writing. These stories are as much part of their set as the music itself, maintaining an audience full of giggles, chuckles and laughter in contrast to their mournful songs. Throughout the night, the stories add another depth to their stagecraft and I find myself absorbed in it, especially with the more unusual and humorous tracks of the evening. Half way through the first set Josienne comes to explain the thinking behind their song The Waning Crescent from their latest album Overnight. In a dry tone, she describes how very often in folk music the narrator is found talking and expressing their problems to the moon in hope that it will help solve them. So, Josienne decided that she would include the humour she uses on stage to reverse this idea for her song. Written from the perspective of the moon, Josienne writes as if the moon is listening to the world’s problems,taking on a whingy, complaining and sarcastic manner, to image how the moon really must feel when nobody listens to it’s own problems!

Throughout the night, they use their melancholic sound to their advantage. Josienne expresses that she has tried on many occasions to write a happy song, but has failed in doing so (which I can definitely relate to!) and has accepted that it is something she will probably never be able to do. However, she explains that the song Silverline is the closest she’s managed to get to writing something more joyful, letting us know that the song is actually about the fact she can’t write something a little more cheerful. The irony works perfectly

Later on in the set Josienne (who by now you may have grasped, does all the talking) gives us an insight into their latest album Overnight. This is actually the third album by Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, this time taking on a concept role, with the songs ranging from the evening, through to the morning with each song representing each part of the night. After filling us in on this concept, the next song they glide into is the title track Overnight, which is supposed to represent midnight with the common mentality that things will be better in the morning.

After about an hour, the duo take a short break and join the audience who swarm over to them, now feeling as if we know them both (Josienne especially) inside and out. However, it’s not long before they are back on stage, this time experimenting more with covers, like Fairport Convention. At one point, they even bring out a loop pedal and a drum machine, taking a brief step away from their traditional folk sound. And just to top things off, Josienne shows us that she’s “more than just a mouth” (as she likes to put it) and that actually she’s a very talented saxophonist too! What more could we want!?

There is something about this duo that makes the night very special, is it the story telling, the song writing, the mesmerising guitar playing that is impossible to turn your eyes away from, or Josienne’s beautiful voice, I don’t know. But what I do know is that all these wonderful elements make for an exceptional night of amazing raw music.

M x

MARCH PLAYLIST 2017

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MARCH PLAYLIST 2017

Well, it seems we’ve soared head first into Spring. I’m currently sat inside whilst the sun shines brightly outside, and already the fleeting visit from the blossom trees is almost over. This means that it’s time to talk about some music I’ve been listening to throughout March.

March Playlist

FLEET FOXES – THIRD OF MAY/ ODAIGAHARA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GqgNebPm50

In my last playlist post for February I talked about a Seattle based band called Fleet Foxes, mentioning there was soon to be an album release. Little did I know that their first single from this new project would be released only days after I had chatted about it on here! Third of May/Odaigahara is their first offering from forthcoming album Crack-Up which is to be released in June. It seems that quite literally the 3rd of May is of importance to the band, as it is that day 6 years ago that they released their last piece of work Helplessness Blues. After this, much of the band went their own ways, personally and musically, but thankfully they have reunited and graced us with their presence once again.

This time Fleet Foxes have worked on something a little more experimental. The first half of the song keeps to an original Fleet Foxes vibe with its rural and pastoral sound created through the folk instrumentation and their well-known harmonies. During the second half of the nearly nine minute song however, the music twists and turns into a magical and mystical instrumental, enhancing their melancholy tone. This half of the song flutters between several sections conjuring feelings of chaos and excitement, with its dissonant string sections and the use of a classical guitar all the while still maintaining their unique sound. The changes in the song reflect heavily on the lyrical content of the track, exploring the changes in relationships in the band, combined with the changing of seasons, with a nostalgic ring to it. Upon listening to the song it’s actually hard to depict whether the track is indeed a sad or happy one, but this to me is what makes it exciting, as much as it is Fleet Foxes sounds it has evolved in a way that makes the listener uncertain where the song will take them. I hope that the album will follow the same path.

March Playlist

FIRST AID KIT – YOU ARE THE PROBLEM HERE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0esbbnY5Xvw

For Internationals Women’s Day this year, Swedish folk sisters First Aid Kit released a new track, You Are The Problem Here. Taking a completely different direction from their usual sound, the song is an angry message to men who commit rape and sexual assault. On release of the single First Aid Kit explained themselves what the song is about:

“Its angry and direct. Its a song written out of despair. After reading about yet about another rape case where the perpetrator was handed a sentence which did not at all reflect the severity of his crime we felt upset and vengeful. We were, and are, sick of living in a society where the victims of rape are often blamed for the horrible thing that has been done to them. Our message is clear and should not be controversial in the least: if you rape, you are the problem.”

I was surprised when I first saw their release post as firstly, I did not know they had plans to release a new song, but mainly because I had not expected them to make a declaration so bold, but heck, I love them for it! The track is a powerful one, not only for its lyrical content and the message behind it but also the instrumentation itself. It’s clear to see they have taken on rockier influences, with the electric guitar playing power chords as the backdrop to the song. Their vocals, although still including their harmonies, are far more authoritative and angry to convey and enhance the strong message You are the problem here, no one made you do anything, and I hope you fucking suffer.” Indeed.

