The Kaje talks public perception to Christian Scott

Christian Scott is without any doubt one of the world’s most highly respected contemporary jazz musicians. While jazz is far from household name material these days, Scott has managed to cross over genre borders and bring his trumpet centric compositions to the mainstream. With his eighth album “Christian aTunde Adjuah” boasting a phenomenal 23 tracks, Scott is being celebrated for his journeys through the personal and social. Having fallen in love with the Grammy Award nominated composer’s earlier recordings, hear at The Kaje we jumped at the chance to hang out backstage with Scott as he prepared for a show at the Birmingham Symphony Hall…

A lot of critics are hailing “Christian aTunde Adjuah” as your most personal to date, was that an intention of yours?

It is interesting because a lot of people are saying that about the record, but I don’t think it is. All of them are personal. It is like saying which child is the most personal kid of yours. To me it is a little absurd but I understand it. People feel that way because of the name of it. The name completion. They  see that and automatically it makes them think the record has to be more personal.

People are maybe reading more into the title than was intended…

Of course they are. There is nothing wrong with that. I understand it. That is definitely what happened.

On the record it is not just the personal that you deal with. There are many tracks dealing with social and global issues. So from that point of it is not necessarily a personal record…

I learned a long time ago that you can use music as a vehicle to address the issues of your time. Things that need to be changed. Things you would like to see different. Things you would encourage people to engage more energy in changing. I don’t have the mind that says when I see an issue that it has to be completely different, some issues come from the situation that lead to them. Sometimes you can have the greatest minds of the world reaching a consensus yet the same shit happens. I like to use my music to address these things without telling people what to think. I just think it is important that people think.

It is almost challenging people…

Yeah, I am just saying “what do you think?” I don’t have the personality type that thinks my way of approaching things is right. That is absurd. But there are a lot of things going on in our time period that are pretty bad.

I grew up in New Orleans and that has always been a victim of the power struggle. Some people have to starve damn near to death just to survive in a place like that. There are some people out there going through some really difficult shit and there is a whole world of people out there who don’t care. That’s heavy.

Do you feel as someone with a public profile, that you have a responsibility to use it wisely and raise due attention?

Lots of people have a platform, but they don’t always think about what they are saying. In music a lot of people are speaking about the things they see. But having met a lot of artists, I am not necessarily sure that you want to have these people telling your children how to think or what to feel. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths as artists is scary shit. For me that is part of the reason I attack or deal with any issue, I am always very careful not to superimpose my entire feelings on it. They are not the most important feelings. I have a voice and an outlet and I try to study these issues and dilemmas, but I am in no way trying to dictate to people how they should. I just want them to deal with them somehow.

With your public profile constantly growing, do you feel extra pressure when creating new music?

I think a lot of musicians in this era they get really weary because you could make 2 or 3 records in a year, now most guys are lucky to make one every 2 1/2 or 3 years. We have been lucky enough, if you count this double record as 2, then it is our 9th record in as many years. I think at this point my body of work speaks for itself. Anyone who has listened to my music knows that I take a lot of chances and that doesn’t mean I succeed all the time. Everytime I fail at something I can learn from it.

I try not to operate from the space of fear. That doesn’t mean you don’t have fear, everyone does. But I don’t let it dictate the music I make. It can’t come out musically as this is what I am most prepared for in life.

Has your ambition always just been played out through music?

I grew up boxing. My Grandfather was big Chief in the Black Indian tradition. I watched him as a child in front of hundreds of people, so there are different things you develop over time. Watching someone being that big and important, I learned to adjust different facets of my personality. Being in a situation where I was surrounded by some many people and having to approach those people with care and compassion. Music is what I do but it is not the medium that speaks exclusively for who I am as a person. It is probably to best known frame. There are always more layers.

You have in your career worked with so many great talents, which collaboration has taken you the most by surprise?

Thom Yorke is the one I never saw happening. I have always been such a huge Radiohead fan, ever since I was in High School. It wasn’t a very popular band for blacks in New Orleans. People were just like “what the hell is this?” So I had to fight those battles. It is interesting as it was actually quite hard to grow up having to deal with that.

I know this is a little off path, but it makes me think of all the times I had to defend these different types of music to my peers. It didn’t ever matter what type of people they were as it would even happen at Berkeley-whether it is defending Radiohead to black kids in New Orleans or Kid Ori to white kids at Berkeley-there is always something. But turning people onto something that they think they hate, I do not use that word liberally.

