Monday, 31 October 2011
Where does the name Is Tropical come from, and what was the inspiration, or meaning behind choosing it?
It's all about escapism. We where in a cold damp place when we formed and we wanted to get out and it worked because the music has taken us to tropical lands.
The music video to Greeks was arguably the best video of the year, where did the idea for it come from?
We wanted to be involved with every side of the band. We still make all the artwork and creative decision but we got too busy making all the videos so passed it on to the very capable hands of MEGAFORCE. We gave them a few key words such as 'gangs', 'childen' etc and let them come up with whatever they wanted. With people as creative as Megaforce It's best to just let them get on with what they do, and await the end result, which turned out to be incredible and went viral.
How long has Is Tropical been around for?
We started making rough demos in our bedrooms nearly 3 years ago without any intention of playing them out under a name. When they were at a standard we were happy with we decided to share them to the public. It was just natural progression really. It's best when you start something to let it go wherever it wants to, don't force it.
What’s has been the best gig or festival of your career so far?
Every show has something special, even if it's something that has gone wrong. It's the hard times you have on stage that stick in your mind. This summer was great for us, we got to play loads of festivals around Europe even further afield with big crowds that has begun to know all our songs. Sweden was cool, lots of French dates, and Venezuela was amazing too. Turning up to a country and thinking that nobody knows your music, but then playing to 7,000+ people who love what you do, it blows our tiny minds. Oh, and Japan, those dudes rule.
What’s your greatest musical guilty pleasure, mine is Gala?
We don't really see anything as guilty if you like it. A good song is a good song regardless of who the artist is. There are so many people out there that are too scared to trust there own opinion, go with it, soak up the pop and then rip it off and make a killing doing it.
As a band to you feel that you benefit being based in London?
Nowadays geographical location doesn't really determine the success of a band, but as far as having lots of venues to play in any night of the week, It definitely has its advantages, but then again it also has its drawbacks as every man and his frog are in a band in london. Competition is hard.
Do you feel like you are part of a scene in London at all?
There are people who we play with lots, but they span so many musical genres that its hard to pinpoint it as a scene with a name. We love bands like TEETH, Age of Consent, Crystal Fighters, Tribes, Mystery Jets, etc, but no-one sounds like one another. It's just appreciation of good music regardless of style.
If you had to recommend one band (aside from yourself) to go out and see tomorrow who would it?
Crystal Fighters, they kill it live every time. Loads of energy, and its banging but with a sweet side. Like a cute neighbour with a filthy side. Cool.
What does the future hold for Is Tropical, is there a 5 year plan..?
We like to take things as they come, but the live show is something we're constantly evolving with the intent of blowing peoples locks out of place. We're also writing new songs.
Make sure you head over to their Facebook page, to be kept super updated on all the bands goings on.
Thursday, 27 October 2011
It's not often that the music arriving in our inbox is either exciting or interesting, however when we got a nice email from Birmingham boy Motherhood a couple of weeks backs we jumped at the chance to digitally interview him, this is what happened:
Firstly, the new track 'Heat Within Mourning' has just appeared on the internet and sounds great, is this track a good indication of the type of music that we can expect to hear from Motherhood in the future?
Thank you very much, I’m glad you like it! I don’t think it is necessarily an indication of my future musical output, however, the underlying tone of “Heat Within Mourning” may be recognisable in the songs to follow. Let’s just say, I embrace the dark and eerie, but help old women cross the road when required.
Would you say you have been influenced particularly by one band, movement or genre?
Not particularly, I’d say I’m more influenced by what I read and see than what I listen to. I despise music without a soul and unfortunately at this present time, it’s all I seem to hear.
How do you feel about Birmingham's music scene currently and are there any particular upcoming artists from the area you'd recommend?
To be honest, I don't know of many Birmingham based bands! I'm kind of out of the loop, shameful I know. I'll recommend Pocket House, but they're actually based in Worcestershire, close enough to mention though I reckon. I think it's pretty evident that the guys at 'Birmingham Promoters' are at the forefront of the music scene here. They're putting on some great shows and are clearly an influential force within the second city.