You Are the Problem Here is available digitally and a portion of the proceeds will go to Women for Women International

March Playlist

LAURA MARLING – SOOTHING

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCS4OTgaHeM

I know that only recently I talked about British Folk songwriter Laura Marling when I attended her gig at the Albert Hall in March, but I still wanted to give her a little mention today. Soothing from her latest album Semper Femina is a song that has grown on me over the past month. The album concentrates on the perspective of observing women,which she originally intended to write from the male’s gaze until she realised she could admire them as a woman herself, and so her sixth album was born.

It’s the double bass that holds this piece of music together, and is really the hook of the song. The verses are almost angular in sound, slightly jilted weaving around the tribal and spacious drum sections, and its the rhythm that plays a large part in this track. The chorus takes a step back from this as it reaches a smoother and ‘soothing’ sound when the string instruments glide in. Her voice is both haunting and calming, slinking and slithering over the instrumentation,  on occasions sounding as if she is speaking the words as opposed to singing them and it sits perfectly with the prowling rhythm sections. The soundscape is almost sparse yet proves to be dramatic, moody and alluring and it’s strange that the song is so much like Marling, and yet in so many other ways not at all.

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

M x

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL

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LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL, March 12th: Picture the stage of Manchester’s Albert Hall dressed as an enchanted garden, adorned in ivy garlands and white flowers, which are entwined around the instruments, microphones and speakers, and you have yourself the backdrop to Laura Marling’s set as part of her Semper Femina tour. Laura herself floats on stage in an angelic white dress paired with leopard print ankle boots holding her beloved acoustic guitar. The scene is completed when the blue hue of the stage lights glows across the secret garden and a five piece band follow Laura in tow

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL

Being a huge Laura Marling fan, I am part of the 2,500 people in the room who cheer as she begins the evening. She starts with her latest single Soothing, to which a ripple of excitement expands across the audience, welcoming this powerful folk song, lead heavily by the bass. It’s the perfect opener for the set, introducing the crowd to her newest music with arguably the strongest song from the album. It is also the song I am most familiar with from her new collection and immediately I am hooked for the night. The latest album is an exploration of people’s thoughts and understanding of women, hence the album title Semper Femina translating to ‘Always Woman’. It turns out that Marling has had this phrase tattooed on her leg for a long while now, so this album may have been a long time coming.

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALLFollowing a strong start, she glides into her next single The Valleys, before she finally addresses the audience. It is well-known that Laura is a woman of few words on stage and lets her songs do the talking and I’m impressed to find that everyone is right, there are no need for words. Her stage presence and the delivery of her music is bewitching and to speak would only break the magic in the room.

Although Laura Marling is the centre-piece, sisters and backing vocalists, Emma and Tamsin Topolski, verge on stealing the spotlight with their mesmerisingly beautiful harmonies that soar throughout the hall complimenting and filling out the sound around Laura. This isn’t to diminish the band at all, the skills of the bassist (who swaps between electric and the acoustic double bass) guitarist and drummer are admirable as they enhance Laura’s songs (which I think must be a hard thing to do!). However, the highlight for me, and possibly every other Laura Marling fan in the room, is the solo section of her set. Stripped back to just Laura and her guitar, which is how she began her career as a 16 year old, she proves to captivate and entrance the entire room. I’m delighted when she plays on her own, especially two of my favourites; What He Wrote and I Speak Because I Can, alongside new song Nouel and Daisy from her previous album Short Movie. On occasion there are a couple of blips that are actually endearing and comical rather than unprofessional, especially when she turns to guitarist Simon who accidently slips up and jokes ‘Behave yourself, Simon!’ to which the audience burst into a fit of laughter.

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL

Another magical moment for me occurs when the band re-join on stage to play Sophia, especially in the second half of the song where the band and harmonies kick in and a feel good atmosphere roams the room and the foot tapping begins. This happens also with older song Darkness Descends, as contrary to the title, the upbeat melody and quicker pace of this track, emphasised by the band, encourages a roar from the admiring audience.

Towards the end of the set Laura explains her encore rules; ‘we don’t do them nor do we expect them’ which could all be doom and gloom for an enthusiastic audience who could un-doubtly stay and listen to her bewitching vocals and impressive guitar playing all night. However, as the guitar strums the opening riff to firm favourite Rambling Man the crowd (myself included) explode into applause and cheers and we all know we’ll go home happy having Laura Marling end her extraordinary show with a song as beautiful as this.  I hope it’s not too long before I can return to see this magical woman again.

