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Album Review: McBusted
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Album Review: Cheryl - Only Human
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Album Review: Gareth Fernandez- Gareth Fernandez
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A wise man once said, "A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor." And truly, Yellowcard's latest album Lift A Sail is a perfect testament of that quote. With tumultuous events unfolding within the last couple of years (the departure of drummer Longineu Parsons III, Ryan Key's relationship with his wife, Sean's new bundle of joy), it's impressive to learn that the band is still waving its sails high, declaring, "Here I am alive!"

So it's during my casual chat with Yellowcard that I got an insight into the kaleidoscopic workings of their musical and personal lives. (I have to admit, sitting within an arm's length from the members is totes cool). And from a fan's perspective, I can tell you the deep-seated respect and admiration I have for this rock group is definitely well-founded.

 

You guys have been together for quite a while, a long time, in fact. So are there any changes you’ve seen about one another? Over the years?

Ryan K: How long do we have for this press? This thing?

Half hour.

Ryan K: Maybe we can come back for a day and just talk about that? A whole day? Well we changed bands, we changed members, that’s just going to be the most obvious change, I think sonically we’ve changed, undergone quite a change over the years, sometimes we begin in one direction, and then going back to something we’ve had before. Sometimes going forward to a new place and taking that farther.

So I get there’s so many levels to the question on change, you know, when you’ve been a band for over 15 years. Personalities change and people change, music changes, your ability to play your instrument changes, you get better at it as you get on. You learn to play new instruments along the way, and I think for me, learning how to sing over the course of the whole thing.

When the band kind of exploded in 2003, 2004, it was at that point I realize that maybe I should know how to sing? Because I didn’t know how to do it at all. So that’s a huge, huge question so I don’t wanna like cheat the answer from you but it’s just there’s so many levels to what’s changed for us over the years.

Sean: I think people are always fascinated that we’re people too and our art mimics our life. Recently I’m married and my wife and I just have a daughter now, she’s 3 months old and it’s like those elements of your normal life and how they colour in our musical life and the Yellowcard experience and everything.

I think all of us have that story and it’s been documented… For 17 years the band has been around but we’ve been really touring for 15 years and you can just imagine the road miles and ways life has affected all of us. So it affects us also, we just have it in our songs.

 

It’s your second time back in Singapore. So has this tour been any different – or similar – fans-wise, travel-wise…?    

Ryan K: That’s totally a question for you.

Sean: I get that one? For us, it’s just amazing and incredible at this point in our career that we still get to go new places and there’s certain differences, obviously, between cultures and countries that most of the Yellowcard fans… (trails off) I don’t know if the Internet just makes the world that much smaller, but the experience is very similar and that people are really touched by Yellowcard’s songs.

And it had to be this because Twitter, Instagram. And it makes us a little more accessible that way. So it’s not so much this is specifically different, versus this. I think in the region, in Asia, in particular, I don’t know if the documentation or the cellphone era is a little bit stronger here than is anywhere else, maybe it’s because in 14 years we never gone to those countries. So, there’s a little bit of that happening but the volume of how the audience sings the songs and that emotional attachment is incredible.

 

And the reactions are still the same? At a decibel level? Anywhere you go?

Ryan K: No, it’s different, I mean, you know, there’s certain places that are also kind of Asia-Pacific that you can talk to Charlie from the stage to the soundboard because it’s just dead silence right between the songs. Um yeah, that’s something we’re not used to at home in the States. In the states we could be playing our most heartfelt ballad and someone’s in the back just going (yelling inaudibly) so it’s just totally different.

I think what Sean’s saying that concerts, I mean – I think when we went to China in 2012, for the first time, it hadn’t been very long that they had been doing concerts with Western bands – a couple years, four years, I don’t know. But you know, bands that had toured to every city in America for 50 years, so the experience was just different.

I think there’s just a little bit more reverence in this part of the world, towards the experience. And then there’s places like in South America that are just absolute and total pandemonium. From the second you take the stage, to the second you are done. It’s just absolute mayhem and insanity. Doesn’t matter what song you’re playing, doesn’t matter.

Sean: And with disregard to their well being.

Ryan K: Yeah. Yeah!

Sean: Like a gnarly pyramid, in a moshpit, and everyone will just tumble down on each other. And it’s unbelievable; it’s terrifying.

Ryan M: You’re playing and you’re like, “Oh my god, what are they doing right now?”

Ryan K: The one thing you get from going to a place for the first time especially this far in is that you can feel that anticipation, feel that excitement, and it’s at another level and it’s not about picking places that’s more favourite than another. Going to Hong Kong for the first time, those fans are going to be more excited, than you know, fans in LA. There’s an undeniable excitement. It comes from the fact that we haven’t been there before.

