Tananai (stage name of Alberto Cotta Ramusino) won the audience over after having participated in Sanremo, quickly becoming one of the most popular artists among youths. After Sanremo, his single “Sesso occasionale” became a certified platinum record.
Born in 1995 in Milan, Alberto has been passionate about electronic music since he was a teenager and soon began producing his own music, publishing his first album “To Discover and Forget” in 2017 using the pseudonym Not for us.
The first EP as a true singer-songwriter
He then began to explore various musical genres and also write in Italian, while still mainly dealing with production. In 2019 he emerged as a true singer-songwriter with his new artistic name Tananai, and in 2020 he released his first EP entitled “Piccoli boati”. Alberto himself told us: “The first EP arose from my desire to talk about what was happening in my life, because I believe that the daily life of each and every one of us is very special in its own way. So I tried to convey my days and my love stories, my disappointments and moments when I was absorbed by the music I made. With my past as an electronic music producer, I had to learn to write and unlearn to produce. And I talked about what I knew: my everyday life”.
A new turn: ‘BABY GODDAMN’ and ‘Exaggerated’
In 2021 his career took a new turn with the single “BABY GODDAMN”, which also became a certified platinum record and with which he is now at the top of the Spotify Italy Top 50 ranking. In 2021 he also collaborated with likes of Fedez and Jovanotti, participating in Sanremo Giovani with the song “Exaggerated”, thanks to which he became one of the three winners. 2022 began with his participation in the 72nd Sanremo Festival where he presented “Sesso occasionale”, a song full of irony and positivity.
His participation in the Festival – despite various criticism – gave him great visibility, so much so that a few days after the end of the competition his single joined the Top 10 among the most listened songs of Spotify Italy, with “BABY GODDAMN” also climbing the rankings to reach the top 50. And Alberto confesses: “The song ‘Sesso occasionale’ came to me in a very natural way during a session in the studio. It came out as a continuation of ‘Exaggerated’ – the song I brought to Sanremo Giovani – and immediately engaged us, so we worked until the deadline to send it. I didn’t know what to expect after Sanremo. I sort of improvised, focusing only on emanating a positive energy and being able to go back to singing on a stage in front of a real audience”.
‘Sesso occasionale’, a certified platinum record
A success that continues today with his first Italian Tour that has already sold out for many dates, in barely any time. “By being able to play live in front of as many people as possible, my most secret wishes are coming true. And finally after seeing my dreams halted so many times, realising that it’s finally going to happen… fills me with an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm”.
Fashion and music are two sides of the same coin, two universes of meaning which dialogue and create a hybrid with one another. We are always led to consider them as a single entity, and perhaps we wouldn’t even be able to imagine one disconnected from the other. Artists such as Elvis Presley,The Beatles, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga have taught us that the right image can define, if not build, an entire character, just as much as their talent. Besides, many scholars have explored this connection, most notably the anthropologist Ted Polhemus, who often stressed how “Over the course of history, the musician has been a figure to watch, besides being listened to”.
Thus music and fashion are two forms of communication, two actual languages. Now more than ever, the visual package of musical talents is manufactured behind the scenes, and behind this process lie stylists, professional figures capable of bringing life to imaginaries of strong emotional impact, which powerfully attract our gaze.
“Above all, dressing a person means knowing their true essence. That is where everything starts. I see clothing as a bridge between different cultural areas and physicality: only when I manage to build solid bridges is my work done”. These are the words Susanna Ausoni, celebrity styling queen in Italy, describes her profession that has led her to collaborate with the biggest artists in music and showbiz. Ausoni has a long career behind her, first working for MTV in the 90s, and currently being the creator of looks for stars of the calibre of Mahmood, Noemi, Elisa and Francesca Michielin.
Nicolò “Nick” Cerioni, a creative visionary who often uses irony and surprise, had his professional training precisely with Ausoni. He has collaborated with Jovanotti for 10 years. Cerioni’s aesthetic signature is surely high-impact and often controversial; not coincidentally, he is indeed behind many of Achille Lauro’s, including that by Gucci which he wore at the 2020 edition of the Sanremo Festival, an unforgettable tulle, crystal-studded jumpsuit.
He is also the person behind Måneskin’s glam-rock aesthetics, as well as the new trend that Orietta Berti has recently taken up; “Orietta is a free, open-minded woman, she is our Lady Gaga”, he commented, surely a daring comparison which however high- lights the irony behind such a makeover.
Sometimes a change in image can put an artist’s career into turbo mode. As one of the most requested stylists in the music biz, Ramona Tabita knows this quite well. She is behind Elodie’s metamorphosis from ‘Amici’ alumna to femme fatale, as well as Ghali’s frequent collaborator for years.
One of the biggest new names in the field is Lorenzo Oddo, a.k.a. Mr. Lollo, fashion designer who was part of the Marco de Vincenzo’s team for years, as well as Levante’s go-to stylist. “Claudia is an expressive, extraordinary force, she’s like a blank page that paints itself through clothing, in different colours each time. She’s got exceptional charisma, she can wear anything without it overpowering her image”, he says.
