Laura Welsh is definitely one to watch. Following her successful stint on Gorgon City’s summer dance track, ‘Here for You’ and putting the finishing touches to her debut album, Laura’s certainly on the path to success. In light of the release of her latest single, ‘Break the Fall’, we caught up with the songstress to talk song writing and collaborations.
Although only releasing a couple of tracks as singles, Laura is certainly no stranger to putting her own music out there. “It’s been good to put music online and get things out organically. I’ve been putting music online for the last year, so I just wanna keep putting music out there.” The use of popular music sharing site SoundCloud to release her own songs has certainly been successful – Laura’s profile now boasts an impressive 11,000 followers with some of her most popular tracks gaining well over 100,000 plays. “I’m really happy with the response,” Laura admitted to me, “Some people on online blogs and stuff have been amazing to me. I think it’s really good when you get that response. I just wanted to let the music go out and speak for itself, so having a good reaction to it has been amazing.” Tumblr also helped Laura spread her musical wings and upped her popularity, so much so that she already has a dedicated fan base, something she’s not quite used to yet. “When you play a gig and you see people singing back your lyrics to you it’s really strange, but also very cool!” she laughed.
It certainly hasn’t been an easy journey to musical success for Laura. “I’ve always loved to sing, I loved music from an early age,” a factor that determined the course of her education. “I studied music in Birmingham for a couple of years, then moved to London for my final year.” It was this transition that allowed Laura to find her footing in the music scene. “That’s when I started meeting musicians. I was in a band for a period of time. We did a lot of gigs and it gave me that experience to start really writing songs but, to be honest, that all fell apart. We all went our separate ways and I was at a cross-roads thinking about where I was going to go next. I took a year back and steped away from everything and in that time I started writing. I found a couple of people to work with and I started doing demos with them.” The unfortunate dissolution of this band turned out to be a lucky break for Laura. “I wrote a couple of key songs for the album then. I didn’t have any expectations for it really, and that freedom that arises when things fall apart, it had to happen for me to have the time to write those songs. ‘Ghosts’ went online and the response was amazing, then I was signed and started making the album. I had a real sense of what I wanted to do musically at that point.”
Laura already has a top ten hit under her belt. Her collaboration with Gorgon City on ‘Here For You’ quickly became one of the songs for the summer, and nabbed Laura performances at Glastonbury, Ibiza Rocks and Reading/Leeds festivals. Laura’s certainly aware of how fortunate she was to get on board with the team. “I went into the studio in December, and it was to write. I’d listened to a couple of things the guys had done, so it was just a case of going in, meeting them and hanging out. When we got in the studio we clicked really well and we wrote and laid that one song down in one day. I left the studio and didn’t think anything else of it, until a few months later when they said it’d be their next single. Musically, it’s a different world for me to step into.” Having had such success experimenting with genre, it’s no wonder that stripped-down and raw Laura would be up for that again. “For me, it’s whether I like what someone does. I’m always up for collab, getting in a studio and seeing if you click, but I think its important to do what you love. If it was a song where I fell in love, regardless of genre, and I clicked while writing, then I’d do it.”
During the process of writing and recording her album, Laura’s had the chance to work with some big names in the music industry. “I’ve co-written a lot on the album,” she confessed, “It’s been an amazing experience working with people I love anyway.” Robin Hannibal, Dev Hynes and Jonathan Lipsey are all credited on the album. “They’re all people I massively respect, so to just go into a studio with them and get into the production side of the record has been great for me,” Laura gushed, “With Robin I went over to LA and hung out. You become friends, so it feels natural to sit down and start making music together.” Even when writing with someone else, Laura’s songwriting maintains its highly personal and honest appeal. “It comes from personal experiences,” she explained, “I can only write about what I’m going through. I’ve always been a certain way and it’s in my nature to find it easier to write about how I’m truly feeling as opposed to having conversations about it. When I’m writing it just comes out and there’s no filter there for all those built-up emotions.”
Fans need to get excited – the album is finished, and Laura hopes it’ll be out early next year. In the meantime, another single looks to be on the cards. “I’m starting to get ideas for the next single, so I’m hoping to release another track later this year.”
