​AISHA BADRU

Aisha Badru by mystupidscketchbook
Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is she?
“My name is, AISHA BADRU. I’m a singer-songwriter from Yonkers, New York. I’ve always had a love for singing and I’ve always had a passion for literature, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I taught myself how to play the guitar and started writing my own songs. I used to have extreme stage-fright, so it took a lot of courage to go from the bedroom to having millions of streams on Spotify.”

AISHA‘s debut album Pendulum is out now on Nettwerk.

WHAT is the inspiration behind her songs?
“I sing a lot about finding strength in times of peril. In the beginning, I pulled a lot of inspiration from my personal relationships, but now as I’ve been on an accelerated spiritual journey and have been getting a more complete view of the world through traveling, I’m beginning to pull from the collective issues that we all share.”

WHERE did she grow up?
“I grew up in a low income neigborhood in Southwest Yonkers. Growing up in that sort of environment presents challenges because there aren’t many resources and opportunities available to help you to propel upward.”

“My experience growing up there has shaped who I am as an artist because it has allowed me to form a deep understanding of existing systematic issues and how a lack of resources can push you to repeat patterns that keep you in a hole. With that said, it has awakened my revolutionary spirit that comes through on songs like Mind On Fire.”

Aisha Badru Photo Credit Zev Schmitz
Photo: Zev Schmitz

WHY the title Pendulum for her debut album?
Pendulum represents the swing between the light and dark aspects of life. One day I was sitting on the bus and the word popped into my head and immediately I knew that it would be the title of my album. I think it’s fitting because although my album may appear melancholy, if you really listen, the overall message points to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

WHEN can I see her live?
“I’m planning a US tour for the summer and a European tour for the fall. You can follow me on social media for updates regarding specifics.”

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

ALEX LLEO

Alex Lleo by mystupidsketchbook

Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is he?
“I am ALEX LLEO. I discovered music way back in primary school actually. Weirdly, I remember wanting to take violin lessons, but there were no spaces left on the course, so my mum drafted me in for the guitar instead. Never thought much of it at the time, but obviously looking back now, I’m glad I went through that period when my brain was still ‘quite’ spongy! Haha. ”

LLEO‘s debut EP Park Studios, JQ is out now. The 3 tracks were recorded live at a studio in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with ALEX and his friends all set up in a round to naturally capture the all consuming mellow warmth that seeps through his songs.

WHAT is the inspiration behind his songs?
“I sing about all sort of things really. Inspiration for me, comes from just living & going through different experiences, or sometimes imaging life from other peoples perspectives. ”

WHERE did he grow up?
“I grew up in the Midlands (UK), and I think the biggest thing about where I grew up is the people. There seems to be a certain honesty you don’t get anywhere else. My school friends will always be the best leveller! Haha.”

“Worcestershire & Birmingham (UK) are both vibrant places for culture and art. It can get overlooked a lot of the time, and with so many venues being bulldozed for ‘re-development’ it obviously has an impact. But there’s so many young people putting everything into their art, in every part of the country. If you’re looking in the right places, there’s always a scene!

Alex Lleo

WHY are people drawn to his music?
“Again, honesty I think. That whole theme built the Park JQ EP. It was the reason we recorded the way we did, I wanted to show people what could be achieved away from the comfortable shadows of a multi-tack recording. Get a bunch of passionate people together & shoot it in a day, and hope for the best. And I think given the time frame, I’m chuffed with what was created.”

WHEN can I see him live?
“Well I’ve just returned from an awesome little tour of the South West UK, playing all the favourite little spots. With the Band though I’m playing in Birmingham on Sunday, April 29th and in London at Old St Pancras Church on May 2nd.”

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

BILK

Bilk mystupidsketchbook.jpg

Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO are they?
BILK are SOL ABRAHAMS (vocals and guitar), LUKE HARE (bass) and HARRY GRAY (drums).

“The band has been going for about three years now, playing with different members and writing the tunes. Just slugging it around Chelmsford, Essex playing dead venues and trying to get people to listen to the demos” says BILK‘s lead singer. “The final line up came about a year a go when LUKE joined, we met through Instagram and everything just clicked.”

