Something For The Weekend?
SCOTTISH songwriters ASTRID are heading for a busy New Year with another single and a string of live dates to follow.
‘Through the Darkness of Your Life’ is taken from the bands earlier Storm Sessions EP and gets its own long-awaited release on January 22nd 2022.
“We went about this single throughout the lockdown so Willie [Campbell] and I recorded the template for both songs at Willie s home studio in Tolsta on the Isle of Lewis,” explains Charlie Clark.
“I then went down to Dystopia studios in Glasgow, and we got James Clifford (Cosmic Rough Riders) on bass and Paul Quinn (Teenage Fanclub/Soup Dragons) to play drums and percussion. Jason Shaw (Cambodian Space Project) produced the session and what came out of this very collaborative project was a really raw, stripped-down rock n roll record. At this point Willie and I have been lucky enough to experience the best years of Astrid since 2016 so we really had fun with this single and it’s a definite call back to our earlier singles which were pretty much all inspired by the 60’s psychedelic compilation ‘Nuggets’ which we never had off the tour bus back in the day.”
Find yourself on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides and you’ll find the deep roots of a band called Astrid. It all began in 1990 when 11-year-old Willie Campbell met 10-year-old Charlie Clark who then bonded over a shared fanaticism of comic books, movies and music.
Six years later the two found themselves in Glasgow with a rhythm section who shared their love of ’60s garage, psychedelic pop and tight harmonies. In the beginning the boys of Astrid spent their days writing songs and working flower stalls. At night they donned their finest charity shop threads to play Astrid’s complete catalogue of seven songs at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut and Nice & Sleazy’s.
Stop by the Halt Bar on Woodlands Road any Saturday afternoon and the boys could likely be found playing the open stage or spending their giros at the bar, or even more likely, doing both. It was here Stevie Jackson from Belle & Sebastian heard Astrid and asked the boys along for the first UK Belle & Sebastian tour.
It was on this tour after a show at London’s ‘The Union Chapel’ the boys met managers and founders of Fantastic Plastic Records, Darrin and Julie Robson who duly signed them up.
Produced by Scottish indie legend Edwyn Collins, Astrid’s debut album, ‘Strange Weather Lately’ would go on to sell 10,000 copies and solidify their position as 1999’s darlings of radio, gaining support from the likes of John Peel, Steve Lamacq and Mark and Lard.
The band have also performed and toured with acts such as The Go-Betweens, Ben Lee, Sean Lennon and fellow indie circuit players, Snow Patrol.
“We’re really excited about touring next year and wanted to start the year with the new single,” added Clark. “Next year we plan on releasing another single with a full band tour to support it. Probably April time followed by festival performances.”
ASTRID’S ‘Storm Sessions’ tour dates:
January 27: Glasgow, Celtic Connections.
February 8: Aberdeen, The Blue Lamp.
February 11: Edinburgh, The Voodoo Rooms.
February 12: Stirling, The Tolbooth.
February13: Inverness, Eden Court.
Learn more about Astrid here:
T W O
PROVING age is no barrier to ambition, Frenchman Frédérick Klose is aiming to make 2022 his breakthrough year — having first performed live way back in 1977.
However, music initially took a back seat when adulthood arrived with Klose putting his efforts into his businesses which unfortunately folded in 2020. But rather than view this moment as a setback, he turned it into something positive and began composing and producing electronic chillout music under the name, ‘EZölK.’
“EZölK is just, almost, my name backwards,” he explained. “KLOSE became EZölK and concerning pronunciation, being a pianist, I find it funny to pronounce it, ‘Easy All Key.’
“But yes, I was indeed a printer and had two printing works. However, the printing world was already very difficult and the Covid crisis precipitated the closures. But in 2022 I would like my lifelong dream to come true, I have already lost a lot of time.”
Klose’s musical journey began at the tender age of six with classical piano lessons which quickly led to a string of awards, his first attempts at composing, and the forming of several bands.
Encouraged by French multi-instrumentalist Geyster who told him, “Music, if you don’t share it, doesn’t live,” ‘EZölK’ released his ‘My West Coast’ EP in October, a tribute to the favoured American bands of his youth.
“My influences for the writing of ‘My West Coast’ are undoubtedly [1970s American rock outfit] ‘TOTO.’ I am an absolute fan of these extraordinary musicians and West Coast music has always been with me,” he added.
“I chose the name ‘My West Coast’ in reference to the music I listened to when I was younger. It is a tribute to all these musicians like Toto, Christopher Cross and Bill LaBounty who rocked my adolescence. It was my West Coast music in my Sony Walkman.
