The Kaje talks Reclaimed to Louise Latham

Welsh songstress Louise Latham blew The Kaje away with her recently released debut album “Reclaimed”. An effortless, timeless release, Latham has far from followed the current trends, yet still managed to release a fully relevant and provoking debut. With echoes of many of the all-time great female soloists-from the American: Paula Cole, Tori Amos and Sarah MacLachlan, through the homegrown: Kate Bush and Nerina Pallot, Latham’s versatile vocal and ethereal presence are both uplifting and engaging. With the female vocalist still holding strong at the forefront of the music scene, Latham introduces an interesting side step from the power ballad and soul lament. In a class entirely of her own, Latham needs no comparison, simply an introduction. For that reason, The Kaje wasted no time in inviting Latham to Kensington Palace Park for a quick chat to find out more…

“Reclaimed” is your debut album – are you ready for it be released?

Reclaimed has been a labour of love, an incredible amount of passion and commitmen thas gone into the making of it! There has to be a point however where you let a creative endeavour go out into the world and thankfully I feel this naturally. I am ready to share the album and I have a wonderful team surrounding Reclaimed that understand and appreciate the music. My manager Maarten Sol has beautifully crafted a plan for release and we are enjoying seeing the whole campaign and months of dedicated preparation unfold!

Can you tell us a little about the thought process behind the album?

When I was thinking about the songs I wanted to include for Reclaimed I realised that I wanted to tell a story, not only within each song but also within the album as a whole. I have always been drawn to wistful stories full of longing and yearning for someone or something, you can see this in my writing. I wanted Reclaimed to tell the story of reclamation, about returning to something that you have lost. I brought together songs that had that particular theme or atmosphere and decided I wanted to record them with a full, rich analogue sound evocative of the beauty found in early Joni Mitchell records like “Blue”.

What would you say were your lyrical inspirations for the record?

Stylistically, I think I’ve been inspired by the writings of John Fowles and Daphne du  Maurier. In the novels by both of these authors there is an atmosphere created in the books that is haunting and evocative. I am drawn to this style of story telling. The stories I tell when I write are created spontaneously in the moment, on the record the songs take their inspiration from awakened memories and feelings of longing for a lost love.

How did you settle on the title ‘Reclaimed’?

The central theme is reclaiming something that has been lost and renewing it to its former glory. Either the memory of a loved one, your identity and freedom, the stories and souls of the past or the melody of a beautiful moment in time. Sometimes returning can be as intense and moving as discovery.

The album has a mixture of sonic influences – who would you say had the greatest impact?

I think that would have to be Sarah McLachlan. The sound I discovered in “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” was a combination of raw intimacy with epic, cinematic arrangements. The piano and her voice are the central instruments and around these are layers of rich instrumentation. “Reclaimed” has a similar feel, the producer Arno Guveau and myself wanted to create something pure and earthy with mainly strings and vocal harmonies surrounding the voice and piano to create a celtic, magical and haunting sound. The sound is organic and intimate whilst being uplifting and dynamic.

Reviews are citing similarities to Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Paula Cole and Cara Dillon. How do you feel about these?

There is something common to all these artists, they have a purity of vision and commitment to their music. Musically, the piano is one of the main instruments on these artist’s records and is used in a cinematic way. Writing myself on the piano I think I am naturally drawn to this instrument being used to tell the story. Also each of these artists has an ethereal and pure quality to their voice which I also take as an inspiration.

What have been the best and worst comparisons you have heard?

The best comparison would have to be Sarah McLachlan as her music has continued to move and inspire me as each album is released. There is an honesty and integrity to her creativity and her voice is sublime. The worst comparison was when someone  compared me to an artist I don’t sound remotely like, this was a bit confusing!

“Erase Me” is the current single from the record-what made it stand out for you?

Erase Me is one of my most dramatic tracks and has an energy that is very direct and immediate. I thought I would like to start with one of my rawer, more candid songs. The song is about being stalked and is deeply personal.

How do you set about choosing the singles?

They are usually songs that have a strong sense of universality. When myself and my manager were selecting singles, we concentrated on the songs that we felt were the most open, dynamic and memorable. Maarten did research into the popularity of certain songs from the album by approaching several listeners and asking them to choose their favourite track. It was obvious from feedback which tracks should be the singles.

If you had to recommend a skip to track, which would it be and why?

I would recommend you skip to track 8, as ‘Young Boy’ has a beautiful and haunting double bass intro! The story is about the transition of a young boy moving from childhood into adulthood and how we deal with hurt during this time.

What is your personal highlight on the album?

