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Interview with Jonny Taylor

Jonny Taylor is incredibly pleased to share the arrival of his new album Dig Deep, an eclectic yet cohesive collection of songs balancing on the edge of contemporary rock with a hint of grunge and a pinch of hard country. Debuting at #3 on the iTunes Singer Songwriter chart and four years in the making since Jonny’s debut Something to Say landed in the ARIA charts, Dig Deep is loaded with classic songwriting throughout, spearheaded by the thoughtfully penned and guitar driven single Diamonds.

It’s been four years since your debut album, what have you been up to over that time?
Getting my life in order. My wife and I spent 3 years touring around Australia with no fixed address, and in the last 18 months we put down roots in a small country town and finally had a place to call home. I spent a good part of last year renovating our little country cottage, and that was the pivotal creative period for me to finish writing material for the new album.

You’ve just released album number two, how does it feel to have it out?
It’s a huge relief. I had a stack of material written and partially produced a couple of years ago, but I scrapped it and started from scratch, so I’m very proud and pleased that I took the time to make sure this record is true to me.

Where did the title Dig Deep come from?
It’s a saying that I use often, and it’s exactly what I had to do to get this album off the ground. I think we all have to dig deep to get through life.

What made you pick ‘Diamonds’ as the album’s single?
I think Diamonds is a nice balanced track from the album. It’s not too heavy, not too light and it’s got a guitar solo! Haha. It’s a pretty indicative of the tone of the album. Kind of reflective, and touches on the general notion of moving forward despite obstacles.

You’ve been touring Australia in support of the album, how has that been going?
I love touring. No two shows are the same, so it’s a bit of an adventure. The tracks off this album have been well and truly road tested prior to recording, so it’s nice to confidently present these tracks in a live setting and be able to finally have the record available for people to get their hands on.

What can fans expect from your show?
A mixed bag. Plenty of honesty, stories and inspiration behind the tracks, and more guitar solos than they’d probably expect.

What’s the music scene like in Dumbleyung?
Haha. We’ve only got about 200 people in town, and most of those people like music 😉

Do you ever listen to your own music?
I never thought I’d say this, but yes! I can still listen to Dig Deep and actually enjoy it. I enjoy listening to the production more than anything. I had some great producers and musicians work on the record, so I’m still discovering little things in the production that excite me.

What other music do you listen to?
I still love the 90s Seattle stuff. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam etc. Besides that though, I’m enjoying Chris Stapleton and James Bay. Singer songwriters with a bit of edge.

What do you have planned in 2018?
Singing lots of songs! I’m heading off on a national tour again in early 2018, so I’m excited to get out and flog this new record!

Tour dates below. Check out Jonny Taylor’s website to find out more!

 

Dig Deep 2018 tour dates
December 15 – Rubix Bar, Perth, WA
December 16 – Ravenswood Hotel, Ravenswood, WA
January 13 – 28 Tamworth Country Music Festival,Tamworth, NSW
February 2 – Angel’s Bayside, Huskisson, NSW
February 3 – Tourist Hotel, Queenbeyan, NSW
February 4 – Royal Hotel, Bungendore, NSW
February 8 – Kalamunda P.A.C, Kalamunda, WA w/ James Blundell
February 9 – The Mumby, Mumbalup, WA w/ James Blundell
February 16 – Sugarland Tavern, Bundaberg, QLD
February 17 – Nightquarter, Helensvale, QLD
February 18 – Wallaby Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD
February 26 – Queen’s Baton Relay, Shire of Swan, WA
March 3 – Sydney Country Rocks Festival, NSW

 

 

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Interview with Kymberley Kennedy

Teaming up with Miles Williams and Steve Wilkinson, acclaimed singer Kymberley Kennedy has put out her latest EP Pacify. Tomatrax caught up with Kymberley and her band to ask a few questions.

What inspired you to become a musician?
Kymberley: I think it was probably my dad. Although he plays pretty much any instrument and I’m more an anti-musician in that I can’t play a thing. Bit awkward, really. That’s where these guys come in.

Miles: An unfortunately generic story of wanting to play an electric guitar when I was young because it looked cool so I asked for a guitar for my Birthday avoiding the common misconception that playing acoustic first is best. It was on the same Birthday that my uncle bought me a Jimi Hendrix album and I thought… yeah… I want some of that.

Steve: I ‘apparently’ used to spend hours sat by the record player listening to my mum’s records as a child, then would always be singing around the house, which prompted my mum to arrange for piano lessons for me when I was 7 years old – and it developed from there.

When did you write your first song?
Kymberley: That depends on your definition of a song! I’ve written some terrible “songs” in the past, but I really got into writing my own poetry at maybe 15 or 16 and I think it evolved into song-writing from there. Thankfully, we’re all songwriters now.