It’s been two years since the release of Changing Tune, the third studio album from Watford-based four-piece Lower Than Atlantis. The group, who are newly signed to Sony, are set to release their new self-titled album on September 29th, following an intimate tour and limited festival dates. I caught up with main man Mike Duce to talk about the band’s latest album, Japanese dates and record labels.
When we spoke, Mike was fresh from headlining the second day of Radio One Rocks, playing alongside friends Mallory Knox and Marmozets.
His tweets earlier that day bemoaned a rather sore head. “It was a rough night. We’d just got back from Japan, and the day we got back we played a corporate gig, then the next day was the breakfast show and Radio One Rocks thing.”
The band finally got a chance to relax after what has obviously been a heavy few days, as Mike explained. “Woke up this morning and there were bodies strewn everywhere! It was good, a good celebration and to say thanks to all our crew for doing such a good job…I’m feeling haggard now like.”
Considering the band haven’t played the UK in a while, it seems somewhat odd that Lower Than Atlantis are visiting Japan to debut new tracks. “We were there for a week, had three massive gigs then chilled out in Tokyo at the end of it, ate some food, visited some temples, had a little holiday with our crew.” Ahead of their July dates, Lower Than Atlantis took the opportunity given to them by their friend Adam Graham, now a guitarist for the Japanese rock band Fact. “My friend Adam is in a band – he worked for a label, and he learned Japanese in like an intensive course for a year. We got there, and no one could understand him! It was like he didn’t know anything and the accent was wrong and everything. He used to tour manage, but now he’s in the band and [in Japan they’re all fans of [Fact]. They were like ‘We’re going to tour in Japan, would you like to come with us because we’re massive in Japan’, and we were like ‘Yep!’ So, we just went out and did that. It was good to try out new songs as well when we were out there,” Mike shared. It was the first trip to Japan for Lower Than Atlantis, yet Mike revealed that it won’t be the last: “I think we’re going back again soon, ‘cause it went that well!”
The trip to Japan is certainly something that the band never envisioned for themselves. “Everyone has a bucket list in life,” Mike explained, “As a band it starts off tame – I wanna play this venue, I wanna do this, I wanna get signed. Things like that. Then, going to the USA was massive – it was a huge thing for us to tour America, then for us Western dudes to go somewhere that far away and play there…We never thought we’d do something like that, and we’re just honoured and humbled that we got to do it.”
The band have also seen an incredibly positive reception to their new material at home. Breaking the top ten rock chart on the day of release, and showing no signs of leaving it a few weeks later, single ‘Here We Go’ has been making waves. “It’s been way more than we expected, it’s strange,” Mike tried to verbalise. “We’ve had more response from this one track than we’ve had from our whole last album.”
The song has become a mainstream radio favourite already. “Yesterday, for example, I was on Radio One Breakfast show with Grimmy, then we headlined Radio One Rocks playing on Radio One. We had like 11 plays on Radio One yesterday! We got played on every single show. It’s crazy, weird. I’m blown away.” Fans are also incredibly receptive to the band’s new track, with a handful of tickets remaining nationwide for the July tour dates. Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Norwich and London have completely sold out. “We normally play bigger venues,” Mike humbly explained, “but because the first thing back we’re doing is a club tour, to take it back to when it was really fun – just a few dudes, a sweatbox, people going nuts, that’s the idea. With smaller crowds you get to see everyone’s reactions to the new songs we’re gonna play, that’s the idea.” It certainly seems like Mike’s as excited as the fans. “It’s definitely been too long! We’ve been away for ages! It just felt like I didn’t have a purpose in life, my mates were going to work every day, contributing to society – I was just sitting in a studio. But yeah, we’re back with a fucking vengeance! We’ve got something to prove again.”
Lower Than Atlantis boasts 12 tracks of various moods – anthemic track ‘English Kids in America’ lets the title do the talking, documenting the band’s recent venture into the States, whilst ‘Words Don’t Come So Easily’ follows a more emotional path. Lead single ‘Here We Go’ accurately captures the band’s desire to get back on track with their music, and provides what looks to be the atmospheric foundation for the intimate tour. “It still sounds like Lower Than Atlantis, but it sounds like a more mature Lower Than Atlantis,” Mike mused. “I know it sounds cliché, but, yeah, we have matured since our last album ‘cause we’ve got older, so I don’t know…It sounds more grown up compared to what we were doing before.” With this maturity has also come musical experimentation, as evidenced by the slight electronic element to some of the new album. “There’s only so much you can do when it’s just a couple of blokes playing instruments, so we had to spice it up a bit. We used the studio as an instrument,” Mike said, adopting a nasally tone before laughing. “As wankers say.”