“Gilded Bird” is a cinematic song that takes you on a journey from land, across the sea. The production (by Arno Guveau) is so atmospheric.The harmonies and strings glide  and soar reflecting the flight of the bird. Also I feel very connected to this song as vocally it is one of my most expansive – deep low notes reaching to long sustained high ones!

What are your hopes for the record?

I hope that “Reclaimed” finds listeners around the world, that it connects with people and that its success leads to many more albums to come.

You have been building a fan base on the live circuit – do you prefer performing to recording?

With live performances there is an exchange with the musicians on stage and the audience and this is really spontaneous and intimate. I definitely feel more vulnerable and laid bare emotionally when I perform which is where the intimacy happens. For me, when recording it is about creating a feeling of safety so the creative collaboration between the producer, artist and musicians can blossom. I love both performing live and recording, both are fulfilling and challenging.

What has been your live highlight?

I had a recent performance at Blackheath Halls, London on a Bosendorfer grand piano which was a real treat. I performed with a wonderful cellist called Sacha McCulloch and the combination of the acoustics in the room, the quietness of the audience and the richness of these two instruments meant I was in sonic heaven!

Which song do you most look forward to performing?

‘Saint’, it has a poignancy and lyrically a universality which connects with people. Understanding and accepting loved ones imperfections is something I think many of us struggle with and is the main theme of the song. Whenever I perform this song it resonates, it always has meaning and relevance in my life.

ALBUM REVIEW:Amanda Mair “Amanda Mair”

Amanda Mair has an unfair advantage. She is a teenage popstar from Sweden, two distinct advantages that set her apart from the crowd. Sweden has produced everyone from ABBA through to the A*Teens, Robyn through to Loreen – all acts who have used pop to conquer the world and it’s dancefloors. Throw into the mix her tender years and popstar good looks, qualities which saw Tiffany, JT, Britney and Christina to the top, and initial success is  inevitable. However, Amanda Mair manages to supersede both these advantages in one foul swoop on her eponymous debut.

Amanda Mair may be Swedish and a teenager but her album is much more aligned to the work of Kate Bush than it is to Louise. Mair boasts a vocal that fuses Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush in one effortless breath, which lifts her well constructed, radio friendly ditties into a divine territory.

Kicking off proceedings with the Orient inspired “Said And Done” is an inspired move. Sweeping instrumentation compliments Mair’s delicate vocal and “Said And Done” sets the bar high, a bar which Mair constantly surpasses. Single “Doubt” follows, perhaps encompassing exactly what the album stands for. A haunting display of pretty vocals and no punches pulled instrumentation makes Mair a hypnotic affair.

With no skip ahead moment, it could be said that Mair’s debut is the epitome of the pop record. With a diversity in her sonic approach, each song feels like it would suffer without her presence. While there are no lowlights, there are certainly highlights. The piano-centric “House” gets the spine tingling, while the poppier “Sense” oozes the innocent charm of Eurovision winner Lena-which is no bad thing. However it is the stripped back “Skinnarviksberget” really showcases Mair’s vocal capabilities, and can only be described as lush.

Amanda Mair is so much more than a pop puppet. She is the epitome of what pop can be. Her is an honest, open affair that uses no trickery or foolery to enhance the experience. If there is any justice in the world, Amanda Mair will be rewarded for her refreshing approach.

Rating 5/5
Reviewer:Jeremy Williams

The Kaje talks hope to Bright Light Bright Light

Bright Light Bright Light – Rod Thomas to his friends – has been on The Kaje’s radar ever since he unleashed the poptastic “Disco Moment” last summer, so we were thrilled when news of an impending single and album launch hit our inbox unexpectedly. Single “Waiting For The Feeling” is a slice of retro pop that blows your mind, while the album “Make Me Believe In Hope” does all that and more-here at The Kaje we defy you not to fall in love with the charm of “Grace” and danceability of “How To Make A Heart”. Given our love and respect for the man we hotly tip to be providing the summer sun of the music scene, we did not hesitate to join the queue to find out more from the man himself…

For those that don’t know about Bright Light Bright Light-can you tell us a little bit more about the project?