It is precisely during a Levante concert that Oddo met Veronica Lucchesi and Dario Mangiaracina, a.k.a. La Rappresentante di Lista, whose image he also curated at the latest edition of the Sanremo Festival. “When I heard the song, I instantly thought of putting two characters on the stage; we spent months in the Moschino archives looking for the right pieces that would help us represent the song’s themes visually. The record is apparently light, fun, but at the same time, it compels us to think about the world around us. We opted for looks that were apparently playful, but that would also convey a deep message, high-impact outfits that would perfectly complement the narrative. Styling starts from the mind, there has to be some thought behind it”.
If we will remember Blanco’s cloaks and light blouses from the latest Sanremo Festival, we have Silvia Ortombina, a.k.a. Tiny Idols, to thank, who’s collaborated with the artist for years. “I wanted to translate carnality into simple elegance, to represent the body rather than the spirit, to represent a lucid dream that lives in an authentic, real feeling. Pierpaolo Piccioli has always had the ability to superbly translate that kind of aesthetics, and Iwas honoured to collaborate with the Valentino team, starting precisely with the Maison’s statements: cloak and chiffon. I wanted to give life to a powerful message by combining embroidery and tattoos, repainting the body in a precious, but simple way at the same time, affirming that fashion is not a question of trends, but style”.
Francesco Motta, aka Motta, is one of the best-known singer-songwriters on the Italian music scene. Born in Pisa in 1986, he made his debut as singer and drummer in 2006 with the punk and new wave band Criminal Jockers. In 2013 he studied composition for film at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and composed soundtracks for films and documentaries.
His career as a soloist began in 2016 with the release of his first album “La fine dei vent’anni”, for which he composed lyrics, music and arrangements, and which earned him the Targa Tenco. The two singles “Ed è quasi come essere felice” and “La nostra ultima canzone” of 2018 anticipated the release of his second studio album, “Vivere o morire”, with which he once again earned the prestigious award ‘Best Album of the Year’. Motta participated in the 2019 Sanremo Festival with “Dov’è l’Italia”, a song with social connotations about migrants, winning the evening of duets together with Nada.
I’ve been writing songs my whole life, ever since I was a child. It has always been the only way to understand myself and to exorcise the pain. I was born as a songwriter and only later became a producer. I’ve always produced the songs I write, so this transition was quite natural. My approach always begins with the song, as I hardly ever work on things I don’t write myself.
That’s how it goes: we meet in the studio, have a coffee, talk about ourselves and just start writing. But only when I think a song is good do I move to the second step, which is the arrangement. I still have a sense of ancient respect for music. I never make fun of it, and I never do something just because it’s work.
Music has literally saved my life, and every time I walk into the studio it’s like entering a temple. I’ve got my work team there and it’s been the same for ages. Here is Paolo Antonacci, with whom I’ve written many radio hits in recent years, and Stefano Clessi, my lifelong friend. We started together in an independent reality, inventing ourselves every day. He was the one who introduced me to songwriting, I never thought that an artist would sing songs written by someone else until ten years ago. Now I find myself working with many different artists from different genres and music worlds.
All my work definitely shares a veil of melancholy and emotion that I’ve always carried deep within. I’ve never believed in packaged music, just to be clear, that’s made of “plastic”.
To vibrate my deepest strings, songs must have some sort of restlessness.
In the same way, every production preserves my taste and training from the golden age of hip hop in Berlin to 80s electronic music. I’m truly in love with pop and everything that makes you hum a song from the very first time you hear it.
The Italian music scene changes from month to month and I find it very inspiring right now: there are no clear distinctions anymore, all the rules have been broken. This keeps me awakeand inspires me so much. Take for example Mahmood and Blanco: only two years ago, these two artists would have been defined as “urban” and yet they won Sanremo with an exquisitely Italian pop song, a beautiful melody in the best Italian traditions. This is the triumph of pop. The metrics change a little, of course, but urban is now mixed up with pop, there are no rules anymore.
Our country celebrates melody, and a lovely melody always wins over everything else. It wins over repeated attempts to be cool at the expense of the song, and it also wins over useless attempts to make a production forcibly lavish, which only weakens the songwriting.
In the end, only the songs win.This is so simple that is only understood by a few.
Body, mind and spirit: it is not easy to trace common themes in the artistic production and modus pensandi of Arca, the Venezuelan DJ, singer, fashion icon and producer. One should perhaps speak of guiding principles rather than common themes.
The role of the body is undoubtedly central. Body is all that we have at our birth; however, it is not only flesh and blood, but also body in its extensions. In the Vincentian Vitruvian man, the material perimeter of the human body coincided in the shapes of the circle (the divine) and the square (the earthly). For Arca, the divine and earthly coexist, but the geometry is extended, complicated. Arca’s figures explicitly refer to the Vitruvian man: in the Prada/Rakata video (whose images were later used as the covers of her latest albums), we see Arca in an almost laboratory-like set, with doubled limbs and heads, in poses that trace squares and circles, but also progressively more complicated shapes. This is where the mind comes into play, capable of making itself the bearer of a continuous increase in the body: alterations, extensions, duplications, eliminations. Such manifestations of the body are just as real if on flesh and blood as if in a music video, a cover or an art performance.