 

So I’m sure there are Anberlin fans amongst us… so what was it like recording your last album with Nathan Young?

Sean: One of the best recording experiences in Yellowcard’s career I think. He’s just amazing.

Ryan M: He’s unbelievable.

Ryan K: He’s a songwriter in his own right, you know? He does a lot of production in writing for Anberlin so that’s something that we hadn’t, in no negative way have I said, it’s just something we didn’t have in that position of the band before.

As far as having the production, the crafting of the songs from a melody standpoint, stuff like that. At that time it was less of the drums and the rhythm, and more about how the drums are going to work into the melody that’s being written as well. It was just a different process but having someone as creative, having someone that we’re fans of, for so many years now, be part of what we’re doing, it’s awesome.

Ryan M: He’s been a good friend of ours and we all loved his band for years and years so it wasn’t like “Hey that guy from that band is a really good drummer. I wonder if he would be interested?” We were like calling up one of our best friends and you know, he said, “I’m honoured.” It was a phenomenal experience, getting to work with him after all those years.

 

So if Yellowcard was commissioned to a write a song for the new Star Wars movie soundtrack, how would you guys go about it?

Sean: Yes.

Ryan K: We would go about it saying yes.

Ryan M: Yes. Whatever you would want us to do.

Ryan K: I don’t know, I mean, first of all, I have to demand that we get to see the film, so that we can write.

Ryan M: We need to see what we’re writing for.

Ryan K: Yeah, exactly.

Sean: We would have to get a lightsaber.

Ryan K: That would be amazing but Star Wars isn’t really the type of film that would use contemporary music though, for what they’re doing. It’s pretty much like John Williams and John Williams… that’s it.

Ryan M: We would still say yes though. If you know someone, this is a test of question! We will say yes.

 

When you’re through thinking, say yes, right?

Ryan M: We’re not thinking. Just yes.

Ryan K: Clever one that.

 

So your songs like Ocean Avenue, obviously, and Only One, have been a teenage anthem, I think everybody grew up with that. How about personally? What are your teenage anthems?

Ryan M: Smells Like Teen Spirit. Smashing Pumpkins… Anything on Siamese Dream. Such a great album.

Ryan K: When the Foo Fighters’ first record came out, when we were like 14, 15, I was listening to that record. When the Colour and the Shape came out when I was 17, My Hero, Monkey Wrench, Everlong… those singles, those songs were just life-changing. Green Day’s Dookie was out. It’s hard to pick songs; it’s easier to pick albums because we grew up in a decade where we were teenagers and the decade that was just the pinnacle of rock music.

I mean it’s insane. The amount of amazing, lifelong artistes that are still played on every radio station, on every country across the world. You know that’s not so much happening for bands that came out of the 2000s and on. There’s still this thing about alternative rock that happened, that we just got to experience.

 

Photo credit: Joey Han for Spin or Bin Music

I am lucky enough to catch up with one of the biggest names in Australian music at the moment, winner of X Factor 2013, Dami Im!

With a number one single and album under her belt, Dami has a lot to be excited about in her post-X Factor career. The Korean-born songstress talks about being recognized now, her upcoming album, her musical influences and her mentor, Dannii Minogue.

After the interview, I played a game with the Australian singer called “Put Dami in the Spotlight”. Dami had to say the first thing that came into her mind based on the words that I 'threw' at her. Find out what she thinks about durian, kimchi, her celebrity crush and which pop princess she has in mind!

Watch the interview below.

 

Formed in mid 2012, Trick is a pop duo consisting of singer, songwriter, producer Marc Lian and rapper, songwriter Richard Jansen.The duo met at a point when both were equally jaded, onset by misadventures with their respective music careers. However, it was through this parallel that the duo formed and bonded over. Now based in Southeast Asia, Singapore, they have set about crafting original and cover songs with a unique and captivating sound that draws on the modern and older styles of Pop, Hip Hop and R&B. Individualistic in their ideals they produce all their music and most times even the videos themselves with Marc as point man in the studio. The two work hard to deliver their sound and their message directly to their fans known as 'Tricksters' all over the world. Their previous hit single Up All Night has slammed the airwaves in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. The inimitable duo is back with a brand new single Sunshine! Check out what went down during the interview below.

 

How did Trick derive as a band name and how did the both of you meet?

Richard: We wanted to name our band as Trick or Treat but realised that the name is too long, so we decided to go with Trick.

Having performed for E! Online for Jay Park’s Showcase in Kuala Lumpur, Marc, have you ever felt the pressure from fans as many have cited that you have a strong semblance to J Park?