Somebody that I haven’t worked with that I would love to work with… This is going to sound crazy but I want to work with Rakim. Just because I am the Hip Hop generation. What he did to Hip Hop is Max Roach and Baby Dodds or Chick Webb. I don’t want to say it is jazz but his rhythms are so creative, This guy invented flow. I like artists who do something in music that no one has done before, but they don’t get talked about a lot. Rakim did something that changed music. I get goosebumps thinking about it. Rakim is the God MC.

“Christian aTunde Adjuah” is out now.

Interview and Photographs by Jeremy Williams

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The Kaje talks Bristol to Seasfire

Having produced everyone from Acker Bilk through to Roni Size-it could be said that Bristol has more than little musical history. However, there is a new four-piece on the scene, who could be set to redefine the Bristol music one again. With Bristol best known at current for its part in the Trip Hop explosion, it could be said that the four lads – Josh, Joe, Dave, James – known collectively as SEASFIRE have nodded their head to Bristol’s musical past while adding a touch or two of their own along the way. To find out more about who they are, what they do and where they are headed, The Kaje caught up quickly with Josh…

How did you get together?

Well the other three started writing together about a year ago, and then I joined up soon after once they had their first few songs and wanted to try them live. We’ve all known each other for a while since college and used to swap mixtapes and beat ideas. The band was formed around that relationship. We were all interested to see what we could come up with when we put our heads together.

Who brings what ingredient to the table?

The basis for a track normally comes from Joe, then it gets built by suggestions and what is essentially trial and error. Beats, guitar lines, vocal melodies, sub bass – basically the rule is if you’ve got an idea in your head, speak up. The same goes for lyrics, although Josh obviously has to be comfortable with what he’s singing so he controls that side.

What were your joint ambitions when you decided to form SEASFIRE?

I don’t necessarily think there were any great ambitions, apart from the natural development of our music. It started more as an opportunity to write music with different people and explore various sounds, although we of course wanted those sounds to be appreciated by other people.

How are these altering now that you are achieving positive feedback?

Well that’s the thing, as time goes on the ambitions we have for our sound grow. Our tracks are getting bigger and more epic. But the same core ideas are still there. I suppose an ambition now would be to eventually make an album we were all proud of. Something that reflected our situation and lives when it was written.

For those who have not heard you as yet, how would you describe yourselves sonically?

I always struggle with this one! People hear our sound as low-fi and haunting, but of course there are moments where light breaks through the darkness. We are an electronic band at heart, but we want there to be moments that make your skin crawl.

What have been the best and worst comparisons you have received to date?

It’s a long list – Radiohead, Jamie Woon, James Blake, The Weeknd, Burial. I’ll take all of those. A “dubstep Coldplay” was probably the weirdest. The worst – Scritti Politti – I still don’t get that.

How do these compare to your influences?

There are crossovers for sure, but our influences are wide-ranging. Sonically, we love sad songs, strange beats and emotive melodies. Thematically, stories of alienation, despair and longing – a deep understanding that things can improve.

You hail from Bristol, are artists like Massive Attack and Portishead big influences?

I’d say Massive Attack more than Portishead, but they all have a kind of dark alienation to their beats and lyrics, but with an overriding sense of belonging. It is something we can relate to and we certainly aspire to.

Your latest single is “Heartbeat” – can you tell us a little more about the song?

The song morphed out of an older, more upbeat song into what it is now. It tells what sounds like a straightforward story, but there is a deeper subtext that may be apparent to some people. It has two meanings.

Why did you choose it as the single?

Because I think it progresses from “Falling”, which was our first song, and adds more layers. That sense of space and depth is retained.

The video is a visual feast – how important is image to the band?

It is kind of important. I suppose people need to identify with us. There’s something beautiful about black and white images – they can make things look surreal. The video was inspired by Woodkid’s ‘Iron’ video more than anything, although we couldn’t do anything to that scale – maybe one day. But at least we burnt a piano.

You are also garnering praise on the live circuit – how does your sound change from recorded to live?

All the venues we play are set up for guitar bands, and having live drums means everything becomes rockier, but maybe it grooves more. We try to maintain an electronic vibe though, through samples and use of dynamic.

What one stage would you most like to conquer?

One gig at a time…

Interview by Jeremy Williams

NEWS: I Dream In Colour Announce New Single And Tour

I Dream In Colour release their new single London (b-side Waiting Line) in May 2012. Released through Euphonios as a digital download, London sees the band develop a new, more mature sound. The classic song-writing structures and heartfelt lyrics have seen comparisons drawn to the likes of Coldplay and The Verve. With their stadium sized choruses they are not trying to reinvent the wheel, just trying to make really good indie/pop classics that will stand the test of time, and this is exactly what it is. Previous reviews have thrown up words such as life affirming, strong, soaring, beautiful and gritty which is exactly what they achieve with their debut single. I Dream In Colour have recently announced a tour to support their new single.

