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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Where’s My Hero: Wullae Wright

This week Indie Dunes caught up with Wullae Wright, a solo artist from Scotland, who recently released his 5th album “The Orange Line”. We crossed paths on Twitter many a time in the last year and finally sat down for a virtual coffee (ok there was no virtual coffee involved, but there should have been!) and chatted about his music, artwork and the use of social media to spread the word.
OK - first question - and this is more of an observation, too - how on Earth do you manage to devote any time to your music with all the time you are spending on promotion. I have never seen anyone work so hard, I tip my non-existent hat and salute you simultaneously - it seems exhausting - is it paying off?

Thank you for the complimentary comment, tipping of the non existent hat and salute regarding the promotion of my music. The promotion of my music - largely done through Twitter, doesn't eat into any of my recording or producing time. Promotion of my music is generally done when I am on the go and out and about, filling in any gaps between my work and personal life. I actually feel like there is so much more I could be doing on the promotion front and it frustrates me I do not have more time, money and resources to dedicate to it.
Promoting my music, for me, never feels exhausting. If anything, with all the day-to-day goings on and the intermittent, periodic monotony life can bring, promoting can be very exciting and fulfilling. I absolutely love sharing a link - for instance for my new album 'The Orange Line', a review old or new or some future airplay on the radio, and finding other people have shared this on their Twitter profiles by Retweeting, etc. I revel in the kind comments of others and am genuinely touched by the sheer level of support from so many individuals.
I used a similar promotional style with my first album 'AFTER. THE. RUSH. HOUR'S. GONE.' back in 2007-2008 much like I do today. At the time I used 'Myspace' and I heavily promoted gigs by networking with users sharing gig flyers, with links to my music, etc. It was so rewarding getting so many gigs and people listening to my music. Renewing this kind of promotional practice with my recent music and my new album 'The Orange Line' is constantly paying off. I have to admit, I do not believe the way I promote is reason why my music is reaching so many new people. The real reason my music is doing as well as it is, is because of the fantastic supporters who listen to my music and share it. Never in my life have I had such honest, kind and selfless feedback and support from so many people. I do try and thank everyone for this.
Since returning to this promotional style again, coupled with support from others, etc, I have had so many life changing and fantastic opportunities arise. I signed a record deal with former Independent Record Label 'Freaky Pug Records', have been played on radio stations around the world, featured on compilation albums, collaborated with incredibly talented musicians around the world, topped music charts, and been featured in numerous music blogs, podcasts, and websites. New opportunities arise all the time and much of it tends to find me instead of me sourcing it; I tend to find these opportunities very exciting. As a musician, I am humbled and genuinely delighted to have even just one person listen to my music, so I have been absolutely lost for words to find people have actually been purchasing my new album 'The Orange Line'. I still find it difficult to comprehend that people are willing to spend their money on my music. This is an indescribable feeling.
From where I am "standing" I do get the impression that you are working very hard on twitter - you approach people directly, you engage, you say thank you - I've been there long enough to know that it is very rare if not unique. You are passionate about your music, but you also care about the people who listen to it. You deserve all the support you are receiving in return :)
Listening to the Orange Line, it is evident that a myriad of emotions went into every song, the album rises and falls in intensity, you go from calm to almost screaming for air - I envy your ability to transfer what you feel into music - I just yell into a pillow.
You wrote the lyrics a long time ago, did you write the music at the same time? If not was it a challenge to call upon the same emotions years later?
Thank you for saying about my approach to others etc on Twitter. I firmly believe there is no reason to be rude, impolite or unnecessarily negative towards other people.
I absolutely absorb every ounce of positivity and support people give me. People do not have to support my music. They don't have to give me the time of day. I have found so many wonderfully kind and selfless people on Twitter. They listen, they comment, they share and they promote my music. Some have told me how they can relate to my music and the subject matter. That touches me immensely. For me, that is what writing music is all about. I will only ever thank people who are kind to me. It costs me nothing to so. That's how I see it.

