Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Voice of Music.......De'Vide's dynamic dualism

I have watched Suffolk home-grown De’Vide blossom over the last two years, bringing to our speakers beautiful beats of true musical fusion. With such a refreshing hybrid of sounds (think an Indie, Soul, Hip Hop sandwich with some Funky sauce on top) the band is taking the musical realms by storm.
Consisting of melodic acoustic singer –songwriter Barney Holmes and lyrical Lexi Lex (with Matt Gardiner accompanying on Cajon drums,) the band ring out with unique flair and memorable, infectious melodies.
Barney’s vocals and guitar melodies have a crisp yet wonderfully harmonious tone that will resonate, whilst Lexus creates lyrical frenzies with undeniable rhythmic conviction. Tracks such as the upbeat ‘To & Fro,’ will get caught easily into your head and their recent single ‘Mood Swings,’ for which they have their debut music video, will leave a clear impression on your mind. The acoustic version of it is amazing – here is the band performing live on BBC Introducing in Norfolk   
A personal favourite for me has to be the bands cover of ‘Drive’ by Incubus Listen carefully and you will hear references to ‘Back to the Future’, a mutual love between me and the band. More than that, the cover, in my eyes, executes both Lexus and Barney to their full potential – the lyrics in this song are very profound at times, reflecting not only musical talent but great social awareness.
‘Keep Running’ is another one that is certainly worth listening to; much softer than the other tracks, it gives a small insight to the more emotive, musing works of De’Vide.
De’Vide have also produced other excellent covers such as ‘Ready or Not’ by The Fugees and ‘You might Need Somebody’ by Shola Ama, indicating their clearly established musical background.    

Since watching the boys perform together back in 2010 in Norwich (I remember then feeling very excited by their music) they have been immensely busy - they have been playing BBC Norfolk Introducing on three occasions; reaching the semi –finals of the ‘Rocket from the East’ Competition; performing at a 2800 capacity o2 Academy in Leeds; being part of MTV’S ‘Brand New for 2012;’ featuring on BBC 6 Music and Suffolk Introducing; winning second place in Choice FM competition to support Neyo & Trey Songz at the O2 and in October 2011, they were interviewed on BBC Radio 1Xtra with ‘To & Fro’ being selected as the homegrown download of the week.
On top of their busy De’Vide schedule, they both still pursue individual pathways; Lexus DJ’s and MC’s various Hip Hop & R&B around the UK and Europe, whilst Barney, who is finishing a Fine Art degree, is involved in various bands ranging from his own acoustic work to heavier rock to funk music.
De’Vide are currently in the process of completing work on a EP with the help of producer Jammy. For further gig listings and track downloads visit their YouTube channel and SoundCloud
They are without doubt a very unique duo, creating brilliant music that is much needed on our airwaves – watch this space…

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Vocie of Music...... Whitney Houston

There are some musicians that stand out to you throughout your whole life. I remember the shock I felt when Michael Jackson died- this was an artist who I had listened to for years, who seemed timeless, how could he possibly have died? The same with Amy Winehouse last year- this iconic woman was suddenly no longer there. The newspaper headlines saddened me- what talent, what potential that was just wasted on a few pills and powder.
The same feeling came over me this morning hearing about Whitney Houston. I regret to say it, but it is true- sometimes you don't know what you have until its gone. Don't get me wrong, she will always been known as the princess of music but it was only until today that I listened to her again in what probably has been three years. I absolutely love her song 'I Want to Dance With Somebody' not to begin mentioning many of her other great hits, 'Run to You' 'I Have Nothing' 'My Love is your Love' and of course 'I Will Always Love You'.
She was a true musician with an amazing talent which nowadays isn't so apparent in the music industry. Her voice was full of clarity and conviction and she sang deeply from the heart. Whitney Houston, thank you for bringing such memorable, amazing music to our lives. RIP.

The Voice of Music....... Purple Harts

Beautiful artwork by Josh Molteni- The Harts' Insignia.

Over the past six, seven years there has been a great rise in English Indie, dum dee dum on the guitar, what I would call 'mate' bands, with their tight skinny's and swept hair- Bloc Party, Razorlight, Artic Monkeys, Athlete, Air Traffic, The Kooks, Pidgeon Detectives, The Fratellis- I could go on for ages. Although I love, genuinely love, those bands, recently I haven't really listened to much of that kind of music as I have found it had merged into a big ball of generic jelly, everyone sounding the same, looking the same, making identical music.

