Author Archives: Laurence

Sid Griffin: The First Record I Ever Bought

Sid Griffin is the bandleader of Europe’s premier bluegrass outfit, the magnificent Coal Porters. The band are a joy to see live, as their show is a combination of top-level musicianship and high quality songs. A genuinely entertaining night is always guaranteed by Sid and crew, as they deliver an updated version of the old country shows in America’s rural south of the ‘40s and ‘50s. They return to London to play King’s Place in King’s Cross on Friday, November 23rd. Git yerselves down there y’all…

Sid popped into TVD London for a cup of tea and a chat last week, so we asked him to talk about his first record. 

“My introduction to popular music pre-dates The Beatles. Born in 1955, I was not entirely healthy as a youngster and though I started school in autumn 1961 I was out of school more than I would liked to have been. I was home ill and in bed absent-mindedly watching black and white TV when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas and the announcement first came on the CBS television network. To this day I can tell you what commercial for what product was interrupted to make the announcement about the President and which CBS reporter’s face first came on screen to describe the situation. It is a memory I wish I could forget.

Resting in bed, I would listen to a transistor radio one of my parents got me to keep me company as I recuperated. It was black and battered, not much bigger than two packs of cigarettes placed side by side. The fidelity was terrible. When stereos shifted from relatively small all-in-one units to separate components in the late sixties, I was astonished to hear good, solid bass guitar and kick drum for the first time. They were completely inaudible on the little transistor I had.

But AM radio in the USA was a gift from God in the 1960s, a celestial gift. The only qualification for airplay was your record, your song had to be catchy. Hence the free-for-all which witnessed The Fab Four, Sinatra, Motown, novelty hits and, believe it or not, local acts all played on the hip local station. For some reason only C&W and gospel were excluded. And by the end of the decade music was formatted (read: segregated) by rock, MOR, R&B/Soul/Urban, and so on, never to reside shoulder to shoulder on the same station again.

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I Monster:
Remixed and Reborn

I Monster first emerged from the dark woods of Sheffield and both scared us, then soothed us, with their scratchy-chilled tune “Daydream in Blue.” Lifting the main sample from the Gunter Kallmann Chorus the track has developed a life of its own since it first appeared and has been featured in films, TV shows and many major advertising campaigns.

The song was also recently sampled and covered by Lupe Fiasco and featured Jill Scott.

Now, more than a decade on, “Daydream in Blue” has been updated and reworked by French electro/dance duo The Penelopes who have managed to swaddle it in a ton of Parisienne cool as part of the I Monster Remixed package.

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Laser Background
to the Forefront

Laser Background released their debut EP on London label Stroll On earlier this summer, and are about to head out for some live dates with a difference.

Alongside likeminded band Norwegian Arms, these crazy Philadelphians (hey, that’s a compliment!) have created a project which is of a fairly unusual type, pushing the boundaries of all parties involved to new heights of creativity.

For one month, from mid-September to mid-October, the two bands will perform once a week in different neighbourhood house show spots within the fair city of Philadelphia. Also featured will be local and/or touring bands that they think are great. They will also adhere to a strict policy of rules for this project, which includes actually living inside the houses they play in!

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Kongos: Coming
your way, USA!

Kongos’ second album Lunatic has been in the racks for a few months now, and it’s a record that is never far from the Vinyl District turntable. Polished, yet vibrant, confident without arrogance.

The band of brothers, (and sons of ’70s pre-glam doyen John Kongos) head out across the USA this week, touring straight through to November 16th. Check the band’s website for dates, and free tracks etc.

Vinyl rules, right? Your thoughts please. (Feel free to disagree!)

We’re big fans of analog gear in general – in conjunction with modern digital technology rather than instead of – they both have their strengths. There’s definitely something to the sound of vinyl, but it’s hard to say how much of the attraction is based on positive associations with the great music that originally came out on vinyl vs. the actual sonic characteristics.

In general modern production techniques are not suited for a vinyl end result, so while we appreciate it, we’re not inclined to go down that road purely for nostalgic reasons – there’s new audio territory to explore!

Your father is famous in the UK for some very original and distinctive hits, were you aware of this growing up?

We definitely were, we listened to his Kongos album a lot and it influenced our style greatly. If you listen to “I’m Only Joking,” “Come With Me Know,” and “Hey I Don’t Know,” you can hear the impact of our dad’s music on our sound.

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Who the hell is:
Holy Shakes?

How did Holy Shakes come to exist?

Holy Shakes came together via friends and friends of friends looking for a musical outlet that was more than copying the latest trends. Access is limited for us in Arkansas and finding four people who wanted to make higher quality music—performance and product is rare—but we did it. It was pure luck.

It’s hard to select one track to feature here as the album is a bag full with greatness, so for argument sake, tell me about “Red, White and Dotted Lines”… what’s it about?