Yelling into a pillow is just as effective haha, many a time I find this to be the better method. I really appreciate the kind words in relation to transferring what I feel into music. It is funny, I have no exact process nor artistic template that I consistently follow. I can't read music and I have never been taught music. In that respect, writing music is purely an emotive art form for me. I pick up a lifeless lump of wood with some strings attached and let me mind and fingers experiment with it, creating a world based on my mood. I do enjoy using music as an outlet for my emotions, my song 'Vixen: Part 1, 2, 3 & 4' (Opus. 1 Version) is probably my greatest testimony to that. Very honest with my lyrics and emotions in that song.
The lyrics for the new album 'The Orange Line' were all written between 1999 and 2001, and the guitar riffs were also written during the same time. As paradoxical as this statement may sound, the album became quite a challenge for me but it was extremely exciting watching it naturally work itself out on its own. For instance I had to relearn all the music and lyrics, had to find time to record, edit and produce the music, make the artwork, develop a consistent sound, and keep it individual and different from previous albums. All these things had constrains on them at different times, but I didn't stress about these and I just naturally waited for the right time and opportunities to surface before making headway again.
In terms of calling up the same kinds of emotions years later, it was almost like an innate switch was flicked inside me. I didn't have to relive the songs to understand the emotion again; it was just there already as soon as I began playing the song. It was just a natural motivation. To use an analogy, it was like when you meet an old acquaintance you haven't seen for years and it all comes back to you, the emotions and feelings towards them. Songs like 'Superhero' and 'Roadtrippin'' in particular were songs that I had never forgotten. When I relearned the music and lyrics to 'All the Time' and then played it, I felt overwhelmed by it. I actually had the intention to open 'The Orange Line' with 'All the Time' due to the emotive qualities and impact it had on me. However I opted to have it has the closing track to the album for the same reasons.
I cannot help but smile while reading your words, your positive energy is infectious :)
Have you designed the artwork for all of your albums? (I love the subtle "Where's My Hero" on The Orange Line album cover btw -  hahahaha!)

Thank you very much. I try to stay as positive about my music as I can. There have been many times where I have doubted myself and my music, so I'm in a good place at the moment.
Yes, I have designed all the artwork for all the albums. I am of the opinion that the artwork should go with the music, and can be just as important. I largely have this belief from listening to Radiohead. I have the fondest memories of sitting listening to albums like 'the Bends' and 'OK Computer' and studying the CD artwork. It helps cement the album together for me, painting an intriguing visual stimulus intertwined with tremendous audio. It becomes an all round experience for the senses. Takes you away to a place no one can get to, if that makes sense and doesn't sound too pretentious or nonsensical.
With my new album 'The Orange Line', I actually made the artwork before I even had any music or the idea of where to go next. The artwork is made up of a series of photographs taken on a journey to Coney Island, New York. Nothing in particular exciting happened on the journey but I loved it. The raw sights, sounds, and that feeling of going somewhere new that you didn't know. All very vivid and nostalgic for me. The scribbles, sketches and writing in the art is reminiscent of the artwork style at the time of writing the songs back in 1999-2001. I love art that you have to study, where everything isn't always immediately apparent. That's what I tried to do with this. I love that you have noticed the "Where's my hero?" on the album cover. That is a line from the tenth track on the album 'Superhero'. Throughout the artwork there are odd moments where the odd lyric is thrown in.

My other album covers are of different styles - again to suit the mood of the theme and music etc. 'AFTER. THE. RUSH. HOUR'S. GONE.' is a photograph of the motorway in Glasgow City Centre at night which has been manipulated with vibrant colours. 'In Cloud Cuckooland' is a black and white self-portrait of my face made up of other images running through it. 'Anonymous' is very basic, intentionally bold to have an immediate impact with a large electronic blue font and black background. 'Opus. 1' is a simple collage of drawings and personal photos, which mirror the albums simplicity and personal subject matter. I also have 'Overzealous Work Ethic' E.P artwork that is a painting inspired by my favourite artist Rene Magritte, and 'Under the Pyramids' E.P, which is an ink drawing of Harry Houdini. I have no idea what the artwork will be like for a possible sixth album, but I will make the art for that too. I thoroughly enjoy doing it.