However, in the past year my ears have slowly been pulled back. Last summer in Germany I heard and watched Darwin Deez for the first time, dancing around on stage to Fresh Prince of Bel Air/ Enya re-mixes. They sent me into a bopping frenzy with their quirky melodies and definate beat- fun times. Since then I have stumbled upon some great, new, fresh 'alternative' bands such as a local home band 'Solko', 'Gentlemans Pistol,' the enigmatic 'Blk Jks' and my recent love 'Foals.'

I saw Purple Harts play at The Railway, Winchester January 22nd. Though I've been dragged away from my beloved music scene recently by Uni work, I have been close to my speakers, listening to this group A.LOT.
The Fareham based band is made (as they themselves write) up of Lucas Dee (vocals) Lewis Hemming (Strings & Smiles) Aj Lawrence (Strings & Hair) Jonny Lisle (Slappa' da bass- good reference there..) and Matthew Hiscock (Skins) All of them are very very good musicians- they can not only play their instruments (properly, not pretending to like some bands I've seen) but they exploit them individually to then create a great collaboration, a musical treat.

All of their tracks probably could be described by dancing. When I was watching them, although i was sitting down, I had a great urge to get up and dance- a good sign from any musician to make the listener feel that way inclined.
'Put me in the Picture' has certainly been getting me dancing in the mornings and I fear that the repeat button will soon be broken- its easy to fall in love with and although its initally a simple build up and down of notes, its see-saw melodies hook you (seriously hook your earlobes) especially with the concise drumming and scratchy strumming- kudos to the guitarists. I think it might just be my personal admiration of scratchy scratch guitar but then it altogether has an great energy that reminds me of early Police songs and Maximo Park's 'Postcard of a Painting.' It will get you tapping, humming and remembering.

Adaptations is another favourite of mine, its begining making a snake dance of the rythm and notes. I could imagine this track to easily ripple its way through a venue hall, its continous hook mesmerozing your ears, making you sway in the constant beat. Lucas's lyrics have a real poignancy to me in this one and the following rift plucks at my brain as it plucks at the strings. At one point there's a bit of lyrical mania 'make haste, no time to waste..' with Lucas rolling words off the tongue as easy as fitting a puzzle together. Quickly.

In the set that I saw them play, I couldn't help but hear strong similarities to other bands- obviously these guys have a very distinct style with a leading lyricist juggling between light rock, then reggae beats. Yet, naturally as with anyone you hear, you can sometimes connect other bands to them. I felt at times there were elements of Explosions in the Sky, but with lyrics, definate trails of The Police ( I kept thinking Walking on the Moon, or Bring on the Night) but then Paolo Nutini meets The Streets, a pinch of Fratellis vocals, a smudge of The Clash guitar and a tiny hint of Dexy Midnight runners? But hey, thats just me.

I can't stress how good this band was live. I have to say Matthew on the drums has the potential to go crazy, he made me think of how Taylor Hawkins is playing live. Hats off to the bassist also, Jonny, who at one point in the live set created what I thought was a very intricate bit of guitar playing (apologies, I didn't note down which song it was.)
Every member was playing to an amazing quality. The bands music kneads beats into a dub reggae like mood but still keeping it, as I would call, happy-go-lucky Indie. Their performance just clarified what I've been thinking for a while now- there are a lot of talented, young musicians in England that could be doing a better job than of those in the so called 'charts'.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Royal ramblings at the Ritz

