CHVRCHES aren't taking any prisoners.

The group have been teasing a new song for some time now, with a snippet of 'Get Out' being placed on socials.

It sounded… big. Very big. The single is produced by Greg Kurstin, the man who picked up the Grammy for Producer of the Year this year, and the year before that too.

Radio 1's Annie Mac had first play of 'Get Out' a few moments ago, and it's a big, massive, enormous, stonking pop record, the sort of thing CHVRCHES have always threatened to make.

Melodies soar, the electronics feel more pointed, and Lauren Mayberry's vocal is a searing, terrifying beast. As we say, they're not taking any prisoners.

“Working with Greg was so different to what we’d done before, but it also felt so comfortable and like he’d been in our band forever,” the band say in the press note. “He doesn’t try to make you write a certain kind of song. He just listens and then Jedi puppet masters the best work out of you. The opening synth riff of ‘Get Out’ was the first thing to emerge on our first day in the studio with him.”

Tune in now.

Related: Concentric Circles – CHVRCHES Interviewed

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Toronto alt-pop queen Saya is set to make her mark in 2018.

Matching an impeccable knack for melody with a clear understanding of underground culture, she fuses off piste pop tropes with club sounds to craft something unique.

New EP 'Chills & Thrills' is incoming, with the Canadian performer sharing vital new cut 'Paid'.

Featuring guest rhymes from Kris, it emphasises the hip-hop bump that drives so much of her music, while adding a little sugar on top.

“I definitely have a dominant personality and I have really loved the process of embracing womanhood,” Saya says, “I wanted to make a song that someone could listen to and feel sexy too.”

The visuals are typically entrancing, and you can check it out below.

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Everything Mala touches seems to have this innate sense of peace, a certain depth that cannot be faked. The dubstep pioneer is one of the most influential figures in UK bass culture, through his work with Digital Mytikz and his own always-evolving solo career.

The thread running through all this, though, is Deep Medi, the label Mala launched back in 2006. Opening in a period when dubstep was a defiantly underground flavour, it has grown to encompass many of the producer’s tastes and passions, guided by a commitment to future-facing sonics and that unrelenting lust for sub-low frequencies.

Reaching its 100th release, Deep Medi has prospered in an enormously difficult era for independent music, a resolute sight on the landscape of underground culture. In the beginning, though, it was an adjunct from Mala’s own position within dubstep’s blossoming innovation, born from a desire to release some of the dubplates he was cutting to power those formative raves.

“I was doing youth work at the time,” he recalls, “and I was getting sent so much music because of everything that was going on with (seminal dubstep night) DMZ, and I just wanted to provide a platform for other producers, really, for some of the music that I was getting sent.”

“I actually thought that I might put some of my more experimental productions that I was making at the time out on the label as well, but it never materialised. It ended up just becoming a home for all of the artists that I’ve worked with over the 11 years.”

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Driven by Mala’s curatorial instincts, Deep Medi’s catalogue has enormous breadth, moving from straight up dubstep rinseouts to impeccable grime futurism, all out noise, and even some areas of ambient composition.

“I think the music really defines the record label,” he explains. “I think the music always defines any record label. I’d like to think that there is a common theme or thread that aligns all of the music that I’ve released over the years. If you listen to a Goth Trad record, and then you listen to something from Kahn or a Gantz record. So, y’know, in that respect I’ve tried to always keep open-minded but I’ve never really tried to define what my open mind means.”

“If I’m able to play it in my DJ sets then it’s quite likely that it’s something that I would like to release. In terms of identity, I guess if anything it shows people a side to my music tastes, because there isn’t anything that I’ve ever released that I haven’t wanted to scream and shout about because I absolutely love it.”

“For me, that’s the most important thing, and one of the most enjoyable things about having a record label, it’s that you’re free to do exactly that without the worry of having to finance a huge staff or worry about maintaining a certain kind of clientele or reputation. The music has always spoken very loudly and clearly for itself, and it’s not my credit to take, it really is credit to all of the artists that I’ve worked with over the years.”

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A slim, at times solo, operation Deep Medi is driven by Mala’s thirst for the new, for the unheard. The A&R process is remarkably simple: he gets a tune, plays it out, lives with it, and develops a relationship with both the music itself and the creator.

“The dubplates that I cut and play, that really is the A&R for the label,” he insists. “I hear a track that a producer sends to me, I play it for six months, and in the meantime we’ll be discussing what we might plan to do throughout the course of the year. So a lot of the releases are generally processes that take a considerable amount of time.”

“One of the things that is important to me is that it’s not just about signing a flash in the pan – I really like to work with an artist who has got a vision of where they want to go, and also work long-term with people. Most of the people who record with the label work on several releases across more than a couple of years.”

Deep Medi, he continues, has never been an imprint who would seek out hype and then discard it. “From a label manager point of view I think it’s unfair to invest in something and then chop somebody only a few months down the line because what they’re doing now isn’t working for you,” he says. “I’d rather be patient to see if a relationship develops musically, and also personally as well. These are people who I get to know, and want to work with them to help their careers grow. I never jump on anything like that. I always take time. And that’s often the frustration with young producers, they have that mentality where they want everything quickly.”