Miles: Awful flashbacks to two chord songs with love sick lyrics from a 14 year old.

Steve: I remember first writing raps and rimes over hip hop beats with a friend of mine in the early 90s, and we used to perform them to his family in their living room on a Saturday night. From there I then put a few chords together on the piano and wrote a song with a melody, but when I presented it to him, it wasn’t cool enough for him – so I confined those numbers to my bedroom at the time for my ears only to save some street cred J

You’ve just released your latest EP, how does it feel to put it out?
Kymberley: It feels pretty good. We’ve had some great feedback on the EP so far and it’s not even out yet. We were in the paper yesterday which was pretty awesome.

You gained a lot of critical acclaim for your previous work, did this make you feel any pressure when working on this EP?
Kymberley: If I thought about it then maybe, yeah, but ultimately I don’t really think about it. We just basically get together, work things out musically and get on with it.

Miles:  It’s not something that crosses my mind personally… we just make what sounds good to us.

You’ve put out a series of EPs/singles, are there any plans for a full length album?
Kymberley: I had an album all ready to go a while back and due to some issues with a publisher it was put on hold for a little while. Since then, I’ve gone back, reworked some tracks, changed the track-list and re-energised myself. I think it’s worked out for the best, so yeah, a full length album will be out next year. Watch this space!

Your music covers some confronting and personal issues, is it hard to have these issues out and on show?
Kymberley: To be honest, I try to be subtle in that respect. People don’t tend to realise the true meaning of a song and that’s Okay. What a song means to me is often completely different to someone else so it’s not too difficult. I usually only reveal what the track is about, if it’s really personal, after it’s been out a while – after the dust has settled.

You recently performed a version of ‘Wicked Game’, what inspired you to cover Chris Isaac?
Kymberley: It’s just a great song. That’s it, really. We liked that it was timeless and me and the guys could put our own stamp on it.

You’ve been likened to band’s such as Portishead and Massive Attack, do you think that’s a fair call?
Kymberley: I think it’s fair… it’s also a major compliment, particularly because I’m a big fan of both bands!

Miles: I get a lot of comments after gigs saying what my guitar lines remind them of… these two bands are seldom mentioned but mentioned a lot when talking about the band overall. I think it’s hugely complimentary.

Your songs ‘Blackout’ and ‘All I wanted’ appear in the movie Syrup, what’s it like to have your music appear in a movie?
Kymberley: It’s actually really great! I actually had a preview of the movie to watch before it came out. The director sent it on to me. The exposure was amazing and it’s great to see old and new fans still talking about those songs specifically because of that movie. I have my own copy of the movie now and it’s a bit surreal hearing me warbling in the background whilst Hollywood A-Listers are speaking their dialogue.

Do you ever listen to your own music?
Kymberley: Yeah, I kind of have to, more so to nit-pick than anything else. If you’re not going to listen to and critique your own music, why should you expect anybody to? Although, every time I’m in a car with Miles, he purposefully puts a track on, winds down the windows and shouts “we’ve got Kymberley Kennedy, here” just to embarrass me. I swear, I’ve wished for the ground to open up and swallow me countless times, now.

Miles: I’m hilarious.

What other music do you listen to?
Kymberley: I think my tastes are quite eclectic. I like to think of music as a buffet so I can have a bit of everything. Right now I’m discovering Sabrina Claudio and I love what JoJo has been doing. Also, we recently went to see London Grammar (they were amazing as expected), but we discovered a band called Lo Moon, who I’m now a fan of. You should check them out. Their front man sounds like Peter Gabriel.

Miles: That would just be everything from Miles Davis to Hendrix to the massive obsession I have at the moment of the XX

Steve: I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson and you can’t not love, Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, Nile Rodgers with a bit of Genesis thrown in for good measure.

What do you have planned in 2018?
Kymberley: We’ll be promoting the album a lot with live shows and live sessions. The rest, you’ll have the wait and see!

Check out Kymberley Kennedy’s website to find out more!

 

Interview with Frantic Chant

The Glass Factory is the new album by Edinburgh’s Frantic Chant. On offer are 21 songs and almost 2 hours worth of music spanning various musical styles and seeing the band play an array of weird and wonderful instruments. Tomatrax caught up with the band to talk about their music!

Where did the name Frantic Chant come from?

Col “Stazy was in a bookshop and saw a board full of magnetic words all jumbled up. In the centre was frantic and chant, he just thought they looked good together and suited the music we were making. I might have got this totally wrong, but that’s how I remember it.”

Your latest album is 21 songs and almost two hours long, what made you decide to put out a double album?

Nick “We had so many songs to get out our system. We had lots of time in the studio to muck about and de-fragment. And also TRUMPETS!”

