Wavewulf Told Me – The Mind Behind The North and the Sea

Following the release of the gorgeous ‘The North and the Sea’ LP, we had the pleasure of sitting down behind the man behind the moniker, Nicholas (AKA Wavewulf) to find out more…

Which song off your new album was the hardest to write?

Well, the hardest songs to write (or the ones that took the longest anyway) were probably “The Sea and the Glacier” and “The Power of Water”, probably because there is a lot going on in those songs rhythm wise and I took a while to get the drums/percussion, synths, vocals, etc. to work together well in those particular tracks. Also, “Scandinavian Nights” took a long time to get working well with all of the persuasive elements, guitars, vocals etc.

Which song are you most proud of and which one is your least favourite?

Honestly, that is a tough question… I think “Luft”, “The Power of Water”, “Serenade” and “The Sea and the Glacier” are some of my favourite tracks on the record. I just love the bassline and drums on Serenade, and I also love the lyrics Marta wrote for that track as well as her super vocals. In addition, I love the drums that Christopher John Donato did on “The Sea and the Glacier” as well as the lyrics Maxx and I wrote together (as well as Maxx’s wonderful vocals on that track). Least favourite… that’s a tough one… I love the song “Predator” but I think that it could have been better as I had originally intended to be with vocals (kind of hip-hop vocals) but the vocalist I had been working with on that track didn’t wish to keep working on it with me, so I just made it an instrumental track. I think it still turned out good though.

If you could collab with one artist, who would it be?

Man, there are so many great artists I respect and have been influenced by over the years… I suppose if I could go back in time (to before he passed) it would have to be David Bowie. He just had such a fascinating career as an artist with all of his phases and I love his music so much. Other than him, perhaps Brian Eno or Flood (James Ellis), I just love the work they have done with artists of all stripes. Also, Martin Gore or Dave Gahan or Alan Wilder from Depeche Mode would be brilliant to collaborate with as I’ve been a big Depeche Mode fan over the years. Or… another artist would be Robert Smith of The Cure, another one of my all-time favourites. As far as vocalists, perhaps Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins fame), I’ve always just loved her vocals and vocal harmonies so much! So many…

How easy does inspiration come to you?

Honestly, inspiration comes to me all the time, from all kinds of directions. I think the more difficult part is trying to take that inspiration and pull off what you have in mind musically with what inspires you so much.

What was the main inspiration behind the new album?

The record is a concept album based around a northern/Nordic/arctic/sea theme. The idea for the album really came about during my trip to Iceland this past year. When I was there, I thought a lot about the power of the sea, of water really, and the other geological forces that make such an exotic land as Iceland exist. Before my trip, I had been feeling a bit claustrophobic and disconnected from people. The trip gave me a feeling of freedom, freedom to move, freedom to see, freedom to connect. I think connection is a huge theme of the record.

The album is also really about freedom, and the interplay between feelings of oppression by circumstances and about how to break out of that oppression to gain freedom. The album is also about how we connect as people. I had been feeling pretty disconnected from others during the pandemic (I suppose this has been a feeling for a lot of us) and I wanted to write about how we connect with others and find connection with others. Songs like “Open the Gate”, “Luft”, “The Power of Water”, and “The Sea and the Glacier” illustrate this theme nicely I think. Also, “New Amsterdam” is really about the feeling of being without… being without a loved one (or loved ones) and how that can make life seem quite meaningless. “Understand Me”, besides being a leftist, anti-capitalism track, is also about how we have to break beyond the mundane “the automatic” to forge meaning. “Permafrost” is a track with not only an environmental, save the planet theme but also about our collective loneliness and the power of music in connecting people across places and cultures. “Through the Wires” is a song about what happens when we get our “wires crossed” communicating with others, and also about how that can even happen on a global level and cause misunderstanding between peoples, and governments, and can even cause violence (much as we are now seeing with the tragic invasion of Ukraine).

In addition, direction has always been important to me; maps, latitude, longitude, where one is in the world. I think “The North” is kind of a metaphor for truth and “The Sea” for freedom, which is where the name “The North and the Sea” came from.

Did you run into any difficulties when writing/recording the new tracks?

I think the biggest difficulty with making an album with so many collaborators all over the world is just the logistics of it. You know, it’s the complicated process of trying to get everyone’s ideas and all of the files to fit together well. As a producer, ones has to make everything sound good when everyone is experimenting, and all of the tracks people sent to me to work well together as coherent songs. It’s also a very fun and creative process working with so many different ideas, and with such wonderful talents as those I worked with on making The North and the Sea!

How do you think electronic music is viewed in 2022?

Well, I’m not sure how it is viewed by most but I would say for myself and my colleagues, we view electronic music as a highly expressive and emotional music. I think we also view electronic music as something really substantial and, I would say forward looking, or even futuristic. For instance, I don’t really like the kind of 1980s nostalgia that has become so common in a lot of electronic music in the last decade or so. I mean, I do love many things about the 1980s sound and aesthetic but I don’t like nostalgia for nostalgias sake and think that it is a bit overdone now or at least not very interesting.