Arca tends towards a (re)solution in a series of Vichian courses and recursions, in which person and machine become one, split, and recombine. It is no coincidence that over the course of her latest project the concepts of “first death” and “last birth” appear several times, in a continuous cycle of rebirth and reinvention. Arca is in this sense her own deus ex machina: and this is where the spirit comes into play. If in Greek tragedy the god brought resolution, while here faith is earthly, and is a faith in constant change, what Arca herself repeatedly calls a ‘mutant faith’. Mutant was the title of her 2015 album, while mutant faith appears explicitly for the first time as a concept in her creative output with the performance art residency Mutant;Faith, in New York for four nights in October 2019.
This belief is one of the red threads within Arca’s latest ambitious and maximalist project: a pentalogy of albums entitled Kick, from the prenatal kick, conceived as the first tangible sign of a human being’s life. KiCk i opened the kick cycle in mid-2020, followed closely at the end of 2021 by its iterations ii, iii, iiii and iiiii, released one per day over the course of a week between November and December 2021. 59 songs in total across five albums, initially conceived as a trilogy, later becoming a tetralogy, to which a surprise fifth element was added. These facts alone give an idea of how much of the artist’s production is in progress. The process is more important than the final goal, and it is the journey itself that gives meaning to exploration, to experimentation.
More is always more for Arca. Describing the project from a musical point of view is not easy, precisely because of its constant mutability, in which one can sense the longing for fixed points; these goals, however, are nothing more than new starting points for further extension and complication. The first kick is somewhat the most pop element (not coincidentally, also the one with the most guest artists, such as Björk, Rosalía, Sophie, Shygirl), but also the one that presents the vastness and eclecticism of styles present in the following four works. KICK ii starts with a series of reggaeton-like songs, which in the second part are dissected into a series of tracks with impalpable atmospheres, in which the rhythms and melodies tend to fade away. The third volume draws its inspiration from club music, especially techno.
The atmospheres from the first to the third volume tend towards an increasing agitation, which is then to some extent resolved in the last two chapters: in kick iiii Arca achieves a sort of synthesis of her meta-pop, in a collection of songs rich in melodies, full of poetic suggestions and manifestos of intent. Queer is a political song in which Arca exalts the strength and pain of her own queerness, in tears that are tears of fire, of a queer fire. Planningtorock, famous for another queer dancefloor anthem from 2013, Let’s Talk About Gender Baby, is the guest on the track. Shirley Manson of Garbage (who came to prominence in 1993 with a song called Queer; is this a coincidence?) recites the words of another manifesto, Alien Inside, a celebration of the otherness within each of us, as an opportunity for constant renewal. The fifth and last (?) kick, a surprise release without any announcement, is a coda, a sort of epilogue to the project. Of the five albums, it is the most stripped-down, in which Arca rediscovers the instruments and elements of classical music that marked her early works, such as Xen. Unlike her first efforts, however, the music here is less claustrophobic, airier, enriched by elements of ambient music, leaving the impression of an open ending.
Compared to the artistic beginnings of the Arca project, the new element seems to be that of greater openness, which is exuded in a pop (in the broadest sense of the term) afflatus at a musical level, the reflection of which is also perceptible at an aesthetic level. It is no coincidence that Arca has gone from being a niche phenomenon to extending her tentacles (metaphorical and mechanical) into the mainstream, recently also becoming a fashion star, featuring on covers for Vogue Mexico and advertising campaigns for Bottega Veneta, and attracting the attention of contemporary art icons such as Marina Abramović and Hans Ulrich Obrist.
With an increasingly deep and varied artistic output, it is difficult to predict what direction Arca’s career will take in the future. However, one thing can be said with almost total certainty: we are unlikely to see her fixed in one place for too long.
If you were to start a band, what name would you give it? Certainly, not Pregoblin, unless you wanted it to be a Black Metal band. Nonetheless this weird choice, turned out to be winning: when, years ago, I read this name among some emerging British bands, this was the only one that stuck in my mind. The Pregoblin mystery became greater due to their minimal Facebook page, where you could see a little girl’s faded and ruined picture, which seemed coming from a countryside tombstone at the mercy of the elements. No further information other than a puzzling collage of pictures apparently devoid of a logical meaning. Then, suddenly, in 2019, their debut with the most beautiful and catchy single of the year applauded by the specialised critics: “Combustion”.