Stazy “We’re not a band that says ‘Let’s leave that one for the next album’. If a song’s done or nearly done, get it finished and get it on. There’s not one note that’s gone to waste on this album. The running order wasn’t a problem as the songs go as a narrative.

Col “It wasn’t intentional to record so many songs but having an extremely patient producer in Elle Durnan meant we could experiment and record new ideas on the spot. A couple of the songs came while 2 or 3 of us were waiting in the studio for the others to arrive and we’d been playing another wee batch of songs live for a while too.”

What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Fiberglass Spiderlegs’?

Col “We can’t claim any credit for the video, it was done by Hugo, who is also known as Psyche Coaster. He asked to use the song on a compilation album he was putting together for the Psychedelic Underground Generation blog/label and the next thing we knew he’d posted the amazing video on his YouTube channel.”

Where did the title Glass Factory come from?

Col “There is a sample we used on a song, Mushroom Jim & the Planet of the Funky Apes that was taken from an old UK kids TV program called Jackanory. The sample is from a story called The Glass Factory and the voice is the legendary British actor, Bernard Cribbins. The title just seemed to tie in with the loose concept the album had so we stole it.”

The album covers many musical styles, did you have any ideas on the musical direction if the album as you were writing it?

Stazy “The only style we never mentioned was Psychedelic, but that seems to be what a lot of listeners hear judging by the videos we’ve had made for the tunes and also by the genre of blogs, pages and playlists that support the cause. We’re always trying to move forward with new styles and methods for recording. Luckily we have the luxury of spending time in the studio to play around a lot. We’d get bored if all our songs sounded and felt the same as the next one.”
Darren “Not really, most of the tracks started off from riffs or chord patterns on acoustics, previously it’s all been jams in the practice room. There was an effort to be a bit more musically wanky (you might want to change the adjectives there) – less major chords, avoiding verse, chorus, verse. So we just picked up on things as the songs came together, nothing really thought about in advance. (There was also the mind blowing musical invention from the bass player which transcends all previous bassery, ever)

Col “The only pre planned direction was that we wanted a loose, laid back style on about 4 or 5 songs so the first instrument we recorded for those was an acoustic guitar. Once everything else was added they still seemed to keep the sitting round the campfire vibe we wanted. It was open season on all the other songs and all sorts of things influenced where they ended up. Nick and me travelled to the studio together most days and would listen to different music every time and little things would creep in from that. Stuff like guitar sounds from the likes of Dinosaur Jr and New Order songs that are not too obvious as they’re maybe only one of ten, or more, guitar tracks in the mix.

Is there any style of music you’d never touch?

Nick “I couldn’t touch some piano dirge.”

Darren “Probably Country music.”

Col “None at all, for me. I like to keep it interesting. There’s nothing worse than hearing a band stuck in one sound. There are too many bands that concentrate on certain periods of another band’s life and just keep churning out the same old tired blueprint. In Edinburgh it seems to be The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Dig” period that’s getting milked for all it’s got. As good as it was, there are too many other toys to play with to get stuck shaking that rattle forever.”

There is also a large range of instruments covered, how do you determine which instruments to use across the tracks?

Nick “We use whatever we have to hand if it adds to the song.”

Darren “Aye, whatever we can get our hands on.”

Stazy “Elle will come up with ideas for mandolins and other shit. She also comes up with some nice harmonies which are sometimes testing for me. We’ve played on bills with Colin and his band Bombskare and we’ve been trying to get him involved in some way for a while, but shit’s never worked out. As soon as Nick played the start of `Swing to the Left` I could hear the sound of the horns in my head. We knew Colin could do the business on it, and he did. We got him to apply his lip service to another 3or 4 as a thanks.”

Do you have a favourite instrument?

Stazy “I’m a closet bass player. I always manage to get a couple of tracks on an album where me and Darren have a swap.

Nick “My Les Paul Gold Top.”

Col “Not a single instrument as such but I really enjoy squeezing new sounds out of keyboards with shed loads of effects.”

Darren “Anything blunt.”

Is there any instrument you’ve always wanted to play but are yet to do so?

Stazy “I love hearing a piano on a track that suits. I could do with learning the guitar a bit as well.”

Col “I’d love to have a shot on an electric violin or viola and pretend I’m John Cale.”

Nick “I’d like 15 minutes with a lap steel through a big Leslie.”

‘The Major’s Shot Himself, Mrs Grant’ features over 300 voices from musicians from all over the world. Was it hard to collect al these voices and use them in the song?

Col “I knew I wanted the voices to sound like they were swimming round in a pot of glue and had the exact sound in my head so it didn’t take too long to put together. The hardest part was making sure the music didn’t get lost in it all. Luckily the variation in the quality of each recording just added to the madness. I was blown away by the amount of people who gave up their time to record the lines and can’t thank them enough.”

