Glasgow pop voice Joesef has laid out plans for his biggest UK tour to date.

The singer ended 2021 on a high, fighting past the pandemic obstacles in his way to pack out a hometown show at Glasgow's iconic Barrowland Ballroom.

Kicking off the New Year in style, new single 'It's Been A Little Heavy Lately' is a finessed sad-bop, one that finds Joesef at his most creative. Asking why he makes such bad decisions during depressive periods, the lyrics are open, autobiographical, and unfiltered, while the music has laced with colour and nuance.

"I wanted the song to feel like a bad trip, there’s a lot of different textures; the tempos are higher, and the drums are slightly swung," he explains. "It also features a sample from the film Totally Fucked Up by Gregg Araki: the stories he tells, and how he portrays them visually inspire me every day, and fit the context of the song so well."

Joesef added the personal touch during the song's completion: "I had to write to him for the sample clearance and he said yes which was fucking mind blowing to me, he’s a hero of mine."

Living his dream on a daily basis, Joesef hits the road this May for his biggest UK tour to date, opening at Belfast's Lighthouse 2 on May 7th.

Hitting Leeds, Norwich, and Birmingham, the Scottish artist plays London's O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on May 12th.

Travelling to Bristol, Brighton, and Manchester, Joesef then returns to Glasgow on May 21st to perform at the O2 Academy Glasgow – his biggest ever headline show.

On O2? Secure your Priority Tickets this Wednesday 2nd February from 10:00am GMT ahead of the general sale HERE.

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Catch Joesef at the following shows:

7 Belfast Lighthouse 2
8 Dublin The Green Room
10 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
11 Norwich Arts Centre
12 London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
14 Birmingham O2 Institute
15 Bristol The Trinity Centre
16 Brighton Concorde 2
18 Manchester Gorilla
19 Aberdeen Lemon Tree
21 Glasgow O2 Academy

On O2? Secure your Priority Tickets this Wednesday 2nd February from 10:00am GMT ahead of the general sale HERE.

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Cat Power is one of the finest interpreters of song in existence.

As a songwriter, her lyrics often probe the darker elements in her life, learning to illuminate these with beatific light; but it's also the way she carries this material, the emotional impact behind her voice, that allows these projects dominate your mind.

New album 'Covers' is out now, her first full length release in four years. Completed in 2020 and then frozen by the pandemic, the album is a space for Cat Power – Chan Marshall – to dwell inside, exploring some of her favourite songs.

Incorporating work penned by everyone from Jackson Browne to Nick Cave, Frank Ocean to Lana Del Rey, 'Covers' is actually her third selection of cover versions, following 2000's 'The Covers Record' and 2008's 'Jukebox'. What marks this project, however, is the growth in Chan Marshall's voice, and the ongoing evolution in her techniques as a vocalist.

It's also flat-out a good listen: a series of wonderful songs, given a refreshing treatment, often stark but then often not.

Clash spoke to Cat Power over Zoom, with the camera off at her request; "It feels really unnatural. Never in the world do you have a conversation and look directly at someone’s face!"

Over the course of our conversation, we'd explore her glorious new album, the life-changing impact of motherhood, and her writing ambitions.

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Congratulations on the new album, which is wonderful. How do you feel right now?

Thank you! I’m just glad that it’s finally got to be birthed, because it was locked in a block of ice for the whole pandemic. I was planning to do videos and press and all this stuff in 2020and then everything just came to a screeching halt. So I’m thrilled!

Does that give you more time to live inside the record? Do you have a different perspective now?

Oh no, it’s exactly as it needed to be. And that’s all! (giggles)

This isn’t the first covers project you’ve tackled, what is it about being the interpreter of a song that grabs your attention as an artist?