There were certainly cool things about the 1980s and early 1990s and loads of great electronic and new wave/indie/alternative music but there were also a lot of terrible things; for instance, high unemployment, bigotry, the Cold War, Reaganomics, Thatcherism, and all of the bad politics of that time. I suppose I just prefer music that is current or especially avant-garde or, like I said, about the future or how to build a better future. And… I think there are loads of things going on in the world now (good, bad or indifferent) that deserve to be written about or expressed musically, and I think electronic music can be a great medium for this! I believe most of my musical friends and colleagues view things this way as well.

Who is your biggest inspiration / what made you start writing music?

Some of my biggest inspirations over the years have been Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, and also Jean-Michael Jarre. I think it is the way they viewed (and view) the synthesizer as an instrument in its own right. It’s an instrument with loads of expressive and emotional power. This as an idea was definitely picked up in the late 1970’s and 1980s by artist such as Depeche Mode, Tangerine Dream, David Bowie, The Human League, New Order, Japan, Gary Numan and loads of others, especially in Germany and Britain. This line of thinking is where I’m coming from as well in terms of how I view and how to “play” (and write songs with) synthesizers.

This is a huge part of the reason why I only use hardware and (mostly) analogue synthesizers in making and recording my music. I just love all of the hands-on controls of these machines and find that using them, especially in such a tactile way adds so much to my ability to express myself musically. Sound wise, I also believe that using hardware and mostly analogue synthesizers give Wavewulf that little something special and makes my music sound a bit different than many more modern (mostly software based) electronic artists.

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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

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.”

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Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtBuKK69DJosstwWifv7nEw

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Taken from his 2019 album ‘Night to Myself’, ‘Piccadilly’ sees Kiey swap Ho Chi Minh City for London

Electro-pop artist Kiey is currently based in the heart of Vietnam. Influenced by different surroundings to create electro-pop ballad ‘Piccadilly’, you can guess where the most inspiration comes from. After spending three years studying in London, ‘Piccadilly’ is a transcending single that will hit close to home with listeners wherever you are. Bathed in cultural elements, the track is coated in sensational electro-pop sensibilities that feel influenced by the likes of Lana Del Rey, Sia and Troye Sivan. 

A stunning mix of melancholic textures, Kiey’s vocals soar through a dream-pop soundscape with ease. ‘Piccadilly’ is a warming introduction into Kiey’s stunning music. Released for Halloween just gone, the haunting visuals for the mesmerising single are truly captivating. 

Dive into Kiey’s music head first, you won’t be disappointed. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kieymusician
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Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5EUXxplcFbismt2ccPQNHd
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Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHz0EcKVq-8

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Arctic Monkeys unveil plans for new live album to raise money for War Child

Set to release a new live album this December, the news of Arctic Monkeys‘ return is blowing up social media. Out December 4th, the album was recorded at the band’s show at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Raising money for WarChild, all proceeds from the show went to the charity, and the proceedings from the album release will too.

Arctic Monkeys stated, “On June 7 2018 we played a special show at London’s Royal Albert Hall,” they wrote. “All proceeds from that night were donated to War Child in support of the vital work they do protecting, educating & rehabilitating children who have experienced the trauma of conflict and the horror of war.”

Armed with a trailer to gear fans up even more, Christmas has certainly come early!

Cloudy Clouds unveils poetic 14-track album ‘Imprisoned in a Daydream’

Cloudy Clouds releases his debut album, ‘Imprisoned in a Daydream’. A collection of songs filled with nostalgia and an instant ‘classic’ feel to it’s soundscape, this is a statement for the UK’s ever-growing hip-hop scene. Claudio Elliston aka Cloudy Clouds draws inspiration from artists such as Eminem and Sha Stimuli, but always brings his own individuality to the table. An artist that’s not afraid to beat around the bush, Cloudy Clouds’ iconic aspects include British humour, emotive lyricism and personal songwriting. 

Imprisoned in a Daydream’ begins with a subtle American twang dialogue before venturing into the unknown. A hazy beginning that lingers in your mind for days, and as Claudio states.. ‘I don’t want to leave this dream ever.’ As for the next single, ‘Struggle Rappers Anthem’ isn’t for the faint hearted. Straight to the point about wanting more exposure with his distinctive songwriting, this grime-influenced number is bathed in hard-hitting rhythms. Bringing a strong flavour of the sound of rap in the noughties, ‘Calling Round’ blends elegant piano lines with creative vocals

Hear It’ is a collaboration straight from the heart. Featuring rapper Aïda, the lyrics are sharp and fuelled with hook-lines. While the instrumentation is mellow and easy-listening, the chaotic vocals on top are innovative.

Wavy’ is a thought-provoking, relatable number, while ‘Freewriting’ features an iconic piano line that nudges early Eminem vibes. ‘Dirty Secrets’ then enters with enchanting vocals, and turns into an experimental hip-hop wonder. 

An album that thinks outside the box, most of the release still pays ode to Cloudy Clouds’ influences. Though with ‘My Environment,’ Cloudy Clouds is simply in his natural habitat. Rhyming on command and ambitious piano lines, this number flows like water from a stream.

