RICK LEIGH

by Jonny Lamin

Artwork by Jonny Lamin

WHO is he?
“My name is Rick Leigh, I’m sort of a multi-instrumentalist (which is sort of an alternate name for “never being able to make your mind up/sticking to one thing!”). I was brought up in a musical household, my parents and sisters all play various instruments we used to sing a lot together too. Music was always playing somewhere in the house, so I was sort of surrounded by it as a child.”

WHY did he get into music?
“I don’t ever think I made a conscious decision to start playing but my earliest memory is at about the age of 6 being handed a trumpet to try out at school and feeling very comfortable with it and related to it and music more generally, and that feeling hasn’t really left me.

WHAT is the inspiration behind his songs?
“I spend quite a lot of time thinking about textures, layers the sonic space within music so that’s sort of my starting point, but it really comes alive once I’ve added some sort of vocal line. I find the voice draws a lot of attention that the other elements can cling onto and support.”

Rick Leigh’s debut EP Everything is out now (stream on Spotify).

“This set of tracks has a two complimenting themes: masculinity and vulnerability which started to appear as I worked on them. Each song has its own individual story and focus but there’s an overriding notion of what it means to be a male and vulnerable. Two things that aren’t usually held together simultaneously.”

Rick Leigh.jpg

WHERE did he grow up?
“I grew up on a farm in Preston in Lancashire (North-West England) which is quite a rural area. Living in the countryside definitely gives you a certain sense of calm and awareness of nature that I really appreciate and I think in some ways that slowness and connectedness with my surroundings has effected my music, maybe in terms of its over ambience. However, I’m now living in London the contrast quite stark, it’s a whole different thing going on. The music scene is very inspiring with so many different things going on. There are so many scenes and sub-scenes that you can just get lost in and draw inspiration from.

WHEN can I see him live?
“I’m laying low for a little while at the moment, working on some more material and figuring out my live set-up but I hope to be doing some gigs around March/April 2018.”

HOW can I get to know him better?
Listen & Watch: Soundcloud // YouTube
Like & Follow: Facebook // Twitter

 

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MAPLE & RYE

Maple&Rye by mystupidsketchbookArtwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO are they?
“We are an indie-pop quartet from Gothenburg, Sweden who have been playing music together in this constellation since the summer of 2016. However, music has always been a part of each and every one of our lives. Leo and Milton are cousins and have been singing and playing music together since before they could walk. The first steps towards forming a band however were taken by Leo and Gustav when they were colleagues working at a supermarket. This is where they discovered a joint interest for hiding behind the yoghurt fridge to avoid working and making music! Milton joined soon after and in the summer of 2016, Henrik joined on drums to form the quartet Maple & Rye are today!”

Maple & Rye debut EP Nothing Poetic is out now.

WHAT is the inspiration behind their songs?
“When it comes to lyrics, we write and sing about absolutely anything and everything! Most of the time we draw on personal experiences or themes we care greatly about, but we still try to write our lyrics in a way that makes them accessible and relatable to a wide audience. The way I describe something close to my heart may be the same way someone else would describe something completely different. For us it is more about the feelings and emotions evoked by the lyric.”

“Musically, we have an extremely wide range of influences. We call ourselves an “indie-pop” band but there are definitely a few more genres we could add to that. We like to play around with folky acoustic guitar riffs, when we add three-part harmonies this can almost sound a bit country-like at times and our rhythms will often feel very rock-influenced. Essentially, it is a big mix of different genres and musical themes which we hope leaves us with a pretty unique sound!”

Maple & Rye

WHERE did they grow up?
“For the most part we all grew up in Gothenburg. This is the city that has brought us all together and the city which we all call home at the moment. This can probably be seen in a few of our songs through references and imagery, most notably in our latest single Hymns of Poseidon. The song is in part about our experiences as musicians in the city and we hope many Gothenburgers can relate to it!”

“Gothenburg is a city which has always been one of Sweden’s cultural hubs. It is a city that has been completely drawn into several musical crazes throughout the years and just about every single person in the city has their own musical love story be it to Bruce Springsteen, our local musical hero Håkan Hellström, one of the prominent heavy metal bands such as In Flames, or just about anything else! Henrik and Milton have both spent a significant amount of time in London and this may also be felt in a few of the songs. It has definitely contributed to our wish to play more in the UK as well as our joint love for some of the big bands to come out of the country (Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Jack Garratt etc.).”

WHY are they called Maple & Rye?
“Haha it turns out that finding a band name is just about the hardest thing a human being can do in a lifetime. Had we turned our attentions to finding the meaning of life instead, I reckon it would have taken us half the time!”

