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TheVaultPt.2!

20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Rita Ray

1- How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

?? Sorry, but I didn’t understand the question :/ 

2- Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

I am in a really good place right now. I enjoy writing music and singing my own tunes. This is what I have dreamt of for a long time.

3- Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

I will pick my own song: “Disco Stu”. I didn’t have this one song in my album that would make it complete. So – I was messing around in my hometown and suddenly got this main riff stuck in my head. I had these sarcastic and cynical lyrics in my mind and I was singing and playing it, but didn’t have a title so I asked my sister:” what does it sound like?”. She immediately answered: “Disco Stu!”. Because she was watching The Simpsons and I guess the song had kind of a “disco vibe” to it. It is also the most up-tempo one in my album and was definitely favourite one to make. 

4- Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

Definitely The Beatles. Their songwriting skills were just impeccable. Also, I would have to name Aretha Franklin. She was the singer in my life that I have envied for a long time.

5- Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

At one point, I was listening a lot of  “Gentle Giant”. They were an English progressive rock band active in 70s and 80s. I guess, it is not very “my style”. 

6- What are you most proud of?

I am proud of being an estonian. 

7- In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

No. I have never been a fame-searching artist. And as a female singer, it sickens me how our society is pushing those who are most of the time wearing basically nothing. As an artist, I would like to be respected for my music and not for my looks. 

8- What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

I played one wedding and they wanted me to sing and play “Kalinka”. I was really sceptical but few moments later the whole crowd was on the dancefloor.

9- What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

Respect. This is the most important thing. As long as there is respect for other musicians in the band, it is working. Secondly, it needs to be fun. Can’t take everything seriously. 

10- If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

I would’ve loved to play on some Motown’s recording. Just to see how they got the sound and how the recording sessions were etc. 

11- How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

I don’t get tired of music. It is what I do on most of my days. There is always something to do and the work never ends. But personal responsibilities like house chores is a good way to unload. 

12- In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?

Yes, definitely. And I also think since everyone has a chance to make a record these days, there is a lot of let’s say “interesting” music out there. I am not saying that I wish things could be like in the “old days” where labels signed artists and you had to be special and work hard, but a lot of good music came out back then. Can’t deny that.

13- Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band? 

Not always. Success is also very subjective. But I have to admit, I feel happiest when I go on stage and sing my heart out. 

14- DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

I am not a DJ myself so I don’t know how much work they put into their careers. 

15- To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

It was definitely in “Sõru Jazz 2018” festival. I did a tribute to Etta James’s 80th birthday. For the last song “I’d Rather Go Blind”, estonian best jazz musicians gathered on stage as a surprise to do the song together. Kadri Voorand and Liina Saar sang backvocals for me. This was a gig I will never forget. 

16- How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

Of course I get nervous sometimes. Especially before some really big performance. But I breathe slowly and deeply and think happy thoughts. Nothing more special than that. 

17- When did you last write something?

It was in the summer the day before the last recording session. I had booked a studio, but didn’t have the last two songs. So I had to fill the void in my album and wrote those last two. But I am taking a break right now. Although, after releasing my album, I will definitely start to work on a new one.

18- Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Nope, not that I remember. Mama didn’t raise a quitter haha! 

19- What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instruments during recording?

We did everything in my album with live instruments. Horns, strings, original Hammond organ, original Wurlitzer etc. I think that is already saying how I feel about the topic. 

20- Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

It is a good way to look back and think stuff through. Was fun to answer!

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20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Sulene Fleming

Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

Im in a good place I would say, I’m enjoying everything that I am involved in  ATM.

I have my new single coming out on the 31st of July called ‘SOLO’ which is produced with my partner Francis Hylton, he is the bass player in Incognito and he’s a talented producer.

Its my first solo release without any other collaborative artist in the title so I’m looking forward to peoples reaction to it.

I have been performing with Incognito for some of their live shows this July In Italy & Spain and the next gig is in Latvia. 

I have loved performing with them, Bluey is super talented guy.

I have also been working with Mother Earth and we have recently released a new EP which is out now.

This came about after we all got together after a session for Monks Road Records and Dr Robert. 

Matt Deighton wanted to start the band back up which concluded with the EP ’Soona Than Much Layta’ with Ernie McKone, Crispin Taylor and Mick Talbot, it sounds awesome and we all really love our first gig at the 100 club last month.

We had a great reception from the crowd.

I’ll be back with Dr Robert In August for another Monks Road Social album. Singing on the previous record was fun and Out Of Bounds will be out shortly.

The single from the album ‘Bottomless Pit is also out now.

Ive been on guest vocals with Brian McFadden this year and that has also been fun, he’s a great singer.

So pretty busy and its going ok.


Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)? 

Theres so many TBH &  I have always loved big voices such as Phyllis Hyman, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Betty Davies, Tina Turner, Minnie Ripperton, Juicy, Rene and Angela, George Benson and so on.

I love all kinds of music though so this list would be endless.


Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why? 

I am a big big fan of Kate Bush who i think is just incredible, her music and story telling and her artistry is very special, but if you know my voice and music you can see that there aren’t any direct influences in styling.

I just think she’s stunning.


What are you most proud of? 

My beautiful adorable daughter Z 


In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted? 

Not really, at the time those things seem to make sense so I have no regrets as such, each event in your life can shape you into a better you or it can taint you in some way, but remaining true to yourself will always keep you focused and help you stay strong.

You have to do your best in the way that you know how. 


What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

Boring, but I don’t I think have one that sticks in my mind, there’s probably too many! They go over my head now


What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians? 

No over whelming ego’s, and just be cool and willing to listen to others opinions, and remember other people may have something that will set an idea on fire , even though you may think you have it down.

Thats how a collaboration can release a bit of magic.


If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why? 

This is a very very hard question as theres way too many.

I’d say Last Dance by Donna Summer, Wish I didn’t miss you by angie Stone, No more drama by Mary J Blige, New Attitude by Patti Labelle and anything from Michael Mcdonald but in particular I keep Forgetting. Too many haha


How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities? It can be be very challenging at times but fortunately I have a supportive partner, family and friends which makes doing what i do a lot easier.

