The Kaje talks YOU to Kate Havnevik

Having conquered hearts through numerous song slots on Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C. and The West Wing, Havnevik is all too aware that TV brings you in to the hearts and more importantly the heads of a wanting audience, Norwegian songstress Kate Havnevik must have counted her lucky stars when Apple contacted her to feature her long-awaited sophomore release “YOU” on their global advert for the iCloud. Like many others, The Kaje‘s ears propped firmly up as her gripping vocal struck the right chord and so we are thrilled to have finally caught up for a chat…

It has been half a decade since “Melankton”, was there a conscious decision for you to wait before unleashing “YOU”?

No conscious decision at all, life does not always go as planned and I have spent the years in between the two albums writing, touring, moving between London, New York and now Norway. There has been lots going on.

How would you say your sound has evolved during the time away?

The sound evolves all the time, but I also think it is the need to move on and not make the same album twice. The need to try slightly different things.

How have your intentions and ambitions altered?

I think my ambitions have changed from thinking things will build up to one thing happening, to thinking of a long career as a whole. Things are happening all the time and keeping the music alive and moving forward.

What would you say are the defining sonic attributes of “YOU”?

Electronic mixed with organic sounds. A lot of pace and energy. Its a very varied album, but with voice and lyric in focus all through the record.

And the overriding themes?

Relationships between all sorts of people, lovers, siblings, parents and strangers.

“Disobey” is the second single to be launched from the record-can you tell us about the song…

It’s a playful song about breaking the norm and the ‘rules’ our parents and teachers give us from when we are young. Trying out things that are unusual or not considered ‘the safe thing to do’, taking risks and discovering the world for ourselves.

Sometimes being a bit cheeky or misbehavin’ a bit isn’t so bad or damaging and can lead to some fun and liveliness …

What makes a good single in your eyes?

A song that is easy to enjoy in one way or another and that you can listen to many times without getting sick of it. But there are no rules really, sometimes there are songs that people think are the least likely to be a successful single that make it to no.1. Songs like the “Mad World” cover by Gary Jules for instance. Beautiful!

How did you settle on “Disobey”?

I personally think the song is a lot of fun, has a good groove and sounds a bit different. It’s a bit cheeky, but has good energy. I really like the trumpet riff that goes through the song, performed by Arve Henriksen, an amazing Norwegian trumpeter.

I used to think “Disobey” was my ‘bootylicious’ song. I always performed a little booty dance to that song a home.

What other songs are potential singles from “YOU”?

Oh, in a way sooo many. We do different singles in different territories. In Norway “MYYM” was the first single and was playlisted on a big national radio station for 13 weeks.

“THINK AGAIN” and “SHOW ME LOVE” have also had heavy rotation in Norway so there are several songs that are potential singles.

Do you have any personal favourites on the album?

Personal favourites are “Castaway”, “Tears In Rain” and “Disobey”…. I don’t know why but they are very close to me!

You have worked with Guy Sigsworth on the album-how did the collaboration come about?

Me and Guy have know eachother and worked together for a long time .Guy also produced half of “Melankton” and this time I wanted him to do the whole album so I could focus on the writing. We ended up writing a lot together and I was present it the studio during the creation of every sound, so the whole album is pretty much a great collaboration. I really trust Guy’s taste and decisions, I feel in safe hands.

Is there anyone else you are very keen to work with?

Regarding producers I think it would interesting to work with Nigel Godrich or Jon Brion, but I am also trying to become a better producer myself and I absolutely love working with Guy Sigsworth. Apart from that I would love to write a song with Matt Bellamy from Muse, they have great songs with lots of energy! And I would love to sing a duet with Canadian artist Patrick Watson (listen to his song “The Great Escape”, it’s gorgeous!)

With the new record now ready for public consumption, are you planning to take the music on the road?

I am planning to start touring this autumn, I am currently writing a film score, doing a few collaborations and writing new songs and that will keep me busy this summer.

How would “YOU” have to be adapted for the live forum?

I have had a few shows with the songs here in Norway and it works really well with a band, drums, cello, bass, vibraphone, and me on piano and guitar, and some electronic sounds from the laptop. I also do some solo shows with me on guitar/piano/vocals and the laptop with some sounds. I really enjoy both depending on the size of stage.

Is it musicianship or performance that drive you?