M xx

FEBRUARY PLAYLIST 2017

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What I’m currently listening to

FEBRUARY PLAYLIST 2017

February Playlist 2017

ARTIST: Fil Bo Riva

SONG: Franzis

ALBUM: If You’re Alright, It’s Alright EP

This discovery was a very random one that I happened to stumble across on Youtube’s Mahogany Sessions and thank goodness I did. Fil Bo Riva has been on repeat throughout this month with his EP If You’re Alright, It’s Alright made up of 5 very good tracks indeed. His sound is described as ‘floating between folk and soul’ and I would even add the word alternative in there too. His gravel-voice is what makes his sound so unique combining that with the songs themselves which are wonderfully melodic and overflowing in energy and dynamic. His voice fluctuates between a howling and a roaring to a soft and gentle tone bringing the intensity and energy that makes his sound so original. There’s a grittiness to his music too that can sometimes be lacking in similar genres and that’s not just his gruff voice which contrasts so well with his thoughtful guitar arrangements, there’s actually a lot of substance behind his atmospheric sound.

Franzis was the first track that completely hooked me. To me it’s the stand out track on the EP perhaps because of its playful vibe. The opening ‘La hu hu la hu’ harmonies sits beside a percussive noise that sounds to me like  the clicking of his tongue, hinting at the bouncy vibe of the track which comes into full bloom in the catchy chorus of ‘Love me now love you moooore’. If that’s not fun enough there’s an equally fun video to accompany the track of two people dancing as if no one is watching and you can’t help but think they must have had a lot of fun filming it!

As soon as you’ve listened to Franzis, make sure you give Like Eye Did  a listen too as it’s also an exciting and whimsical track!

February Playlist 2017

ARTIST: Fleet Foxes

SONG: Mykonos

ALBUM: Sun Giant EP

Fleet Foxes first official release back in 2008 was Sun Giant EP. It wasn’t until they released their first album a year later that I discovered this beautifully pastoral sounding band. Uncovering their self-titled album, I explored further and that was when I found Mykonos from their Sun Giant EP. And I’ve never looked back since.

Years later I still find myself reaching out for their rustic sound. They incorporate a lot of my favourite things within their music as it’s full to the brim with reverb and harmonies, creating an atmosphere that makes me feel as though I am sat in a log cabin in the woods on a mountain top. It’s no wonder they are described as rural, it’s easy to conjure images of scenic splendour when you hear their songs. Even lead singer and songwriter, Robin Pecknold’s unique tone of voice blends perfectly with the bands vintage folk sound and Pecknold’s nature-influenced lyrics. The arrangements are crafted flawlessly, with fine attention to detail as the songs swoop and soar allowing the songs to flourish. Mykonos stands out to me with it’s unconscious catchy melodies and harmonies especially with the opening ‘ooh’s’ that are impossible to eradicate once you’ve heard it. The track only gets better as it builds throughout before dropping to only a cappella harmonies until the drums re-enter again it, climbing to an epic finale that begins with ‘Brother, you don’t need to turn me away’.

After their second album ‘Helplessness Blues’ in 2011, Fleet Foxes seemed to just disappear off the radar, but now fans (like myself!) can eagerly anticipate a new release in June which they have been hinting and teasing us with. I can’t wait to hear what they have been working on!

February Playlist 2017

ARTIST: Angus and Julia Stone

SONG(s): Heart Beats Slow

       A Heartbreak

             Death Defying Act

ALBUM: Angus and Julia Stone

Now, I’m struggling to pick just one song to write about for Angus and Julia Stone as I think I nearly love them all, so I’m going to mention a handful. A brother-sister duo from Sydney, they started back in 2006, incorporating folk, acoustic and more recently indie-pop. They began with their first release, Heart Full Of Wine combined with Chocolates & Cigarettes, which includes my favourite track Private Lawns and also Mango Tree. This was later followed by the album A Book Like This, which I’ll admit I have barely listened to after completely missing the release as a 12 year old and instead was taken over by their next album Down The Way as a 14 year old. I was completely in love with this album, having it on repeat consistently, especially tracks Hold On, Yellow Brick Road and Draw Your Swords.

Their most recent album is arguably the most indie-pop of the lot. With many catchy hooks and repeated melodies, it’s hard not find yourself humming along. Not only is it the vocals that ooze memorable melodies but even the instrumentation is captivating. The repetition of their songs never seems to get boring, only craving for more to get lost in their floaty and dreamy world. What helps make their sound more distinctive, for me personally, is their two voices. Julia’s voice is almost child-like, leaning towards Joanna Newsome. Thankfully her characteristic delivery refrains from ever becoming irritating but actually more intriguing and giving each song an edge to it, while Angus has a more reserved, deeper voice. It almost sounds on certain occasions that their voices seem slightly out of key, which only adds to the songs, especially Heart Beats Slow where brother and sister swap lines. The only downside to their music for me is the lyrics which always seem very simple. None the less, their unique voices alongside their indie-pop accompaniment are going to keep me mesmerised for a very long time.

What have you been listening to this past month?

M x

SOFAR SOUNDS MANCHESTER

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SOFAR SOUNDS MANCHESTER

Before I write about a gig I played for Sofar Sounds last week, I wanted to give a quick mention to the Music Awards of Staffordshire and Cheshire which was also held in the same week.

