Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Watch: Years and Years – Real

If throwing shapes in underground bars is your music video thing (and hey, why wouldn't it be?), look no further than this latest offering from London electropop trio Years and Years. Once a five-piece, Michael, Emre and frontman Olly have already released an EP with French boutique label Kitsuné in autumn 2013, and are back with a new single set to hit stores on February 17.

Their video for "Real" brings together some teen-show wonders, starring Misfits' Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Skyfall's Ben Whishaw and ex-Skins star Olly – yes, the band's singer – who knows Whishaw from his thespian past. 

"The song is about me feeling judged by someone so I thought it might be a cool idea to flip that feeling and be the one judging others," said Olly. "I did a play with Ben Whishaw and we used to do warm-ups every night on the stage and he's such a brilliant dancer, like an electric eel or something. The track has a big dance element and I wanted to see people dancing the way that Ben does, in a way that is almost out of control, like they've been hypnotised or something. We wanted to create a kind of eerie, Twin Peaks, surrealist environment."

Olly's voice propels this track from the usual "guys experimenting with a pop sound" level to something with more depth, and he's supported along the way by his bandmates. I'd be curious to see how these three pull off a live show. Luckily, my fellow Londoners can get their chance to do so on March 5 when Years and Years play new Hackney venue, Oslo. I'll bring a deck of cards, you bring the moves.

Song of the Day: Kelela – The High

I'm honestly just sitting here waiting for Kelela to make one thing that I don't love. So far, her track record is spotless: her dark r'n'b Cut 4 Me mixtape, released as a free download in October 2013 on Night Slugs-affiliated label Fade to Mind, quickly catapulted her from obscurity to online hype fame. Once both Solange (with her label Saint Heron) and Beyonce (on her BeyHive blog) had given her a stamp of approval in the tail-end of last year, it was pretty much over.

Now, after all the One to Watch in 2014 mayhem, it looks like Kelela's doing the smart thing, and keeping listeners hooked with a new song. "The High" was produced by Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker, aka Gifted and Blessed, and just brought to my attention via the Guardian Guide's daily pop culture liveblog (shout out to Lanre). The track hits Kelela's usual marks, incorporating sensual and intimate lyrics with rumbling, pared-down electronic production that lets her voice shine. I can't wait to see what else this year has in store for her.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Q & A with Lorde – The Wild Magazine

Lorde's a few things. Obviously, she's one of 2013's breakout pop stars. She's a talented songwriter, precocious and opinionated in a way that gives pop culture gossip bloggers plenty to work with (She badmouthed Lana! She badmouthed Selena Gomez! etc). And she's the owner of a really likable, husky giggle.

I learned all this when I caught up with her over the phone a few months ago, for one of The Wild Magazine's Youth issue cover stories. She was in a stereotypically rainy Seattle, and we battled our way through some awful phone reception to have a general chinwag on the music industry, her role as a new artist and everyone's obsession with her age. The results of our conversation are now live on the Wild's website, run with a beautiful editorial shot by Stevie Mada. To get your hands on physical copies, with other covers of Joey Bada$$ and Andrej Pejić, head here. And beware the jpg carousel glitch on that landing page. 

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