In a fantasy world, who would you have support you?
A tricky question! But i'll go for Bathed Bents, a psychedelic soul troupe comprised of my favourite artists, those being Marvin Gaye, Robert Smith and Misha B. Of course, I'd expect the band to be plagued by technical difficulties and sore throats, to ensure that my set is seen as superior by the audience.
Finally, can we expect new songs anytime soon and do you have any live dates planned?
Yes, definitely. I recorded two other songs alongside “Heat Within Mourning” in the summer, one of which I will uploading to my tumblr in the next couple of weeks. I’m playing a few shows with Trophy Wife (Blessing Force) in November and I also hope to do many more before the year is complete. I’ll be recording again at the end of November too!
Dates (All November)
7th Birmingham - Hare and Hounds, supporting Josiah Wolf (Why?)
10th Bristol - The Croft, supporting Trophy Wife
12th London - The Nest, supporting Trophy Wife
14th Manchester Deaf Institute, supporting Trophy Wife
Heat Within Mourning by Motherhoodband
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Few artists have got me so excited in the last year as I was when I heard The Commission by Breton for the first time a couple of months back in August. They blend a whole host of music genres together leaving a sound almost possible to describe, I think a comment by a fan on their YouTube channel best sums up the noise they are making 'this is the music of the future'. There is almost no doubt in my mind that come this time next year you will see Breton sitting atop a mountain of plaudits and fans. Keep your eyes firmly placed on these guys, and watch as they prepare for a takeover, if you could buy shares in bands, I would be screaming to anyone who would listen 'Buy, Buy, Buy'. Hope you enjoy.
Their debut single Edward the Confessor is out November 12th.
What really struck me about Richard Frenneaux during his set at Ley Lines festival was my frustrating inability to pinpoint the provenance of his accent. His voice occasionally took on an Australian twang and at others seemed to be influenced by several different accents from across the UK. He explained to us that he grew up in New Zealand and Australia and although he moved back here when he was 14, it was an accent he just couldn't get rid of. The reasoning behind the cross-british accent? He'd had a somewhat nomadic upbringing, flitting from place to place almost twenty times in the UK whilst he was growing up. Part of this upheaval and constant changing of living dynamics is what has drawn him to 'the melting pot of London'. It is clear from his music and from speaking to him that Richard's diverse child and young adulthood have had an enormous influence on him in many capacities. He touched briefly upon his previous project, Red Light Company, telling us that he'd written the RLC tracks years before they were actually released and he found himself feeling a little stuck in these songs that he felt he'd outgrown and moved on from. We asked Richard for five words describing Anothers Blood and he came out with two: 'honest (hopefully) and gospel'. Richard is not a religious man but the power of gospel music fascinates him, and you can feel a sense of that otherwordly, hypnotic empowerment when watching his set.
Amazingly it was Anothers Blood's fifth gig to date and Richard is in no rush to race to an album, something I can only give him respect for, his priorities have changed since RLC, for him it's now about 'growing, persevering and enjoying the process'.
Richard is a fascinating man, and his choice of guilty pleasure was all the more brilliant - The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera (y'know that one from Karate Kid 2). It would be difficult (not to mention lengthy) to explain exactly how Richard put across the concept behind the band and so I'll leave you with the image he gave us:
'You know those falling men by Robert Longo that appears in American Psycho? That's how I want Anothers Blood to sound. That with the colours of Eggleston's photography'.