The band have sold out their last 3 London shows in Barfly, Bull & Gate and Cargo so make sure and get a ticket.

Musically, I Dream In Colour are inspired by the intricate rhythms of Led Zeppelin, the energy of Talking Heads, and the song writing skills of Radiohead. And it seems that it isn’t just musically that they take inspiration from their peers as Richard (vocals/guitar) explains “I always knew Radiohead got their name from a Talking Heads song. When I was looking for a name for our band I took their advice and looked to a hero. I picked up the Beatles anthology and turned straight to the page of John Lennon. The first line I read was ‘When I dream, I dream in colour…’ And that was that.” I Dream In Colour have earned a fierce following back in Essex, where they have spent the last year writing, gigging and spreading their word. This has not gone unnoticed elsewhere: with press, blogs, radio and top producers all singing their praises.

For music and information check:
http://www.idreamincolourband.com/
http://www.facebook.com/idreamincolourband

Tour Dates:
4th May – Innsbruck, Austria
5th May – Landshut, Germany
6th May – Regensburg, Germany
11th May – Brighton, The Great Escape, Life
14th May – Sheffield, SOYO
th May – Newcastle, Cumberland
16th May – Glasgow, Berekeley Suite
17th May – Liverpool Sound City,  Zanzibar
19th May – London, Borderline
21st May – Nottingham, Red Room
22nd May – Leicester, Firebug
23rd May – Bristol, Thekla
24th May – St Albans, The Horn
25th May – Cambridge, Corner House
9th June – Leicestershire, Chazzstock
15th July – Leicester, Lubstock Festival
4th August – Ludlow, Firefly Festival

The Kaje talks changing identity to Lowlakes

The Kaje first met Melbourne based musicians Lowlakes back in January when the quartet (Thomas Snowdon, Jack Talbot, Bill Guerin and Brent Monaghan) wowed us with a stunning rendition of “Song For Motion” as part of The Kaje SessionsSince then they have stunned us with their scintillating eponymous debut EP, so we wasted no time in touching base with the boys once again and asking them a few important questions about their recent release. Lead singer Thomas Snowdon happily obliged us with the following responses…

You were known for many years on the live circuit as The Moxie, what prompted the change in name?

We had played together as The Moxie since 2005, in which time we added a member (Brent) and moved from Alice Springs to Melbourne. Changing the band’s name was always on the agenda and we thought about it more seriously in the planning of the EP. Lowlakes represents the music we want to make. It’s visual.

The change in name has prompted a drive in momentum, leading to your debut EP. Was this a conscious decision?

In many ways changing the band name inspired a fresh start. Without the identity of The Moxie, we felt freer in exploring different corners of our songwriting; that we could arrange our songs exactly how we wanted, rather than how we thought we ought to. This was an important step for Lowlakes and (I think) it’s led to a positive change in our collective psyche.

The EP shows a real move from The Moxie material-do you see the two projects as separate entities?

I think they are different, although the songs and much of the premise on which Lowlakes is based was formed as The Moxie. Lowlakes has explored in more depth what we thought was special about The Moxie, although it is more minimal than The Moxie was and probably a bit more spontaneous.

How would you define Lowlakes sonically?

The four of us are heavily influenced by gloomy and atmospheric music. I think this taste is reflected in Lowlakes’ sound, which we like to think is a bit dreamy, a bit spooky, and a bit interesting.

The EP contains four tracks-how did you decide which songs would be the best introduction to Lowlakes?

That was quite a long process. We all had a soft spot for “Song For Motion” and “Arctic House” – and wanted to have them on the EP. We had a bunch of other songs, but struggled to come to unanimous decision on what tracks to put on the EP. Our producer helped us to choose a collection of songs that most accurately reflect Lowlakes; we like that there’s some pop and some gloom.

Can you give us the lowdown on the four songs..

They are all pretty sad. I think we wrote all of these songs in my (and Jack’s) tiny brick walk-up in Brunswick on days when it was raining. That’s pretty much how we do it; our best stuff comes out in bad weather.

I suppose the songs are all pretty introspective. They aren’t the kind of songs (we think) that inspire any shared sense of joy. They talk about things that I wouldn’t want to share with people. They talk about things that we’ve felt and experienced but probably rarely talked about – if that makes any sense.

