Mitsune Told Me: The Mind’s Behind ‘Hazama’

Mitsune is something to truly feast your ears on. Teaching us to look beyond the sounds of the western curtain, the quintet bring traditional Japanese folk music and infuse it with the sounds of modern blues, jazz and rock in a culmination that truly broadens horizons. The band’s latest project, Hazama, is due to be unveiled in mid-February so we got chatting to two of the Tsugaru shamisen players, Youka and Tina, to find out more…

STM: When was the last time you discovered an artist through word of mouth?

Youka: Constantly! The most recent examples are Yuma Abe (Japan), Audrey Nuna (USA) and Juba, a sick UK/Nigerian DJ who lives in Berlin. I found out about all of these artists through friends.

STM: How useful is the tool of ‘word of mouth’ when an artist is just starting their career?

Tina: I think it’s a communication of high quality, since the recommendation is added, which gives it this extra kind of honouring. Especially when starting a career, this can be the hidden gem recommendation.

STM: What were your first ‘tools of promotion’ when you first started in music?

Tina: Facebook, Instagram, mailing lists, website and flyers.

STM: What do you think the industry would look like without streaming platforms like Spotify?

Youka: This might be controversial, but I think Spotify algorithms are responsible for the homogenisation of a lot of music. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of diverse music on streaming platforms – anyone can put their music out there without a label or distribution deal, and that’s a wonderful thing! But these days most listeners are discovering music via Spotify algorithmic playlists, and I think it can really get you stuck in a genre box. Unimaginative music that sounds like whatever is popular at the time gets rewarded. I think it’s even started to affect the way people make music, musicians catering for this.

Anyway, to answer your question – I think the music industry without streaming would be overall more refined, curated by tastemakers, with more emphasis on albums rather than singles. On the downside, it might be harder for emerging artists to get their hat in the ring.

STM: What did you learn about yourselves as people and as musicians from writing/recording Hazama?

Tina: I learned to appreciate the energy of working together based on deep respect for a person and their skills. And there were so many new musical influences, which was a sensory experience. Last but not least: vocals + tricky shamisen techniques at the same time were a great challenge.

STM: Where did the idea behind the band come from?

Tina: The love for the shamisen was what connected us all. This mutual passion made us reach out for each other. The different paths we came from gave us very unique perspectives to this instrument, and to music in general. We want to show that this supposedly ‘traditional’ instrument is very much alive and contemporary. It is exciting and vibrant.

STM: How important is it that we spread knowledge and awareness of these traditional Japanese folk music sounds to those unaware of them?

Tina: For a more diverse music scene, any music that promotes lesser known instruments and tunes should get attention. There is such a big range of instruments and musicians beyond the western curtain, which still dominates what is broadcast and who is booked.

STM: What is the group dynamic like between the five of you?

Youka: Our rehearsals are a lot of fun, lots of laughter. Mitsune started first as a shamisen trio, so Tina, Shiomi & I have known each other the longest in the band. We have a deep relationship that extends far beyond musical collaboration – it’s a sisterhood. We love each other very much and are an emotional support network for one another. Petros & Daigo, our percussionist & bassist, are both super fun, enthusiastic people who are amazing to be around. They are also incredible musicians, open-minded and willing to tackle anything. The band is essentially based on friendship, so there’s a lot of great energy flying around in our rehearsals and on stage. We try to have fun 🙂

Hazama is unleashed on the 18th of February 2022!

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Fynbos: The Only One – Single Review

Yearning weaves itself into every ounce of ‘Fynbos’s new song. From India to the UK and through the trials of life, we have the birth of ‘The Only One’ come out the other side. This is a single that does anything but neglect the rich emotional history that anyone can find within themselves, because as a listener you fall into the melody and become one, now serving as a medium of harmonious empathy.

‘Fynbos’ welcomes you into the space of this song from the offset, constructing the evocative sensation of floating around the cosmos. He sings to the melody like it’s his romantic partner, meaning that when paired with the sensational reverbed guitar, you feel embraced and catered to. You feel loved. Having this element at the structural core of the song is why it makes you so empathic, so swept away, and ‘Fynbos’ only enhances this further with his hypnotic chorus.