Some of my favourite songs of all time – there’s probably 200 of them – I’d say half of ‘em are themselves covers. Some of the greatest songs, in my opinion, that have been recorded are not the singer’s songs… they’re someone else’s songs. From the standards to blues to folk, even bluegrass, even reggae – the whole history of music before the 80s – I feel like there was more of a sense of community per genre. Jazz, for example. Even in indie rock, people go on tour with each other! Knowing people from all different bands. It’s just normal that I would want to sing other people’s songs because they are so many amazing songs by other people. And it’s normal. Everybody knows a covers band down at the pub!

The other night I went into town for my 50th birthday, and there’s this place near where I live and every Sunday night they have different kinds of covers bands. They have The Police, Bob Marley… separate bands! And each one is a different covers act. It’s hard to answer questions about my third covers record, because since MTV, since all these pop stars, people don’t cover each other’s songs any more! It’s becoming more popular since Bryan Ferry and Chrissie Hynde doing Dylan and Sinatra records. But way back, you had Dylan, Otis Redding, the Stones’ first record, everybody always sang each other’s songs.

There’s just something you get from it. Five billion people could listen to ‘Imagine’ right now at the same time but never ever cross paths with one another; but they would all be sharing this strange untranslatable vibration that exists in song. It’s so powerful.

It’s interesting returning to those earlier covers record, and hearing how your voice has changed. Do you feel that? Do you feel more comfortable, for example, with your voice as you’ve grown more experienced in using it?

Well, when I was a little kid… I was raised by my grandmother from when I was one day old until I was four and a half. I lost her at the top of the pandemic, so I’ve only realised this since this whole time when I haven’t been able to call her. I’ve been at home everyday. She was my best friend. I realised during the pandemic, when I cooking all these meals for my son… I didn’t want to go out to the grocery store, so I was using up everything in my cupboard! So I realised that, damn! That’s where I learned to sing, from my grandma. She would just always love to sing! And I never put it into perspective. I always thought I learned to sing when I went to church with her. Singing hymns, and things like that. I realised during the pandemic that I learned to sing because I was just at her apron, helping her peel potatoes and cut carrots.

So to answer your question, I’d see my father play in bands, and then my friends would play in bands, and then I started playing in bands – playing drums, playing guitar. And then starting to sing – privately, in my room, and my room-mate hearing me, and laughing at me… My grandmother would tapes of me when I was like six, seven, eight – she’d tell me to sing these songs, and get me to record it. I’m imitate these singers – like Dolly Parton. It was fun because it was fun to be good at something. It was fun for me to be an imitator. I loved music! Long story short, when I started to sing my own songs, I just could not sing. I couldn’t sing at all. The words were so traumatising for me to experience the memories behind the lyrics I was writing. They were real things. It wasn’t just a song from my Dad’s record collection or something, it was my words, my memories. It was traumatising to sing.

And then in 2006 I went to rehab, got sober, and saw the world again. I went to therapy, and I realised that I am safe, and I can make better decisions, and I don’t have to be afraid of fear. I went and was rehearsing with Teenie Hodges. When I went onstage with him for that first show, it was the first time I wasn’t holding a guitar, or playing a piano, and I had to see the audience for the first time – I’d never seen them before! I’d hide behind my hair, or my guitar and my piano. And then it hit me that, wow, I’m actually singing! I’d never realised that I was a singer until then. But then Teenie fell ill, so I created a new band, the Dirty Delta Blues Band. That first rehearsal for ‘The Greatest’ tour, all we did was James Brown, Tina Turner, Bessie Smith… we just did covers! And then we went out and played the tour. There were so many covers that we had been doing that I went to my label – again – and said, please can we do this record? And that record, and touring with them… that’s the year my voice broke. Back to when I was a little kid.

I definitely am not the greatest singer, but being able to sing with joy? That’s what Teenie taught me. And I owe him so much for teaching me that. He put joy into ‘The Greatest’ – it’s a super suicidal record, but he put joy into it. And that’s how I am now, due to Teenie’s input into my life.

The version of ‘Bad Religion’ by Frank Ocean on the new record is incredible, you’ve really put your own stamp on it. Do you remember when that song first made an impact on you?