I think it is very much musicianship and the urge to write that drives me , thats kind of why I started singing in the first place, because I wrote songs.

I do love the performance as well, but in the beginning it was hard for me as I was very introvert and shy and also a perfectionist. As soon as I was a bit easier on myself and stopped caring so much if something wasn’t perfect I enjoyed live performance much more, now I think it’s great to perform live, and I am so fond of my fans and the audience as they participate so much during the show. Maybe shouting out a song they would like to hear or something. It’s very much a give a take .

What are your hopes for the record?

I hope people will discover it and enjoy it and that it will have a long life. People are still discovering “Melankton” for the first time.

I have already been lucky enough to have the “YOU” album cover featured in a world wide iPhone-iCloud TV advert so hopefully people will check it out, and if they like it spread the word.

The songs have been rotated a lot of norwegian national radio, and indie UK and US radio, so I am very pleased people enjoy the songs. Two of the songs ‘Halo’ and bonus track ‘Grace’ have also been featured in TV-series Grey’s Anatomy.

And have you started thinking about album 3 as yet?

I am currently writing and recording the 3rd album, I have so much unreleased material and this 3rd album will almost be a part 2 of “YOU”, and it will be called “&I”. They belong together, hand in hand. That is why I am not waiting too long after “YOU” to release it.

“You” is out now.

Interview by Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: Bright Light Bright Light “Make Me Believe In Hope”

Rod Thomas, a.k.a Bright Light Bright Light has been on The Kaje’s radar for what seems like an eternity, so calling his debut album “Make Me Believe In Hope” seems somewhat of an understatement. Having had singles “Love Part II” and “Waiting For The Feeling” stuck in our heads for longer than we can remember, it is a relief to now have no less than eleven songs to sing along with.

Thomas is a pop fan. Having spoken openly of his love of Ace Of Base, listeners of “Make Me Believe In Hope” will be left disappointed if they are seeking a musical tribute to “All That She Wants” or “Always Have, Always Will”, because Thomas veers away from the cheese and instead delivers an expertly crafted, slick pop album that oozes both credibility and singability.

It is nigh on impossible to pin-point a low moment in the album’s all to brief eleven tracks. However, it is easy to note the spine-tingling (“Cry At Films”, “Grace”) and the irresistibly addictive (“Immature”, “Disco Moment”, “How To Make A Heart”) highlights, yet even those lists negate the diverse beauty of “Make Me Believe In Hope”.

With echoes of Scissor Sisters, Erasure, Frankmusik, Ronika and Tim & Jean, Bright Light Bright Light is a distinct pop project than channels emotional motivation and slinky hooks to grab its listener at their core and make them move in every sense of the word possible.

“Make Me Believe In Hope” does so much than its title demands. Knocking the socks off the albums unleashed in 2012 so far, this is currently a very strong contender for album of the year.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

The Kaje Tips For The Tops 2012!!!!

Each new year is filled with questions – simply because everybody wants to know what will happen. While we are completely incapable of predicting the future, here at The Kaje we thought we would take a brief moment to highlight a selection of music acts that we hope will breakthrough to the big time in 2012…

20. Asami

Former Popstars (Australia) contestant Asami took time out from the reality TV circuit to become a Yoga instructor and battle health issues before deciding to recruit some close friends and relaunch her music career. With two EPs already under their belt, 2012 could easily be the year for Asami to break through with their bright and breezy pop.

19. The Jezabels

Having already conquered their home country of Australia, university pals The Jezabels have now set their sights on world domination. With a growing fanbase on these shores, it is only a matter of time before they become household names.

18. Frank Ocean

Having honed his craft as a member of OFWGKTA, Frank Ocean is now perfectly placed launch his debut effort into the mainstream. More than just another rapper, Frank Ocean eloquently assesses society in his touching numbers.

17. Michael Kiwanuka

With a support slot for British soulstress of the moment Adele already under his belt, Kiwanuka is all set to make 2012 his own. A man who can send shivers down your spine with one single note, Kiwanuka will move you beyond the realms of the possible.

16. Poppy & The Jezebels

Birmingham school friends Poppy & The Jezebels nearly broke the big time a couple of years back. However their big break never quite arrived. Rather than give up the ghost, the quartet headed back to the drawing board and are finally ready to unleash what promises to be a blinding debut.