Ignited by the underscore of restrained drums, the choral voices singing ‘you’re the only one’ create an untouchable pulse that you are transfixed by, brought to life by the subdued bass. ‘Fynbos’ knows that everyone has a story of isolation, of feeling too far away from loved ones, and so he creates this song to bring the characters in all those stories back together to create one big heartbeat. If you can’t do it on earth, then at least you can do it in this effervescent dream he has constructed for you. That you have constructed. This heartbeat is inextinguishable, and gives you hope and comfort as a result, despite the unmissable undertone of melancholy.

The song fades out on this experience of endless spinning, as if you will never have to be let go again. An abrupt ending would have destroyed this, but ‘The Only One’ let’s you take this with you into the rest of your day, week, year, and even life, because it understands that shaking desperation that forms the foundation of the human existence.

For fans of Arcade Fire, The Divine Comedy, and The Flaming Lips, you can find ‘The Only One’ and Fynbos via the links below:

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LearningToDive transport us back to 1980s musical greatness with their latest single “You Said It Best”

With the release of “You Said It Best”, LearningToDive have expanded their distinctive sound following the critical appreciation of their previous album “Norwegian Pop”. LearningToDive has successfully mixed everything great about 1980s music along with soulful, melodic soliloquies with profound thought and meaning.

‘You Said It Best’ is an uplifting, heartwarming message incorporating themes of
self-acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude, and is about coming back to one’s roots and working out what really matters.”

The magician behind the music is Bravo Bonez, whose decision was to not release this brilliant song as part of their previous album, “Norwegian Pop”. The track “You Said it Best” is a hypnotic concoction of Sophisti-pop and country that would not have complimented the album’s deep connections to 80s indie, post-punk rock artists such as Echo and the Bunnymen.

The public are already catching on to LearningToDive’s exceptional musical talents, having amassed over 10,000 Spotify listeners. This is a single you absolutely do not want to miss!

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Words by Aidan Whelband

The Brazilian rock trio ‘Pentral’ hit new heights with their latest single ‘Aiming for the Sun’

Aiming for the Sun is Pentral’s latest single from their outstanding LP What Lies Ahead of Us. The track wastes no time in grabbing your attention, as the first second of this song includes a rapid, turbocharged guitar riff that is sure to blast through your walls. Aiming for the Sun also contains a thumping drum beat combined with intoxicating vocals that pierce straight into your heart.

“Aiming For The Sun” is a heavier song without leaving groove behind. It’s the second chapter of the couple’s saga, when the Amazon land-grabbers show their real face and what they are up to. Through its dark vibe and pulsating lines, this song tries to express a feeling of urgency, a claim for help, showcasing the agony of the people in the woods.” – Pentral

Passionate about the environment, Pentral’s LP is a concept album that tells the devastating tale of a disorientated family within a world of rage, greed and hatred that is destroying the amazon jungle. Pentral sees their music as a powerful way to spread universal messages of equality, anti-racism and anti-discrimination. The Brazilian trio consists of brothers Victor (Singer), Vagner Lima (Drums) and Joe Ferry (Bass Guitar). Their passion for all things rock and roll is almost as strong as their obsessive desire to create a safer and tranquil world for a new generation to be raised in.

This album is even more remarkable when taking into consideration that it was recorded during an international pandemic! Victor describes the LP’s recording process:

“The album was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a huge challenge wearing face masks almost every time. There was tension and fear among the musicians and engineers of getting infected. Besides that, the songs are not “straight”. Pentral uses a lot of uncommon and odd time signatures and harmonies, so it was pretty hard to record the final version of the tracks. Atmosphere, harmony, melody, groove and a strong message to make people think. For the band, this is what music is all about.” – Victor, Pentral

Check out Pentral here:

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Words by Aidan Whelband

Michael Cooke unleashes the magnificent album ‘Midnight Call’.

The 16th of June has forever been immortalised as ‘Bloomsday’, the date on which the entirety of James Joyce’s masterpiece ‘Ulyesses’ takes place. However, there is now another reason why there is great significance associated with the 16th of June. It is the day that Michael Cooke will release his seminal album ‘Midnight Call’. Within the album’s lead single ‘Around Here’, Cooke showcases his innate ability to combine juxtaposing musical styles to create a novel and distinctive sound only he can make.

‘Around Here’ begins with a heavy, thumping, pounding drum beat which immediately demands your complete attention. Cooke then introduces a gentle acoustic guitar riff, making the listener feel as if they’re gently gliding on water.