“When we started out playing music, at the time before Henrik joined in on drums, we put a few tunes up online. We weren’t really ready to take ourselves too seriously so we uploaded the tracks under the name “Lönnroth & Rybo”. This was simply the last names of the three current members. When we decided to start taking the project a bit more seriously, we spent the better part of a year trying to come up with a cool sounding name that would reflect our style of music. However, after months of brainstorming and debating, we ended up just translating our last names into English. Lönn in Swedish means Maple and Rybo, sounds a bit like Rye!”

“Henrik joined a bit too late to get his last name translated into English but we assured him that the ‘&’ sign would forever be a symbol of him!”

WHEN can I see them live?
“We just returned from a release gig in London and next up we have a few gigs at home in Gothenburg. Most notably, we will be playing at Oceanen along with the very talented Buster Moe on the 24th of November!”

“After a second successful gig in London we are of course already looking into returning to the UK as soon as possible. The best way to keep informed regarding upcoming gigs is to follow us on social media and Spotify!”

HOW can I get to know them better?
Listen & Watch: Soundcloud // Spotify // Youtube

Like & Follow: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

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Rookes

Rookes by mystupidscketchbookArtwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is she?
“Rookes is my moniker, Jenny Bulcraig is my name. I started singing and learning instruments from a young age, but didn’t take it seriously until I joined a live house and while at university. We played most genres so it was a good crash course in playing live. Over four years I started with doing backing vocals and some minimal instrumentation to leading a band and playing up to five different instruments on the regular. Then I formed a three-woman folk band for a couple years, then finally I landed here as a solo act.”

Rookes’ debut single The Heel Of My Hand is out now via Seahorse Music.

WHAT is the inspiration behind her songs?
“I sing about the usual stuff that inspires pop songs – i.e. Relationships worth other people – but I try to sing about it as inventively as I can. So that informs the way I construct my music and lyrics when I’m recording and arranging. This single and the coming EP are based around one experience of discovering my love for somebody and then losing them in a pretty disastrous fashion.”

WHERE did she grow up?
“I grew up in south Birmingham and lived there until about four years ago. Birmingham has a pretty tight music scene where most people know each other. The indie and folk scene is pretty prominent, so that has influenced me a lot. London’s a different ball game though – it’s a melting pot. There’s every kind of music here. I never would have developed my sound the way I have if I hadn’t moved here.”

Rookes
Photo: Laura Rhodes

WHY the name Rookes?
“I’ve always loved birds that are dark in appearance – they appeared in my pieces a lot when I was working as a visual artist over the years. I also enjoy language a lot and like the idea of representing myself in the plural even though I’m a solo artist – it parallels the idea of “one woman band”. Throwing an ‘e’ in makes it feel more like a name rather than just an animal.”

WHEN can I see her live?
“I’ll be playing a big, brilliant showcase with my Seahorse label-mates on 18th October – at Karamel in Wood Green, London. Early bird tickets are still just about available!”

HOW can I get to know her better?
Listen & Watch: Soundcloud // Youtube
Like & Follow: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

SEPHINE LLO

Sephine Llo by mystupidscketchbookArtwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is she?
Sephine Llo is Josephine Lloyd-Wilson, a classically trained musician and award winning composer and songwriter. Her debut album I, Your Moon is out 27th Oct on Tape Club Records.

“I remember dancing around in the dining room with my dad when I was really little to his record collection. I was always singing and flipping through his vinyl to find something to put on at dinner” Josephine recalls. “I also used to play with his guitar, though at that point I was just jamming open strings and making up silly songs.”

“The first time I started playing music properly was when a violin teacher came in to school to give a demonstration. She asked if anyone wanted a go – my hand shot up and from then music really took over my life. I studied violin, piano and singing classically, going through the grades and playing in orchestras and singing in choirs. Once I became a teenager, I started searching for my own voice. I got very bored of “virtuoso” playing – if felt just like showing off speed and technique to me, like it didn’t have a soul or personality. I found I could only write songs that I liked by starting them using an instrument I wasn’t trained in – there’s something much more pure and honest in simplicity and restrictions.”

“That’s when I became a collector of instruments from around the world – I have junk shops and eBay to thank for that! I also collect ‘found sounds’ from around the house and out and about…there’s everything from the over door slamming to footsteps in the snow on (her debut) album. I now feel I can go back to my classical roots and use choral and string additions in my songs in a way that is beautiful rather than ‘skilled’.”

“I studied Music and Sound Recording (the Tonmeister course) at University so that I could have control and take time over my own songs, though I’m finding now a similar frustration with the ‘polished’ sound I create. I am looking to capture more intimate performances rather than ‘perfect’ ones in the future.”

WHAT is the inspiration behind her songs?
“Relationships, of course! Mostly romantic ones, and some family ties as well. All of the songs on I, Your Moon were written before I met my husband and soulmate, so they are lyrically about crushes and heartbreaks, love and loss. With all that has happened since I was married, the next album is set to be quite different lyrically, love an loss through new eyes, with grief and new life being the themes in my more recent writing.”