Wednesday I found myself once again on the London Underground. However, unlike my usual self who is easily able to hide into the mass of people blurring about the place, I felt very conspicous - you could have picked me out quicker than a bad spot. This was due to the fact I was going to, wait for it.... The Ritz Tearoom. Anyone who knows me will understand the dedication I would have to give to myself acting not only my age, but like a 'lady'. I gave it my best shot, wearing my finest black dress, black tights and shoes, shiniest pearls and a beautifully blue bold coat. However, it wasn't quite Audrey Hepburn. With my red hair somewhat 'alight' in the dingy underground carriage, I felt all together like a blunt visual wake up call for some of the weary eyed commuters. My coat, being rather big, also managed to cover the modest dress I was wearing- travelling in public at midday wearing such attire and also poorly done, heavy make up ( I had been fashionably faffing that morning and hurriedly put on my mascara in a badly lit room) I could immediately agree, when, my friend Katie, who was also going, tex me the words ' feeling like a high class prostitute?!'
Arriving at Green Park, I walked down to the Ritz to meet her and Milly. Katie had lied, she looked amazing as did Milly. I prayed silently that I wouldn't embarass myself but as soon as I begun talking to Katie I knew it was no use- already we had started laughing over something minutely funny. Walking past two well dressed doorman and through some spectacular revolving doors ( I hated every second, my BFG feet nearly tripping up on themselves) we stepped into the reception of The Ritz Hotel. Although part of me hates the ideology of such grandeur and materialistic faff, it impressed me. The high ceilings, the rich coloured carpet, the pot plant, yes POT PLANT of orchids and ornate gold framed mirrors  ( which were dotted everywhere and caused you to be constatly checking your reflection) created a splendid, regal atmosphere. As Katie tentaviely approached the reception desk, I couldn't take my eyes of some amazing flowers that were the centre piece of the circular hall. I'd never seen a plant so beautiful before.
Soon we were being directed by a young man dressed in a crisp cream suit to the cloakroom. I, thinking I knew what was going on,led my friends confidently down the stairs to what I thought was the cloakroom but it was in fact the 'powder room'. After a moment of awkward hesitation, I lead my friends to a chair where we sorted ourselves out, tamed our hair and reassured our somewhat nervous reflections that I personally had decided that whatever happened happened- I probably won't be able to afford to be back anytime soon, so no worries if I flipped a teaspoon.
Finding the cloakroom in the opposite room, we handed over our coats ( I felt rather exposed in my figure hugging dress- being a student I spend my life in jeans) and receiving our numbered blue tassles, ventured across to the main dining room. The best way for me to describe it is probably as a high ceiling, gold framed, conservatory with lots of pot plants, delicate tables with delicate chairs and delicate silverware and delicate china. It oozed sophistication.
The Butler asked for our name and directed us to a small round table where we were helped into our seats. I felt extremely far away from the table, so, nudged myself forward, only to bang my knee against a bar that ran along the bottom of the table. Trying not to laugh, I rubbed it better and sat upright in my chair- the space between me and my plate seemed like eternity- it was very strange as I'm usually hugging the table. As I looked down into the void that was my lap I immediately pictured cream scones falling and tea spilling. Just as I went to grab my serviette, the waiter quickly placed it in my lap as though reading my mind and asked us what tea we would like.