Marc: There’s no pressure I guess. It’s flattering that people think that way. I don’t think too much about it.

We are never ever getting back together has garnered 70 620+ views on YouTube, Richard, how do you manage to freestyle for the various covers and making it sound so original?

Richard: It’s not really freestyle. I have written that song because we already pre-planned it before we record that video.

Any plans for an upcoming EP? If so how does it differ from the previous?

Richard: Probably next year. We are just focusing more on singles right now.

As a duo, Trick has come a long way since 2012. What were some of the obstacles which you had to overcome?

Marc: It was tough trying to get shows and trying to push everything ourselves as an unsigned band in the beginning.

Nowadays, covers are on the rise as fans of the specific bands would like to hear fresh new arrangements. Do you feel that covers will be parse in time to come?

Richard: I don’t think so. It depends on the artist if they are going to be creative and make it sound current and their own; people are going to like it.

What was the most memorable performance?

Marc: YouTube Fan Fest 2014 was the most memorable performance. The stage was awesome and the crowd was very energetic.

Generally, Asian crowds hype tend to be less intense as compared to overseas gigs. How do you manage to perform with vibrancy despite the lack of support from the audience? 

Richard: It all comes down to the performers themselves. At the end of the day, not everyone in the crowd is being shy so we have to keep it professional and put on a show no matter what.

Which artists do you draw music inspirations from?

Richard: Kid Ink, T.I. and Flo Rida.

Marc: I listen to everything that’s pop and mainstream.

Could you tell us something interesting about your new single Sunshine?

Richard: It’s something new and fresh. People are not going to expect it to sound the way it’s going be sound as compared to our previous singles.

Marc: It took two years to write this song. I came up with the chorus in 2012 and it just sat there in my computer for some time. When it was the time to record our new single, I sent it to Richard and we completed the song earlier this year.


Photo credit: Sony Music Singapore

8 Questions With Mariah Carey

By admin Sep 16, 2014

Mariah Carey has received many awards and accolades in recognition of her worldwide success during her long, distinguished career including 5 Grammy Awards. But what sets her apart from her other artists of her era is probably her ability to resonate with fans through her music.

In this interview to promote her upcoming Asia leg of her world tour Me, I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse, the humble songbird revealed that she would never proclaim her music is the soundtrack to people's lives. Instead she is happy to write songs to help her fans get through the most difficult times of their lives.

Mariah's influence on many of today's younger pop/soul divas is apparent - she set the template for fresh, young big-voiced pop star with the likes of Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson.

So what's the secret to Mariah's longevity in the music industry? The Elusive Chanteuse shares with us in this intimate interview below.

 

1. Is your talent the reason for your longevity & success in the music industry?

Longevity is something that is very difficult to obtain in this business because a lot of the music business, particularly now, is about trends. And a trend is a trend because it lasts for a moment and then it’s gone. You’re like “You remember when was that. Oh yeah! I remember. That was so much fun.” There are people who transcend trends, and typically they are the people who do have a catalogue of songs that people love or a voice that people have learnt to love over the years. That’s just like embedded in people’s ears, brains and hearts like a soundtrack to people’s lives. To have a career, be successful and maintain success, it is very difficult. It’s just about what you want to achieve and how long you want to keep doing it.

 

2. Do you agree that your music has created the soundtrack to people’s lives?

I would never be the one to say that. I could never say that. People have said thank you to me for writing the songs because it has helped them get through the most difficult time of their lives. As a songwriter, there’s really nothing better than that type of statement.

 

3. Were you born with an innate ability to create and produce music?

I believe that we inherit a lot of things and my mum was an opera singer and did sing jazz. She also did instill a belief in me that this was possible. She named me Mariah Carey as a stage name. I don't have a middle name and I don't think I had a choice. I definitely haven’t accomplished everything that I want to accomplish. There are different facets of the entertainment world and I really want to explore all of them. I just need the right team to be around to make sure that I can just be the creative person and have that vision.

 

4. What is your advice for upcoming artists?

I really think that we never know who’s going to have what type of longevity. It’s really about your commitment to the music and your commitment to your fans and yourself, and how much you are willing to give up of your life to do this because you’re giving up yourself, you’re giving a certain amount of yourself away and that was just inevitable and that’s what I wish and hope to bring forward. There are really a lot of talented people out there…it just depends on how hard and how much they want it.