I found out that there were two members in the band: charming Alex Sebley, a true Baudelairian dandy of the Suburbia, completely immersed in opium smoke and his creativity and Jessica Winter, wonderful in her vintage glasses and her look (luckily) so distant from the trivial and mundane beauty standards of the underground music scene. Previously they have both worked with famous artists such as Fat White Family, Gorillaz and The Horrors. After their debut with “Combustion”, Pregoblin have released a handful of pieces. Four, to be more specific, four gems, all very different, but at the same time impeccable due to their clear-crystal pop auteur lyrics. The latest is the magnificent and dreamy “Snakes and oranges” a small masterpiece that enters your mind and stays there.
Alogside Pregoblin, Jessica Winter has her solo career. Her angel voice immediately stands out out in her 2019 debut piece “Sleep Forever”.
This piece is followed by more singles all contained in a five piece EP “Sad Music”. The sound is still pop, but, compared to Pregoblin, the arrangements are more sophisticated and the atmospheres more theatrical.
Jessica’s latest single “Psycho”, a song with an epic and mysterious rhythm, comes with a particularly eccentric and disquieting video.
Jessica and Pregoblin are an adorable anomaly, made with ingredients that are often deliberately (and not only apparently) chaotic and unlikely, but always traversed by a true poetic vein filled with marvellous melancholy, which proudly stands out against the glamorous and artificial current musical landscape. This is why I recommend that you check out their music and fall in love it: you won’t regret it.
Here is my interview with Jessica Winter where she reveals how Pregoblin got together and why they chose such a weird name, she also tells us about her health problems, which have never stopped her and other odd things..
Hi Jessica, thank you for this interview for the readers of MANINTOWN! Can you tell us how you met Alex Sebley and how you got the idea of forming Pregoblin and why did you choose that name for the band?
Me and Alex met on facebook – he was promoting a Harry Merry show and I’m a big fan of Harry. Alex being Alex had set up the show but no ticket link. I messaged him about buying a ticket and from there we got chatting. It’s weird though because we later found out we were both from Hayling Island; an island next to Portsmouth. We chose the name PREGOBLIN because we were booked to play a show but had no name so it started as a bit of a joke but then it stuck. The drug pregablin helps people get off heroin but also treats people with chronic pain. So we have that drug in common.
You call your music “weird pop”. In fact it defies any classification. It’s catchy, but at the same time, it doesn’t want to be main stream. Would you like to say something about this?
People like to be challenged
I have always admired you for the natural way you’ve never made a mystery of your physical condition due to hip dysplasia. Can you tell how you relate to this condition and if it has influenced your artistic career.
I’ve had many a lock down through my life in hospital. Have spent 6 weeks at a time lying on my back not being able to move from the waist down which has probably influenced my work ethic; I’m very grateful to be able to do music as a career and I work very hard whilst I’m healthy enough too. I don’t let things stress me out too much and I’m grateful for pedestrian activities such as being able to walk, being outside and just generally being alive. Life is such a privilege and I always have a feeling that it can quickly be taken away at any time.
I have seen you many times live and each time I have thought you were fantastic. I have always been very intrigued by how you appear on stage: how you move defies all the stereotypes about a frontwoman. What do you think about this statement and do you like to perform?
Thank you ! I haven’t given it too much thought to be honest. I perform how feels comfortable to me. I love to dance, I always have… when I’m on stage I lose the pain… it must be the adrenaline… I pay for it the next day but in those moments it’s worth it. I love to entertain and bring a bit of joy to anyone watching. I think with anything it’s important to not take yourself too seriously!!
Recently your beautiful single “Psycho” was released with a very intriguing and quite unsettling video. Can you tell us how it was made?
This song came about in a very sterile setting. I was being courted by Warp Publishing and they had offered to put me in a one week ‘writing camp.’ Each day would be with a new stranger; some were producers, some were artists, some were writers and by the end of each day you would deliver a new song. I thought the whole thing sounded so revolting that I just HAD to do it. By the third or fourth day I was coming to terms with the anxiety of meeting new people and I was put with Bobby aka S Type and an artist called LYAM. These two people happened to be amazing; we spent the day writing a song which I remember was quite good but then LYAM had to leave early. Bobby and I had two hours left so we just started jamming… 2 hours later PSYCHO was born. It all happened so quick that I never even registered that it could be a good song. It was only until a year later that we both revisited and were like ’this is good’ so I did a proper vocal take and drafted in Gam from SWEAT to lay some strings down and it was done. There’s something to be said that when you create something so flippantly, without thinking about it too much, or caring too much you probably have less chance of ruining it.
When is your solo album due?
I’m still deciding. Right now I’m just writing writing writing. I love EPs though a small collection of songs… not too little… not too much.
How do you relate to the legendary South London Scene? Are there artists or groups you feel more attuned to?
The ’South London Scene’ – there are so many scenes within South London but I think the one you are referring to is the one surrounding The Windmill? I feel Tim Perry is responsible for bringing this community together. He is always booking diverse acts and genres. He’s supported me in both solo and PREGOBLIN and is always coming up with new ways of bringing people together. I bumped into him on the street about a month ago and even though live music has been axed this year, he was talking to me about doing some kind of space opera and bringing in different musicians from different bands to make this night happen. Love him!
What is your musical background and what do you listen mostly to in this moment?