You are receiving all manner of comparatives-from Radiohead to Antony & The Johnsons-any personal favourites?

We were surprised and very flattered at some of the comparisons drawn of us. I don’t think there’s any single group that we model ourselves on, but a few, whose sound and whose vibe we really like. Radiohead and Antony & The Johnsons are two. The National, Talk Talk, and Slowdive are just as influential on us, as are a large handful of others; the four of us draw bits from everywhere.

With the EP receiving universal praise, do you feel mounting pressure for its successor?

We’re actually just genuinely excited about getting back into the studio. We already have several songs which we are keen to track and are possibilities for the next release.

And finally, what is next for Lowlakes?

We’re going to play some shows within Australia and are heading over to the USA in September/October for some too. We’ve started planning another release too, if all goes to plan, it will be out at the end of the year; we’ve caught the bug for recording.

WIN!!! Lowlakes have kindly given The Kaje a handful of signed EPs-if you would like to get your hands on one, then simply email jeremy@the-kaje.com with the answer to the following question… Thomas Snowdon lives with which of his bandmates? (HINT: The answer is in the interview!)

http://www.lowlakes.com

Words and Images: Jeremy Williams

EP REVIEW: Lowlakes “Lowlakes”

Last year The Moxie became Lowlakes. There was no real explanation for the change, other than that the Melbourne based four piece felt their sound had grown and their identity had changed. The move is a wise one. Lowlakes is a perfect synonym for the atmospheric, Radiohead influenced brooding.

Having perfected their craft over nearly 7 years of playing together – Alice Springs natives Bill Guerin (bass), Jack Talbot (drums) and Thomas Snowdon (vocals, guitar) first jammed together in 2005 before adding Bendigo’s Brent Monaghan on guitar in 2009 – Lowlakes eponymous EP is a more accomplished effort than one might expect of a debut. It is little surprise therefore that Lowlakes are already being tipped for global domination. But let’s not count their chickens before they hatch. Instead lets focus our energy exploring what is so compulsively appealing about Lowlakes…

Fronted by the creamy-rich and honey-soothing vocals of Thomas Snowdon, Lowlakes are instantly identifiable. Snowdon could easily be the secret lovechild of Antony Hegarty and Alison Moyet, a revelation that leads directly to audio sensory heaven. Throw into the mix a visual approach to lyrical composition and Lowlakes have engaged both body and mind, drawing you into their intricately complex but alarmingly calming world.

Though lead single “Song For Motion” induces the most chilblains, the quartet would be wise to release the mega radio friendly “Buffalo” as their next single due to its more singalong nature.

Lowlakes are a band to salivate over. With their eponymous EP offering an insight into what the already accomplished live act can achieve in a recording studio, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that 2012 is set to be their year.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams 

LIVE REVIEW: The Drums, HMV Institute (Birmingham), 28/11/2011

Nearly a year ago to the week, I saw The Drums at the same venue; touring their debut album. Had I not been at this event, I’d have claimed to anyway. But I was, and this gave me a nice benchmark upon which to base this review.

So the stage is set, literally. The venue is the newly renovated  HMV Institute, an enclave of baroque splendour amongst the rough diamond that is Digbeth.

Impressively punctual support came from Whitechapel noizefuzzgazerz The History of Apple Pie. With a name sweeter than Daphne from Eggheads’ decoupage class, their long drawn-out guitar-laden tracks came as a nice surprise, with a massive nod to bands such as Dinosaur Youth.
Then the semi-familiar Cloud Control came out play, already impressed by the free badge one of their team were handing out on the way in, expectation was high for the Australian 4-piece. A lovely touch, provided these badges were not just handed to the pampered gig-reviewer. The band’s interesting boy/girl dynamic of primal-wails*, sets them apart from many of today’s neo-folk darlings. (*Using the expression ‘primal scream’ may have confused matters) The music was well received, and even achieved murmurs of “Ahhh, I know that one” from sections of the audience.

The crowd was a healthy mix of 16-30somethings donning dresses with frilly-neck and shirts of check. When The Drums arrived on stage, it didn’t take long for the fans to launch a beach ball straight off their hero Jonathan Pierce’s rich, conditioned, hair. I guess if you will dress a bit like a college jock, you will have to deal with a ball at some point in your life. Nevertheless, this kind of tribulation only seemed to invigorate Pierce straight into the action with ‘What you were’ from the new album ‘Portamento.’

After opening with a newie, the crowd were soon treated to “Best Friend” and “Me And The Moon.” – Both greatly received.