I have to travel A LOT but its all for the better good.

 

In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience? 

I do feel that some what yes, one of my first record purchases as a child was Tracy Chapman ‘ Fast Car’ I was excited to look at all the information and lyrics inside and the artwork, and unless you buy the physical you wont experience any of that to that degree.

I do understand people not wanting to have a bulk of records or tapes CD’s   but that wasn’t my way.

If i loved something that much I would have bought it but things are very different now, it’s changed.

Hard drives with folders of songs which will probably get lost one day from drives that decide not to work out of the blue. 

Oh hang on….the cloud! But is this everlasting…..?


Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have  a preset gameplan for your music/the band? 

My motivational drive is because I love writing and performing. 

If there is no love for what you do, you would’nt strive to maintain it and probably move onto something different.

Of course if people dig what i do then it’s the biggest bonus and I am very thankful to everyone who has supported me over the years.


DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

It doesn’t bother me, I think you have to make your way which ever way you can in music. 

They love music we love music, we play music they play music.

Its just different, plus they not going to turn Industry success down just because they didn’t write the song.

If they write a slammer then hats off to them,I just wish the UK charts were more diverse in what they are promoting.


To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)? 

I saw Prince at Hop Farm Festival in about 2011.

I was playing on the same day on a much smaller stage haha. 

The show was incredible on all levels, the sky was beautiful with mad colours and the crowd were so happy just to be there. 

Slightly drizzly weather but no one cared, there was a lot of happy souls about that day.  

I would have love to have been part of that show that day.


How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

I don’t really get nervous as such, I just have to remember to be me. 

I think i have been doing it so long that its become second nature, although I can sometimes get anxious but this doesn’t happen often thankfully.


When did you last write something? 

I try to write when ever i can, when ever I am at home with some free time.

Plug :) SOLO my new single was my last full on writing period but i wrote something just today too.

Its available for Pre order on the 25th of July this year from leading download stores.


Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Many times in the past yes. I came to the conclusion that besides some of the dodgy people you can meet and how fickle the biz can sometimes be at times, you can choose to remove yourself away from those people and those types of situations. 

I don’t think it matters so much now If you loose out on something, if that something is not right for you and drags you down.

Where there is respect there is commitment and happiness and that goes along way.


What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording?

Technology is moving so fast and i wouldn’t be surprised if we all get replaced one day, not in our life time hey? They are already streaming gigs designed for clubs and bars in parts of the world instead of hiring a band, scary stuff.

Also it depends what kind of sound you are looking for it can really work, I have used these methods myself. and I know heavy musicians who do the same.


Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?  

Because your great! ;)


20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Comfort from Out Of My Hair


How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

I make wood flavoured psychedelic folk music that has various different creases and melodic textures. It sometimes veers off in electric and unexpected directions and if it was a tree and you touched it you would feel the earth through your finger tips, connecting to the roots. I try to be deep and meaningful but do emit the occasional cartoon screech. 
Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?
Hmmm....I could be on the precipise of a rebirth if I really concentrate.

Which song (not neccesarilly yours) best sums you/the band up and why?
Who Loves the Sun by the Velvet Underground. I don't know why other than that when I first heard it it felt like the answer

Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?
There can't be a single one, its not possible. But if I had to I would say that, musically, Syd Barrett and its based on so little repetoire, I don't even know why it is. Prince, Lennon, Sly Stone. Roddy Frame is up there too along with the usual mainstream heroes. Anton Newcombe too actually, much later, for he has the sound dripping through his fingers.

Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?
Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the pinnacles of music for me, the original soundtrack album..the production, the sound, the level of the vocals against the backing, the lyrics, the 70s ness of it all. .Everyone in the vestiges of their youth can come up with something amazing. So Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Saying their names makes me think of cricket and the Tory party. But if I could write something as good as that I would be happy to retire to a farm and grow chickens. 

What are you most proud of?
Being able to love/not completely fucking up my current relationship

In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?
Yeah, signing a record deal with a major record company
What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?
Someone once asked my manager if I'd drive up the motorway for 6 hours to take a helicopter over a rubbish dump to a line dance event attended by 12 people who had absolutely no interest in the kind of music that I make. Happily my manger agreed. It was such a great day.

What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?
Choose them wisely and give everyone the freedom to express and lose themselves in the sheer joy of making music. But the choosing wisely is a most important part of that equation.

If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?
Madame George by Van Morrisson. If I could been part of that moment then it would sum up all other moments of a certain kind within it. 

How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?
Sometimes you need to make the time and space to lose yourself completely and become a total fool without having to worry about anyone seeing you. Usually doing this makes your world start to fall apart. I have no idea how to do this successfully.

In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?
Its just life and technology moving and shifting beyond our ability to control it. A beautiful piece of vinyl becomes a file on a usb stick. But if someone stole your turntable, maybe thats a blessing. Tape was always where it was really at. 

Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?
I have no gameplan other than trying to get it all together on any given day. I have no concept of success other than survival. 

DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?
In truth there are and have always been many rich and famous 'recording artists' who don't actually have a musical cell in the bodies. So I suppose it balances out

To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?
As a performer - Berlin, Zapata club before it closed down, 2010. A moment in time in a city in flux, living there then, like Bowie but 30 years later. Speaking of Bowie, as a fan, his gig at Glastonbury, everyone in tears knowing they were sharing one of most incredible musical moments ever.  

How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?
I don't know if I get them until I actually get onstage and then you just gotta go with it.

When did you last write something?
Probably an hour ago but I bet I dont finish it. 

Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?
I did, I walked away from it all into the forest. I stayed there, I slept there, I learned there. It rained, I came back. 

What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording?
When you are recording on your own it can help. But nothing beats the real, it takes longer to set up but everything is faster and better once you have 

Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions? 
Coz you asked so nicely so I was happy to

20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Matt Deighton


1. How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

The best I can do with a guitar and a voice...hard to say really.. just music with feeling that's where I like to live


2. Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

I never look where I am or what a career is to me - it wasn't ever a conscious choice - I've been drawn to music all my life without questioning it any further than it's part of my life.


3. Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

There isn't really one song that has the all-encompassing power to sum up what I'm about or any band I'm in really. But today I'll pick Peace In My Soul by Free, just for today. Each day brings a different mood, so it's hard to pin anything down successfully, but vaguely my songs can have elements of rock, folk, ...soul. Music has to be from the heart if it's got a hope of lasting in the heart of the listener.


4. Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

Too hard to give a short answer to. Would need a long time to go through it all...but my family, the countryside, my turntable, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Nelson Angelo... God knows...there's an endless list.


5. Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

Some of the above, Part Chimp for their disregard of 2019 and the level they play at...I only see them live no one else really although I'm seeing Milton Nascimento playing Club Esquina live soon, a historical event really but unlikely it will even get a mention here - so many Brazilian artists from the 50s to 70s that are musically and emotionally deep (Nara Leao/Nana Caymmi/Nelson Angelo/Marcos Valle/Arthur Verocai/...mind blowing.


6. What are you most proud of?

Many things, my wife, she's unique and a very gifted singer and writer - my children , all the real things in life that matter. Musically, I'm proud of where I'm at and that the people who have my albums/downloads/etc., get something good from it...that's what I'm told, so it's a thing to feel proud of...many things though .. a long gratitude list.


7. In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

No, not really - it's all part of being a musician and a songwriter, you try something out and either surprise yourself or discover it's not where you feel you fit in naturally that week, which is as valuable as when something does work.


8. What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

Haven't had a request I can think of that's been weird in any way...nothing comes to mind...


9. What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

Sharing, being equal. A band is a band only if it's running on all cylinders and each musician is as committed as the next one, otherwise you can end up having a solo artist trying to project the image of a band to the audience. Nothing wrong in that, but you can feel it when it's a group, all for one, one for all.


10. If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

Again, too many...Joy Inside My Tears I've just worked out on guitar, thanks Mr. Wonder...I don’t know...out of the hat at random, Purple Dancer by Fleetwood Mac sung by Danny Kirwan.. it's the b side of Dragonfly...or Equator by Sparks (who influenced the Sex Pistols by the way. I always knew there was a connection between Thank God It's Not Christmas by Sparks and The Sex Pistols' album.


11. How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

My personal responsibility is making music that I feel and believe (without sounding dramatic or pretentious, but it's the truth.)


12. In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?

I haven't been to a record store for the past 20 years because there aren't any where we live and the ones I' have been to usually haven't got Dracula I Love You by Tuca...or Part Chimp's IV album, they can't compete unless they sell online, but yes I used to enjoy flicking through the racks in the hope of coming across something I'd heard a rumour about, that's always gonna be part of the record shop magic (if you have a well-stocked outlet in your town)......As for digital stuff...downloading is great if you don’t feel the need to have the actual item in your hands...

I think when a format like tape or vinyl is seen as obsolete for a few years or more (even CDs),the interest in that format can sometimes begin to feel missed by the music fan... Now vinyl in general is far superior in quality than some of the original pressings, it's as if it's been re-evaluated and achieved a new level of respect. This is all thanks to people getting tired of compressed MP3s.


13. Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset game plan for your music/the band?

I don't plan anything in military style but I do find I'm planning most days out of the love of what I do and who I'm grateful to be in a band with. You could say that I'm naturally keen on making sure the band I’m in or the album I'm recording is put together in the best possible way I can. I'm not particularly motivated by success - for me that's not a state of mind emotionally that I'd want to attach myself to, it can have the potential of slowly removing creativity and the reason you picked up a guitar in the first place and replace it with wall charts, calculators and resentments (maybe I'm being a bit too heavy here). Success, as in healthy success for me, is waking up and hearing a song fragment come into my head or hearing my daughter sing to me down the phone or my wife write a song in five minutes. Success is a lot of things to a lot of people. I mean, on one hand it can be a great thing and lead you into a state of confidence and inspiration to make more music or on the other hand it can be destructive and all consuming .


14. DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

Music has many ways of reaching our hearts and minds. It would be a dull world if we were only able to hear music in one particular way. My opinions aren't important when it comes to how we listen to music and how it's presented to us. It's a personal thing - thank God. We've got the pleasure of having Pete Brady DJ a set before we play later this month - he loves music , and in turn , it'll spark up the night for people.


15. To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

The La's / Television in a small club back in 1985/Terry Reid a year or so ago in a small private place/ Part Chimp at the Soup Kitchen last year/ Milton Nascimento next week (it's a given)...I enjoyed playing in Mighty Baby and with Brian Auger as part of his Oblivion Express, so many really...supporting Clive Palmer in 2005 or Davy Graham in 2000...I could go on...Mother Earth at The Astoria, Paul's gigs in Europe...on and on.


16. How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

I never get them, it's the only place that I'm at home is around stages and guitars.


17. When did you last write something?

I wrote Coming Unstuck Again for the new Mother Earth EP in 10 minutes or so, because I was so inspired to have such brilliant writers and players in the band, after that we all put our unique stamp on it and it becomes a Mother Earth song. I also wrote one of my favourite songs so far solo wise for the next solo LP - they appear lot on the guitar or just in my head... It's a lovely experience to have happen - it hasn't stopped really.


18. Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

I have stopped for long periods either through lack of an urge to say something musically or sometimes to see if I need it any more. My attempts at stopping have always failed. There's no escape, when I think I've stopped


19. What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instruments during recording?

Music is for everyone. I'm not into auto tuning vocals personally, music needs imperfection to give it its feeling and soul. When studio autotuning etc., used as a lazy tool , it doesn't register in me on an emotional level when I hear it, but again, it's a personal thing. Kraftwerk have soul and feeling so I can't give a definitive answer. I just prefer to listen to a singer or a band that have performed their song without correcting every slight note change or tempo change...I was in the studio a while back singing a chorus and the engineer said, great we've got that, you can come in... I realised they meant they were just going to cut and paste it for all the other choruses in the song... now while that's practical and can save time, it doesn't do the music or performance any favours ...but as I say… it's just another way of doing things. Things fade away and come back tweaked the next time around- nothing's permanent.


20. Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

That's a strange question in itself isn't it? If you tune into the Gary Crowley Show this Saturday 15 June you'll get a sneak preview of Soona Than Much Layta from Mother Earth's new EP of the same name (available on iTunes and all other unreal record shops by the weekend). A CD version will be available from our online shop motherearthuk.co.uk in the next few weeks featuring a sumptuous sleeve and logo design by the main man on design avenue Christophe Gowans.


Some tickets left for our show - 100 Club 27th but only a handful…



20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask…. DJ Pete Brady



How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

I'd say through my radio show and also the club nights, I've managed to build a totally new crowd and have brought something unique to Belfast's Soul scene, in a sense that my choice of live acts have been a revelation. I have chosen a wide variety of acts who have never played Belfast before, therefore offering the city something unique and a real insight into the current scene. 


Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

I have made some great progress up to now, especially in the last 18 months and having established myself on the NI scene, my aim now is to start travelling, targeting gigs further afield. I think I've earnt that right now. 


Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?That's a tough one! I'll go with Move On Up, Curtis Mayfield due to it's sheer positivity and ability to inspire! 


Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?


That's easy. The Style Council. This period in Weller's career helped to really shape my thinking as a teenager, looking for ideas as the Mod scene crumbled around me in my own city. I started to listen to funk and in particular, jazz. The 80's may have been a write-off for many people but I was having the time of my young life! I know so many of us have been influenced by Mr Weller at some stage but it was this time, this band that meant the world to me. They were, in many ways MY band and I still feel just as passionately about them to this day. 


Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?


I'm not sure there would be too many surprises in amongst it all but around that Style Council period, I was also heavily into The Blow Monkeys, Aztec Camera, Animal Nightlife, Blue Rondo, Everything But The Girl. It's clear to see how you could link all of these artists. Before that, it would've been The Beatles and Small Faces. Seeing Steve Marriot play live when I was just 15 years old is very much a highlight for me.


What are you most proud of?


My radio show and how I've grown it. What started off as a bit of fun, now is a well-known show pulling in around 3500 listeners each time, something I never could have dreamt of! It has allowed me to form some great online friendships and has been the springboard to the success of my club nights, that's for sure. 


In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?


Up to now, not that I can think of. My events to date have all been well attended, receiving really positive feedback. Working on my own, they are a real stretch for me financially but I'm not doing it for the money, just as well really! As long as I can ensure that I'm not working at a loss, I'll always be happy. To be able to bring the quality of acts I've had play here so far to my city has been something that fills me with great pride. I'm also working on some other great names for 2020. I've some exciting news still to shout about soon! 


What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?
What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?


Respect and appreciation of each other's talents. As a promoter, I'll always try to avoid clashes with events of a similar nature plus whenever I offer someone a Dj slot at any of my events, they're playing on merit. I'd never insist on music policies regarding their sets. I'll have asked them because I know what they're into. 


If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?


I'm not a musician but I did used to play trumpet when I was much younger and will always regret not keeping up my lessons! If I could play horns on a track? God, that's hard to narrow it down to 1, so I'll go with these 3...Bobby Bryant- I Wanna TestifyThe Style Council- One Nation Under a GrooveDonny Hathaway- I Believe To My Soul


How do you make the balance between musicand personal responsibilities?

It's hard, I'll admit that. Currently, I'm trying to balance family life with 2 kids, a full time job, prepping a monthly radio show( which includes a lot of time spent researching and obtaining lots of new releases), Quarterly Club Nights, Dj sets, plus heading up the NI part of a UK wide charity campaign called Musicians Against Homelessness, so I guess you can safely say it's a bit of a task trying to achieve the right balance! I'm heading away on a 2 week holiday though soon and am definitely looking forward to some family time. It's well overdue. 


In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?


On 1 hand, I'd say yes with regards to those who aren't serious collectors, those who are happy to listen to music through a digital device on the go, like a phone for example. Those people will never know the anticipation of that new release dropping, of having the physical record in their hands and listening to the depth and richness of that vinyl sound that most of us crave. In practical terms though, I have nothing against having music that's easy to carry around with you, say for when you're on the go, or heading off on holiday. That's different altogether and I've no problem with that. I'm certainly not the type of Dj who would scoff at someone's choice of format though, just because it isn't necessarily mine when playing out. I use both vinyl and CD for my radio show, as not everything I want to play is something I have on vinyl. Also, it ain't easy to balance big bags of heavy records on my Vespa! 


Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?


It may be just a dream but my end game is to work in radio, on a decent sized station. I truly believe that I have a lot to offer and that my current online shows are fully prepped and well presented in a fashion that I feel comes across as engaging and enjoyable for the listener. So, in that sense, that is how I would measure success. If I could achieve that and be in a position to give up retail management for a living, then I'd be very happy. 


DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?


This is definitely one to divide opinion! I do feel that there are many Dj's out there today who have incredible knowledge and are looked up to for very good reason. A lot of those Dj's have been collecting for many years and have earnt the right to travel the world with their boxes of magical 45's, so yes, for those type of Dj's, I'd say yes. A lot of bands would undoubtedly be honest enough to recognise that they owe a lot to Dj's who champion their cause through Dj sets or/and via radio shows. In a small way, I'd like to think that I'm helping to play a part and would say that I have certainly raised the profile of many bands here in a city that wouldn't have necessarily known much about many of the acts I like to play. On the other hand, it's difficult to talk about celebrity Dj's without swearing lol! How the hell can some of those out there "Djing" be taken seriously? I just don't get it. I'm not talking about the Funk &Soul Scene, just more in general. 


To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?


As a fan, I'd say Gil Scott Heron in Glasgow years ago, along with Lonnie Liston Smith in the Jazz Café and Paul Weller in the Brighton Dome at the peak of his powers. As a performer, I've enjoyed playing at all of my own events alongside some brilliant bands but I've had a blast playing support to Pee Wee Ellis and in particular, to a real musical hero of mine, Mr. Kevin Rowland, who, might I add, was a very charming fellow. 


How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?


2-3 cans of Dark Fruit flavoured cider usually helps! Never trust a non-drinking DJ. 


When did you last write something?


As a DJ, I'm not sure how this one applies to me but I do have a habit of noting down my sets as I play. 


Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?Yes, I have done. Around 4 years ago, I had been running a soul night called Night Train and had aimed my promo at just the Mod and Soul scene here in Belfast. This had a real impact on my numbers, as that particular scene in Belfast isn't the most forward thinking at the best of times, often describing me as "too funky!" I knew then that I had to make a decision. Either to wrap it up altogether, or to look at doing something different to what was going on in the city. It just so happened that I got my opportunity on Belfast Underground Radio and like I said earlier, by marketing my self in a very different manner and by choosing to place most of my focus on current day acts, I have been able to bounce back with what is now a hugely popular night out in the city, now also forming part of 2 major annual Arts Festivals each year. I'm so glad now that I chose to push on and to work hard at building my brand, which is now a club night, a radio show, a website and I've even got my own range of Superfly Funk and Soul Club Belfast t shirts, which have been shipped all over the world!


What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording?


I guess I'm looking at this with a view to using digital formats as a DJ. Like I said, I'm not the type of person to slag off another DJ for their choice of format. I use CD and Vinyl for my shows but will play virtually all vinyl sets when I'm out. I know we could be here until tomorrow arguing the toss over this but to sum up, there are always gonna be circumstances that dictate which format to use, such as radio play, especially when you're breaking a new release that hasn't yet been released and you've maybe been sent a digital version by a label or band but when playing out, my preference is vinyl every time. 


Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?


I had a good read through the content and really liked the idea of getting to grips with these. I do hope that I've answered these in a way that is both truthful and of interest to you. Cheers Matt!


20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Keb Darge


How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated? 

I have always tried to play great underplayed/unknown records. I started on the northern scene playing nothing but new discoveries to those wanting to hear them. Then I moved on to bringing rare vintage music to non scene people. Not in a revival style, as I do want to play mostly tunes they won’t know. 



Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

I’ve been doing the same thing really since I left the northern scene in the mid eighties. I switched music styles a couple of times when I ran out of new tunes to play, which resulted in me being bored. 


Which song (not neccesarilly yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

I suppose The New Fugitives “She’s My Baby” is the epitome of what I play these days. 


Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)? 

Richard Searling, who was the main DJ at Wigan Casino in the seventies. I copied his ethic of playing new discoveries of a high quality. I even copied his mic style to a certain extent. In 1975 he was my hero. I just changed the music style. 


Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why? 

Nope…. Apart from Richard Searling the records are my inspiration. I get something new and think “fuck me I can’t wait to play this to a dance floor” 


What are you most proud of? 

Not playing shite


In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted? 

Nope


What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band? “Play some hip hop” after two hours of an out and out sixties garage/rockabilly set. 


What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians? 

Forget the egos and concentrate on the finished tune like putting a jigsaw puzzle together as a team. 


If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why? 

I cannae play anything. 


How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities? 

Music pays for my personal responsibilities. I did get divorced three times because of records, so maybe I didn’t take those responsibilities seriously enough. 


In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience? 

They won’t be able to download new discoveries. If they are on the internet or a compilation then they are not new discoveries. Still plenty unknown 45’s out there. 


Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band? 

My motivation has always been to steer people away from shite music to better more soul enriching stuff. I tend to switch styles once they become successful cause then everybody is playing that style, and I tend to get bored. 


DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved? 

For me a live band can become too samey after half an hour or so, no matter how good they are. A DJ can pick the best tunes from many a band, and give a mixed night of great music. I grew up when everybody wanted to dance like wild things. I saw most of the old soul greats live in the seventies, but always felt it was great to see them, chat to them, but wanted them to do a short set so I could dance again to varied tunes. Of course the bands who make great records deserve much more acclaim than DJ’s, or the bands that make shite records.


To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)? 

Still a gig I did in the early eighties on the northern soul scene. I had just returned from going through a warehouse stacked with obscure 45’s. My whole set was made of great sixties records that had never been played before that night. I could see the hardcore fans in the crowd shooting their load with excitement as I introduced each new tune.


How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)? 

Nah.. been doing this for 45 years. No nerves now.


When did you last write something?

I am writing my memoirs at the moment. A mate has hooked me up with a publisher who loved the sample I sent him. 


Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

I have looked at crowds (mainly in London) recently and thought “what’s the point, they are not interested these days, too busy on their phones or talking over each other”, but then the next gig I’ll have a different crowd going wild, and asking what the records were. So I’ve never lasted long on the “what’s the point” thing. 


What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording? 

Fucking hate electronic music. Soulless pish. Voices alone do not equal soul for me. I can feel it coming from the musicians too. 


Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

You keeping reminding me




20 Questions You Didn't Know You Wanted To Ask... Laura Vane

How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

I'm a singer. Also a song writer. Sometimes I sing other people songs. But mostly I write, record and perform my own songs.


Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

Ummmm, well, in the middle of it...? I've been singing and writing for 20 years now. I'm at a comfortable place with what I do, generally.

Which song (not neccesarilly yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

One song? You have to be kidding me. My latest material with Flevans and the new stuff due for release with The Vipertones later this year, I feel fairly accurately shows you where I'm at. Probably nobody has ever listened to my songs and felt a strong sense of mystique around who I am or what I feel, but the songs I've been writing for the past couple of years feel somehow more honest and succinct.


Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.


Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

Not really. I'd hate to concede to the idea that I'm predictable, but I think you can hear a lot of what I listen to in my music. There is the odd band and artist that stick out from the rest in my collection, like Level 42 and White Denim.


What are you most proud of?

Getting this far in music, having my kids and still managing to make it near a stage or studio. The struggle is real.

In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

I signed to Universal Island record label when I was 21, I spent a lot of time, energy and money (not mine, but this still impacted on the situation) on making a lot of music which was immediately shelved and never heard by anyone. That made me very wary of contracts and major labels in general but I learned a lot. I don't really regret it. I have very few regrets. It's all part of the bigger plan, right? Please say it's all part of the bigger plan...


What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

Once at Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland I was performing with The Vipertones and straight after we finished our set, a lady brought her 6 month old baby to the stage with a marker pen and asked me to sign her babies arm.... I didn't do it.

What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

Being honest and clear. Being Flexible. Leaving your ego outside. Not being a dick.