Bright Light Bright Light is my pop project. I used to release material under my own name which had much more organic production, but while I’m still young I wanted to explore my love of pop music and dancefloor classics, so I opted for a pseudonym to make a clear distinction between my old material, and this side of my music work. I wanted to have a very clear image that matched the sound I’d been working on. I spent a long time working on the production, teaching myself to be better at production, and focusing on what I wanted to sound like, so I wanted what people saw to match what they were hearing. I’d been doing lots of remixes, and DJing out a lots (as well launching my own night ‘Another Night’ – a 90s club night – with a friend), so I though a pseudonym could link all of these strands of my music career. So, the remixes tie in with my production, the production ties in with my DJing as I play lots of my influences / remixes when I DJ …  The songs are proper songs (rather than vocal hooks over a dance track), and some had more acoustic beginnings, but the project is about enjoying my love of the late 80s/early 90s and making something that works on a dancefloor, but has soul.
You have been working away towards your debut album ‘Make Me Believe In Hope’-can you tell us about the process so far?
It’s been brilliant. I was very lucky to work with some of my favourite producers and writers. Boom Bip (I was in love with his early EPs and Neon Neon) worked on ‘Disco Moment’ and ‘A New Word To Say’, Andy Chatterley (Kylie, UNKLE, Nerina Pallot) mixed a lot of the songs and I wrote ‘Love Part II’ with him, and Jon Shave of The Invisible Men wrote a few songs with me, and became a real sidekick in shaping the record. I had a blast making it, and doing it independently gave me a lot of freedom choosing tracks, mixes, and working on the visuals to accompany it.
Post-album experience-do you now believe in hope?
Haha, I like to think I always have, but I definitely feel a lot more optimistic after finishing it and hearing a release date!
‘Waiting For The Feeling’ is your latest single-how representative of the record is it?
In terms of it being a big pop number, it’s very representative of the energy of the record. There are some softer songs, but ‘Waiting For The Feeling’ is a song that definitely represents how the album will be in the live show – lots of energy and big beats.
How do you know what works as a single and what is simply an album track?
It’s difficult to know. Everyone has their favourite track. Especially when you have 4 other band members who all pick a favourite, fans talk on Twitter and people tag on Facebook… I try to mix trusting my own judgement and listening to what people feed back. For this one, I knew. When we played at SXSW last year, it was the first time I’d played it live, and a radio DJ told me it “melted her face off”, so I thought that was probably as good a sign as I was going to get that it should be a single!
Your sound is steeped in rich pop-who would you say were your greatest inspirations?
Artists with strong identities and a distinctive voice. Bjork, Kate Bush, Depeche Mode, Erasure, David Bowie … production wise I love what Filthy Dukes, Royksopp, David Morales and Todd Terry produce, so my 90s DJing really influenced the energy and dance-leaning nature of some of the tracks. Visually David Lynch and Tim Burton have been big influences. Lots of my friend have been big influences in terms of following your instinct and making something you believe in – James Yuill and Del Marquis in particular.
Returning to the notion of hope-what hopes do you have for 2012 and beyond?
I hope that the album lives up to what my fans want, and for me, I hope that my band and I have a great time touring the record and meeting even more brilliant people along the way.
The Single “Waiting For The Feeling” is out April 30.
The Album “Make Me Believe In Hope” is out June 4th.
Words by Jeremy Williams

The Kaje talks sonic definition to Bastille

With Artrocker declaring that he has “mastered the craft of perfect pop music”, it is easy to see why there is a buzz about Bastille. Having won over a legion of fans with his debut single “Flaws/Icarus”, Bastille, who are led by South London’s Dan Smith, have returned with the sensational “Laura Palmer” EP. With captivating vocals and huge chanted choruses, this is easily on 2011’s must-have releases, with Bastille destined to break it big in 2012. The Kaje were lucky enough to have few moments with Smith to speak about sonic definition…

Can you tell us a little bit more about Bastille…

It started out with me writing and recording some songs, first in my bedroom, then with a mate who’s a producer. I then got together with Woody, Will and Kyle to do some rehearsals, and we played our first gig back in February of this year.

How would you define your sound?

I’m really bad at trying to define what we sound like. On the iTunes shop it says we’re “alternative”… That really narrows it down doesn’t it? I guess it’s quite vocal based. Other than that, I like to try out some electronic sounds and programming alongside the more live, band instruments.

All artists get weighed down with comparisons from critics – if you had to choose your own comparisons – who would you be likened to?

It would be great to be compared to some of the bands I love, but I’m not sure if the songs sound anything like them. Also, we don’t have any guitars at all so that probably wouldn’t happen.

Your debut EP ‘Flaws/Icarus’ really raised your profile and reaped critical praise-did you feel any pressure when it came to ‘Laura Palmer’?

I guess so. It’s weird because for me those songs were just a couple of the ones that I’d been working on. Flaws, in particular, people seem to really like which is great, but it’s pretty much the only song I have that sounds like that. For me the pressure comes from hoping that people like the songs we’ve made that are quite far away from ‘Flaws’.

What were your intentions when it came to unleashing ‘Laura Palmer’?

I found it quite difficult choosing a follow-up single to ‘Flaws’ so in the end we put out four on an EP. Because I’ve tried to do different things on every song I was wary of putting out just one track because I thought that people would base their perceptions of us on just that, and I guess I wanted to give a broader snapshot of what I’ve been working on over the last year.