WHAT is the inspiration behind their songs?
“The songs are just about life in general and some of the experiences I’ve gone through and also the things that surround me growing up where I live. I’m not trying to make a statement with the lyrics, it’s simply just commenting on the, sometimes bleak, reality of things and being honest.”

“Musically, inspiration is drawn from THE JAM, ARCTIC MONKEYS, JAMIE T, THE STREETS and THE SEX PISTOLS.”

Debut single Give Up, produced by RICH TURVEY (BLOSSOMS, THE CORAL) at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, is about “the idea of not giving up your aim when you’ve got your surroundings and other things going on in life distracting you. Hence the ‘trying not to flop my college course and then get employed’ bit.”

Bilk

WHERE are they from?
“We grew up and spent our teenage years in Chelmsford, Essex. Chelmsford has influenced some of the lyrics that have been put into the songs as it’s a boring place and not much is ever really happening. The music scene in Essex is proper dead as there’s no (or not many) interesting bands. It’s more DJs and rappers.”

“This has shaped us a band as it’s taught us to keep grinding and working hard for it as it’s difficult getting gigs round where we live and it makes it hard for bands to gain a following.”

WHY are they called Bilk?
The name BILK was inspired by SOL’s dad who is a London cabbie. “Getting ‘bilked’ is slang for when a cabbie has a customer that runs off without paying the fare…”.

WHEN can I see them live?
“We have got a load of shows down south that are being booked at the moment including local shows in Essex and also London shows.” Find all dates here.

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

FELIX M-B

Felix M-B by mystupidsketchbook
Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is he?
FELIX M-B is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter and actor from London. Growing up in Derbyshire amongst actors and musicians in his parents’ touring theatre company, FELIX began gigging in Derby, Nottingham and then across the UK.

We talked to FELIX back in 2015 about his début release Will I Sleep?. After second EP The World Won’t Wait, the singer-songwriter is back with a new collection of songs called The Pipes.

Out March 10th, FELIX co-produced and recorded the record with BEN WALKER at BEN’s home studio in Brighton in December 2017.

WHERE did the inspiration for his new EP The Pipes come from?
“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the inspiration came from. I guess I’d say it was based on a series of experiences and people I have encountered both in my childhood and adult life.”

Danny (The Pipes) was written at the time of the general election. I had a dream that THERESA MAY broke down during a press conference and all her teeth fell out. I was also working a door to door sales job at the time and feeling pretty crappy about it.”

Only Now, The Answer Is and Joey Finds God and His Childhood were both based on people I grew up with who influenced my childhood in ways that I couldn’t fully process until very recently.”

Davey is based on a guy I vaguely knew and played a few gigs with, and just how isolating and unjust the music industry can feel.”

I Drove Home To The Shipping Forecast was written about ritual and escape. And going to Berlin with my friend.”

Felix M-B Ep Artwork The Pipes

WHAT was the EP production like?
“It was a cathartic and rewarding process. I produced it with BEN WALKER, who’s a fantastic musician and producer and has a home studio in Brighton. We used tape and aimed to capture the moment of the song rather than attain some kind of ‘perfect’ sound.”

WHY the title The Pipes?
The Pipes is a reference to the old folk song, Danny Boy. The ‘calling’ of the Pipes feel to me reminiscent of home and tradition. I thought it would be interesting to see how that fits with life today, in a country which feels divided, where many people can’t see eye to eye and cultural identity is capitalised and used to stir hatred.”

WHEN can I see him live?
“The EP Launch Party takes place at The Housmans Bookshop, Kings Cross, London on Saturday March 10th. Check out my website and social pages for the full list of gigs coming up.”

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

 

ALEX HALLER

Alex Haller by mystupidsketchbook

Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO is he?
“I’m ALEX. 23. Been writing songs since I can remember. Most of them never really made it off my phone until a few years ago and apart from my family and flatmates hearing it through the door, I never really shared them with anyone.”

“I was living in Berlin for a while and made a friend who showed me how to record into a laptop and all the pieces kind of came together and since then I’ve been recording as many things as I can and getting them out.”