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Ironically, though, one of Deep Medi’s most successful releases fell into place within a matter of days. Released in 2016, Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’ saw Teddy Bruckshot and Lady Chann spray over an ultra-heavy grime beat, and it became one of the year’s defining bass releases, a system rinse out that was adopted by crews across the globe.

“We heard that on a Deep Medi boat party,” he recalls. “Kahn was playing it, and the track got like three or four reloads. At first I thought it was a Kahn track, but he was like, nah it’s Spyro. I didn’t know how to get hold of Spyro so I sent his agent a message, just saying I really I like this tune and introducing myself.”

“You never assume that people will necessarily know you,” he admits. “I know a lot of people in the grime world but not necessarily on a regular basis that we’ll connect, kinda thing. So I just reached out. I wanted to cut it on dubplate, to be honest with you, just to play it. That’s what I asked for. And within an hour they’d sent it back going: yeah, play it, cut it to dub!”

“Literally, I just got a call about three weeks after I got the dubplate saying: ‘Do you want to release it?’ It was one of those things that just fall into your lap. And that’s never happened in all my years of putting out music. It’s always been a process of getting tunes from young producers, getting tunes out there and seeing how they work in the dance, and playing them in a certain way for the impact to happen. You give it time and momentum to build up the desire. This one was very, very different.”

Managing to outlast passing fads and trends Deep Medi’s resolute mission is showing no signs of abating. New releases are planned, new projects are mooted, with the label set to hold a special all-star event in Brixton next month. Taking time off at the end of last year to be with his family, Mala is ready to embark on a fresh chapter, with little else but his own instincts to guide him.

“I needed some time to really get a bit of clarity and collect my thoughts, because you can just keep going and keep going and keep going,” he admits. “Gilles Peterson and Brownswood have asked if I would be interested in doing another album, following the two that I’ve already done for them. That’s definitely something that I’m going to get involved with, I imagine, at some point this year.”

At this point, Clash can’t help but drop the name of Digital Mystikz into the conversation… could Mala and Coki re-unite for some new music?

“We haven’t done a Digital Mystikz record for ages!” he exclaims. “But yeah, of course I speak to him all the time, he’s still to this day one of my closest friends. And yes, that would be nice. We’ve always spoken about doing a more extended Digital Mystikz project, so maybe 2018 is about time we make it happen.”

Ultimately, though, Mala doesn’t want to be constrained; with the aesthetics of his production style continuing to broaden, he wants to try something new. “That’s the interesting thing that nobody really discusses when you start out on this journey,” he says. “I’ve changed as a producer, really. 10 years ago I just wanted to make stuff for the dance, and dubplates, but as I’ve got older my music tastes have changed. The music that I sit down and write when I’m in the studio isn’t the same type of music that I play in my sets.”

“So it kind of poses some interesting and challenging questions for myself, because where am I going to go? What is it that I’m going to do? I’m not quite seeing where the wind blows, I’m getting focussed and looking forward to doing something in the studio.”

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Deep Medi hit Electric Brixton, London on February 16th.

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A Place To Bury Strangers are set to release new album 'Pinned' on April 13th.

The noise rock outlaws exist in a dimension of their own, fusing punishing, abrasive frequencies with moments of lucid melodic clarity.

Fifth album 'Pinned' is a record of transition, their first since the 2016 Presidential election and their first since the closure of their Death By Audio studio in 2014.

New cut 'Never Coming Back', though, proves that the band aren't about to let those negative events impose upon them.

Brutal noise rock, there's a sense of paranoia running through the songwriting that could only come from A Place To Bury Strangers.

“That song is a big concept,” Oliver Ackermann says. “You make these decisions in your life…you’re contemplating whether or not this will be the end. You think of your mortality, those moments you could die and what that means. You’re thinking about that edge of the end, deciding whether or not it’s over. When you’re close to that edge, you could teeter over.”

Tune in now.

Catch A Place To Bury Strangers at London's Garage on May 10th.

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Roman Polanski’s eerily mundane psychological horror is underlined by its restrained score from Phillippe Sarde. The music is tense but minimal; it does a good job of subtly building up the tension in Polanksi’s already unnerving picture, but it’s one of the great composer’s lesser-known soundtracks for a reason – it’s not particularly memorable.

Death and Vanilla have composed a rather more luxuriant alternative. Performed and recorded at the Spanish Cinemascore festival back in 2015, the rich sonic palette here is familiar from the band’s two excellent albums: all vibraphone, keys and gently plucked guitar. Marleen Nilsson’s wistful vocals, however, are sadly absent.

Still, this remains an ominous and beautiful companion to the band’s 2013 soundtrack to Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr. Where that record sprawled over 80 minutes, 'The Tenant' is half the length and closer in tone to the band’s “proper” albums. It’s haunted and troubled – a hallucinatory reflection of protagonist Trelkovsky’s rapidly deteriorating mental state.