Absolutely, absolutely. I had followed Odd Future a little bit when they came out. I couldn’t find the opportunity to see them live, it was really frustrating. And then I saw Frank Ocean had released his own record, and it was like time stood still. The first song I heard was ‘Bad Religion’ and something had happened to me in the 90s which was – literally, verbatim – about me jumping into a cab and begging the driver to get me out of here. It was really moving. When a song hits you, it just hits you. It really moved me.

What guides your arrangement, then? What is the process behind the way you shift the parts around?

So, I was on tour for the ‘Wanderer’ record, and there’s a song on that called ‘In Your Face’. The lyrics are about the white 1% that rule the Earth, pretty much. I was getting very angry inside my body, singing those lyrics. It’s a real quiet song. I didn’t want it to be quiet, y’know? The way it made me feel made me feel so bad. So I pulled the lyrics from ‘Bad Religion’ and started singing it on the ‘Wanderer’ tour. It morphed from ‘In Your Face’ to that song. And that’s how it was recorded.

Some versions are more faithful than others. Your take on ‘These Days’ is reminiscent of Nico’s version, but still deeply affecting.

Well songs that sounds straight on the record – ‘These Days’, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ – those straight guitar songs, are because Erik Paparazzi was playing those songs straight. On tour, I asked him if he could play ‘These Days’ and he started playing it. Same with ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’. So he played that, too. They sound straight because he’s playing those. But with the Pogues’ one, I was actually going to do ‘Dirty Old Town’ or ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’ but I hadn’t even got to that point, thinking about which one.

It kept coming on my car stereo, from and to work, and I was like: OK, I’ve got to fucking do this or I’ll lose it! So I ran in, got the Mellotron, and it sounds straight in that way because I had no fucking idea what I was doing! – The other songs, that don’t sound necessarily straight, it because on the first day of recording I wanted the whole band to relax. I wanted them to relax, so I asked Erik: could you play something? Then I’d ask the other musicians to play different bits, guiding them from the mic. I’d get to the recording booth, check the tape was rolling, and then I’d just go into a song. The first one we did was ‘Against The Wind’. I’d just jump out, speak to the band, and then jump back in. We did other songs that aren’t on the record, too.

Are you perfectionist with your vocal?

No, no no no no no no. Uh-uh. In my opinion, the best thing you do is the first thing you do. Whether it’s painting or writing a poem, your first instinct is the best. ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ was two takes. Once I have the meat and the potatoes, I can get to work. And start carving! And working on the dressing, and the sauce.

I love that metaphor. Is cooking a bit part of your life?

Absolutely. It’s probably the greatest thing in life besides music. Being alive, enjoying food with people you love. That’s why I’m so fat!

That’s nonsense, Chan!

Fat with joy! (laughs)

Your own song ‘Hate’ becomes ‘Unhate’ on this record – what drew you to return to that song?

I had been touring solo in 2013, 2014. I had been playing ‘Hate’ every night, and when I found out I was pregnant I just instinctively, unthinkingly started to change the lyrics. The lyrics were just changed.

Motherhood is a life-changing event, did it change the way you view art and performance?

Definitely. I think that without hesitating, without knowing it’s happening to you, you just become much more fearless. Instinctively. It just happens to you, in that way. As far as writing… I don’t get to write as much. During the pandemic… I’ve got a piano and guitars, but even when he was a baby he’d cry if I went to play something. He’d always cry! And he told me during the pandemic. He’s yell for me to stop playing during the pandemic, and I’d be like: well, that’s not very nice, you’ve got your chores and I’ve got mine! And he said: no, mom, I hate beautiful music because it makes me sad.

So during the pandemic I haven’t really been making music. I’ve just been enjoying keeping me and my son safe. – I mean, there’s been a couple spurts. One day I got my typewriter out, and wrote 12 pages of whatever. But writing music, writing songs, there’s a few… but my concentration has been on the day to day. Making sure that my son is healthy, and happy, and safe. And my dog’s are safe, and we’re not getting sick. My focus hasn’t been on writing songs during the pandemic at all.