Moving the conversation to more serious tones, we discussed the lyrics of the new record. Lower Than Atlantis are a band that pride themselves on the stories they are able to tell through their songs – ‘Another Sad Song’, ‘Wars With Words’ and ‘Scared of the Dark’ from 2012’s Changing Tune being prime examples of this. With Lower Than Atlantis the band have appeared to mix it up. “Lyrically on this album we decided to go for something different than before. [Changing Tune] was very reflective and it was very personal to me, but with this album it’s more about the music as opposed to the lyrical content. First listen, you hear what I’m saying, you kinda know what it’s about but you take what you will from it, and that’s the idea with this album. It was a nice change for me.”
Consequently, it appears that there’s less emotional ties to specific songs. “It was such a selection of tracks – there was a hell of a lot more tracks and we really whittled it down. There were fifth and sixth drafts of songs – we spent a lot of time getting them to the way they are now. I like so many different songs for different reasons – I couldn’t pick one! I love the album as a body of work, it’s my favourite Lower Than Atlantis album by far!” Mike proudly stated.
It has certainly been a turbulent year or two for Lower Than Atlantis, leaving their Island Records deal and self-recording their new album in their own studio. “Basically, we were signed to Island Records before – it got to a point where they were they’d already picked up the option for the next album, and already signed the next album and got the advance. Then, they called us in and were like ‘Look – we’re legally obliged to release your next album, but we don’t really want to. So, you can do it with us and we’ll do a half-arsed job (essentially), or you can take the money and run’. So we were like ‘Fuck you, see you later’, built a recording studio, wrote and recorded this album, spent ages on it, then signed to Sony a few weeks ago.” Things certainly seem to be looking up on the label front – “Our manager, who’s been a friend of mine and Ben’s [Samson, guitarist] for about ten years now, he now works for the label as well, which is like nuts! Our project manager, he’s been a fan for years and he’s about out our age [mid-20s], loves all the same music as us! We just go up his and talk about music and stuff, it’s great, I couldn’t ask for a better label!” Mike quickly brings himself back to reality with a somewhat interesting metaphor, “I say that now, but we always get shafted, so we’re gonna stay lubed up just in case.”
Following their intimate tour dates, Lower Than Atlantis are set to play just a couple of festivals – Leeds and Reading, as well as one which Mike revealed accidently. “Hang on, that hasn’t been announced yet! I didn’t say that!” he quickly retracted. Back to Reading/Leeds, however, and Mike’s as excited as ever to play. “The first time we played was the Festival Republic Stage – we just couldn’t believe we were playing Reading/Leeds! That was on the bucket list as well. It was great, everything was great. Last year we played Main Stage”, Mike continued, yet not as enthusiastically. “I don’t know…it’s just so exposed. The only time it rained was during our bloody set, typical. The wind was blowing about everywhere, but this year we’re inside a tent again and it’s just great to be inside that sweaty gig atmosphere in the dark, you know. People are more relaxed and it’s easier to get away with being yourself in the dark.” Festivals, in general, appear not to be Mike’s favourite thing. “You have 15 minutes to get on and have everything perfect. A lot of people are just walking past and might not be that into it – it’s quite scary, quite intimidating. I’m not too fond of festivals.”
Some condolence this year appears to be found in two Reading/Leeds bands in particular. “BOMBAY! BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB!” Mike raved, “They’re one of the favourite bands! I saw them a couple of years ago and they were great, I really wanna see how the new record translates live!” Although the line-up means that Lower Than Atlantis are unable to see Blink-182, Mike states that Blink “is the reason I play guitar, and the reason I’m in a band.” Having toured with the Americans two years ago after sneaking backstage at a gig and giving Mark Hoppus a copy of their album, Lower Than Atlantis found themselves playing to thousands of people after being asked to tour with Blink.
This year, however, plans are not so set in stone. July’s tour, August’s festivals and September’s album release look to be littered with single releases, but none confirmed. “The plan is constantly changing”, Mike admitted, “I have no idea what exactly is happening.”