 

5. You were one of the first artists to feature rap artists in mainstream music. How do you choose your collaborations?

I’m definitely not the first artist to work with rap artists or to work within that genre. I guess because I was known as an artist, I had this cross over appeal where I was on the R&B charts. “Vision of Love” was the number one record on the R&B charts first and then the pop charts, so my base and my heart was always in the R&B world although the hip hop community’s something totally different and as a kid, I grew up loving hip hop and living in New York and feeling the music because it’s some of the most real music that there is as it comes from a place that is the most real in a lot of ways. It was inevitable that I would end up working with rap artists because it’s the music that I love and if you are referring to the record with O.D.B., “Fantasy”, was my dream from the minute I thought about using the Tom Tom Club loop of “Genius of Love”, and that was one of my favourite songs as a child, so when I wrote the song, “Fantasy”, on top of it, I wrote the pop version. The record company, the executives, not all of them were aware and they really didn't understand like my need to do what I wanted to do and I kind of snuck that in. They never really heard O.D.B.’s solo project, and I’m laughing and anyone who has heard it would know why I’m laughing but the topics that he got into were “little…look to the left…to the centre…” and nobody really envision this very kind of innocent girl that I think I know that I actually was (and sort of still am). But they didn't see that collaboration coming and for me it will always be one of my favourites and what it did though was it proved the point to the executives like “Look! You have got to listen to me because I’m the demographic. I’m the person that really listens to the radio, grew up listening to music, to this genre of music and so I still keep up with different artists that I’m intrigued by their music or how they represented themselves and I’m fortunate enough to be able to work with people that I love.”

 

6. To what extend are you involved in the business side of your career?

The business is important because when you put so much of yourself into making an album, you want people to hear it. When you put so much of yourself into making an album, and so it’s something where I try to get creative and try to get involved, and try to work with social media as much as possible because that’s a great connection to the fans and I’m very involved in the business of it all but I think it’s a learning experience for all of us in the music business everyday.

 

7. What is the theme behind your new album, “Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse”?

There isn’t necessarily one theme and that’s why I want people to hear this album as a whole, as an entity, as something that I put every bit of myself into, and each song is a different side of who I am. Some of them there’s a lot of truths that I’m talking about, and some of them are kind of sad or almost too sad, like I call it the misery and we love it and we have to have it. But in a way, I added three new songs that I felt were necessary to complete the journey of this album.

 

8. Do you want to make more films in the future?

Definitely want to make more films. I love working in the independent film world. I have been so blessed to work with Lee Daniels. He is someone who just believed in me and didn't try to categorise me, and so I’m really grateful to him for that, and looking forward to another very exciting project on the horizon that is coming soon.

 

Mariah Carey will perform in Singapore on October 24 at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Ticket prices start from S$98, and are on sale at Sports Hub Tix, Singapore Indoor Stadium Box Office and all SingPost outlets.

Traipsing through the cables on a stage we actually had a privilege of stepping on, it bordered on a dreamlike experience actually heading to You Me At Six’s dressing room, mere minutes after a ravishing first Singapore show.

Greeted by a wild Josh Franceschi being wheeled to the hospital after his trying performance, the cheery frontman declared the passage his “victory lap,” whilst euphorically securing high-fives with all the media personnel. A muffled rendition of Queen’s We Are The Champions in the distance would have been most apt.

Franceschi’s band mates were ever the gracious hosts, exchanging handshakes and warm smiles as we hastily shuffled in. Decorated with a bottle of Jameson and many a Corona, a titillating box of J.CO donuts was all that remained in partitioning the members of the Surrey rock outfit. “Does anybody want a beer?” guitarist Chris Miller politely enquires before getting right down to business.  Responding to a question about the inspiration behind Cavalier Youth, bassist Matt Barnes chirped in that they had “such a laugh” recording in the hills of Hollywood that it showed on the band’s latest album.

Hardly surprising for anyone who kept track of their progress with Neal Avron. An image of guitarist Max Helyer adopting a rather quirky pose when laying down Cold Night came immediately to mind so we had to ask about other standout moments during such a process. “I allowed Matt to play some drums,” drummer Dan Flint admits in return for a few bass slaps on Wild Ones towhich Barnes countered, “I smashed it, first take.”

From the triumph of a successful FIFA 14 conquest to their growth as a band, the quartet’s reiteration on their more cohesive YMAS identity steadily grew more apparent as did their adoration for their fans and friends: “I’m not gonna lie that when we put together all of these three [SEA] shows, we expected two people and a cat, a dog and a goat - we literally expected no one to be here.”

The possibility of taking their UK arena-trotting All Time Low co-headlining tour here also seemed to have risen quite exponentially. “Make everyone talk about it and we’ll come over!” Barnes is quick to add.

Go on then, talk about it! Watch the full interview below!

 

All photos by Kathleen Cheong for Spin or Bin Music.