15. Strangers

The Departure’s David Jones is another former nearly-but-not-quite who is far from ready to give up his musical goal. While disheartened by his mainstream failure, he decided to continue in his quest and it appears he has found strength in his darkest hour. Strangers are better than anything he has done to date.

14. Antonio Lulic

Antonio Lulic is an act who knows how to use social networking. Having first come to The Kaje‘s attention after we saw a tweet that fellow singer/songwriter Ben James Miller had tattooed Lulic’s lyrics on his arm, we turned to YouTube to find out more. And boy were we blown away…

13. Jack Robert Hardman

Jack Robert Hardman’s simple and straight forward approach to home recording has to lead a wealth of vocally charged folk pop that hits all the right marks. His debut single “Famous” is all set for a January release and we just hope he gains the radio play he so rightly deserves.

12. Blue Angel

London’s Blue Angel first came to our attention with the stirring “43 Days” which documented violence on a London bus. With subtle beats blended with a blinding vocal, we were equally excited by the follow-up “Beautiful Day”. With a promise of an album in 2012, here at The Kaje we are already salivating with excitement.

11. Henry Johnson

Henry Johnson may be familiar to some of you from the disturbingly frank documentary “We Need To Talk About Dad”, however there is much for to Johnson than a troubled past. Johnson is a frank, honest and uplifting singer/songwriter who makes you smile and cry simultaneously.

10. Stooshe

X Factor’s Little Mix may have already been hailed as the next big British girl band, but we think these three Londoners may well beat them to the crown. Fresh and funky but in a good way.

9. Radio Star

Melbourne’s Radio Star may also be known as The Sunny Days, but regardless of what pseudonym they use, they create fun 80s inspired indie pop that has been missing from the 80s revival. With the boys relocating to Europe in April, we suggest you get your hands on their eponymous EP in preparation for the explosion.

8. Parnell Page

Parnell Page is another upcoming who came to The Kaje‘s attention through social networking. Having seen a tweet about his Saint Saviour cover “Fallen Trees”, we immediately went on the hunt for the haunting vocalist’s original material. If this Jack Hawitt penned number is a taster of what is to come from his debut EP then we are truly unable to contain our excitement.

7. Bobbie Gordon

Another upcoming British talent with an Adele connection. East London’s Bobbie Gordon spent time as Adele’s backing vocalist, before facing up to her own secret ambitions. With Adele advising her to chase her dreams, Gordon left the tour and has just released an unbelievably brilliant EP.

6. Ronika

Nottingham’s Ronika caught our eye with one of the most unique and eye catching press shots ever. But this stunning sensation is far more than just an eye pleased. With incessantly catchy tunes, Ronika is going to get stuck in your head and make you shake your bootie through 2012 and beyond..

5. Bastille

Dan Smith, aka Bastille, has a vocal to die for. The Kaje are rarely left speechless, but the moment we first heard his awe-inducing “Laura Palmer” we were dumbfounded. We were listening to the voice of the future and we knew it. Be prepared as Bastille is about to explode.

4. Alfie Ordinary

Alfie Ordinary has spent 2011 completing his degree while balancing performances at festivals up and down the country. With his distinct brand of acoustic pop having worked up a frenzy of fans, Alfie Ordinary is finally ready to release an EP and we suggest you sign up for it now before it sells out.

3. Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas is a name you may well already know. With a Jools Holland appearance and a Willy Mason duet already under her belt, La Havas and her silky smooth vocal are set to dominate the airwaves far past 2012.

2. Jess Hall Band

Swindon’s Jess Hall Band are just four teenage mates having a lot of fun while making tender and tempting tracks. Their debut single “Play Shy” saw them break Radio 1, but with tracks like “Grace” up their sleeve, it is obvious that there is a lot more to come from this troupe.

1. Kal Lavelle

Kal Lavelle has been working the live circuit for several years. Having watched her best mate Ed Sheeran break through to the big time last year, Lavelle’s time in the spotlight is more than overdue. Having experienced chart success alongside Artful on “Could Just Be The Bassline”, Lavelle’s debut EP “Shivers” has seen her ride to the top of the iTunes chart, now we just have to hope her upcoming album tops the Official Charts in a similar fashion. True talent always wins through in the end.

FEATURE: The Jess Hall Band “”Basically David found me on the internet, on YouTube, and a few months later signed me as a solo artist.”