In his youth, Cooke was initially set to become an Olympic athlete, however fate intervenient in the form of a devastating injury that hindered his chances of achieving his sporting dreams. However, Cooke would find an emotional outlet in music as he says:

“So many people let life pass them by and get caught up in group identity because they are scared of knowing themselves. I think once you start down the road of knowing yourself there’s no going back and let’s be honest it’s
pretty terrifying you see a lot of things about yourself you don’t like and it’s very hard to ignore”.
– Michael Cooke

Cooke has had an enviable music career as he has eloquently crafted music for television programmes and films available on Netflix. This album is just the start for Cooke, and I, for one, cannot wait to see what he has in store for us next.

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Words by Aidan Whelband

David Omlor reawakens 60’s guitar music with the exhilarating folk-Debut LP “Entropy”

David Omlor has just released his eagerly awaited debut album “Entropy” to a glistening reception from ‘The Ark of Music’ & ‘SleepingBagStudios’. David Omlor has delivered a scintillating album that is both a nostalgic throwback to 60s folk-rock and a progressive contemporary piece of art.

Omlor wastes no time in grabbing your attention, with the album opener ‘Let You Know’ delivering an irresistibly captivating guitar riff and melody that you won’t be able to rub out of your ears. The album’s second track, ‘Truth’ is a tranquil song with a gentle acoustic guitar alongside a tender electric guitar riff, reminiscent of Gary Moore’s ‘Parisienne Walkways’ beautifully melodic guitar riff. The entire album was recorded during the tumultuous year of 2020, but Omlor has used his valuable free time to construct this excellent record. Omlor states:

“During the complete insanity that was 2020 I locked myself in and created a solo record titled Entropy. Through the magic of modern technologies like Dropbox and Zoom I was able to collaborate with amazing musicians from all over the US to put together nine songs that try to make sense of an extremely strange and difficult time and come out of that darkness with some hope.”David Omlor

My favourite tracks from “Entropy” are the beautifully melancholic “Ghosts in Oklahoma” and ‘Surprised’ which takes the listener on a leisurely stroll through a tale of finding someone you love.

Omlor’s influences include such greats as Jason Isbell, Aimee Mann, George Harrison and the folk-rock legend Bob Dylan. Music is Omlar’s enduring passion, and he is currently a member of the sensational US band Benjamin Road who have played countless shows all over America. “Entropy” is Omlar’s first step into the world of being a solo artist, and I certainly cannot wait to see what other music he has in store for us. Go check out “Entropy” if you haven’t already.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BenjaminRoadMusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/djomlor
Website: https://davidomlormusic.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/djomlor
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2M5qfWXOwj7wysYePv8ca9?si=nDYtleVlQpaOu-K2S5fSiA

Words by Aidan Whelband

Thai-Chilean singer-songwriter Araya releases powerful debut album ‘Atlas’

Brooklyn based, Thai-Chilean singer songwriter Araya has released the exceptional debut album ‘Atlas‘. Covering themes from inclusivity and identity, the the LP features leading track ‘Color Palette’, which has over 340,000 Spotify Streams already. Gaining support from blogs and magazines across the web, ‘Atlas’ is a 14-track album which drives listeners through a world of musical introspection.

Speaking about his journey, Araya quotes, “I think my music is mainly inspired by curiosity to forever learn and further investigate certain parts of myself that have led me to a deeper understanding of my place here. I think music has provided me a space to dissect my thoughts and experiences in an organic way that is lasting. The drafts of both my perspective and choices come to represent me and my journey.”

“Atlas” weaves it’s audience through an alternative pop cum hip-hop soundscape, ready to grab your attention and never let it go. Speaking on the actual album, Araya added:

“Atlas is my personal map/guide to self-discovery; each major event, revelation and freedom has led to
furthering ever changing versions of both myself and my art. As the project neared completion, I had felt like a weathered superhero amongst my own set of avenger accomplices; I had just felt so comfortable, confident and able…

It wasn’t until I stepped out of the way of my own self; put my worries and anxieties aside to nurture my dreams that I felt able to feel an honest safety in myself and my people. Finding this sort of “Eden” right under my nose in my own strengths and special qualities is the first major thing I hope to pass on to my fellow humans floating through this universe. It’s all inside of us and we’ve always been enough, that’s how me and my art feels existing right now.”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Arayaworld-104328554948857
Twitter: https://twitter.com/arayaworldly
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arayaworld/
Apple Music: https://apple.co/34glWgV
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2EJN5QF
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtBuKK69DJosstwWifv7nEw

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Australian band The Bonnie Doons release new EP ‘The Betweeners’

Brisbane-based quintet The Bonnie Doons release their highly anticipated EP ‘The Betweeners‘. Having already supported big names in the industry from the likes of Wolfmother and Bootleg Rascal, this outfit are no strangers to the music industry, and their new EP solidly confirms that.