Would you write something else, then? Like a memoir, or fiction, or poetry?

Yeah. All of that! With that kind of thing… the arts aren’t funded in the United States, they just don’t believe in or support young minds. They have a lot of grants – I can’t just write a book. I would need to be able to have a non-interrupted life for about three weeks. No humans. Here, you can do a writer’s retreat. But you need a grant, get these people to vouch for you as a writer. But I’ve got, like, six typewriters, and I know I could pull it together. Working on this record, doing the things I need to do for my personal life, as a single parent and also doing the things I need to do as a partner in this record.

I’ve got to be responsible. But I’d love to write a book! I already know what it would be about! But there’s no money in rock ‘n’ roll, you know what I mean? The women showed up, and all of a sudden there’s no more money in rock ‘n’ roll… and there’s no more rock ‘n’ roll in rock ‘n’ roll! But, one day.

Has time away from touring been beneficial to you? Or did you yearn for that sense of connection?

It’s definitely been beneficial. I think the coolest thing I’ve done as a parent has been teaching my son to read and write, and to do math. Those two years – he turned five and six – I was able to teach him, and I feel like that’s a great achievement.

I got a job offer last August, and I went on tour opening up for Garbage and Alanis Morrissette, all around America. It was 30 minutes solo, y’know. I wasn’t on the bill as the other opening act cancelled. It reminded me of the early days. And it was beautiful to be around people again, and to be alone in that environment, but this time knowing who I was so what the fuck did I care anyway? When I was younger maybe my strength was: I need to do these songs, and that’s what I need to do, whether people are listening to me or not! It was what I needed to do, like an itch I needed to scratch. But now, being older, and enjoying being around people, I was so chill, so relaxed. I had great shows. Like, consistently – every night. I had a great time. And that’s unusual.

I’ve always been super brutal on myself and my performances. Maybe that’s OCD or super perfectionist, but an artist is always the best judge of what they do. I think an artist is the best judge of what they do in the moment that they do it. So maybe I am a little too perfectionist, but it’s warmed me up to not be so hard on myself. And that’s so important for artists and for women, as well – especially when we get older. We’re wildly beautiful in our hearts. Most of my friends are women, but when I was younger most of my friends were dudes. As we get older, we can only look at other women artists to gain inspiration or validation. Women don’t have a lot of social constructs of validation. As we get older, I’ve been learning that things get a lot better, and easier, and more fulfilling… on our own terms.

And finally, what are your plans for 2022? More touring, or do you envisage a new record?

Well, I’ll be touring. As musicians now, that’s the way we make money. The only way. As for the record, I don’t plan too far ahead. The only way to live truly joyful is to live day to day. So we’ll cross that bridge when I make one!

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'Covers' is out now.

Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Mario Sorrenti

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We’re back with the next installment of Decoded. Filmed in-studio, each episode sees staff writer and host Shahzaib invite a Clash co-signed artist into his confessional booth, dissecting the creative process through a thoughtful interrogation of influences, themes and iconography. This time round multidisciplinary talent George Riley joined us on the Clash sofa, opening up about her debut project ‘interest rates, a tape’.

Arriving on the scene with the polyrhythmic heat of tracks like ‘Move’ and ‘TRIXX’, Riley solidified her promise with a 10-track mixtape released last year pouring grainy tales of disillusionment over murky production courtesy of producer Oliver Palfreyman; incorporating spacey instrumentals, low-res samples and stream of consciousness storytelling, Riley’s mixtape offered a curative reprieve in a year mired by uncertainty.

Riley takes thrilling detours on 'interest rates': On ‘poomplexed’, kinetic drums fragment into a middle-eight of moans before coalescing again for the finale; ‘money’ matches the former’s breakneck velocity, one ear in the clubs, the other in the streets, the anesthetized thrill of chasing paper made into a rhythmic affirmation.