I and my friend Milly played it safe and chose the Royal Ritz Tea but my friend Katie asked for Lemon Verbena- 'an elegant sparkling lemon tasting tisane, a refreshing digesif'. As the waiter walked away I turned to her and asked 'is this another ale festival moment?' recollecting at my last birthday when she stupidly agreed to a pint of ale that smelt like fart because she was too nice to say otherwise. Laughing and switching from yes, no, yes, she changed the subject to the man who had followed us in wearing a tweed jacket and who was now sitting opposite with who katie was determined to label his 'soon to be fiance.'
Our tea arrived on a silver tray in ornate tall silver teapots that curved luxuriously at the handle. I have decided that the tables are made purposefully small there just to test your co-ordination and balancing skills as you re-arrange plates and saucers in very limited space. As Milly kindly poured my tea I sat back and just took mental photographs of the place. It really was stunning and yet again in life I looked at the detail on the walls and the architecture and thought hats off to the skilled men that created this- nowadays it all seems to be the same and made by machines. I also looked around at everybody, at the mix of ages, the couples, the babies, the other young women and noticed how everyone was looking around at each other, questioning their neighbour about things and marvelling in the place itself.
Various stupid things were making us laugh but I was determined to keep composed- I know what my friends are like and I laugh loudly. However, it was tempting fate too much as soon, simply having a swig of tea, I and Katie caught each others eyes and broke out into delirious laughter. If you have ever experienced silent laughter to the point where it hurts because you're not in an appropriate place and you're crying so much which means your mascara makes you look like a panda and the more you try and stop giggling, the more you laugh, you'll know how I felt.
Soon our tier of mini sandwiches and pastries arrived- we had a selection of salmon, egg and onion, cucumber and sour chive, cheese and pickle, and ham and mustard. We were starving so we soon were tucking in, yet, as I was eating Katie suddenly stopped, saying how she had 'eaten more than you so I'll wait.' It was ridiculous as people around us had relaxed and the waiters were friendly, but still we felt that we had to 'reserve' ourselves-Milly made a point of how 'exhausted' she felt just having afternoon tea, let alone doing it 'my whole life- think of Kate Middleton!' This I agreed with- although I loved the afternoon, give me a big mug of tea and toast in my cosy kitchen any day....
As we made our way through the sandwiches (more were brought to us which we declined) we were given warmed scones- which were amazing. The Ritz clotted cream and Jam should have its own medal. Mmmmyumnomnom. We were also given a small glass dish of what I think was vanilla cream and raspberry jelly? It was loverrrly. By now, we had consumed a fair whack of the Queens tea and as I reached to try a little pastry, I realised that my hand was shaking slightly. I also noticed how stuffed I felt but as many of us have done, I ignored it and continued.
We had been given a music request form - there was a grand ole pianist playing songs. When we first heard/spotted him, all I could see was a moustache and we commented on how he looked like a bald Hitler, which we found ironic being in such an English establishment. However, we realised he did NOT look like a blad Hitler and in fact had a rather friendly face. To begin with he was keeping it very classical but as the afternoon progressed he begun to play more film themes, jazz pieces and just as I was debating with the two others about asking him to play Disney Aristocats, the melody of 'Circle of Life' reonated around the grand hall. Immediately I added to the classical pieces we had written down, adding 'Aristocats', 'The Entertainer', and 'Its Only a Paper Moon' all of which were played apart from Ludovico Ein Audi. Throughout the afternoon each of us got a little emotional as he seemed to be playing relevant songs to each of us- as I was talking about how I had wished I still had my grandparents alive to see this, he struck up the tune of Claire De Lune, their favourite.
Just as Milly was rollling her eyes and puffing up her cheeks in food exhaustion, the waiter wheeled around a huge, fresh strawberry and cream victorian sponge and what I guessed was a fig cake. Too polite to say no, Milly asked for a thin slice- beware, the waiters will literally give you the thinnest, transparent bit of cake if you ask for small and a honking great block if you dont. I and Katie couldn't finish our victorian sponge. Don't misunderstand me, it was lovely with vanilla cream, but, after devouring our weight in cake and sandwhiches already, we just couldn't do it. 
Something I forgot to mention was that at various points of the afternoon the hall was suddenly filled with waiters, in their penguin tails, arriving at peoples tables with a mini birthday cake and champagne whilst the piano DUDE struck up Happy Birthday on the grand piano ( man, how I wish I could steal that piano.)
After having our last cup of tea, laughing at the sheer fact we were where we were and having a photograph taken in the toilets (honestly, you would too, they're amazing- look) we went to get our coats and leave. All three us agreed how happy we felt and how proud we were to have gone together. Just as we were leaving I asked the doormen for directions to Oxford St whilst Katie, who was laughing at something, was standing next to me. 'She always laughing that one?' said the Doormen.'Yes' I said. 'What a nice way to be' he replied. I couldn't agree more and what a memorable place to spend the afternoon with two of my oldest friends. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Cuppa Tea?

This is a poem I wrote in November 2011 for an art/writing project between my University ( Winchester) and the University of Lincoln. I've optimistically sent it off to twinnings..... the tea leafs will tell! enjoy...  


You could say I am a necessity.

A treat.

A welcome warmth.

A sanctuary for those early times.

Late times.

Any times.

You could say I hold a little bit of heaven, the nectar of life.

For some of you, I am with you throughout the day.

I have your touch.

I have your lips.

your secrets.

your thoughts.

You could say I hold one of the world’s biggest drugs.

And I am the dealer.

As easy as you fill my world,

you empty it

and I am left, with dregs.

Your simple smile mirrors my own curves,

you hold me as if in prayer,

and I am grateful.

For you and I are one.

Without you, I would be porcelain,

still and boring on a shelf,

but with you I have purpose,

and with me, you have time.

So, choose your flavour,

and lets make liquid love.