“When I was growing up, I’d play a lot with friends and we swapped instruments often, which gave me a pretty broad scope of sounds to play with when I was writing music.”

WHAT is the inspiration behind his songs?
“I wrote the current tracks a few summers ago at this transitional point in my life and I was trying to capture that feeling of nostalgia and excitement that comes when you’re moving onto new things. I don’t know if it’s just from growing up in England, but for me those feelings are always associated with summer.”

Alex Haller I Want My Friends Cover Artwork

“With the lead track I Want My Friends from forthcoming EP Patterns, I was actually biking down this canal in London and the whole thing just kind of came to me. I pulled up on the side and recorded it into my phone. Musically I wanted a real summery sound, I was listening a lot to that JAMIE XX track Gosh which for me captures that feeling, a weird kind of mix between happiness and nostalgia.”

WHERE did he grow up?
“I grew up just outside Cambridge in a small village. It’s pretty isolated and not much went on really, which I think actually helped a lot with being creative. Being bored after school meant that I was jamming with friends and messing around with music, rather than going and doing other stuff. We had space to make noise without bothering any neighbours and didn’t really have that many distractions. I think that spaciousness is still key for me when I’m writing, I like being outdoors and having space to think.”

“In terms of live music, Cambridge is pretty close to London which exerts a bit of a gravitational pull on the music scene, so I mostly just go there to see gigs and that kind of thing.

WHY the name ‘Haller’?
His name comes from one of the characters in HERMAN HESSE’s Steppenwolf, a book Haller found particularly influential on his creative escapades.

WHEN can I see him live?
“I’m deep in rehearsals at the moment with a few pals, we’re putting together a setlist with some new tracks and plan to start playing around London in the summer!”

HOW can I get to know him better?
Listen: Soundcloud // Spotify // Bandcamp
Like: Facebook

BORN RUFFIANS

mystupidsketchbook
Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook

WHO are they?
“We are BORN RUFFIANS. We began playing together in high school, around 15 or 16. LUKE LALONDE and I (STEVE HAMELIN) became friends because he was the only person I met with similar musical interests and he was a nice guy. MITCH DEROSIER is LUKE’s cousin and started learning bass in high school too, so he was a natural fit. He’s a jerk.”

BORN RUFFIANS’ new album, Uncle, Duke & The Chief, produced by RICHARD SWIFT, will be released on February 16th via Paper Bag Records.

WHAT is the inspiration behind their songs?
“I do not want to speak for LUKE, but lyrically I would say he is often working through whatever he is thinking about in his life at that time. Sometimes he is writing from the point of view of a character, but often that character is someone he has recently encountered or is dealing with something that he is also thinking about. I would say his lyrics can be quite personal (even if they don’t always appear so).”

“Musically we cast a wide net for inspiration. We have a lot of common ground between the three of us, but the most obvious would be growing up listening to THE BEATLES, which is obviously not a very unique answer, but it’s an honest one.”

alternative rock, Born Ruffians, Luke Lalonde, Steve Hamelin, Toronto, Uncle Duke & The Chief, Richard Swift, Paper Bag Records

WHERE are they from?
“We all grew up in a small town called Midland, Ontario. Now MITCH and I live in Toronto and LUKE bounces between Brooklyn and Toronto. Midland and Toronto have both shaped us as a band.”

“If there was any kind of scene in Midland when we were in our teens it was a “punk” scene, and I use punk in heavy quotes. It was a very weak, mainstream, mall punk scene. The irony was, those of us who weren’t into that music were teased at shows for playing different shit. So, in some roundabout way we had a more punk rock mentality of “fuck em, we’ll play what we like” and all the other bands were just playing the same cheesy genre as each other.”

WHY are they called Born Ruffians?
“At this point, I don’t even remember, so I guess the best (or worst) answer is why not? Sorry ’bout that.”

WHEN can I see them live?
Check tour dates and buy tickets here.

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

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

MAPLE & RYE

Maple&Rye by mystupidsketchbook
Artwork 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

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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