Can you tell us more about the thoughts behind ‘Laura Palmer’?

I had just come to the end of an almighty David Lynch obsession when I wrote the song so I was thinking a lot about Twin Peaks and the character of Laura Palmer when I wrote that song. I like the idea of her life being slowly unravelled and unveiled after she dies, and because she’s no longer there to keep things a secret different parts of her life start to seep into one another. I don’t think I really conveyed that in the song though.

Who inspired you musically with the project?

Quite a big range of people I think, no one too directly. When I started recording Bastille songs I was listening to a lot of bands like Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend and Miike Snow. And a lot of remixers and producers as well. But I’m probably most influenced by good songwriters with interesting voices, anyone from Antony and the Johnsons to Kate Bush.

You have received great praise for your live performances-how has the live experience effected your recorded sound?

It has definitely made me want the album to sound much more energetic. I want to bring in some more of the live elements into the recordings as well.

What has life on the road taught you?

Bastille started out as a relatively solitary thing, so it has been really fun going around the country and playing as a band. The main lesson I think we learned was to always check that you have a spare tyre. We slightly missed one of our gigs because there was a spare petrol tank where we thought the tyre would be. It was in no way depressing sitting by the side of the motorway, in the rain, 50 miles away from the gig, watching our stage time arrive and pass.

What is next for Bastille?

I’m going to start recording our first album in a couple of week which I’m massively excited about. Then next year hopefully we’ll just be able to release another bunch of songs and do loads of touring.

“Laura Palmer” is out now.

Words and Images by Jeremy Williams

NEWS: The Q Awards turns 21, Al Murray confirmed to host for the second year & 3 new awards categories!

For the second year running, the inimitable Al Murray – The Pub Landlord will take on hosting duties of what has become one of the most prestigious and raucous events on the music calendar. 
 
Speaking of his eagerly awaited return to Q Awards duty, The Pub Landlord says:
“This is the music event of the year, everyone wants a Q Award, and if they’re truly lucky, like Muse last year, they might win a frozen chicken too”
 
The 2010 event will mark the 21st anniversary of The Q Awards. Throughout its history The Q Awards have welcomed and celebrated the biggest stars in music – with the likes of Oasis, U2, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Sir Paul McCartney, Kylie, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Damon Albarn, Lily Allen, Kate Bush, Elton John, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Take That and Muse among the glittering names to have attended the event.
 
This year the Q Awards will add 3 new categories to its roll of an honour. Two new categories – Best Female Artist and Best Male Artist – will be added to the 7 existing awards that are voted for by the public. The third new award will be for Next Big Thing, which will highlight the single most exciting musical talent of the year ahead and will be hand-picked by a specially selected panel of music industry experts and Q Magazine.
 
The much coveted award of Best Act In The World Today is presented by Russian Standard Vodka.
 
The always hotly contested Best Track is presented by Barclaycard Unwind.
 
Q Editor-In-Chief Paul Rees says: “Q firmly believes that music now is as exciting and vital as it’s ever been and that it continues to be consistently refreshed by new talent. The extra awards this year recognise Q’s ongoing commitment to the best things in music right now and in the future.
 
“In addition, Q has also always been about celebrating music’s great success stories. And, as ever, our collection of merit awards will recognise the heroic achievements and ongoing influence of music’s true icons.”
The Q Awards are unlike any other UK music ceremony – with only 450 guests, the event is a unique and intimate celebration that attracts arguably the world’s highest concentration of musical talent and fame.
 
Fans can vote for their favourite acts online at www.Qthemusic.com
The Q Awards with Russian Standard Vodka’s chosen charity is YOUYOU
 
YOUYOU’s aim is to provide practical mentoring help to young people who are disadvantaged due to their circumstance or disability, to enable them to gain invaluable experience and succeed in the turning their interests into a career.
 
YOUYOU’s approach is practical and focuses on getting young people further along their chosen career paths, with the mentoring experiences leading to further education or training, apprenticeships and employment opportunities. It creates a valuable piece of work to add to their CV or portfolio – a soundtrack, review of a music gig, recipe or menu for example, which they can present alongside the important personal selling point of having worked with a renowned name in their chosen industry
 
Brenda Ramsey, CEO of YOUYOU Mentoring commented “We are grateful to Q magazine for choosing to support YOUYOU Mentoring and our work in helping disadvantaged young people, especially those who are not in education, employment or training to realise their career dreams, by connecting them with  inspired mentors, individuals who will help develop their potential and aspirations in their chosen career industry.  We would personally like to thank Paul Rees, Editor in Chief of Q magazine for his generous support and becoming a YOUYOU mentor.”

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