The band swerve from Sarde's template by immediately adding more colour and movement to their interpretation. The percussive ‘Do You Have Any Trouble With Your Neighbours’ has a distinct spy movie flavour, while ‘Dioz Delerium’ is more overtly supernatural. In places it’s strikingly lovely, with ‘Free Design Kung-Fu’ a delicately blooming piece on vibe, guitar and synth – the influence of various strains of library music on the band is more apparent than ever here.

If it’s, perhaps, a little too florid and gothic to truly fit with Polanski’s austere mid-70s urban imagery, then it’s still a very fine Death and Vanilla record.

7/10

Words: Will Salmon

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South London rapper Flohio is most definitely someone to watch out for.

Still incredibly young, she has placed a handful of tracks online to signal the arrival of a fresh voice in UK rap.

Influenced by grime, Stateside hip-hop and more, Flohio seems able to bring these influences together into a concise, highly individual, whole.

Recently working with Night Slugs co-founder L-Vis 1990 and Warp signing Gaika, Flohio's path is taking her further and further away from known coordinates.

Shooting a session for COLORS, Flohio shoots through 'Bands' with near effortless grace, with her incisive flow detonating against the mic.

Simply shot, it's a potent example of just why Flohio is so rated. Tune in below.

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Oxfordshire project Waiting For Smith tap into that witty, eccentric English spirit.

The band's songwriting is frequently tongue in cheek, but always has an emotional hold, a bittersweet quality.

New song 'Monkeys In My Head' is a lilting return, with Waiting For Smith matching that jaunty, instantly catchy chorus to some fine word play.

Singer Harry explains that it's actually about dealing with mental health issues, and doing so in a creative manner. He explains:

"At a very young age I was introduced to the idea that your emotions are separate from yourself. They seemed to arrive like a storm and leave as quickly as they came. We all have a voice in our head if you think about it. It can feel like our own 24-hour radio station of anger, anxiety and fear. All seemingly trying to prevent us, by any means necessary, from fulfilling our potential."

The solution was simple, he recalls: "The trick I was taught, when negative emotions swept over me (as they do all of us), was to imagine the voice as an actual monkey that lives in my head."

"The song is about not letting my Monkey get a grip on me, with its endless instructions, or yelling at it to leave me alone (as I once did). Instead I like to tuck it up in its cosy bed with some cartoons and a manuka honey sandwich… the little bastard."

Tune in now.

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Lomboy have shared other-worldly new song 'Alien Lady'.

The group is led by vocalist Tanja Frinta, an Austrian-born artist whose travels have taken her to Sweden, Spain and Belgium.

Now essentially based in Paris – with the odd trip to Tokyo, as well – Lomboy emerged from her imagination, matching psychedelic tropes to blissed out synth pop.

New EP 'Warped Caress' will be released on February 16th, and it's shaping up to be something rather exciting indeed.

Lead cut 'Alien Lady' is online now, and it's a beguiling if unerringly weird document that fuses an almost trip-hop beat with some decidedly lysergic noises.

Impressive stuff – you can tune in below.

'Warped Caress' EP will be released on February 16th.

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Australian trio Middle Kids have shared belting new track 'Mistake'.

The three-piece caught attention last year with their stellar debut EP, with Lucky Number grabbing the group's signature.

Since then they've been working on their debut album, crafting new songs and refining their approach.

Debut LP 'Lost Friends' is set to be released on May 4th, with snappy new cut 'Mistake' leading the way.

Effortless-sounding indie rock with a cool-as-hell chorus, it's a gently uplifting, oddly inspiring song. “In a time where a lot of division is growing, we want to be part of the conversation that unites people around certain ideals that are universal, like hope and love,” says Hannah Joy. “That’s so much a thread throughout this album: Even though things are tough, it’s worth believing in something good and in the idea that we can heal. And in some ways, I wanted the music to be beautiful and a respite from what’s going on.”

Check out 'Mistake' below.

Catch Middle Kids at London's Moth Club on April 2nd.

Photo Credit: Maclay Heriot

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Last Japan has detailed plans for new seven track EP 'LUNA'.

The DJ and producer spent 2017 focussing on the Circadian Rhythms listen, the label and creative hub he co-runs alongside Blackwax and visual artists / fashion designers Jase Coop.

Returning to Coyote – the home for his seminal AJ Tracey starring cut 'Ascend' – the producer has launched new EP 'LUNA'.

Containing seven tracks, the material is prompted by and accurately reflects the atmosphere and architecture of Bow, in London's East End.

“This body of work runs parallel to my previous work released on Coyote Records”, explains Last Japan, “however my inspiration here feels more personal. For me, it captures the mood of where I live; the atmosphere, the architecture and the people of Bow. A winter-inspired body of work, it's a soundtrack to misty days and cold, crisp nights ​with ​Canary Wharf ​looming ​and the​ Shard and​ London’s skyline​ in the distance​.”

New cut 'Squad' is online now, and it's blessed with Last Japan's impeccable creative instincts, and his astonishing ear for sonic detail.

Grime infused with a sense of gritty florescence, you can check out 'Squad' below.

Last Japan and Coyote Records will launch 'LUNA' EP at London's Corsica Studios on March 1st – line up includes Commodo, Prynce Mini, Forever, OKBREEZ and you can find tickets HERE.

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