Not all too long ago, The Drums were on the verge of splitting up. But with a change of personnel, promoting drummer to guitarist, and a synthman waiting in the wings; the band have an extra dimension. With a non-instrument playing front-man, there is a fair bit of stage to fill, but Jonny’s robo-Jagger-mince certainly does this. As I’ve always said: The only thing worse than a lead-singer who prances around for the whole set, is one that doesn’t.

In terms of the setlist, it is always interesting to see which songs are joined in with, which ones people rush to the bar to and which ones people go to the toilet to. Unsurprisingly, the crowd sang along to Down by water, Forever and ever amen, and surprisingly ‘Days go by’ was singled out by the crowd as an early front-runner from the second album.

So despite beach-balls being thrown at the band in a kind of Derren-Brownian  subliminal “Play the surfing one”, it never cam. A a very brave move, for a band touring their second album.

Maybe it’s a brutal attempt at the culling of fickle fans, like Radiohead’s not playing ‘Creep’ for years.. For the music snobs amongst us, this went down without major disappointment / riot. Lucky for them, they have a music snob doing the reviewing. The more cynical amongst us may draw a passing resemblance between breakthrough single ‘Lets’s go surfing’ and new single ‘Money.’ Playing these too close together may be the musical equivalent of breaking the magicians code.

After some light-foot stamping (not advised in a 103 year old church) they came back on to the minimal, yet haunting Stand by me’-inspired B–side of Best Friend: “Baby, that’s not the point.” The show ended (fittingly) with ‘The future,’ a personal favourite, which combined with my free badge at the start left me on a high.

What self-deprecating ‘Drums fan would end a night and review on such a high, so I should also note that it took me till the end of the gig to realise a can (500ml) of cider is £4.00, whereas  a pint (568ml) is also £4.00  – you do the math(s).

Reviewer: Arran Poultney
Rating: 4/5 

VIDEO: Muse Help MTV Exit Raise Awareness Of Human Trafficking

www.MTVEXIT.org
Today, MTV EXIT(End Exploitation and Trafficking) and alternative rock band Muse, in partnership with USAID, have announced the release of a music video that dramatically highlights the dangers and impact of human trafficking. The video will be unveiled in special preview screenings during the band’s Wembley Stadium concerts on September 10th and 11th. Produced for the band’s track MK Ultra from the album “The Resistance”, the video will premiere on MTV UK and onwww.mtv.co.uk on Friday, September 17, 2010.
This video is the third in a series of award winning music video collaborations to highlight the dangers and impact of human trafficking that launched in 2008 with Radiohead for their track All I Need, and was followed up with The Killers in 2009 with a video by David Slade (Twilight: Eclipse) for the song Goodnight, Travel Well.
“We feel honoured to be a part of this important movement to end modern day slavery.  It is unacceptable that people are deprived of the most fundamental right to be free”, said Muse. They added, “We hope that using our music in the context of such powerful images inspires people to get involved in combating this cruel trade.”
This music video represents an innovative and creative way to fuse musical content with MTV’s pro-social messaging. The MK Ultra video will be released globally across all of MTV’s platforms in 168 countries. It has the potential to reach more than 500 million households worldwide, delivering a powerful message to audiences about modern day slavery.
“Through our MTV EXIT campaign, MTV has been raising awareness around the issue of human trafficking and exploitation, a tragic form of modern-day slavery,” said Bill Roedy, Chairman and Chief Executive, MTV Networks International (MTVNI). “Human trafficking is a very complex issue that is a problem for the whole of society and one which MTV has been campaigning against since 2004. We’re pleased to be collaborating with Muse in this third part of our music video series which will help educate audiences around the world about this terrible crime which affects in excess of 12.3 million people worldwide and the ongoing need for us to continue to fight against it.”
“Muse is taking MTV EXIT to a new level and bringing critical human trafficking messages to a global audience”, said Olivier Carduner, USAID’s Regional Mission Director for Asia. “By using a variety of mediums – music videos, anime, film, and online content – as well as live concerts, we are reaching vast numbers of young people, those most at risk of being trafficked,” Carduner said. “This campaign capitalizes on Muse’s and other bands’ and movie stars’ images and MTV’s brand appeal to transform people’s views about trafficking and provide a platform for NGOs, governments and law enforcement agencies to prevent trafficking and assist victims.”
The MK Ultra video provides insight into the realities of trafficking, in particular the trafficking of children and women into forced prostitution, forced labour and domestic servitude and provides a link to information about how people can help to end exploitation and trafficking.
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