Although I didn’t win Best Solo Act (of which I was nominated for), the night was still an amazing event, bringing all local musicians and the public who support these musicians together. To even have been nominated in the first place made me feel extremely lucky and I was happy just to have been a part of it. I want to thank all the people who took the time to vote for me and spread the word, and to the people who continually support the music scene, because I can say on behalf of all local musicians that we highly appreciate it.

Sofar Sounds Manchester

Also, look how cool this vinyl is! It even has my name on it!

Sofar Sounds Manchester

Now, let’s fast forward to Valentine’s Day. I was contacted by Sofar Sounds Manchester inviting me to be involved with their Sofar Sounds Valentine’s Day Special. Having been a fan of Sofar Sounds for a while now, I immediately jumped at the chance to be part of a special evening. For anyone who doesn’t know, Sofar is a global movement bringing together a network of artists, hosts and guests across 300 cities all over the world to create a wonderful night of  music.  It’s an intimate event held at secret and unique locations, where new upcoming artists perform to an audience of music lovers. They also record a lot of acts on the night for their YouTube channel so I will link their channel below https://www.youtube.com/user/Sofarsounds and if you want to sign up as a guest I have the link to their site here. https://www.sofarsounds.com

The secret location this time was an office space in Manchester called Love Creative (obviously fitting the Valentine’s theme) which was a super cool almost warehouse-like space, that reminded me a lot of the interior in Berlin. A small section of the room was set up for the bands and their instruments. Part of the secrecy of the gigs means that I didn’t know who else would be playing until the night itself, along with the audience who also have no idea who to expect, making the whole event even more exciting! The performers are only able to play an acoustic set, stripping back the songs to get to the raw and basics of the sound.

At 7pm (whilst we were all still scrambling setting up our instruments I might add), an audience of around 80-100 people started to trickle in and began filling up the space by sitting on benches, chairs, cushions, blankets, the floor. Making the audience sit like this is a big aspect of the Sofar rules, because it creates an intimate feel and brings the audience and the artists closer together (quite literally!). Another ‘rule’ is that once the bands begin, the audience are not allowed to talk so that they are respecting the artist and their music and taking the time to listen. Because the audience have to sign up to the event also, it means only people who are genuinely interested in the music will take part.

Sofar makes sure that there are no openers or headliners, but that all acts are equal, and it just so happened that that evening I was first up on the make-shift stage. Each artist plays just 4 songs each, so I decided to play some originals and throw in a cover. After introducing myself by warning the audience that I have a tendency to write only melancholy songs, and somewhat- embarrassingly calling myself ‘Melancholy Meg’ I began with my first track Abigail. And then because it was Valentine’s day I wanted to show my love for Joni Mitchell, so I chose A Case of You, which is arguably my favourite Joni song. I then followed this with two more original tracks Drown and With Time, that along with Abigail, are my favourite originals to play solo.  Having the audience listen so carefully and intently to the songs I was playing, and the stories behind them brought back the magic to music. It was so evident to see in the room that these people were genuinely excited by new music and wanted to be a part of it. I felt this the whole time I was playing and it made the night that more special for me.

Sofar Sounds Manchester

After I had played and a short interval concluded itself, a band called Cosmo Calling began their set. A 5-piece band of 2 guitars, drums, bass and 2 vocal parts, Cosmo Calling describe themselves as an Alternative Indie-rock band. However, as it was an acoustic show their sound was completely stripped back to acoustic guitars, bass, a cajon and tambourine to replace the drums but keeping the vocals. I immediately fell in love with the vocals that contrasted each other, as there were both female and male vocal parts that when harmonised sounded even more beautiful. The strumming of the acoustic guitars and the light percussion and rhythmic bass meant that the sound was continually uplifting and exciting and I could see that the audience were struggling to refrain from nodding their heads or stamp their feet a little. I certainly was bobbing along, excited by the raw sound they were creating. When I spoke after to the singer, Phoebe, I asked her what their full sound was away from the acoustics, as I was mesmerised by their sound and couldn’t imagine it any other way. She explained to me that they generally played a heavier and ‘rockier’ sound, which I was partially surprised about because the acoustic sound they created was so well perfected as if that was their usual vibe. They included a lot of catchy melodies making the songs even more memorable and to be honest I’d have loved to have heard them play more songs. I can’t wait for them to release their single ‘On The Wire’ on 3rd March.

Sofar Sounds Manchester

Cosmo Calling 14/02/17

 

And last but not least, the final act of the evening was a band called Cassia. After having a little chat with the lads before they went on stage, I was excited and intrigued to hear their sound, having never heard them before either. Cassia are made up only of three members from Macclesfield (just round the corner from me, so even better!) including guitar and vocals, bass and drums and to be quite honest, they don’t need anything else. They define their sound as tropical rock and there’s nothing more accurate than that. Of course they were playing acoustic, so the rock element was excluded, but tropical describes them perfectly. I genuinely felt like I was sat relaxed on holiday by the beach listening to the most fun and laid back sound I’ve heard in a long while. The chords played on the acoustic guitar screamed happiness without ever being cheesy!  The drum section included the bongos too enhancing those feel-good vibes! If you ever needed your mood boosting, especially around this time of year I suggest taking a listen to Cassia’s tracks!