“In addition, I was sponsored by one of the greatest bass players in the world, Pascal Mulot. It was a chance meeting, and he found my project very interesting and introduced me to his musician friends in order to record and mix the two tracks of the EP.”
And clearly making up for lost time, the New Year is already shaping up to be, musically, one of his busiest.
“My start to 2022 is going to be very busy. I’m releasing an instrumental piano and electro album, it’s a very chill sound and will be in the style that ‘IV U’ (For You) released in June 2021. Then I’m producing a song for a young singer, Elodie Siby, who has a more ‘pop’ sound, and also composing and producing a pop/rock album for a very promising singer, ‘Kerran.’
“I still have many surprises in store and 2022 is likely to be rich in events, especially as I had the chance to participate on guitarist Philippe Kalfon’s album. I put my synth on three tracks, and I thank him, he trusted me by accepting one of my compositions. I’m not producing the track, but I look forward to the result with release scheduled for early 2022.”
Learn more about EZölK here:
T H R E E
ROME-based trio VONAMOR have released single number three, ‘Take Your Heart,’ the lead track from their self-titled debut album due in February 2022.
Comprising of sisters Giulia and Francesca Bottaro along with vocalist Luca Guidobaldi, they have previously released the singles, ‘Never Betray Us’ and ‘Fast-Forward Girl.’
“Through our darkwave music and words, we search for the question, the ambiguity, the multiform influence of a variety of demons,” said Giulia Bottaro. “We feel the urgency of questioning ourselves, our fellow human beings and the reality around us.”
And sister Francesca adds, “With VONAMOR, we turned such a feeling into a sound of female and male voices, wrapping bass-lines and electronic beats, woodwind instruments chasing and caressing you, till we make you dance and move and love with us.”
With a delicious hint of Lene Lovich about the song, and certain to appeal to fans of ‘Atoms For Peace’ and Minuit Machine, the band’s roots date back to 2016 when their focus was to communicate images, authoring various scores for short films before morphing into a group comfortably occupying a position at the very intersection between darkwave and electro music.
“VONAMOR is an escape plan, our treasure island, a thick and savage jungle that gives you the chance to let your prayers and whispers reverberate like a church,” said Luca Guidobaldi.
“We used the music in this album to walk paths that we hadn’t known before, to connect Rome to Paris to Berlin to Beijing, to mix techno music with folk, to let our voices and bodies mingle and dance to an incredibly weird yet familiar beat, and finally to search for a boom of love and light into the dark of our everyday life.”
‘Take Your Heart’ is now available across all streaming platforms, with the full-length album released digitally and on CD, in February 2022.
F O U R
FORMER XTC co-frontman COLIN MOULDING presented us with some new music earlier this year, his first as a solo artist, releasing the ‘The Hardest Battle’ CD.
This mini-EP offered a tantalizing glimpse into the creative process of one of the UK’s finest songwriters, showcasing Moulding’s English pop vision and XTC’s trademark qualities of melody, rhythm, variety, and idiosyncratic subject matter, all mixed with nostalgia and a degree of pensiveness.
“To be nobody but yourself, in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight.
“I saw these lines in a book I picked up in a second-hand bookshop and thought, maybe there’s a song there. I think it’s by the poet EE Cummins,” said Moulding.
“And there it was. All I had to do was come up with some music to marry to this notion. I do think most people aren’t themselves really or become themselves eventually. And that struggle isn’t easy. I recorded this pretty much in isolation as most people have been this past year or so. One crazy year for all of us. Perhaps ‘The Hardest Battle’ we humans have faced externally, as well as the one we fight internally every day.”
Founded in 1972, Moulding wrote XTC’s first three charting singles, ‘Life Begins at the Hop,’ ‘Making Plans for Nigel,’ and ‘Generals and Majors.’ Moulding continued with frontman Andy Partridge until the group’s demise in 2006.
Moulding’s CD also includes two other songs, ‘Say It’ (original version) and an exploratory demo of the title track.
“About ‘Say It,’ I just felt this track deserved a better fate than it got really. I wrote it for the XTC album that never was,” he added. “But it ended up on a promo disk amongst XTC’s ‘Last Days of Rome.’ This version feels much more akin to my original song mindset compared to the expedient I agreed to at the time.”
Regarding ‘The Hardest Battle (First Exploratory Demo,)’ Moulding adds, “I think demos are much more of a demonstration to one’s self than for other people. You have to find out what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, you shoot from the hip and just fire it out and see what sticks. Larkin always said that he didn’t know what his poems were about initially until he got some way into them- that’s what this is — I’m just ‘Larkin’ around until it presents itself. Then the crossword puzzle can begin.”
The Hardest Battle’ is out now and can be ordered on CD single exclusively via Burning Shed.