Fans can catch LTA on tour from July 15th- 31st before Lower Than Atlantis drops September 29th.
It’s been a busy day for George Watsky. The American poet-rapper not only announced the release date of his third album All You Can Do (12th August), but also dropped the first single, and accompanying music video, from that album. The presale for the album was released to iTunes on Tuesday – within ten minutes, it was ranked at 11 on the American iTunes Hip-Hop chart. At the time of writing, it was ninth. The music video to ‘Woah Woah Woah’ was released exclusively to Billboard’s website on Tuesday afternoon, and All You Can Do’s lead track is certainly something special. Drawing on the unique blend of rap verse and anthemic choruses that Watsky is particularly skilled at producing, ‘Woah Woah Woah’ not only lets Watsky’s rap abilities shine – surprisingly comprehensible very fast rapping especially–, but allows the song to slow, and adopt a more serious and haunting tone. I’m a huge fan of anthemic chorus – when used right, it enables a song to become instantaneously unifying (“What do you take us for?”) and memorable. Watsky certainly manages to do both of these, with the video itself providing a nice platform for the unification of the young-adult rebel in all of us. Lyrically, the origins in slam poetry are obvious – contemporary cult references are somewhat risqué without being offensive (especially regarding a certain Ms Miley Cyrus!), as well as grappling with the idea of fame through some interesting religious lexis. The emotion in Watsky’s voice as he speaks is obvious, even when the lyrics don’t quite manage to embed themselves into your mind after just one listen, propelled by the foregrounded focus on voice and simple rhythm.
The single’s video also provides some entertaining watching – not only is it well shot, it is also mesmerising, bringing out the pyromaniac in all of us. The final image of flames as the anthemic questioning of what we’re waiting for fades out definitely keeps ‘Woah Woah Woah’ echoing, even after the video ends. Luckily, fans can hear this in person later on in the year – Watsky also announced that UK tour dates are to be released next week. Expectations will now be high for the 12th of August, and the subsequent tour – and rightly so.
Music and fashion have a long history of influencing each other. When one thinks back on the defining fashions of a decade, they are more often than not tied to the music which was being listened to. From punk to mods, grunge to New Romantics, what you listen to and what you wear are intrinsically linked expressions of your personality. But it’s not just the style of music which influences how we dress, it’s the people who produce that music. These icons go beyond musical fame, and become symbols of a lifestyle that we strive to emulate. Here, members of the OxStu fashion and music teams as well as other Oxford students tell us about the performaers who have had both a musical and sartorial effect on their lives.
“For me, Stephen Malkmus, the frontman of Pavement, has this effortlessly cool look. He may not be what people call ‘chic’, and in fact he at first appears fairly standard; uninteresting even. Good shirts, jeans, and converses what you’ll normally see him in. But part of this is the ironic air which the band gives off in their music. It’s very understated. I also like Thom Yorke of Radiohead’s style, especially with the new ponytail! If anyone can rock longer hair, it’s him.” – James Aldred
“My musical style icon would have to be Madonna – specifically, 80s Madonna. For me, 80s Madonna’s style was so iconic because it presented a whole new idea of young women’s fashion – her style incorporated an unapologetic sense of sexuality and freedom whilst embracing youthful femininity. Her experimentation with colour, texture and shape, and attention to detail, sums up the 80s for me – bright, bold, unique and unconcerned with the conventions of popular taste. I always try to incorporate a little bit of this ethos into my everyday fashion!” – Hazel Harrow
“Without question, David Bowie has had the most influence on my style. I’ve always considered myself not to fit in with typically ‘masculine’ ways of dressing, and he showed me that one doesn’t have to dress in a strictly male or female way with his androgynous looks. In a similar vein, Adam Ant got me really into playing around with makeup, and I still sport the odd bit of guy-liner on a night out. I also went through a phase of wanting to dress like a dandy highwayman all the time… fortunately it didn’t last!” – Peter Lock
“Well, this is somewhat embarrassing to admit but I can only really say Rachel Stevens. As a die-hard S Club 7 fan, I was very into the whole baggy trousers with a vest-top and trainers look (give me a break – these were the dark days of the early 00s). Rachel was always my favourite though. I was even given a Rachel Stevens doll for my 6th birthday, complete with S Club 7 logo-emblazoned flare trousers. Although this was all way back in the day, I do have a particular embellished purple top which I always think has an air of Ms Stevens about it, and has me humming ‘Bring It All Back’ as I’m getting ready to go out.” – Alys Key
“My music style icon is Florence Welch. I lover her 70′s inspired style and her trademark long lace dresses. From graphic prints to loud colours, the variety in her outfits never fail to amaze me. She also couples her look with a strong and mysterious attitude, making every girl envy her confidence.” – Laetitia Nappert-Rosales
“Mika is my icon in everything. He wears the best suits, has the best hair, sings the best songs and is just all-round the greatest person on the planet. I’m just hopelessly in love with him”. – Freya Judd
House music has increased in popularity in recent years and is particularly big among university students across the country. It differs to other music in the sense that a whole night, in a certain club, will be deemed a ‘house night’, specifically catering for the tastes of the group of people in attendance. In this way it sets itself apart from other genres of music. In most clubs other types of music are all jumbled together; a mix of pop and RnB, for instance, would feature on one playlist. House, on the other hand, demands a night all to itself.