If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

I don't know. There are so many artists that had their stand out / hit moment, and at that particular time I wished I was them... Jill Scott with 'Getting in the Way', Alicia Keys with Fallin', Beyonce with 'Crazy In Love' or Janelle Monae with 'Tightrope' to name a few. I'd have loved to be involved with the fruition of any one of those singles / moments.

How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

It's tough but to be blunt, love always comes first and my love for music at times has been unrequited and brutal. So my kids and family life is the best place to invest my heart and soul without a doubt, but music will always be there. I have some great support from my family and friends, and without them, music would be barely possible.


In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?

It's all moved on. It's different how people hear about / learn about music. So I'm cool, got to go with the flow. Record buying is still going strong from my side of the scene... so I'm not worried. If you want to touch a record and sniff it before you buy, it's still possible, but you might have to make an effort to get that experience. Whatever turns you on.


Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?

Success is funny word. You need a very thick skin to keep on creating in this industry. I am motivated, so I'll definitely carry on. I believe I can't do anything else as well as I can do this. That's how it's got me. But success is a difficult thing to measure. I'm not bothered about fame, but I'd like to be able to live without worrying too much about how I'm gonna cover a mortgage and bringing up 2 kids, like most other people. So this is my job, and yeah, I'd like to be comfy.

DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

I don't really think the two forms of entertainment are comparable. I see the appeal and merit in both, but really it's a very different connection and usually for very different crowds. The energy you feel from tapping into a live band in that moment as they play is not the same vibe you get from a huge light show and a DJ who knows how to read a crowd perfectly.


To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

Oh man, I saw Stevie Wonder at the O2 in London. I sobbed, to my surprise, throughout. I've done some amazing gigs with The Streets, and with The Vipertones, as a backing vocalist and a lead vocalist. Have ticked some boxes on my career to-do list like playing Top of the Pops and Glasto, but I'm not done yet!


How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

Yawn. Go to the loo. Have a drink.


When did you last write something?

About a month ago.


Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Yes. Me without singing seems a bit sad. So I guess that's that really.


What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording?

If it works, then it's all good, GIVE ME THE VIBE.

Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

That 2000 quid you promised me. Cheers. Just ping it over when you get a moment. I'll DM my bank details. 


20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Flevans


1. How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

I’m a musician, producer and songwriter creating music that sits in the funk and soul field but with a contemporary edge.


2. Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now? 

Right now I’m in the best place I’ve ever been. I’ve been writing, producing and releasing for about 15 years, but never really been able to capitalise on any periods of success I’ve had. I was almost ready to stop writing Flevans stuff and then started writing with Laura (Vane) and realised that I’ve still got so much more I want to do…and how much I loved collaborating and being part of a proper song writing process. I’m on a great record label (Jalapeno), new album doing the rounds, we’re getting great radio play, have a killer live band and loads more new material ready to go.


3. Which song (not neccesarilly yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

We’re Only Making Plans For Nigel by XTC 


4. Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

Hard one to answer. Obviously my family and friends….musically too many to mention. Sorry, ducked out of that one a bit didn’t I?


5. Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

Nothing too outrageous really. I love so many different genres of music and listen to a lot of stuff that is really different to what I do.  


6. What are you most proud of?

That I’ve kept persevering even when I’ve had period where no ones been particularly interested in what I’ve been doing. I’ve always believed I had good songs and albums in me, and have kept on trying to better myself and improve. 


7. In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

No…!


8. What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band? 

Nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual poorly thought out DJ requests and gig offers that pay nothing!


9. What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

Friendship and a little bit of tolerance.


10. If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

Wow, that’s a tough one. Take your pick of any track on Bill Withers ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ - my favourite live album and such wonderful musicianship. Would have loved to have been on stage then!


11. How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

Well, as a man in his (very early) 40s, it’s really difficult. I have 2 young kids and a busy life outside of music. Whilst I love music, I’ve never been single minded about it, for me to write my best stuff I have to be happy and content outside of that world. At the moment the balance is manageable…


12. In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience? 

Yeah to an extent. I think you can still discover new music, but with unlimited access to all the music in the world on streaming services, people are looking for something new every day. But then you have to balance that against how many more people can discover your music irrespective of whether they can get to a record store or not. Its a tough one.


13. Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?

I think everyone wants success to a certain extent. For me, I’m loving every minute of being busy and people enjoying what I do - I just want to sustain that as long as possible - and hopefully for music to be the way I can support myself and my family for years to come.


14. DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

It doesn’t really bother me. There’s loads of great DJs out there. If that’s what people want and enjoy then fair play to them.


15. To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

As a performer, the recent debut Flevans live gig - a homecoming gig in Brighton to a packed house with pretty much everyone I know in the crowd, loved it. 

As a fan…ah probably Radiohead at Glastonbury 1997…I think.


16. How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

Just got to get on and do it! Nerves are a good thing as long as they don’t get the better of you.


17. When did you last write something?

Been working on the new Flevans LP which is close to completion, so very recently


18. Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Not really. For me writing music is therapy and an very important for my wellbeing! So even if I’m not signed or not releasing stuff I’ll always be writing and trying to enjoy it,


19. What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording? 

 It’s fine! Technology now allows people to create music and sounds that they could never have before. I use all kinds of virtual instruments alongside live instrumentation…


20. Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

I was worried that you might be cross with me if I didn’t.

20 Questions You Didn't Know You Wanted To Ask... DJ Jeff The Fish


1.How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?
What I do has changed over the years. I started out as a musician, and my objective then was to make music and be a successful artist... but life's twists and turns combined with a youthful lack of self confidence in my talents waylaid that, and I then went into running record labels etc and trying to promote artists I thought were more talented than I. These days my focus is on trying to promote what I think is good quality music in an environment that seems to get tougher by the day. I do this through DJing in clubs, my radio shows (JUMP AND SWITCH WITH JEFF THE FISH on TOTALLY WIRED RADIO and THE MIXED GRILL on SOHO RADIO) and the record label I run (MJDC). There is so much terrible music out there that gets all the plugs, but at the same time lots of great music still being made that is largely ignored. I try to do what I can in my own small way to keep what I consider to be quality music alive and at the same time pass a positive message (one of my other bugbears is the message in a lot of mainstream music is very very bad.)