‘Pillow Talk’ feels like a subtle album feeler on the release. At just under 2 minutes long, the backing vocals are simply bewitching. ‘One Night’ is the most commercial track on the record, and features a collaboration straight from the heavens. Firahs and Lucci Rich add their own flavour to this established anthem. ‘Wrote You a Love Song’ is infused with mainstream pop sensibilities.

Arguably Cloudy Clouds’ most powerful track, ‘Your Future Daughter’ deals with truthful dialogue on the UK’s drug laws. Armed with British commentary and unique views, it’s the haunting backing vocals that you’ll be singing along to. ‘Maybe Tomorrow Then’ tells the story of feeling unmotivated, and always remembering that you can just get things done tomorrow.

Describing the album in one word, ‘Priceless’ rounds off a release with purity and charisma. Cloudy Clouds is an artist filled with character – and the thoughtful, carefully-constructed tunes on this record deserve to be listened to.

Follow Cloudy Clouds on his socials below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cloudyfollowme/
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Bandcamp: https://cloudyfollowme.bandcamp.com
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/cloudyfollowme
Youtube: www.youtube.com/cloudymusic

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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80’s obsessed Empathy Test release third album

Empathy Test are set to release their third studio album this week and as Louder Than War put it, it contains “A set of songs lovers of 80s synth pop will be drooling over the minute the first verse has been heard.” 

With the single ‘Monsters’ already released (listen in the link below) we can see why Louder Than War are calling all 80s synth pop lovers to join the Empathy Test hype train. 

The band themselves are self proclaimed 80s obsessive having admitted their name is a nod to science fiction classic Blade Runner and ensuring that the new album will have a vinyl version released in 2020 too. 

And with this new and bigger than ever sound that the guys are bringing with this new album, we believe it won’t just be 80s lovers that are tuning in and downloading ‘Monsters’ on Friday – we expect big things for the London based electro-pop band and can’t wait to see what this year has in store for them. 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/empathytest

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Website: www.empathytest.com     

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Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/empathytestmusic

From the heart of the Congo to the cobbles of Moscow, international artist Lartist Yan releases ‘Comme Une Reine’ visuals

Already received with a lot of excitement, songbird from the Congo Lartist Yan has released the visuals for his track ‘Comme Une Reine’. Lartist now resides in Russia and soon looks to release his forthcoming multilingual debut album ‘Second Chance’, that will feature his English hit ‘Dreams’. 

Rich, soulful vocals that resonate the piercing tones of Prince and The Weeknd, Lartist Yan fuses reggae rhythms and electro synths to create a signature alluring sound.

An artist that hopes to show others that it’s never too late to make your mark, rising from the Congo, through his success Lartist Yan embodies a living example of what can be achieved if you refuse to listen to those around you that try to convince you to give up your dreams.

Drawing from the influences of legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, Lartist Yan continues to pursue his goal of an international career. Having already gained followers from around the world, he aims to keep creating music that resonates with listeners of all cultures – so everyone that listens can feel ‘at home’.

Follow Lartist Yan:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lartist-Yan-Music-Fan-Club-296972357808488/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lartistyan/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-129365792/dream-master/s-UG1J0

Toyface new album – ‘Follow the Rules of the Trainwreck’

In Tamsyn’s own words, the album ‘charts a process of experiencing, coping with, and the eventual resolution of, existential angst that I went through in my early 20s’; by way of heartbreak, physical insecurity and complex family ties’. And it’s from this well of shared stories where Toyface’s main strength lies – their ability to write with searing honesty about the common human experience, and lay those tales out across an intense, shifting musical backdrop.

For an example check out the lead album track ‘Flight’:

The album is set to be exclusively launched in the duo’s home town of Bristol on April 24th, with the album to follow shortly after. The release marks the culmination of a journey that started with a chance meeting on the way back from the Secret Garden Party festival a number of years ago.

Trying to find a way back to Bristol at the end of the festival, Tamsyn managed to find her way onto a truck with a group of revellers heading in that direction. Not long into the journey, an incident on the road left the group stranded for 28 hours waiting for the journey to continue, during which time the group bonded.

The only two people from the group headed to Bristol were Tamsyn and James, whose chance meeting has led to a sibling-like closeness, the formation of Toyface and the debut album ‘Follow the Rules of the Trainwreck’

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Having been described by a fellow artist as ‘like Laura Marling crossed with Billie Holiday’, Bristol based duo Tamsyn and James, aka Toyface, are a mouth watering proposition for music fans. With a varied collection of 11 songs making up their debut album, the pair have blended an eclectic range of influences that has resulted in an album with strong jazz and cinematic leanings; both playful and plaintive.

The pair’s songwriting process is varied: sometimes involving Tamsyn writing lyrics alongside her own simple structures on guitar; but often times working from a cappellas, which James then lays piano chords underneath. This is clearly a combination that works well and has yielded a crop of songs which are relatable to anybody who has ever found themselves working hard to find a place in the world – a situation most, if not all of us, know well.

Links:

Www.soundcloud.com/toyface

https://www.facebook.com/toyfacemusic?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/toyfacemusic

https://www.youtube.com/user/toyfaceTV

http://toyface.bandcamp.com/