In accordance with this distinction, the clothes people wear to ‘House Nights’ also set them apart. It would be quite acceptable to go to most club nights wearing a pretty dress, shorts and a sparkly top or a cute playsuit; except of course for a house night. House music has a uniform. There is no doubt that if you want to be considered one of the ‘house’ crowd you have got to stick to this uniform exactly. A floral dress is literally house suicide.
This means that the majority of people step into a whole new sphere of fashion when they attend a house night. For some, this will be their style but there are many who simply wear this ‘uniform’ for the night and would never consider putting it on for any other occasion.
So what is the house uniform?
For boys: oversized faux 90s voluminous sport’s-wear, tie-dye t-shirts and patterned shirts.
The boy’s uniform is not so strict.
For girls: disco pants, metallic leggings, crop tops, beanies and hi tops.
You won’t spend ages doing your hair and makeup, giving off the vibe that you have thrown the look together in a few minutes.
Dressing in this style means every single girl will look practically identical but if you chose not to stick to the uniform, you might well find yourself permanently locked out of the house.
Josh Brown: Conchita Wurst
‘Rise Like a Phoenix’
The ‘hotbed of sodomy’, as declared by Russian state TV, is this year’s unquestionable standout. Conchita Wurst is the drag alter-ego of ex-boyband member Thomas Neuwirth, although, as Eurovision approaches, Wurst has acquired the nickname ‘The Bearded Lady’.
Austria’s Conchita has inspired comical reactions from Europe’s more conservative elements, with Belarus planning to edit her out of the broadcast completely.he ‘hotbed of sodomy’, as declared by Russian state TV, is this year’s unquestionable standout. Conchita Wurst is the drag alter-ego of ex-boyband member Thomas Neuwirth, although, as Eurovision approaches, Wurst has acquired the nickname ‘The Bearded Lady’.
But while Eurovision politics is as entertaining as usual, it’s at risk of overshadowing what is a genuinely great song. ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ is a bond theme that never was, with the orchestral swagger characteristic of all the best Bassey songs.
The lyrics also toy with Neuwirth’s controversial gender playing: ‘Peering from the mirror / No, that isn’t me / Stranger getting nearer/ Who can this person be?’ The pun being that ‘Conchita’ is a stereotypically female name, but ‘Wurst’, of course. means sausage.
At the time of writing we don’t know if Conchita will win, so we can only urge Europe to do the right thing, and vote for the Wurst act.
Sachin Croker: Lordi
‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’
Eurovision for most people wouldn’t involve monster masks and heavy metal, but for Finnish rockers Lordi that’s exactly what they brought in 2006.
For those of us tired of tuning in each year to hear abysmal Abba impressions followed by brutal Boyzone imitations followed by novelty polka acts, Lordi were the ultimate breath of fresh air. Their classic, ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’, was an unashamed love song to pure hard rock magic. Playing in their full costumes showed that not only did Lordi have their music taste in order (unlike basically every other Eurovision entry), they also had a great sense of fun. This can often be the difference between naff rubbish and genuinely enjoyable music (see: Tenacious D).urovision for most people wouldn’t involve monster masks and heavy metal, but for Finnish rockers Lordi that’s exactly what they brought in 2006.