What was the inspiration behind the album’s cover?

Nick “It’s a wee visual representation of the song titles, lyrics and daft band in-jokes that belong in The Glass Factory.”

Stazy “The picture is us looking into The Glass Factory.”

When writing what comes first the words of the music?

Col “Almost always it’s the music. That gives Stazy time to work on the melody. The words are sometimes gathered from things we’ve written down during recording. Mushroom Jim & the Planet of the Funky Apes was a bit like that and is, in part, a wee diary of the time spent recording the album. There are nods in there to David Bowie and Mick Lynch from Stump who passed away in the 18 months or so we were in the studio. There’s even homage to Pete Burns in another song.”

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Stazy “Usually I listen to it to death during the recording, then once we get the final album I listen to it a few times then leave it for a good six months.”

Nick “On heavy rotation.”

Col “I listen to the most recent album a lot after it’s finished and I dip my toes back into the older albums every now and then. I never believe anyone who says they don’t listen to their music, unless it was The Kooks then I’d understand why.”

What other music do you listen to?

Stazy “I’ve been listening to podcasts for ages but been getting back into getting album’s on the buds. I’m liking new Arcade Fire. Lorde, Depeche Mode and got the George Michael album back on after watching his new film. St, Vincent and Superorganism. The Rhemedies new CD is entertaining. I got the 2 Gallaghers albums as well. Darren played me Ride’s new stuff. Good. I’ve seen the Fire Engines this year too.

Nick “I listen to anything from Memphis to Manchester like Stone Roses, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, The Yardbirds and labels like Sun and Stax.”

Col “I’ve not listened to much new stuff recently but Glasgow’s Spinning Coin has just released a great album on The Pastels record label. We played with a couple of Edinburgh based bands called Mad Gerald and PAL a few months ago and I love what they’re doing. Other than that I’ve been revisiting old albums by The Cardiacs, Violent Femmes and The Cure a lot recently.”

Darren “Neon Waltz, we played with them a wee while back, DMAs and The Rhemedies.”

What do you have planned in 2018?

Col “We’ve started recording again and have the bare bones of about 4 songs on the go. We might release it as an EP but, as you’ll have worked out by now, we get a bit carried away in the studio and it could quite easily turn into a 5 hour rock opera.”

Darren “Planned? What does that mean?”

Check out Frantic Chant’s Facebook page to find out more!

 

 

Interview with Andrea Marr

Andrea Marr’s has just released her  first full length soul album Natural, featuring Andrea’s 8 piece soul band The Funky Hitmen. Tomatrax caught up with Andrea to ask a few questions.

You’ve just put out your latest full length album, what’s it like to have it out?
It’s a joy to have it out because it’s the best music I have ever made – the reaction and reviews have been overwhelming and I couldn’t be happier!

Where did the title Natural come from?
This album combines my love of blues soul gospel and funk and it’s my most ‘Natural self musically speaking – I’m not trying to fit into a box of ‘blues’ or ‘soul’ it combines all of it

The songs cover a lot of personal aspects of your life, is it hard to have these things on show?
No, it’s therapy to write these songs and sing them – it helps me heal and helps other people heal too, because many of us share the same experiences and music really has the power to heal.

The song ‘Grateful’ has been covered by some of your fans, what’s it like hearing other people perform your music?
I was honoured having people wanting to sing my songs and very cool to hear young kids love a song talking about gratitude for the simple things.

The album includes a cover of Marva Whitney classic ‘What Do I Have To Do’. What inspired you to do this cover?
Cam Scott who was the musical director for The Funky Hitmen in the first few years suggested I sing it – it was literally impossible for me to hit those notes at the time and I was so proud of myself for growing into that song – it was a huge challenge!

If you could feature on anyone’s tribute album who would it be?
Tough call – Sharon Jones, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner, Amy Winehouse, Take your pick, I love them all!

You have an 8-piece band behind you, is it hard to manage the music with such a large band?
Oh absolutely – that’s why we don’t play a lot, it’s very difficult to get paid enough to cover the band fee, so we focus on festivals.

Where did the band name The Funky Hitmen come from?
We were joking about what to call the band and I said ‘they are a killer band’ Cam said we are your Funky Hitmen cos we kill Em with funkiness.. that’s how it happened

When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
I usually get full songs, lyrics and melodies together

Do you ever listen to your own music?
I really struggle to listen to myself but my husband has my music on repeat which forces me to hear it

What other music do you listen to?
I love R&B Gospel music – Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Tasha Cobb, Israel Houghton – incredible music!

Now that the album is out what do you plan on doing next?
Enjoying people’s response to it – i just want to bring people joy. When i have enough great new material I will consider recording the next project, no plans at this stage.

Check out Andrea Marr’s website to find out more!

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