Your artistic thread weaves its way through every aspect of your creative process; everything you create seems to be the cause and the result of the other at the same time :)
I was reading one of the posts you were featured in, where you talked about how each of your albums differs in genre, to quote:
"Wullae: The Orange Line is quite simple, an uncomplicated album really, with most songs being simply guitar, bass and vocal orientated. I have added drums, strings and some other sounds to add some depth to some songs The album is very clean but raw sounding. In terms of my other albums and EPs, The Orange Line differs quite a bit. My first album "AFTER. THE. RUSH. HOUR'S. GONE" is a raw indie rock effort, quite youthful in nature. My second album "In Cloud Cuckooland" is a dark industrial, alternative dance record. My third album "Anonymous" is a hard rock, dubstep dance album about the internet. My fourth album "Opus. 1" is simply an acoustic album and is a very simple album. The Orange Line is quite different and suits me at this time in my life." (Read the full interview here)

The common denominator being the fact that you take your inspiration from your life experiences - where to from here? Have you found a genre "niche" or will you continue exploring, refusing to be genre "tagged" :)

I'm extremely grateful for the kind comment about artistic thread. Generally I will always have an idea of how I want an album to sound like, but I naturally let it progress on its own and it can even surprise me. As you say with cause and result, I suppose I am aware that if I have an idea I roughly know what I want the end result will be; and if I have a finished product in mind from the outset I roughly know the means and my limitations to getting there.
That's a great question, and one I am even struggling to answer myself haha. My mind is permanently toying with so many themes and ideas, conceptually developing mental artworks and creating hypothetical sounds and genres to correlate with it. I believe I have an album title now that I am happy with. Largely, and without giving too much away, the theme of the album may centre around subject matter such as paternity, the sights and sounds of Edinburgh and new life and opportunities. Birth and rebirth, those kinds of concepts.
Refusing to genre tagged, I will most definitely be pursuing a non-genre specific sound for this new album. Some ideas are cut up sound bites, strings, electronic beats, and a lot of vocal melodies. I aim to make this quite dark album, even though much of what I hope to write will not be dark subject matter. A contrast to 'The Orange Line'.
Lastly, you've been interviewed and reviewed numerous times, is there anything you would like to have been asked – but never were?
That is a very good question in itself. Generally I have found the questions asked in interviews to be very thought-provoking and interesting. They tend to make me think even more about my music, e.g with this interview. Your questions have been fantastic and I have thoroughly enjoyed answering them so thank you for asking them. One thing that no one has asked is what albums and musicians have inspired each of my albums. I suppose maybe no one cares haha, but I can find it interesting when I think of who has influenced a particular sound in an album. For instance, with my new album 'The Orange Line' I had the intention right from the outset of the making of the album to have it have a similar production style to that of Radiohead's 'the Bends' and Stereophonics 'Performance and Cocktails'. Whether or not there are any similarities, that was my frame of mind. That flowing Acoustic/Indie/Rock combination these albums have throughout.
For my next and sixth album, I'm yet to see who will influence it.

For links to music and social networking sites, click on "More Info" above :)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

TICP: OPINIONS #2 - Stephen Holt

Over 30 years ago a young lad set out to become the lead singer of a rock band, founding Inspiral Carpets and The Rainkings in the process, Stephen Holt has had an illustrious career in the music business. The Manchester legend answered a few questions for The Indie Cassette Player this week:

Is The Rainkings' name a reference to Manchester being the city that always rains?

Ha Ha, no, the name was taken from one of my favourite books ‘Henderson the Rain King’ by Saul Bellow. There’s also a link to Sonic Youth’s ‘Rain King’ as they were one of our favourite bands at the time and a huge influence on us. 