I could see the audience were all bobbing along, desperate to have a little boogie, but respectfully continued to listen to the sunshine-sounding music that Cassia graced us with. They reminded me a lot of Vampire Weekend, with the Cuban-style melodies and guitar parts and when I spoke to lead singer, Rob, afterwards he explained he was indeed a fan of them. He said that his favourite thing about writing and playing the songs was that they were so much fun, both for him and the band to play and you could definitely see that resonating with the audience. They finished their set with their newest single Weekender which will also be out on the 3rd March. But if you can’t wait until then, listen to their single 100 Times Over – you’ll be dancing before you know it!

Sofar Sounds Manchester

Cassia 14/02/17

I can’t explain how much fun the whole evening was, both the audience who I had some wonderful little chats with afterwards and meeting Cosmo Calling and Cassia who were all such lovely musicians. If you haven’t already, I urge you to check out Sofar’s videos and even sign up for the events near you – you won’t regret it.

M x

Meet the band

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MEET THE BAND

Take a look at my latest blog Meet the Band which is an insight into my fantastic band. I’m proud to share a stage with them and call them friends

JORDAN COPE

meet the band

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you?

I’m Jordan, Jack of all trades and still haven’t mastered any…

2. What instrument do you play in the band?

I play bass for Meg, a couple of other acts, as well as any other session work that pops up.

3. If you could play any other instrument in the world, what would it be?

Well I’ve tried a few, but I think I’m definitely happiest playing bass… Maybe double bass or cello? I bet Liam will say cello?

4. If you could be an animal, what would you be?

If I could be any animal I’d probably say like a Lion or something, but more realistically I’m probably more like a dog… Maybe like a spaniel or something…

5. Favourite colour?

Black, like my soul

6. Favourite band?

Favourite band other than the Megan Dixon Hood Band? Probably The Gaslight Anthem…

7. What’s the best thing about being in a band yourself?

It can be horrible, you spend hours rehearsing, travelling, loading in/out and sound checking all to play for a fraction of that time. But it’s incredibly addictive and I know I’ll always want to do it. The people you meet (audience, crew and band members) and places you go make it worth it! Being on stage also makes you forget anything else on your mind for the duration of your set, it’s a brilliant escape!

8. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?

The best thing I’ve ever done is probably decide on a whim that I wanted to spend a bit of time studying music (live sound). I intended to study it for a year and return to studying an Economics degree, and I’m still doing music now. It’s lead me to play with some incredible musicians, including Meg and the band. It’s taken me to the likes of Glastonbury, Leeds and other festivals. Around the country to play and work at venues like The Ritz, O2 Academys, The Roundhouse and loads of others I never knew existed, as well as paying for me to play outside the UK. And obviously again led me to meeting some incredible people along the way that I’m sure I’ll know for a very long time. It sounds ridiculously cliche but it’s probably the one decision that I can definitely say has quite literally changed my life. I’m doing what I do now compared to being in some office job somewhere…

JAKE GREVILLEMeet the band

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you?

I’m Jake, the handsome one. I’m beat master and time keeper in the band, quite a pivotable role! I’ve held this role with Megan for just over 2 years now

2. What instrument do you play in the band?

Drummer, and sample pad enthusiast.

3. If you could play any other instrument in the world, what would it be?

I’d love to equally play the piano and guitar, however I can play the sax too, George Michael – Careless Whisper anyone??

4. If you could be an animal, what would you be?

A cat, I WOULD BE SO CUTE AND GET SHMUSHED ALL THE TIME! Cute and sassy, great combo! Or a long distance travelling bird, I’d get to see the world for free!

5. Favourite colour?

I thought only kids had favourite colours? I jest, I do enjoy a nice turquoise, or that colour when you get oil in puddles, does that have a name??

6. Favourite band?

I have plenty, to name a few… Nine Inch Nails, Biffy Clyro, Stevie Wonder, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Refused, Rage Against the Machine… too many to mention! Don’t ask me to single out my ultimate favourite though!

7. What’s the best thing about being in a band yourself?

I love the creative side, listening deeply into the music, finding rhythms, melodies, subtle parts and creating a groove to perfectly company the music. And the recognition, if someone comes up to me and say they loved my drumming, or loved the band, or song, that feeling of your hard work and creativity being appreciated. Also, just being in a band is great! Getting to do what I love most in the world, with friends and people I love.

8. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?

Probably realising that music was the career path for me, having a lightbulb moment in the early hours whilst revising for an exam towards the end of my first degree in chemistry, “Why am I doing chemistry, I want to be a musician!”. Then slowly getting into the working world of music, eventually getting on (another) degree, in music, and having all the opportunities I’ve had, places I’ve travelled, people I’ve met…I’ve never been happier and more focused on anything. I love it, best decision ever!

LIAM MORGAN
Meet the band

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you?

Hey! My name is Liam and I’m a musician based in Manchester, I facilitate music workshops with young people and teach guitar. I love all kinds of music and eat way too much peanut butter!