2.Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?
What career? lol. I don't really think of it like that. To me I do what I do and some things come off, while others are disasters. Its like a giant game of snakes and ladders, sometimes you reach a high point but then a roll of the dice slips you right back down to the beginning again. I don't think what I do was ever really a career, more a labour of love, and it has certainly never earned me the money one would associate with a "career". I would have loved to have been able to do what I do for a living, but without compromising my integrity I don't think that was ever going to happen. The days of people like me slipping through the net of commercial success are over I fear.

3.Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?
That would probably be "Am I my Brother's Keeper" by the Four Tops. A bit naive and innocent perhaps, but behind my often cynical humour this is what I feel, a kind of childlike belief that everything could be alright if we all really wanted it to be.

4.Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?
Keith Richards. He and the Rolling Stones first turned this little white boy onto Black music and started an all consuming lifelong voyage of discovery through Blues, RnB, Funk and Jazz without which I would have been a very lost person.

5.Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?
That depends on which Jeff The Fish you know I think, I have multiple facets. To a lot of people I imagine my Keith Richards point above might be surprising.. I guess its for the reader to behold. I can certainly list a few... Gil Scott Heron, Joe Strummer, Guru, Terry Reid, John Coltrane, Sam Cooke, Pete Townshend, Urban Species, Sly Stone... is any of that surprising? I don't know...

6.What are you most proud of?
My integrity. To me its the most valuable thing I have, and I have clung onto it for dear life all my life. What I do, I believe in. If I lose my integrity I have lost everything.

7.In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?
No I don't think so. When it's come to making decisions like that I've always stopped short. I can't do what I do unless it's honest. I think it probably ties into the integrity point above. That's probably why I have so skillfuly avoided "success" lol

8.What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?
Well as a DJ of course the ridiculous and totally inappropriate requests I have had are endless (Despacito anyone? lol)... but I think this question is probably more about things I have been asked to DO rather than play, no? ... and I cant really think of anything! That said my memory is poor... maybe one of my previous collaborators will read this and remind me!

9.What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?
Mutual respect.

10.If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?
"On Broadway" by George Benson. It's exactly how I would play if I could only play that well.

11.How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?
I don't! One encroaches on the other permanently and I spend my life trying to catch up on one side or the other.

12.In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?
Hmm I don't know. It's totally different. Times change and I don't want to be that guy moaning about how the horse and cart was better than the latest electric wonder vehicle. In many ways actually I think the two are surprisingly similar. For me, the vinyl record buying experience largely came from following tips given by musicians I admired, from advice from friends or the guys working in the record shop. Nowadays the advice comes from Social media and you buy online. I think definitely there is something impractically wonderful about a vinyl record and that is why I run a label principally dedicated to getting music out on vinyl that was previously only available digitally. However you cant gloss over the facts that the overproduction of music (there is just so very very much available digitally its impossible to know where to start) and that it has been replaced as the primary source of communication amongst the youth by Social media and games etc has largely killed it off. The glory days of music are over imo. Every dog has its day. To summarise I'm not sure anyone is "missing out", they are simply living a different life in a different time and space.

13.Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?
What is Success? Is it measured in money? Is it measured in popularity? Is it just creating something? I just want to get my thing out there as much as possible and share it with the maximum amount of people possible. That said I realise the enormity of the task... I'm taking some very niche and personal things and asking people to take that on board. It's a very big ask, but I'm asking anyway. So in my head I don't feel successful at all, as I have nowhere near achieved my goal/dream. The world of Jeff The Fish is small but perfectly formed lol. I don't think by most people's measurements either what I do would count as a success, in fact far from it, but I do it because it motivates me and I enjoy it. I never wanted to do anything else, so I continue anyway (maybe that is actually real success?). My thing is a small "cult" thing. I'd love it to get bigger but at the same time I'm under no illusions, I've been around too long for that.

14.DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?
This is nothing new. Not since the 50's anyway. There have always been enormous DJs. In the beginning they were on the radio but since the 70's in clubs too, and these were the guys who broke the music and were as big as the bands they played. So much so that in the days of payola DJs would get writers credits on records they hadn't written, just because they championed them. That said there are DJs and DJs. There are DJs who just play the tunes people want to hear in the bars and clubs and are just the equivalent of human jukeboxes, and there are DJs people follow because they play a certain sound and break new tunes. The latter merits recognition in my opinion. I have been both a musician and a DJ so I value both, but I know musicians who disrespect DJs massively and blame them for the demise of live gigs etc, but forget that it will be a DJ that will most likely get people buying their records ultimately. I think both are interdependent and need each other. A DJ needs music to play and a band needs its music played.

15.To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?
My most memorable gig was as a small kid when I saw the Rolling Stones. My parents knew some people who had an estate in Ireland where the Rolling Stones played a rock festival. All us kids got a ringside view. It blew me away. Until this point I had never imagined that a job in entertainment could be a viable option or lifestyle choice. It all suddenly became very real to me and changed my life forever. I didn't have a clue how I was to go about it, but I knew I wanted to be part of this amazing thing I had just witnessed. I think maybe these ideas had been in my head even earlier than this, but that was a sort of crystalizing moment or awakening.

16.How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?
I used to get them really bad. So bad in fact that it was one of the reasons why I stopped being in bands and drifted into the business side when I was younger. It all changed later in my life when I was in a relationship for many years with a blind and disabled girl. What I went through and experienced during those years changed my life completely and by the end of it I was an entirely different person. It put a lot of things into perspective for me. I realised how unimportant so many things I had previously taken too seriously actually were, and that being nervous about going on stage was one of the stupidest things especially as I had a an even greater desire to get my thing out there and repair the damage the end of that relationship had had on me. I still suffer before I go out there but it is more a crushing desire to get it right rather than fear. I would describe how I feel nowadays more as pressure to make it as good as I possibly can rather than fear of screwing it up.