WHERE is she from?
“Though technically a cockney, I’m a Surrey lass. Being surrounded by nature has definitely shaped my work. I’ve been known to stick a microphone out the window when the birds are singing or the thunder is grumbling!”

“There isn’t really a songwriter scene where I live, Brighton and London are my closest hotspots, though I quite like not being surrounded by a scene locally so that I don’t get influenced by others and can stay true to my own writing at my own pace.”

Sephine Llo

WHY the title I, Your Moon for her debut album?
“The title I, Your Moon encompasses the theme of the album – being drawn to someone but never fully reaching them, like the moon always being pulled by the earth’s gravity, but keeping its distance.”

WHEN can I see her live?
Little Laurence (her son) is keeping me very busy at the moment, being only a few months old, but I’m hoping to put together a show soon, with perhaps some live videos in the meantime.”

HOW can I get to know her better?
Listen: Soundcloud
Follow: Facebook

Listen to Sephine Llo’s latest single Paper Thin

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JAMES LEONARD HEWITSON

James Leonard Hewitson by mystupidscketchbook

Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is he?
“I am James Leonard Hewitson, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Hartlepool, England. I liked to sing pop songs and I was learning classical trumpet when I was in primary school. Then, through secondary school I taught myself some guitar and bass guitar, and formed a few DIY bands with friends (one of them got on Reading & Leeds BBC Introducing Stage in 2010 – ‘Arcs & Trauma’). However, I’d never really done a solo project, and I kept having ideas for indie/pop songs. When the time came around to move to university, eventually, all of my bands from home disbanded as everyone was on their separate paths, including myself.”

“At 20, I started playing shows around Newcastle alone, and managed to gather some friends to record some music as a full band. From that point, the project was real and I could start to build on it. I also played trumpet for Frankie and The Heartstrings and Kingsley Chapman and The Murder during my time at university, which gave me more insight into touring, performing and songwriting. In 2016, I launched ‘James Leonard Hewitson’ with my first single, Care Less, Love Less.”

James Leonard Hewitson’s double A-side Sometimes/Experience Song is out now.

WHY did he get into music?
“I don’t know why I started playing music. I think I enjoy entertaining. Some of it thrills me – writing a piece of music you’re happy with is like a really challenging puzzle.”

WHAT is the inspiration behind his songs?
“Musically, I am inspired by anything that is simply just good at what it does. I really love The Hives, Adam Green, Gang of Four, Jonathan Richman, TOPS and a load more. Lyrically, I take into account my Hartlepool accent and my lazy deliverance when writing lyrics. There’s an intentional half-arsedness about my lyrics, but I think people sort of enjoy it. With these two songs, Sometimes and Experience Song, it’s mainly about feeling underutilised socially, professionally and romantically, recognising that, and doing nothing about it.”

James Leonard Hewitson

WHERE did he grow up?
“I grew up in Hartlepool. It’s a small seaside town in the North East of England, and publications like Vice, The Guardian and The Economist try and milk it for its post-industrial greyness and political uncertainty, but I quite like it. I’ve lived in both Hartlepool and Newcastle – both teeming with lots of musicians, and thus, musical communities to participate in. I think that’s certainly helped me develop my writing. I currently live in Hartlepool, where there are few places for artists to perform in, yet there are lots of artists around. I’m actually starting a new project in September with Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre called ‘Town Hall Live’ to help bring more artists and communities together in the town.

WHEN can I see him live?
“I will be playing with my band at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington, London on Wednesday 13th September.” Catch him live also in Manchester at Eagle Inn on 12th September and in Newcastle at Surf Cafe on 15th September.

HOW can I get to know him better?
Listen & Watch: Soundcloud // Youtube
Like & Follow: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

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GENEVIEVE DAWSON

Genevieve Dawson by mystupidsketchbookArtwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is she?
“I’m a singer-songwriter, I sang jazz and folk music growing up, and learnt the piano and guitar in my teens. I’ve been writing songs since I was about 14, but only recently decided to put a band together and start putting them out into the world. It’s exciting and hugely rewarding to hear them become these alive, full things with Rick on horns and Danny on the drums. I met them studying at Goldsmiths which is teeming with great musicians and supportive people.”

Genevieve Dawson’s upcoming EP Things My Mother Tells Me, produced by La Leif, is due for release in August. Her debut single I Am On Something is out now.