I was about 2 years old with a back brace holding my legs in the splits… the keys would keep me entertained for hours! My Nan paid for piano lessons from when I was about 4 and from that point on I was learning classical.
I’ve been listening to Amara ctk100, 100 Gecs, Jazmin Bean, Salvia, ShyGirl, A G Cook, Sorry, Grace Lightman, Deep Tan, SWEAT, Comanavago, Lauren Auder, Eartheater, Daniel Johnston, Cottontail, Slayyter, Lynks, Diane Chorely, Lucy Loone, Zheani, Sundara Karma, Squid, Tïna, ZAND and moreee
About Pregoblin, after your debut with the pop masterpiece “Combustion”, you released a series of very different singles: “Anna”, “Love Letters”, “Gangsters”, and my favourite, the wonderful “Snakes & Oranges”. When is the release of your first much awaited album due and what should we expect?
We are hoping to start the album early next year. We already have been writing lots of new demos…… <3
Favourite film and book?
Adams Family & “Perfume” (by Süskind)
Is becoming a rockstar something you look forward to or you don’t particularly care?
About a decade ago the rock music scene seemed quite dead. I couldn’t find anything particularly interesting among the records released in that period. I clearly remember that one day, by chance, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube of a live exhibition by a group called Fat White Family. I was totally flabbergasted. I had a closer look and my first feeling was confirmed: finally after so many years I was before a musically unclassifiable band, endowed with a deadly mix of desecrating anti conformism.
I eagerly looked up everything I could find about them on video. I noticed that almost all their videos were by a Lou Smith. I made some research and found out that Lou Smith had made the live recordings of other interesting groups and that, almost always, these recordings came from a venue in London, more specifically in Brixton, called the Windmill. I was surprised by the freshness and the quality of these bands. Besides Fat White Family, I was impressed by many others such as “Meatraffle”, “Warmduscher”, “Pregoblin”, “Goat Girl”, “Madonnatron”. I also found that those bands were not only all from London, but from the southern part of the city: a music scene so rich of styles and genres that had developed just in a few neighbouring districts.
Years later, while I was still eagerly following Lou Smith’s new recordings, I went to London and entered the Windmill in Brixton for the first time. I remember I was really thrilled. The same thrill you feel when you know that one of your dreams is about to be fulfilled. I entered and was immediately taken aback by the kindness of the staff and by the fact that the place was anything but glittering and fashionable: a cozy local pub with a stage at the end bar with a colourful curtain and the logo placed in foreground. I thought it was amazing and beautiful that all those bands had been on that small and plain stage. But that night something else that had a strong impact on me happened; I caught a glimpse of someone who looked familiar. I walked near and realized I was before the person thanks to whom I was there in that moment: Lou Smith! I introduced myself and greeted him. We became good friends and met-up each time I was in London for a gig. Always at the Windmill obviously.
Due to Coronavirus the Windmill is at risk of closure. It would be something sad and terrible. Here is the link for those who want to take part in the crowdfunding and save this historic venue.
Here is my interview with Lou in which he will tell us about his life, his relationship with the Windmill and the Fat White Family and how and why this incredible music scene started specifically in the South of London.
Can you tell us something about yourself and your many projects?
I was born in Leeds, the son of a geologist father and a creative, artistic mother. We moved to Uxbridge, a west-London suburb when I was 14. It was 1976 the long, hot summer when punk hit the streets of London and the airwaves. I got my first camera during this period, but never took it to any of those early gigs which were perilous affairs with warring factions such as Teds, Rockers, Punx, Skinz etc. I would not have felt safe carrying my camera on the tube back then. I mostly took landscapes, some people and animal shots and documented some of my early travel experiences. I became interested in the alternative music that was played on John Peel’s 10-12pm slot every night listening to the likes of the Clash, The Fall, The Cure, The Ruts, Undertones and countless others including Ska and Reggae artists, setting me apart from the mainstream tastes of my school which were generally heavy rock and later heavy metal. Live, among others, I saw Joy division, The Jam, The Clash, The Cure, The Smiths and even Kate Bush.
After finishing school and being invalided out of my Biochemistry degree at Imperial College, I found a squat in Brixton in 1983 at the age of 21. I have lived and worked in South London ever since then, moving to Camberwell and later East Dulwich where I still live. I have worked as a video engineer, as a set builder/designer/Assistant Art Director/ Art director on countless music promo videos including Prodigy’s Firestarter and Breathe and Nick Cave/ Kylie Minogue’s where the wild Roses Grow and as a freelance photographer, videographer, director and editor of music videos. I have taught myself photography, metalwork including welding and silversmithing, carpentry and more recently screen-printing which has earned me a living in recent years, throwing screen-printing parties for children and making band merchandise for the South London music scene artists.
When and why did you start filming and keeping track of what was happening at the Windmill and other venues in South London?