2. What instrument do you play in the band?

Guitar

3. If you could play any other instrument in the world, what would it be?

CELLO! It’s one of the prettiest looking and sounding instruments ever.

4. If you could be an animal, what would you be?

Tricky one, Do birds count? I would love to be a bird because they can fly, which is basically a super power. If not then I would be a Lion (I wish).

5. Favourite colour?

Blue

6. Favourite band?

Metallica, I heard them when I was in High School and they just have so many great songs that I couldn’t like another band more.

7. What’s the best thing about being in a band yourself?

The best thing about being in this band is getting the opportunity to make music and be around genuinely positive, creative people. There’s a lot of negativity around, it’s good to get away from that and do what I love.

8. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?

The best thing I ever did was quitting my dull day job

JANUARY PLAYLIST 2017

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January Playlist 2017

I am planning on creating a mini playlist for each month, finding and collecting songs that I have been enjoying over that month and putting them together in a little post for you to discover! So, let’s begin…

January playlist artist: Marika Hackman

SONG: In the Bleak Midwinter

JANUARY PLAYLIST 2017

ALBUM: Wonderland EP

So I know January is about to draw to a close, but this ‘Christmas’ song by Marika Hackman is still on my playlist. And as the song is called In the Bleak Midwinter it still seems fitting for this dreary time of year. Now, strictly speaking Marika herself did not write this song. It is in fact a cover but the first time I heard it I mistook it for an original Marika Hackman song. It’s an easy mistake to make as the song is actually based on a poem by Christina Rossetti, before being transformed into a Christmas Carol in 1906. It seems obvious to me now that Marika would choose this song to cover as the melancholy and archaic melody and chords fit her genre down to a T. Also, the fact that it was a poem first seems appropriate as her lyrics are often poetic. Even the title sounds very much as if she had named it herself.

On 2nd December 2016, Marika Hackman released a Christmas EP, if you will, called Wonderland EP. She combined her versions of Winter Wonderland, O Come, O Come, Emanuel and In The Bleak Midwinter, with some Christmas songs she had penned herself, like Driving Under Stars and Paper Crown.

But back to In the Bleak Midwinter. The track opens with the plucking of two strings on an electric guitar accompanied by heavily distorted and effected vocals with the sound of something atmospheric, sitting just out of reach in the background of the song. The lyrics ‘Snow on snow on snow’ are emphasised by floating choral harmonies, and the electric guitar brings in a rhythm to stop the song from dragging. The arrangement is very minimal playing around with effects on the guitar and vocals to create an otherworldly sound, and this makes me love the track even more. If Marika Hackman was a Christmas song, this is the exact song she would be. Take a listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZqcBO1szKU

January playlist artist: The Decemberists

SONG: Make You Better

JANUARY PLAYLIST 2017

ALBUM: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

The Decemberists are a strange old bunch but I absolutely love them for it. Their songs tell of historical happenings, and mad old tales (listen to The Mariners Revenge Song), written as if lead singer, Colin Meloy, had swallowed a thesaurus. However, this is exactly what makes them so unique. The Decemberists hale from Portland, Oregon, and are made up of five members, with Meloy being the main songwriter and lead singer. Taking immediately to their lyrics and their affection for folklore, I can’t help but love them, especially as they often take inspiration from British and Irish folk music. The last album they released back in 2015, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is actually their 7th album release and includes one of my favourite Decemberists tracks, Make You Better. Ironically I think it’s the musicality over the lyrics that I love about this song. The opening melody is what hooks me every time and is perhaps the main reason for my love of this song. I think something else I also respect about the song, is how it takes on a more serious tone (again my love for melancholy shines through!). This is in comparison to a lot of their other songs which play around with the imagination making sure they don’t take themselves too seriously (having said that, Make You Better does have a comical music video to accompany it). For anyone who wants a quirky and imaginative take on American Indie Rock, you should definitely have a look through their vast collection of songs!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb8oUbMrydk

January playlist artist: Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White

SONG: Grease

JANUARY PLAYLIST 2017

ALBUM: Gentlewoman, Rubyman

Now, it wasn’t intentional of me to include two covers in this post, but it just so happens that I stumbled across English singer-songwriter Flo Morrissey’s new music project and I wanted to include it. I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan of Flo Morrissey, but I do find that every so often I am drawn to her, and one of those moments happened to be when I saw that she was releasing Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, a cover album with Matthew E. White from Virginia. The album takes on 10 songs, covered as a duet, swaying towards a warm and funky 70s feel! I think it was Matthew E. White who actually started and drove the project, but I had not heard of him until Morrissey put him on my radar. The first time I heard this version of ‘Grease’  I was unaware of the title, as I think I heard it in the background of a video, but I immediately started tapping my foot and as soon as the line ‘Grease is the word’ chimed in I couldn’t believe how oblivious I had been. I can’t say that this is a sound I would usually listen to, but something about the 70’s style and chilled vibe that reminds me so much of the summer time is what captures my attention, and it’s a struggle not to bob my head whenever I listen to it. Plus, you can’t not bob your head to such a great classic!  Their voices blend perfectly well together, with Flo’s clear and gentle voice and Matthew’s distinct, almost whispery vocals adding something unique to each song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QuwwnNIZ3I