How did fans of Inspiral Carpets react to your new band when you first formed the band?

I’d say not very well really and that affected our overall lack of success then and still now. I think the way it was portrayed that I had left the band and then formed The Rainkings made people take sides and the Inspirals had and still have a really loyal following.

There was never any real animosity between me and the rest of the Inspirals, it just wasn’t right for me at the time and I should have just taken a break rather than leave if possible. But, as the band was really on the rise I don’t think this would have been possible.

I know they were disappointed by my decision though and felt that I really let them down. I’m trying to make up for this now though and feel really privileged to have been given a second chance.

What's the biggest difference between being in The Rainkings and Inspiral Carpets, if there is any? 

I had been with the Inspirals for about 4/5 years when I left and we had sort of grown up together. I was really close to Graham and we used to play football, cricket and go to gigs etc. all the time. So, even though I still had Swifty with me, who was a longtime close friend, it was really strange getting to know 2 new members and getting used to new ways of writing songs, rehearsing etc. 

One thing I loved about The Rainkings though was getting our autonomy back, it was our band and we made all the decisions. We used to have that in the early days with the Inspirals but as you get bigger more things get taken over by agents, managers etc. etc.

I suppose the other difference about being in the Rainkings was that I returned to being a ‘nobody’ again, which I quite liked as I’m not a natural for being in the spotlight. Even though it was fairly small time I used to get recognised quite a lot as well as being given free records and clothes etc. Some of this was quite nice but not always. Being in the Rainkings and leaving the Inspirals though, this stopped overnight!  

Noel Gallagher talks fondly of being a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets - what were you doing before you knew you wanted to be in a band?

I think I was in nappies before wanting to be in a band. I was brought up around music, singing and always saw myself in a band of some description.

The X-Factor continues to fill the UK charts - should we be worried?


I've been to quite a lot of venues in Manchester, and I always find the smaller venues to be the best. What's it like from a bands' perspective?

I think Manchester venues are on the rise again, especially the smaller ones which is great for new, upcoming bands. When we started off with the Inspirals we were quite lucky as there were a number of smaller venues like The Boardwalk, The Venue, Pierots etc. where you could always get a gig. This seemed to stop for a whle and it’s great to see a lot of new/smaller venues popping up again and giving upcoming bands a chance.

Last but not least, United or City? (or an entirely different team?)

City til I Die! X

Thursday, 3 October 2013

IndieTernational: Introducing: The Snow Twins…

…a garage-rock band from Brazil, with two tunes on SoundCloud and no official release anywhere else – YET - but more on that later. Read on...

They followed me the other day (blogger’s dream to be found by a band), I had just woken up, having the daily – do I get up or give up – conversation with myself – pressing play on their first SoundCloud tune while all that is going on – and was met by a barrage of fuzz I could not ignore (ps fuzz+me=love).

The decision was made: get up.

Photo by Jai T Junior
In the middle of putting the finishing touches to their debut album, The Snow Twins found time to speak to Indie Dunes: we chatted about what it is like to be a garage rock band in the land known best for salsa, beaches, coffee and a certain style of waxing (among other things) - thankfully, we both speak English since we wouldn’t get very far on my nonexistent Portuguese or their Serbian.

Its 6:46am here, so let’s start with the most important question: How are the preparations for the World Cup going? ;)

Actually none of us enjoy watching soccer games, but of course there is a national preparation to receive foreigners from all around the world going on. As Brazilian citizens, we hope this makes the government to have some kind of change because, as you may have noticed, there was a lot going on around here about some weeks ago.

We also expect that the stereotypical view that people outside Brazil have of our country changes, because our culture is not made only of carnival, soccer and samba. We are a living proof that it's not true.

yikes, I was expecting an answer more on the lines of "all the roads are dug up, construction cranes are blocking out the sun" (I was in Qatar while they were preparing for Asian games in 2006, I feel for everyone living in a country preparing for a major event!).