17.When did you last write something?
The most recent thing I have "written" to an extent is a forthcoming remix of a tune called "La Rumba Me Va" by a Catalan Gypsy Singer Tato Garcia last month. It will be out on a 12" this summer along with other mixes by Ashley Beedle, Art Of Tones, and Raph Dumas. However if remixes dont count, the last thing I wrote completely (or rather co wrote) was a tune called "Le Four De Saint Jacques" by a group called The Art Example Of Canigo. It appears on my latest compilation record "Modern Jazz Dance Classics Volume One" I compiled for the label I run called MJDC. We wrote that last August and the compilation came out last February.... check it out!

18.Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?
Every day! lol. I often wonder if what I do really matters to anyone other than myself and frequently feel all my efforts are pointless. However when it actually comes down to stopping I find I just cant, as I love it too much. That said I have decided I
want to be retired from all this before I am 60, which rather alarmingly doesn't seem to be that far away! lol

19.What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instruments during recording?
I have no problem with it, though personally I prefer a mix of the two as I think the live human feel cannot be replaced. To me the human feel in the groove makes a piece of music feel "real". I love listening to old Funk records and feeling the subtle change in rhythm only humans can do and that is impossible to duplicate electronically. That said some synthesised sounds are just great and achieve levels of bass or sonic accuracy normal "real" instruments can't.

20.Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?
No problem, you're welcome. Thank you for being interested enough to ask them! I agreed to answer them in the hope that maybe on reading these responses it might generate an interest in people to come and check out some if not all of the things I'm doing. Who knows, maybe they will find something they like. The more people who join and support me on this the merrier, and every single person who lets me know they have enjoyed something I have done gives me the impetus to carry on.




20 Questions You Didn't Know You Wanted To Ask... Andy Cooper (The Allergies / Ugly Duckling)


How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

 I'm a seasoned funk vagabond trying to keep my head above water. Since the mid-90's, I've produced and performed in groups (Ugly Duckling, The Allergies) while writing and composing music for TV shows, movies and even a musical. I'm a reasonably accomplished rapper and performer. I'm a mediocre musician.

Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

 I'm very happy at the moment. I really love working with The Allergies and I also have a great relationship with a licensing company called Audio Network which keeps me respectable. What I really love to do is create funky music and that's most of my job right now so how could I complain?

Which song (not neccesarilly yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

 I have a song called 'Chasing The Funk' which describes some of my emotions and experiences in a life where I attempt to hold on to an ever elusive music career. It's simple and to the point but it, for the most part, sums up my journey.

Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

 Wow, that's tough. I'm really inspired by songwriters because composition is my favourite aspect of music and the thing at which I would most like to excel. There are too many to name: Irving Berlin, Bill Withers, the Gershwins, Billy Strayhorn, Lennon/McCartney...but my biggest hero might be Rod Temperton

Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

 Probably all of them because most people will think I just listen to old rap stuff but I'm always trying to learn about different aspects of music (artistically, culturally, historically...)

What are you most proud of?

 Survival. It's not easy to make a living in this business and despite a relative lack of natural talent, I've managed to work in music since I was a young adult. Plus, I've been able to do it on my own terms and with my integrity (generally) in tact.

In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

 Yes, one time in particular but it wasn't so artistically awful as it was a decision that was made purely for money. I didn't want to do it but I was outvoted by the other members of my band (but I did take the money). Aside from that, I haven't gone outside the lines (at least the lines I have drawn) too much although there are a few tracks that I think we (Ugly Duckling) may have been trying a bit too hard to appeal to a larger audience. I'm not ashamed of those songs but I would leave them out of my portfolio.

What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

 Someone asked Ugly Duckling to compose a musical and I actually took on the challenge (the other two didn't have any interest or inclination for theatre). After some years, the show 'Recorded In Hollywood' had two runs and earned respectable reviews from all the major publications in LA. I have been giggling ever since.

What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

 First off, common values and ethics with regard to musical tastes and career aspirations. After that, I believe it's key to be involved with people who believe in team work and cheer for the success of others. Regardless of how talented a self-centered person might be, they'll eventually corrupt the operation

If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

 Drums (i'm a semi-decent drummer) on James Brown 'Soul Power'. It's just a groove that could go on forever and I'd liked to have held it down.

How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

 I'm a Christian and God's will is, for me, the most important thing so I'm constantly seeking (and struggling) to put things in the proper perspective. I always try to remember that as much as I love music, life is much bigger than my little passions.

In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?

Probably. But with easy and immediate access to everything in the world via the internet, people have gained something too. Life is all about trade-offs and while I really value my experiences as a young music fan growing up in an analog world, I'm confident that music lovers have everything they need. Technology has allowed me to hear so many things that I almost certainly could not have heard without the web so I'm happy about it.

Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?

The game-plan is always changing but, for me, there is one constant; make good songs. There's an old adage that says "predictions are difficult, especially about the future" and anticipating what may or may not happen is impossible and, generally, a waste of time (I say this after more than 20 years on the inside). But, I have faith that a really good song has endless potential for success and almost always finds a place of recognition, even if it's a humble one. So therefore, that's what I focus on.

DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

 Really good and deserving things are best appreciated after a fair amount of time has passed. I would imagine that many people who are seen as talented, important or successful right now may not be regarded as such when future generations review their work.

To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

 In Ugly Duckling, we had our first really good show (we'd been performing for 5 years) at Fabric in London around 2000. The audience was going nuts and it was like being in a movie about a popular band. Afterwards, someone told me the crowd's enthusiasm was fuelled by massive drug consumption and while that may be true, it was still a surreal experience.

How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

 When I hear good music banging out of the stage monitor speakers, I feel comfortable and safe.

When did you last write something?

 I wrote a little bit yesterday on the way to a gig but it's been a few weeks since I've really had a chance to write. We've (The Allergies) have been so focused on our live show that everything else has taken a backseat for a bit.

Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Absolutely. But as Peter said to Christ when Jesus asked him if the apostles were going to abandon him, "Lord, to whom would we go?" I have been frustrated with my career situation many a time but, in the end, I don't know what else I would do.

What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instuments during recording?

Whatever works to rock a crowd. With The Allergies, we combine DJ elements with live music so, obviously, we're all for it. I've watched a million live shows (both good and bad-mostly bad) and there's no one way to do it.

Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

I've got nothing better to do right now and I'm kind of hoping you can get me a job.