“Red, White and Dotted Lines” is a reflection on my involvement in the music industry in 1999/2000 and getting back on stage after a long hiatus. It’s a part of my mid-life crisis.

In case choosing “Red, White and Dotted Lines” raised a few band eyebrows, what is your favorite track if you have one and why?

The opening track “One Of These Days” is a favorite because it was one of the first songs we wrote. I am impressed with the instrumentation on this track as well—three parts that stand alone but work together nicely. I also have to give a nod to “Mississippi Toes” which has been a crowd favorite and sometimes makes my hair stand on end when I think about the theme of the song, The great Mississippi River rising, flooding the country sides, and taking houses and people with it.

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Introducing: Sansa

Can you tell us bit about yourself and where you are from?

My name is Sansa and I live in Helsinki, but originally I am from a little town called Seinäjoki. I was closer to twenty when I started to write my own songs and my childhood dream was to become a professional soccer player. I also took piano lessons when I was ten but it didn’t work out… I skipped the lessons.

Music became my cup of tea when songs started to came out naturally, of course it was very confusing. Music sneaked under my skin and seduced me with its charm, secrets, and strength. It was a way to cope with life and myself. Savior is my third album to date and it’s also the most personal work in my career.

At the moment, right now, I’m finishing my BA, specializing in film sound design.

Savior has just been released in the UK, it covers an array of styles – who would you say is your major influence?

It’s album-specific. When I started to work on it I was inspired by loads of styles such as trip-hop, disco, pop, folk, and country. I listened to things like Ace Of Base, Massive Attack, and Dolly Parton…  just to name a few.

I also worked with different methods when writing songs for this album. I used a sequencer, looper, keys, and guitar. Sometimes changing the approach and tools give lots of variation in the material.

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Who the hell is
Cavan Moran?

Can you tell us where you are from and give us a feel for Cavan Moran the artist?

Sure. I’m from one time number one most deprived place to live in Great Britain, which is the Lower Blackley, Harpurhey, Moston area. Lived in around 8 houses here over the years. Had about 15 different groups of friends and a few million tree houses. Never saw it as being that deprived when I was growing up ’cause there wasn’t much to buy.

It was only when I was old enough to start walking into town and hanging out with other kids from other areas that I realised I didn’t have as much money as the other kids and that was only ’cause they were all drinkin’ Southern Comfort and smokin’ Marlboro lights. I’d drink Bells whisky and Napoleon brandy. This one girl had a TV that came up out of a bed. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen! That was until some kids put cigarette burns all over her trampoline.

As an “artist,” I started writing songs, and general writing at around 13 when I got my first guitar after listening to some Stiff Little Fingers and Sham 69 albums that one of my uncles taped for me. I started going backwards and forwards at the same time, listening to different types of music and at that age I couldn’t think of anything else that allowed you to do that so I stayed in the abyss.

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All hail Billy & Dolly

Billy & Dolly (Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Gallin Ramirez), are due to self-release their excellent new album, Dally Bon Idyll on May 15th. Recorded in partnership with producer/musician Jason Quever (Papercuts), The San Franciscan pair have produced an album of well crafted tunes that manages to combine some really beautiful pop melodies with delightful hooks and catchy riffs.  

On first listen to the album it’s impressive, on further plays it reveals itself as great.

All hail Billy & Dolly, they have produced a collection of songs that sits very comfortable alongside some of the greats. Did anyone mention Simon & Garfunkel?

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Introducing:
Jo Harman

Interesting to note that the blues community has recently caught onto Jo Harman in a big way and taken her firmly under their wing, leading her to a be nominated for a number of awards in this genre. One is specifically for her track “Sweet Man Moses” which is a blues/gospel fused ballad penned in the form of a eulogy to her recently deceased father.

Strange, because she is not that easy to stereotype, and whilst this track is in the “ballpark” for sure, Jo isn’t really a blues artist per se. She’s an all-round performer who, as anyone who has ever seen her will attest, can mix it with the best of them.

From gospel to soul and from rock to country, Jo is a versatile and talented writer/performer who is only just at the start of her career. Not bad for someone who has yet to release her debut album.

Watch this space.

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Introducing:
Black Manila

South London’s Black Manila are a three piece Garage/Psych band who have just released their new single “Fiasco” backed with the eight minute acoustic-grinder “England” as a free digital download.

Formed in 2010, the band released their debut 10″ “Reno Rush”/”Happiness” in January last year, via Big Dirty Engine Records. Since then, they have toured France and Italy and have been busy in the studio writing and recording new material. The first fruits of their endeavours is this two track single produced by Selfish C*nt’s Patrick Constable.

First up is “Fiasco,” a skuzzed out guitar-driven psychedelic tune powered by an abused vocal and some mighty gritty intent. As the track enters its latter stages, signified by a screech of feedback, it’s all hands to the deck as the whirlwind of distorted guitar fuses and entwines with the rhythm section to the bitter denouement.

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