Living proof you are not samba influenced is evident lol, I hear a lot of White Stripes meets My Goodness maybe some She Keeps Bees with a wave at Guadalupe Plata - tell me more about the music scene in Brazil

Photo by Gab Z
Well, nowadays in Brazil samba and funk carioca are the most popular music genres. Recently it was added to the mainstream scene the "brand new" sertanejo universitário, which is, basically, a fail copy of American country music with empty lyrics that are catchy and a dancing rhythm so it fills the also empty listeners' heads and so on.

The underground scene however is very underrated and the authorial bands are not treated as they should be.

Basically, or you're a pop oriented band/artist produced by a commercial label (or by someone who has lots of money) and then you get all the space you want, or you're an independent artist who relies mainly on internet to spread the word about your hard work trying to make yourself a name but unfortunately you have most of the doors closed.

Sounds pretty much like the state of affairs of underground / independent scene everywhere else. In my country the alternative scene has strong routes around universities/students, is it the same in Brazil? (I always like to think of us as "enlightened" as opposed to sheep, with all due respect to the sheep).

Anyway, enough about them, more about you - Who are the Snow Twins?

Photo by Gab Z
Yep, universities people/students are the ones who still manage to keep it going over here.

The Snow Twins are Luan Machado and Helen Souza, initially classmates during college who got to know each other better after exchanging information about music. The friendship turned up into a relationship and the duo itself was born after a random rehearsal made on a friend's house unintentionally.
Before becoming The Snow Twins though, we had a tribute band called The Red Stripes in which we learned a lot and build up ourselves as musicians until we had enough experience and songs to quit playing cover ones (and also we were getting tired of doing so).

Anyway, usually we just describe ourselves as "a duo in which guitar and drums mix and oppose themselves, summoning reminiscences that reverb crudely. The Snow Twins doesn’t restrain to the modern musical archetype: metronimic rhythms, complex harmonies and charming melodies. Binding the resources in order to drip the creativity out is what results the band’s sound."

You can check out our tribute band here:

From the three band that we didn't know we liked Guadalupe Plata the most!
It's weird when you realize you don't know about good bands near you and get to know them talking to someone who lives overseas lol (hi5!!)

You told me you are working on a new album – is this your first as “The Snow Twins”? When do you plan to release it?

Yep, we're currently finishing the physical production of your debut album as The Snow Twins. This will be our first album ever because the other band was just a tribute one with no recordings at all. Well, since it's our first album ever it has been a very big thing for us and we're experiencing a lot of new things during the process. The anxiety is building up since we already know that in a week or two we'll have the album ready on our hands.

The album is an homogeneous debut with seven songs structured in a listen-to-all-in-a-row order that will be reproduced on pocket gigs we're gonna perform around local cities with the exact album tracks. Also, two songs that are part of the debut album, "Over The Line" and "Amnesia (We Were Getting So Close)" will have an exclusive digital release through a Greek experimental net label called SonicPlayground, they have a great catalog and a brilliant idea behind it.

Anyway, we have a fairly big repertory but for those who don't know us personally or have never attended a gig we played we're still a "two songs band" because there are only two songs online on our Soundcloud and other band's page. Releasing "The Snow Twins" will sure give us more opportunities and chances of having new contacts as well as building up the band's name

As we talked about earlier on the interview, we always aim on international goals because unfortunately there's not a scene for a garage ish lo fi band around here. Also about that, the recordings on this album are not a lo-fi garage mayhem, they're actually all hi-fi clear and easy to listen and to understand "versions" of what we usually do onstage. This makes our songs more acceptable between those who are not used to it!

About the release date, we hope we can make it until the end of this month (October). We're just gonna set a date after the CD is 100% ready.

A Brazilian band about to release an album through a Greek experimental net label interviewed by a Serb currently in Abu Dhabi - no borders for indie. #spreadtheword

Support indie bands and artists
Tatjana x


The Snow Twins have officially announced the release date of their debut album - November 11th!

More about the release HERE
Jet Set Go Tour - more info HERE

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