January playlist artist: Laura Marling

SONG: Blackberry Stone

JANUARY PLAYLIST 2017

ALBUM: I Speak Because I Can

I don’t think I have ever mentioned English singer-songwriter Laura Marling on this blog before, which is odd considering she is (from what I remember) the main reason I started song writing. When I was about 14 I discovered her album I Speak Because I Can, and after that I was obsessed, and decided I also wanted to write poetic sounding lyrics. Obviously my first few attempts were downright awful as I was never going to be Laura Marling, but I still take inspiration from the way she writes today and whenever I’m stuck in a musical rut I go back to what inspired me in the first place. As much as I love all the songs on this album, the track that resonates with me the most is Blackberry Stone. I still to this day have no idea what the peculiar title means, but what I do know is that when I listen to it I never want it to end. It’s the melody which seems so terribly, terribly sad that sucks me into it, along with it’s opening lines

“Well, I own this field

And I, wrote this sky

And, I have no reason to reason with you.”

As I said, poetical stuff.

Her delicate guitar playing and gentle soothing voice transports me into another little world, and when the string arrangement comes in, I am then completely lost. I wish I could say the same for her following albums, but sadly for me it’s only her first (Alas I Cannot Swim) and second album that I fell in love with. She is just about to release her latest album Semper Femina and I have tickets for her show at Manchester’s Albert Hall in March (so expect a blog post) and I’m excited to see her live for the first time and rediscover the magic of her music, old and new.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoRNfpvWhwQ

January playlist artist: Florence and the Machine

SONG: Queen Of Peace

JANUARY PLAYLIST 2017

ALBUM: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

In one of my previous posts from September, I talked about my rekindled love for Florence and the Machine and her album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful that seemed to completely sail past me when it was released. Four months later I am still swooning over the same album, particularly the track Queen of Peace and I felt I had to add it to this month’s playlist. Being one of the more upbeat tracks of this post (and my playlist in general!), this is a song that you most definitely want to move your body to. The track is first led by a string and brass arrangement before the drum brings in the driving tempo and so the song commences. It’s very much Florence with the strong melodies and ethereal hooks, especially in the chorus, that could arguably be described as anthemic. The brass section really adds something to the soundscape of the song and the driving tempo combined is what makes you want to move along. Listening harder though it’s clear that the undertones of the music are actually quite sombre, not just the lyrical content but the melody is quite brooding and the instrumentation heavy. As I also mentioned last time, there is a video called ‘The Odyssey’ that is part of the album, and so there is a video accompaniment for Queen Of Peace. This leads into the next song Long and Lost which I love for its contrasting mellow and stripped back feeling. Give it a listen here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSM0lLbVYOo

If you have any song recommendations please let me know, as I’m eager to discover new music, anything old or new!

M x

My Current Favourites

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With January being a cold and bleak month I often find it’s perhaps harder to be inspired when you probably need it the most. I decided to review some of my favourite things from these past couple of months and compile it into a blog as a way of inspiration.

MusicMy current favourites

My current favourites, so let’s start with music first.

A band I have found myself often reaching out to over the past couple of months has been the return of Bon Iver. Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver released his new album in September 2016. It’s taken 5 years for Bon Iver to bring out new music under the title 22, A Million, which was eagerly anticipated – certainly by me at least. At first, I was a little confused with where the sound was going as it strays a fair way from his first album For Emma, Forever Ago, and even his second album Bon Iver, Bon Iver that had already progressed in the sense of instrumentation from the first album. But 22, A Million experiments in a whole new way, including the song titles which are stylized with symbols, so much so that I don’t know how to replicate it on my computer!

The first single from the new album to be released was 22 (OVER SOON). If I’m being honest, the first time I listened to this I was somewhat disappointed as I was expecting Vernon’s usual indie-folk style. But I wasn’t going to give up on it so easily, and when the second single 10 dEATh bREasT came out I was ready to embrace the new style and found myself getting lost in this track. What really sealed the deal was when I heard 33 GOD, it completely caught my attention and kept me hooked and I was excited by this new Bon Iver. Have a listen here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C5sB6AqJkM

Local MusicMy current favourites

Speaking of musicians, I felt it was only right to talk about unsigned and local artists too. There are a heck of a lot of amazing unsigned musicians out there, in every part of the country (in every part of the world!) that have not yet been recognised. But that’s ok, we can keep them to ourselves for a little longer before the rest of the world catches on and sees just how good they really are. The thing I love most about the music community is the support that comes with it. There’s always a musician who can recommend another and working together can bring everyone opportunities. It was actually quite hard to pick just one act because there are so many good ones, but I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to mention them again in this blog or on my social media, so keep your eyes peeled.