I first started filming some of the regular musicians playing at Hank Dog’s Easycome Acoustic night then hosted by The Old Nun’s Head pub in Nunhead. It became a regular Wednesday night social event for me during the early years of my daughter Iris’s life, a vital safety valve and artistic endeavour away from the domesticity of family life. I uploaded footage to my YouTube channel of artists such as Lewis Floyd Henry, Boycott Coca-Cola Experience (now Flameproof Moth) Andy (Hank Dogs) Allen himself, Ben Folke Thomas and sister & brother Misty and Rufus (Popskull) Miller.
Onto this relatively tranquil but musically and socially excellent scene burst the then named Champagne Holocaust who first appeared there on the 9th February 2011 where they played a cover of The Monk’s I hate You and handful of their own songs including Borderline and Wild American Prairie. The lineup was the Brothers Saoudi, Saul Adamczewski and backing singers Anna Mcdowell and Georgia Keeling. There was a drummer too that could’ve been Chris OC. Lias (Saoudi) was on guitar and Saul on vocals and tambourine. I did record this show, but somehow managed to lose the original files except for the I Hate You song that I had uploaded to my channel.
They played several more acoustic gigs at Easycome during February and March. From here, I followed the band to their first full line-up gig at The Windmill around the 11th April 2011.
Joining Saul, Lias and Nathan were Dan Lyons on drums and Jak Payne (Metros) on Bass. I had a camera and by using some crack software called Magic Lantern I was able to record at least decent sound as well which made the documenting of live music events from a single source in high quality HD possible for really the first time.
When did you first set foot in the Windmill? Which was the most the most unforgettable night?
That’d be the 11th April 2011 as outlined above, though I do have some distant memory of being dragged there years previously as I had been living in Brixton since the eighties. There were so many great nights there, but the truly transcendental nights for me were always those including FWF or Warmduscher in the line-up. Jack Medley’s big send-off and fundraiser was a spiritually intense affair; the love was so thick you could spread it, and it featured both Warmduscher and Fat White Family. I loved the anarchic feel of the early Fat White gigs and the intense feelings of belonging to a family, of something bigger than the sum of its parts. I’ve had some great time there on Meatraffle nights too and their sister band Scud Fm as well as Shame, Sleaze, Amyl and the Sniffers and Goat Girl.
How important was the Windmill to the “creation” of the South London scene? Can you tell us something about your relation with that fantastic venue?
I don’t think it is hyperbole to suggest that the SLS as we know it would not have been what it is without the Windmill. It’s hard to put your finger exactly on why this is, but the single biggest reason would be Tim Perry the venue’s booker, who’s mixture of great musical taste, avuncular championing of the talented underdog (and over dog) and also his well-honed bullshit detector which inherently weeded out wankers and pseuds. The venue has always attracted the best of sound engineers and the sound quality has always been a key component of the greatness of the whole experience.
Bands are truly supportive of each other here with none of the cool, aloof rivalry I have experienced in many of the North London venues. Once The Windmill’s output and reputation reached a critical mass it of course formed its own gravity which meant a convergence of talent to its doors in order to get some of the magic to rub off. I am proud to have contributed to this process in a small way by the growing archive of my YouTube channel which has helped share some of the amazing roster of talent on display with a growing global audience.
Were you the first to document the Fat White Family’s gigs? Did you understand their potential immediately? Can you tell us what you think of the band?
I can confidently state that I was the first and the most dedicated of their documenters. I did feel from the outset that they were capturing the zeitgeist of the growing feelings of nihilism, of the disgust and utter contempt for the treatment meted out to the commoners by the tide of gentrifiers and of cynical neo lib politicians and global financiers. It reminded me of the spirit of ’76 and reignited the passion I felt for those pioneering punk bands. The word around them grew organically in ripples and the family grew, not yet in a hyped way, but in what felt like an authentic extension of the excitement of their live shows. Something about the seedy and abusive interrelations between the core members, notably Saul and Lias, and the readiness if not glee with which they tackled taboo and degenerate subject matter with a sort of humour and even sickness bordering on certifiable and definitely questionable and unsavoury made them compelling to watch. The tribal, totemic lyrics that nobody thought to question set to sexy, dirty, lo-fi country psyche grooves made for an intoxicating whole, with Lias honing his Gollomesque shrieking and unpredictable falsetto persona whipping up audiences into a frenzy whilst Saul, like some demonic angel stoking the sonic encouragement with his gap toothed grimace and genius guitar licks. The rest of the members were by necessity required to be degenerate / genius by degree.
In your opinion, how is it possible that so many interesting bands come from that part of London?
My take on this was that the insidious wave of gentrification, which to my eyes started when the heart was ripped out of Covent Garden in the late seventies. Then great swathes of first the north and by degrees the west and then south west of London fell to ruthless and homogenous ranks of ‘yuppies. Brixton, with its strong cultural identity and mixture of hippy squatters and large, no-nonsense Afro-Carribean population resisted, at least temporarily. Rents were still affordable, studios and crusty techno culture squats proliferated and the output of Camberwell and Goldsmiths colleges found community and expression in its streets.