Creating effortless music weaving through different avenues of genres, The Bonnie Doons’ ‘The Betweeners’ is something to stick on to soothe the soul.

On leading single, ‘Fred’, taken from ‘The Betweeners’ EP, Torian Brewer of The Bonnie Doons states, “In this track I talk about staying true to who you are and not letting your emotional attachments to things or people keep you from doing what’s right for you. Breaking down the barriers of guilt, letting something go and moving on.”

Four tracks of personality, ‘The Betweeners’ soars through 90s influenced, alternative sounds with additional elements of rap and pop in the mix. A warm EP fuelled with the sound of the summer, The Bonnie Doons are definitely radiating Spring’s weather across the whole globe.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebonniedoons/
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Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-372856471/fred-radio-edit/s-vCkmiH0sIRY
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0lbHIz95wYDW5c457KoKVl?si=0ij5K6h8TbGFJ03RcQYW6Q
Apple: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/the-bonnie-doons/1309588262
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XERdAFHKeeo

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Former Eurovision contender Waterflower releases industry-bending new single ‘Palm vs Palm’

To distinguish Waterflower as a unique artist is rather an understatement when considering her methods behind making music.

With a similar sound to that of Bjork and FKA Twigs, Latvian-born art student Sabine Moore (AKA Waterflower) is bending industry norms by using plants to produce her songs (Yes, plants).

Watch: Waterflower’s latest single, ‘Palm vs Palm’.

From using electromagnetic pulses to extract melodies from plants, to playing them live on stage as a living keyboard, Waterflower’s approach to making music is something we’ve never seen before.

“I started working with plant synthesisers in 2015 when I saw the Kickstarter project for the Ototo Synthesiser. I decided that this is what ‘Waterflower’ is all about, playing with plants as synthesiser keys.”

WATERFLOWER, ON HER INTRODUCTION TO PLANT-BASED MUSIC.

‘Palm vs Palm’ is the latest example of her work that previously saw her just miss out on representing her home nation at Eurovision. With the song title derived from the plant which she used to make it, Waterflower’s latest tune is a cacophony of delicate strings, wobbling synthesisers, thudding drums and effortlessly controlled vocals.

Having toured Europe, receiving rave reviews from the likes of The Playground and Resonance FM, Waterflower’s individuality and creativity has seen her gain significant attention.

From the looks of ‘Palm vs Palm’, Waterflower’s upcoming album Balta Gaisma will be innovative, experimental and somewhat extraordinary.

Check out ‘Palm vs Palm’ as part of the new album set to drop on September 28th, or listen now on all major streaming platforms.


Follow Waterflower to keep updated on all her new releases here:

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Website: http://www.waterflower.lv

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Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3hC37A4FC6LS41h5E7VUk7

Youtube: http://youtube.com/waterflower

Bandcamp: https://waterflower.bandcamp.com/

Words: Ellis Maddison.

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards release a track so good you’ll feel like you’re ‘Dreaming’

 Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards have brought us the groovy pop anthem we’ve been waiting for. ‘Dreaming’ is a sensational single that, put simple, is pure brilliance. The track incorporates synths, loops and dance-worthy grooves and is just 1 of 11 that makes up their new album ‘BITTER BETTER’ due to be released on July 17th. The album is set to transcend all genres, and take us on a journey of self discovery and connectivity.

Whilst we anxiously await the July 17th release of ‘BITTER BETTER’ Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards keep us satisfied with a feel-good video to accompany latest single ‘Dreaming’. In Laura’s words- 

‘I started imagining the video even before we finished recording the song. I wanted the band to have the fun of dancing in our own music video but without feeling the pressure of not being professional dancers. By May, the whole idea was brewing in the back of my head…’ 

The ‘Dreaming’ video emits all the happiness, grove and excellence of the track, and is the perfect means to lift your mood from the lockdown blues. 

Stream ‘Dreaming’ by Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards now and get excited for ‘BITTER BETTER‘ coming on July 17th. 

Preorder ‘BITTER BETTER’ coming on July 17th https://compassrecords.lnk.to/bitterbetterPR 

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