WHAT is the inspiration behind her songs?
“I think a lot about lyrics, and I’m always really excited when I hear artists who do that too – I was obsessed with Anais Mitchell for a few years, and more recently listening to lots of Arthur Russell – I like how he can just sing one line and it says everything you need to know. I grew up on Joni Mitchell and Ella Fitzgerald as my staples and I think that combination of a kind of very personal, direct, poetic form of storytelling that Joni has and Ella’s way of singing a melody with her full body is what I try and focus on. I think it should always feel like you’re telling a secret through your songs, and the more specific you can be about the feeling or experience either through the sounds or words you’re saying, the better.”

WHERE did she grow up?
“I grew up in a village outside of Edinburgh and then when I was a teenager we moved ‘into town’ as we put it. Being in Edinburgh as a teenager I was really lucky to be surrounded by music and I spent all the money I earned from waitressing going to gigs. When you live in a fairly small city like Edinburgh you always know what’s going on and you never miss an artist if they come to town, whereas I think in London there’s the feeling that ‘you’ll see them next time’, so I think that vibrancy in Edinburgh, with the Fringe and International festival in the summer too really fuelled my love of live music.”

WHY the title Things my mother tells me for her upcoming EP?
“I wrote most of these songs in the year after a particularly difficult break-up, and I kind of thought that would be the main subject of the songs I put out. I realised through writing though, that what the break-up gave me was a chance to really question my set of assumptions about myself and who I am and what I want from life. The song Things my Mother Tells Me started out as a list of thoughts I was telling myself as a kind of comfort in that period. I realised mid way through writing the song though that even these weren’t certainties – they were actually things that my mum has always told me would be true, and the song is a kind of question mark – maybe you won’t be what you expected. I liked that duality of having at once a set of things you hope will be true (that you’ll find someone you love, that you’ll end up with kids), and also the realisation that maybe you’re not the person you think you are, and it might all be different. I chose that as a title because it best sums up where I am at the moment, filtering through the things I’ve always assumed would be true.”

WHEN can I see her live?
I’m playing at Greenbelt festival on 25th of August, and after that we’ll be doing a small UK tour in Sep/October – dates/venues will be posted very soon to my website and Facebook.”

HOW can I get to know her better?
Listen & Watch: Soundcloud // Spotify // Website // Youtube
Like & Follow: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Listen to Genevieve’s debut single I Am On Something

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JEAN K

jean kArtwork by Marta Milanese/Finn Kidd

WHO are they?
Jean K are singer Jean Kern and producer Michael Tomlinson, a disco infused indie pop group based in London.

Jean: “It’s been a year and a half that Michael and I are doing music together. At first, Michael was helping me to finish and polish some songs I was recording at home. Then it became more of a regular thing, and we started thinking of trying to play live.. Laura (on keyboard) and Gordon (on bass) joined us.. we only had 2 shows so far but it was really fun.”

WHAT is the inspiration behind their songs?
Jean: “When I started composing songs, I never wanted them to be too serious, so I was more trying to put words together that had not necessarily any meaning. (Also my English was so bad.. it was easier for me to just put random phrases/words together). But now, I love when a song tells a story, or has a strong idea behind. It might be the only way to make a pop song interesting enough.. I mean, nowadays all the bands are using the same kind of set up and (old) instruments.. so lyrics are definitely a way of adding excitement.”

Michael: “I love writing songs with Jean because when he comes in with an idea he’ll always surprise you with what he thinks it might be about – in this case (for debut single Billy) he said it could be about looking for a lost time traveller. I thought immediately of Billy Pilgrim as Kurt Vonnegut is one of my faves. Jean went off and devoured the book and when he was done we wrote the lyrics.”

“A really great thing about the ‘random phrases’ and French language background Jean mentioned is that some really weird/lateral stuff gets thrown when we’re writing – by the time we’re done the story that’s developed is something unique.”

WHERE are they from?
Jean: “I’m from Strasbourg. It felt like a small city when I grew up with not too much to do…and it might be the reason why the music scene is more organised in a regional network (North-East France) with strong connection with cities like Metz, Nancy or Mulhouse.. they are all not really glamorous cities (with quite a lot of poverty) but somehow, some really interesting stuff is coming out from it.”

“’La grande triple alliance international de L’est’ is a good example of it. Media Pop Records, Rival Colonia, Herzfeld are labels from the area that have a lot of interesting bands and artists. I’m actually always keeping an eye on them and they have been and are still a source of inspiration.”

WHY are they called Jean K?
“It’s my name.. we were trying to find more of a “normal” band name then just gave up.”

WHEN can I see them live?
“The release party of Billy is on the 2nd of August in London at the Alibi. Hopefully we will be able to line up few shows in September.”

HOW can I get to know them better?
Listen: Soundcloud
Like & Follow: Facebook // Instagram

Jean K’s debut single Billy will be out on Ltd cassette and download via Crocodile Records and Cargo distribution on July 28th.

Have a listen to Billy here below.

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