Musicians congregated in the few places they could still subsist, explore and thrive, which were the handful of venues in these locales of which the Windmill is definitely the lynchpin, but including the Grosvenor, The Amersham, The new Cross Inn, The Queen’s Head, The Montague Arms, The Five Bells …
Which are your favourite bands in the recent years?
I rarely rave about bands outside of the ones I get to witness first-hand as to me live music is where it is at and where I find what I’m looking for. Without that influence I may well be still mostly listening to the bands I used to love back in the day, reliving past glory as is the case with most men of my age. I have been so fortunate to live just down the road from the Windmill and to have forged a relationship with its keepers and musicians.
Could you say something about the most interesting and promising young bands?
It is refreshing to see that the cycle of upcoming bands is still turning strongly and Corona Virus notwithstanding they continue to come and delight. In no particular order I have much fondness for the following: Paddywak, STV, Deadletter, PVA, Muckspreader, Misty Miller.
Update – June 2020 Back in March, Coachella Festival announced that it would postpone its festival until October of this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, after much deliberation, Coachella has formally been cancelled.
According to Billboard, the festival’s allied company, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), has been financially struggling amid the health crisis. It has had to lay off 15 percent of its employees and has furloughed an additional 100. In addition to that, it has had to issue pay cuts between 20 and 50 percent. “Every employee worldwide will be impacted in one form or another. It is an agonizing decision, but sadly, a necessary one,” AEG’s CEO Dan Beckerman stated in an internal employee memo.
Coachella hopes to return next April; however, AEG predicts the festival might have to be delayed until October 2021 if it aims to have a full-capacity event. For those who have purchased tickets for this year’s event, refunds are currently being placed on hold until AEG confirms the details of next year’s gathering.
Tik-Tokkers, rejoice! The app has officially exceeded 2 billion downloads, according to an analytical report Sensor Tower.
The ByteDance social video app accumulated a whopping 315 million downloads across the App Store and Google Play in Q1 2020 – the highest number of downloads for any app in a quarter. Of the 2 billion downloads, more than 1.5 billion come from Google Play while the App Store accounts for 495.2 million downloads.
Senior Tower credits Tik Tok’s surge to the coronavirus pandemic, as mobile phone have become the ultimate weapon to dwell against quarantine’s boredom.
India takes the lead with the highest number of lifetime installs with 611 million downloads, translating to 30.3 percent of the total. Following the South Asian country is China with 196.6 million downloads for its local version called Douyin. The figure translates to 9.7 percent of total downloads, however Sensor Tower notes that the number doesn’t include the country’s third-party Android store downloads. At number three is the United States with 165 million downloads, translating to 8.2 percent.
Leading streaming service Spotify has reached $2 billion in revenue for Q1 2020, tapping analysts’ forecasts. Consequently, the streaming company welcomed a decisive net-sum profit of $1 million, while other businesses remain at loss due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In light of global challenges lingering across the entire world, chances are we’re all in a better mood of listening to artists we love and cherish for. And on that note, Spotify’s monthly users have peaked to 286 million, while paid users are at 130 million and ad-supported monthly active users are at 163 million.
According to TechCrunch, the spike falls in line with the boost in media streaming services amid the pandemic. However, while numbers soar, other areas decrease.
Spotify reports that streaming shows low consumption in areas heavily affected by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain. Furthermore, listening patterns vary with more frequency.
“Despite the global uncertainty around COVID-19 in Q1, our business met or exceeded our forecast for all major metrics,” Spotify revealed to shareholders. “For Q2 and the remainder of the year, our outlook for most of our key performance indicators has remained unchanged with the exception of revenue where a slowdown in advertising and significant changes in currency rates are having an impact.”
From Manchester to the world: the rise of indie rock.
The Manchester based band were indeed five strangers who gathered in the city in September 2015 to begin their musical study. Hailing from Birmingham, Scunthorpe and Carlisle, over the next 3 years Conor Rabone (23 vocals) Tom Wingate (22 guitar) Bruce Higgs (23 bass/keys) Peter Crampsey (24 drums) and Andre Ilkiw (22 guitar/bass) all came from different musical and cultural backgrounds.
Since moving to Manchester and meeting at ‘BIMM’ music college they developed their style taking in many musical influences to create a sound that is unique, far from other infamous comparisons (do the Gallagher brothers ring any bell?) and that boasts about a new course for indie rock.
The name is also a homage to the work of light artist Nathan Coley, and ‘Gathering of Strangers’ is in fact a light work that welcomes the Gallery Entrance at Whitwork Park in Manchester.
The boys were all fans of this artwork and asked for permission to use it as the name of the band. What makes them special, besides the artistic reference and the good looks? They write anthemic songs that scream passion and a sound that feels like a velvet touch.
Over the coming years regular shows across the city and around the UK saw the five-piece build a cult following of avid fans who ‘couldn’t get enough’ of their captivating symphonies alongside the energy and passion that exuded from their electric presence on stage.