A current artist who I really admire is Sobi. She is a songwriter from London, who studied in Manchester and now currently lives in Hanover, Germany. She’s acoustic folk orientated, where not only is her voice beautiful but also her words (I just can’t get enough of lyrics!). She also has the wonderful knack of writing really catchy melodies, not in a pop kind of way, but in a haunting manner that sticks in your head for days. I was fortunate enough to support her for a couple of dates on her UK Tour which I mentioned in my 2016 Highlights Blog. Here she had a band to back her delicate vocals and guitar playing adding something even greater to her sound. Sobi swaps between an acoustic and electric guitar (I personally love the electric tone against her vocals) whilst being supported by a bassist who occasionally exchanges for a guitar and a drummer and really, nothing else is needed. Her latest EP ‘Biting Back’ is available here, you should definitely give it a listen!

https://sobi.bandcamp.com

ArtMy current favourites

Someone that has inspired me greatly over the past few months is a young Swedish artist named Jonna Jinton. I have often shared her work through my social media because I find that I am continually inspired by not only her artwork but also her lifestyle. My attention was first caught by Jonna’s photography. She captures the most amazing scenic views of the landscape and mountains that surround her in a little town, Grundtjarn in Sweden, where she works and lives. Sometimes she includes herself in the photos surrounded by beautiful landscapes producing somewhat magical and otherworldly shotsMy current favourites

I spent a lot of my childhood in the French mountains and I find it to be an incredible place of inspiration, which is why I think I relate so much to her photography, because I desperately want to be part of this world that she has created for herself. She often posts YouTube videos about her life, tucked away in the mountains in a little red house with a woodstove and her dog, and it appears to be a hard life living in extreme conditions in a very small village with very few people living there. This hardship, though, reaps endless rewards, and watching documentaries about her it seems that living this way makes her extremely happy and allows her to appreciate the smaller things, even if it’s just a fire in the fireplace after spending the day in the icy cold. She has explained that being closer to nature in this way is what makes her happy and she captures it perfectly in her artMy current favourites

She has a website with a portfolio of her work but also where she blogs about the beauty of her life in Grundtjarn, accompanied by the wonderful photos she takes. Even her style of writing (once translated into English) is beautiful as she conjures the most magical images to mind before you even scroll down to see the photos. She is an artist too, quite obviously taking inspirations from her surroundings (why wouldn’t you!?), taking into account a more abstract approach. I feel I could dedicate a whole blog post to this remarkable woman because she inspires me endlessly. I find myself enchanted by her writing and art and use it to the best of my advantage for helping my song writing.

http://jonnajinton.se

StoriesMy current favourites

 ‘A folk-tale, in its primitive plainness of word and entire absence of complexity in thought, is peculiarly sensitive and susceptible to the touch of strangers hands…They are the romances of childhood of Nations: they are the never-failing springs of sentiment, of sensation, of heroic example, from which primeval people drank their fill at will.’My current favourites

I couldn’t write this post without mentioning something I received only the other day, but is already on my favourites list. I love anything to do with folktales and fairy tales, and anything that appears magical and enchanting. And I also love books. So when my dad presented me with East of the Sun, West of the Moon, I knew immediately I was going to be inspired. Not only does the book appear as if it’s vintage, but the stories are also accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Kay Nielsen, a popular Danish illustrator in the early 20th Century and who was part of the ‘golden age of illustration’. These illustrations actually date back as far as 1914, with the stories themselves deriving from Scandinavian fairy tales, which I assume have been passed down over generations. The book consists of 15 stories, all ‘Old Tales From The North’, and I know it is something I will keep for a very long time.

PoetryMy current favourites

It’s no secret that words fascinate me. When I was a child I always said that I wanted to be a poet or an author, so I suppose song writing isn’t too far from that. And because of my love for words, I’ve decided I would like to dedicate some time this year to exploring more poetry and an array of poets and I think it could help my song writing along the way. My poetry collection at the moment is only very small, but I thought I would pick out a few poems that I love. For my 21st Birthday my dad bought me a poetry book (reoccurring theme here?!) by Vikram Seth that incorporates a collection of his poems. The book is rather a large one so I’m only about a third of the way through, but I thought I’d mention some of my favourites so far. I have no idea what it is that draws me to these particular poems other than they are melancholy and I like melancholy. If you know of any poetry you think I might like, send them my way as I’d like to discover something new.

A Winter Word

Cold cold friend, Frost-

Night comes, and I

Am dispossessed.

Most cold, cold

Is this night;

And my youth old.

My spirit lost.

I cannot rest.

I walk alone.

Frost, burn upon

My every bone.

 Night Watch

Awake for hours and staring at the ceiling

Through the unsettled stillness of the night

He grows possessed of the obsessive feeling

That dawn has come and gone and brought no light

 Passage

 Your eyes, my understanding, all will rot;

The trees we see, the books we read, will go;

The way that we use words; as like as not;

And we are fortunate that this is so.

 All You Who Sleep Tonight

All you who sleep tonight

Far from the ones you love,

No hand to left or right

And emptiness above-

 Know that you aren’t alone.

The whole world shares your tears,

Some for two nights or one

And some for all their years.

These are just a selection of things that I found have been inspiring me recently and I’m sure that they will continue to do so for a good while longer. But tell me, what’s currently inspiring you?

M x