Unsurprisingly Lordi stormed to victory, winning the (at that point) most amount of points ever. Futhermore, once it was then released to the Finnish public it stormed to number one, with Britian proudly charting it at 25.
If there’s one thing that Eurovision needs more of, it’s overblown pyrotechnics and a facetious attitude to anything that isn’t hard rock.
Jake Downs: Buranovskiye Babushki
‘Party for Everybody’
The OUSU building shakes as the Music and Features teams yell out those earth-shattering lines: “Party for everybody! Come on and dance!”.
We all remember our favourite Russian grannies of 2012. Their incredible track, ‘Party for Everybody’, lost out on the Eurovision crown by just 113 points (*cough*). However, for us at OxStu, they were the true winners. Their half-spoken, half-shrieked Slavic-disco anthem is catchy, cultured and catastrophic.he OUSU building shakes as the Music and Features teams yell out those earth-shattering lines: “Party for everybody! Come on and dance!”.
The Udmurtian octet, dressed in what appeared to be “traditional clothing”, were joined onstage by a rotating oven. The lyrics reflect this aesthetic decision: the “grandmothers” sing (in Udmurt) of lighting ovens, baking bread and spreading cloths. Wow.
Hats off to Olga Tuktaryova, the group’s artistic director. You rocked it. No – you killed it, baby.
Are we seeing a comeback for the subtle brass family in pop music? Fresh off the success of Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty’, unexpected hit maker Ariana Grande is making a firm follow up to the success of her 2013 debut Yours Truly in the form of a new duet with rapper Iggy Azalea. Here, a funky saxophone hook punctuates the whispered chorus of ‘I got one less problem without ya’. R&B can often be viewed by the less knowledgeable as thug music – music about the life of those adorned with thick gold chains and stereotypically named children. Ariana Grande has steadily attempted to demonstrate that R&B can go back to the gospel influenced high vocals and sass of old divas such as Mariah Carey or Mary J. Blige. Her new single reminds us of the great voice that caught our attention with the song ‘The Way (feat. Mac Miller)’ in early 2013. One year later, I’d like to think that this song will be thumping around club rooms everywhere.
The White Stripes’ legacy has had a massive effect on the development of rock music in the last decade or so. The most obvious one is the big resurgence in blues-rock, spawning bands such as The Black Keys, Deap Vally and Alabama Shakes.
London-based Rouge are one of the latest bands to ride this wave, and they do it exceptionally. Their giant guitar sound is largely influenced by the fact that the band was initially three guitarists and a drummer coming together, one of whom decided to learn the bass and the other two moved on to sharing guitar and vocals as well as taking on songwriting. This unconventional line-up, combined with the old school attitude of producer Adam Crowe makes for a very special record.
Edge of the Bed is Rouge’s first official EP, but is superbly crafted and sounds like the work of a much more experienced band. It sounds like all sorts of artists at different times: The Dead Weather one minute, Queens of the Stone Age the next.
It opens with the title track, a drum-driven, old school foot stomper with an almost nostalgically Riot Grrl snarl. This leads into the slower ‘Strike’, which, after a Hendrix-esque riff in the intro, really shows off the strength of the vocals, and their soul influence and paradoxically smooth yet coarse contralto stylings really manages to set it aside from a lot of other similar bands. Vocals are credited to three of four band members, and the layering of vocals with the effortless musical backing really makes the track.
After this comes their debut single, ‘Wilderness’, one of my favourite songs of 2013 and the highlight of the EP, with a massive quasi-grunge feel that continues in the accompanying video. It’s big and bluesy with meandering guitars that climax to a giant wave of drums and distortion.
Finally, the record closes unexpectedly with a soulful cover of James Blake’s ‘Limit to Your Love’, with an air of early Amy Winehouse to it, achieving anything you could hope for in a cover; it’s instantly recognisable and faithful to the original but manages to take the song places it previously went nowhere near.
All in all, this EP manages to showcase everything great about this band: skilfully interwoven guitars and vocals with a wonderfully raw rhythm section offering something new to a well-established but exciting genre. They’re definitely a group to look out for in the future.