Conor’s voice is deep and warm, the melody is fluid, melancholic and psychedelic at the same time. A new rhythm that is intoxicating without question. Behind this route to success (their record ‘Lady’ was record of the week on local radios in December 2019) they have five very different personalities and each draw from separate and personal musical influences, which in turn effects how they write music as a collective.
Conor says: “We came together to study in Manchester and now consider it our adopted home. We are currently writing our most forward thinking and power-driven music to date and plan to express ourselves even further as we grow and move forward”.
Their First release ‘Nice Hair’ (June 2018) set the tone and the follow-up ‘Lady’ (March 2019) brought them much attention having worked with Neal ‘X’ Whitmore (Marc Almond/Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Cenzo Townshend (Decoy studios) to mix and Frank Arkwright (Abbey Road) to master.
With the power and rawness of 70’s inspiration, ‘Lady’, their most famous hit has all the flair of the old classics yet with a deeply modern twist. Their easy-going attitude made it a pleasure to meet with them for this exclusive editorial and a lot of fun to watch on stage. They are contemporary rockstars that are humble, kind and respectful with 29 anyone they find in their path, whether it’s the press, their fans or other musicians.
These extremely talented young boys have now set their sights on the rest of the world and we are confident they will conquer a wider audience. Good music, style and savoir-faire, all at once. Watch this space.
A chat with Sananda Matreya about life, fashion and music
You chose your new name by yourself. What does it mean for you this change? The name change meant a new opportunity to get some new karma!
I had gone as far as I could’ve with the previous identity & it became quite clear that for all intents & purposes, he didn’t own who he was. And it has always been of most paramount importance for me to be a free man. I am a dreamer, not a slave. And I knew that I would need to be free, in order to fulfill what I felt was Heaven’s Will for my work on this planet that God loves. Sananda Maitreya works for God, period. And I have never been too fond of taking orders from those who could not see my vision as clearly as I. The industry owned my old soul, so with prayers & many meditations, It was determined that we would create a new identity & put our trust & faith in the full powers of my dream.
You were a professional boxer and then a soul music superstar known as Terence Trent D’Arby. What are you carrying around from these past experiences? My Boxing Experience confirmed my warriors instict. Although I was never a Professional fighter, I was a Golden Gloves Champion in my youth. It taught me that I wasn’t a weak. It also taught me the value of discipline, dedication, passion. All qualities that would help me survive those crazy ‘Superstar’ years, while I was growing up to be a man willing to take responsibility for my own life.
How would you describe your sound with three words? 3 Words ? ‘D’, ‘LISH’, ‘US’ !
How do you develop your creative process? What are your sources of inspiration? My creative process is simple, I follow the tides. When the ideas come, I use my experience, imagination & talents to explore where the idea wants to go. I never dictate to the idea, I let the idea take me where it might want to go. It is all but a meditation.
You get up, you smoke, you pray, you work. All the while grateful to even have work to contemplate. And another simple trick to working is to always be working.
I am a workaholic & quite proud to be so.
What artists helped you to shape your music? Wow, that is a loaded question because there were so many ! Mainly the great songwriters & producers. I was most influenced by those who were in charge of their music, since most of those in charge of their music deserved to be as it were evidence that they were in command of their gifts. Rod Stewart, James Brown, The Beatles, The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Prince,Abba, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Elvis, Cream, The Who, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Steely Dan Aretha Franklin, Patsy Cline & a slew of quite a few others.
How has your music changed with the advent of Internet? The Internet was a future I foresaw already in the early 90’s as my salvation and path to freedom’s road. But make no mistake, we pay a heavy toll to travel freedom’s road. But it was a price I was willing to invest because I saw the Internet as the vehicle that I had been dreaming of for years before, a place whereby I might be free to be at my most creative best & no longer have to worry about any other consideration but what Best Suited The ART. How is your relationship with social media? Do they play an important role in your career? Yes, Social Media plays an immense role in my relationship to those like minded souls like me. My music was supported from the very first day by a generation of fans excited to be engaged in my evolution and progress in my journey through space/time as an artist. It was awesome from the very beginning. It was what I was looking for. I love the flexibility it gives. And the direct contact. It is more intimate.
How is your relationship with fashion? My relationship with fashion is improving !
You play and perform with different instruments…how do u manage to merge all these to create new sounds? I manage to create new sounds by trusting what I am doing while doing it. If I heart it, then I trust what I hear and then simply follow the process. It is instructive to remember that one doesn’t have to know what one is doing, as long as you enjoy doing it. Whatever one is doing will always figure itself out soon enough, if not now.
What are your future projects? My future are to continue to promote ‘PROMETHEUS & PANDORA’ with some concerts in the upcoming Summer. And to enjoy the time I have being married to a wonderful woman & our 2 fabulous sons. Most of my closest friends in music are now deceased.
I can often hear their ghosts reminding me to appreciate all of this more, while it is there to be appreciated.
So this Summer I will commence upon a celebration of having survived over 30 years of the various stages of notoriety I’ve encountered. I will be pleased to be accompanied by the most talented and lovely Luisa Corna.