“Basically David (Steele – the band’s manager) found me on the internet, on YouTube, and a few months later signed me as a solo artist. Then he asked if I would like a band and I just said yes.” Jess Hall is not just another YouTube phenomenon. Rebecca Black may have set the bar for ‘success’ earlier in the year with her unexpected super flop “Friday”, but not everyone who uses the interactive video site is quite so calculated in their approach. Though Black may have hit the headlines for her autotuned attempt at pop success (in her defense she is no more or less talented than many of today’s autotuned pop starlets out there), just a quick listen to any of Hall’s home-made clips and it becomes clear as to why she was so quickly snapped up. Boasting a crisp, colourful vocal, Hall oozes effortless appeal and bursts with irresistible charm. However, the modest teenager from Swindon was far from seeking the solo spotlight as she knew her closest pals were equally talented. She continues, “I knew exactly who I wanted, so it just went from there.”

“They are like my comfort blanket.”

“It is much more fun, to be honest. It is so much better. I get so nervous on my own. I need them. They are like my comfort blanket,” giggles Hall. With best buds Alex Stone (Guitar/Vocals), Andy Vincent (Bass) and Stefan Pysanczyn (Drums) firmly installed by her side, it is obvious for any onlooker that their genuine love for each other is at the core of the project.

With the core ingredients having blossomed beautifully, the quartet have found themselves suddenly thrust into the limelight ahead of time. Having won praise for their debut single “Play Shy” (lifted from the EP of the same name) having come to the attention of BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 1 wasted no time in giving the track its first championing forcing the group to settle on a name – The Jess Hall Band. Hall explains, “We tried for a different band name but we got given a time limit and it was before Radio 1, but we couldn’t think of anything. We didn’t want to settle with a rubbish one so we just whacked band on the end of my name.”

“I wouldn’t want to do it without these guys,” explains Hall when asked about what the boys had brought to the table. Veering away from the specifics, she smiles at her co-writer Stone to respond in detail. He is beaten by Vincent, who interjects, “bass” causing the quartet to descend into giggles before Stone offers, “It gives it a fuller sound. We bring different ideas to the table.”

“I am really not sure how it all happened.”

Talking about the track that has brought them all the attention, Hall explains, “we wrote Play Shy with Guy Sigsworth, who writes with Madonna and Bjork. We co-wrote that in May and then Radio 1 liked it. I am really not sure how it all happened.” Whereas Stone is happy to explain the process, “The de-de-de-de bit is something I wrote a long time ago. I was playing it at the sessions in Fulham and I was told to turn it into a song, so I wrote a verse and at the next session we worked together to turn it into a song.”

“Songs like ‘Grace’ were mine before I joined the band. I gave them to Jess, but all the other tracks were co-writes between Jess and other people.” With their debut EP all ready to be unleashed, Stone and Hall are happy to share the writing credits. In a band without any ego, the enjoyment is apparent. The Jess Hall Band are just four talented teenagers from Swindon who are embarking on the ride of their life.

“Play Shy” is out now on iTunes.

Words and Images: Jeremy Williams

The Kaje Sessions: Jess Hall Band

The Kaje Sessions presents Jess Hall Band. After lead singer Jess Hall came to the attention of record executives following a spree of captivating YouTube performances, she decided that the solo route was not her true intention. Before long she had recruited best buds  Alex Stone, Andy Vincent and Stef Pysanczyn. The rest as they say is history… With debut single “Play Shy” already impressing Radio 1 listeners, the pals headed around to Jess’ to record “Grace” for The Kaje Sessions.

Where did you record The Kaje Session?

We recorded the session in my bedroom!

What made you choose to use this location?

First choice would have been the lake by my house where I’ve written a lot of the songs, but it was horrible outside so we chose my room, as that’s pretty much where I live an I have written a silly amount of songs in there.

What is the most unusual live date you have ever played?

Ummm, somehow we ended up supporting 10CC! That was pretty odd. Camden Proud was unusual for us as well, mainy because we’d never been to Camden and it’s a weird and wonderful place! Also the fact we played in a jazzed up stable was pretty cool!

What made you choose “Grace” for the session?

We chose “Grace” because it’s been in our set for as long as we’ve been together, so it’s pretty close to us and means a lot.

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