Lost Communication by anothersblood
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Sitting in the front room of the Bullingdon, Carling in hand (courtesy of the boys), we set about asking the charismatic Sam and Geoff (Lead Singer and Bassist) some questions about this great new thing they'd created. The boys (James, Matthew, Thomas, Geoffrey and Samuel) are of Birmingham origin and met around the mark of four or five years ago through school and or work. We asked them to describe Troumaca in five words and, having changed their mind several times, we were left with tropical, dub, soul, tribal and love. Love seems to be very important to the band, as a pillar of what they are but also to indicate that Troumaca isn't just music, it's an experience. I did in the end have to ask them that horrible, pretentious question 'What is Troumaca about?' and the response I got was very intriguing. 'It's about searching for something we know we won't find. But in a positive way, it's a metaphysical, spiritual journey.' Troumaca is a feeling rather than sitting there listening to some brilliant music. They told us that they hoped in the future to have a Caribbean set-up on stage (Troumaca is a place in the Caribbean where Geoff's family is from) including food (sounds a little hazardous to me), flags (they already have on onstage) and incense. Their enthusiasm for turning their set into a kind of ceremonial transportation for the soul was infectious and I hope one day to see this dream realised, perhaps without the food though, that could potentially cause problems and/or health and safety issues.
The fact that the band and its name was based around a real place piqued my interest and as I asked more about it, it became apparent that none of the boys had been there apart from Geoff but that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. 'For him (Sam) it's just an idea, it can't be ruined by him knowing what it really is. I think that's important' Geoff told us. We got around to asking our favourite question of guilty pleasures and they came out with some brilliant answers including Spandau Ballet (no questions asked), R-Kelly (old school not this new fangled stuff), Nickelback and Rebecca Black (I have to say I raised an eyebrow at this one).
One of the most appealing things about the band is the presence they have on the stage, there's nothing more depressing than watching a band who look bored not only with the crowd but with their own music, Sam in particular had a fantastic energy on stage. Their live set was brilliant; filled with energy and laid back kind of enthusiasm, but their sound cloud doesn't do them justice: they admitted that being strapped for cash, recording and producing is done solely by them and unfortunately it shows. But don't let that put you off! Troumaca are a must-see live band and when Fire comes out as a single in the first week of December we do recommend that you invest in it.
Lonely Nights (Rough Demo) by TROUMACA
Friday, 21 October 2011
Yet another artist hailing from Gruff’s favorite city of them all, Berlin. Aside from having an amazing first name Norman creates rather wonderful music, even if his choice of genre is a touch bi-polar. It ranges from acoustic (with a bit ‘o’ brass) covers of cure classics, to electro, to twee indie. However the result leaves his soundcloud page being a mine field of gems, and defiantly one worth traversing. Hope you enjoy, I had a nightmare selecting exactly what tracks to post from him, so here are a couple of my favorites.
Phantom Lover by Norman Palm
Boys Don't Cry by Norman Palm
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Saturday 15th was a beautifully crisp, sunny day in Oxford and Gruff was more than excited to be attending Ley Lines Festival, the first one-day spectacular to hit Oxford. The music coming out of Oxford at the moment is fascinating and nothing short of innovative and it's events like these that draw more attention to the efforts of local origin and indeed from further afield.
The Bullingdon is one of our favourite venues in Oxford and, true to form, the acts that we saw there were outstanding. Troumaca's set was a joy to behold and listen to and The Bully provided the perfect location for the mesmerising intimacy of Anothers Blood's set (there's more to come from these two bands in the next posts - we caught them for drinks after their sets). After a few hours at The Bully we wandered over to the O2 Academy to see what it had to offer. We walked in to Starlings' set, a newcastle band that could have been exciting five years ago before the indie craze hit the mass market and everything sounded like Johnny Borrell with a cockney twinge and called themselves 'The [single-syllable-pluralised-word]'. To be fair to Starlings they did drop the conventional 'The' and added an 'ing' before the 's', but that's about as far out of the box as they went.
Feeling a little bored with Starlings we ventured upstairs and found Secret Rivals, an Oxford band that unfortunately did not meet the standard of praise worthy of those we've mentioned here at Gruff before. The vocals had that ten year old inflection to them that was first popularly employed by Kate Nash but has since become a wee bit naff. Needless to say we were not impressed and went back downstairs only to walk back in on Starlings!
Feeling distressed and confused it was definitely time to head back to the unfailing Bully. It certainly did not disappoint. Rae Morris had just come on stage, a slight girl in a black dress hidden behind a keyboard and an impressive mane of curly hair. Between songs she came across shy and nervous but when performing she was transformed. Rae's voice has a beauty I haven't heard in a long time, she was, for want of a better word, beguiling and I cannot recommend her enough.
Overall the day was a success for us but it appeared it may not have been quite so for Ley Lines itself. For the scale that the festival had been planned on I was disappointed and a little upset to see that there weren't enough people there to honour the talent that was playing. Tickets were only a tenner so it wasn't a question of being too expensive but perhaps of marketing and maybe planning - Ley Lines fell on the same day as matriculation for the new Oxford freshers. Either way, the festival deserved far more attention than it got and if all we can do today is draw your attention to our favourite three acts that we saw that day then we've done our job!
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
It has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks, and we promise that a lot of top notch material is on the way, and we havent just gone dead on this end. Between moving countries, moving cities, and starting a new uni, all of us here have been kept pretty crazy busy, but fear not we have interviews, festival reviews and just simple old posts been typed as I write this, so prepare your self to be flooded with waves of posts.
This weekend was an amazing time to be out here in the US capitol, I managed to head my way over to the opening of the MLK memorial which saw the living icons of Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin take to the stage alongside Obama and a whole host of legends of the civil rights movement (and Tommy Hilifiger, who gave us all free caps....) From there I headed on over to have a little ganger around Occupy D.C, which is where the snappy snap above is from. I'm hoping to record a couple of the guys there who have written what sounded at the time like the best protest song since Bob set pen to paper. Although it may have just been the free loving atmosphere that was intoxicating me....
But anyway enough of a life story, bellow are couple of rather lovely tracks that I hope you will enjoy.
Holland by Cold Specks
Made In Heights - Wildflowers (Exhale Efreet) by The Wounded Jukebox
Posted by Gruff Trade at 03:38
Friday, 14 October 2011
Is And Of The are by far the most exciting local band I've had the good fortune of stumbling upon since I arrived in DC a couple of weeks back. They opened what ended up being a real gem of a night sonically, with all three acts on the roster turning out exciting sets. However it has to be stated that Is And Of The represented the highlight of the evening, they pulsate positive energy whilst on stage, and they still have the feel of a band who are actually excited to have the opportunity to be playing in front of a live crowd, which really drew you in as a member of the audience. The only real criticism lies in that they still haven’t quite managed to get that energy down on their records yet, but that has to be taken into consideration with the fact the group recently expanded out of a one man project.
Following their show I managed to grab a couple of words with the guys and girl from the band to cat their opinions on how evening panned out.
Right so first of how do you think the gig tonight went?
Its hard to say we have never played a venue like this before, its the biggest venue we have played so far, and I mean I’ve been listening to the Album Leafs since like the 9th grade. They are what got me into electronic music. We feel like we are in awe.
If someone hadn’t heard your music before what would you describe it as?
Shoegaze, a lot of our recorded stuff is a lot more electronic, and we have some spoken word in there, are live shows are very different from our recordings. I started dabbling with electric drums because I was in DC and they where in Philly and then we recorded the album it was a combination of the two, they recorded the live drums and the life guitars on top of the electronic stuff.
Any plans to head out on tour yet?
Its hard, being a new artist we kind of have to establish ourselves a little more, make a little more of a name for ourselves.
What do you think DC is like as a scene?
There are no real huge venues, but people turn up to shows, well at least its the only thing i really do. Many we are the wrong people to ask. I mean like there is a scene, there used to be this huge punk scene in DC, but I think that was more in the 90s, everyone does still refer to the city as a punk place.
I really loved your spoken words on the tracks:
Britt: Oh cool thanks, yeah I’m a poetry major, so I take the stuff I haven’t fully edited yet, and I feel like i have to feel, the rhythm, but drew and I have pretty good connection.
Drew: The first time we hung out was at a open mic, I improved music, and she improved poetry over the top of it.
The interviewed kinda ended here as the conversation was thrown of course by a discussion over favourite board games (near universal acceptance of Scrabble as king although there was one very vocal supported on the side of backgammon).
Make sure to grab your copy of the their debut album out November 8th
03 Sleepless Dream by is and of the
Posted by Gruff Trade at 01:27