Moments of aching vulnerability open and bookend the tape: the slower paced, more languorous ‘cleanse me’ washes over the listener, a repudiation of capitalistic climate activism made personal in an act of self-baptism; ‘your eyes’ starts as a delicate lament before fractures being to emerge as Riley looks for clarity around her lover’s intentions; on elegiac closer ‘no certainty’, Riley ascends to the sky in an apocalyptic love story. 

Unvarnished, adventitious but also wholly original, ‘interest rates’ is mindfulness in auditory form. Riley shared why her mixtape is a tribute to community and interpersonal relationships, embracing risk and spontaneity in the studio but also striking the right balance between experimentation and lucidity.  

Sit back and tune into the conversation below…

Madi Diaz will release new collaborative EP 'Same History, New Feelings' on March 4th.

The songwriter teams up with Angel Olsen, Waxahatchee and Courtney Marie Andrews on the incoming project, which features new versions of fan favourites.

Out on March 4th, it's marked by inter-supportive creative networks between female artists. Madi comments…

“I've been listening as a fan to these four women for quite awhile now. I’m honoured to call them my friends and to have their voices singing these songs with me is something that I still can’t quite fathom. I’m so thankful for their artistry and their stories giving these songs a whole new world and a whole new life. To share this earth and make music with them in this lifetime is a treasure and a gift from beyond the beyond.”

The project is led by a new version of 'Resentment', which is recast with the support of Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield.

“I’m so thrilled to have been asked to reimagine the song ‘Resentment’ from Madi Diaz’s album History Of a Feeling,” says Katie Crutchfield. “I listened to that album more than anything else last year and I think Madi is one of the most talented and exciting people putting out music right now. This specific song hits me so hard every time I hear it and having the chance to sing harmonies with Madi is always a true thrill."

Tune in now.

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Orbury Common have signed to PRAH Recordings, with a full EP incoming.

The project is led by Bristol and Stroud-based musicians Josh Day-Jones and Emlyn Bainbridge, with Orbory Common becoming a space for folk ritual and electronic production to intermingle.

New EP 'The Traditional Dance Of Orbury Common' is out on April 29th, pivoting between the late 80s free parties scene and the ancient ghosts that walk abroad on the lands of Britain.

“This record is an imagining of how the traditional ‘dance’ music of Orbury Common would sound: songs to accompany ecstatic ceremonies and strange, fire-side customs,” comment the duo. “It’s a bleary stumble through the nightlife of Orbury Common and aims to draw parallels between ancient rituals and raves, between holy temples and the dancefloor. It explores the primitive and visceral impulse to dance, and imagines scenes of communal frenzy, flailing limbs and vague humanoid shapes partaking in warped, beat-driven worship in the dark.”

New song 'The Crooked Bayleaf' is a solid introduction to their aesthetic, blending other-worldly elements with potent, direct digital elements.

The soundscape rolls between bubbling, Boards Of Canada style electronics, mysterious spoken word, and a sample that sounds – to these ears – like a Hebridean waulking song.

Orbury Common comment: "A group of lassies enter stage left but the whole room is a stage and you’re the main character now. The backdrop – an empty hillside of too-green grass; projected shadows thumping along to the steady pulse of our narrator Tenchpress’s depraved patter."

Tune in now.

Photo Credit: Kris Brown

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Norwegian avant-pop artist Sea Change has shared new single 'I Put My Hand Into A Fist'.

The songwriter's 2015 album 'Breakage' marked out her ethereal realm, something she takes to fresh levels on incoming album 'Mutual Dreaming'.

'I Put My Hand Into A Fist' appears on the record, and it's a contemplative offering, laced with opaque synths and melodic introversion.

Out now, it's quietly daring, and gently persuasive in its glacial methodologies.

She comments: “This is one of my favourites from the album. It’s about going through a transformation, from feeling locked-in in this restricted space, where you are supposed to move, and live and think and be. And finally breaking free from others’ expectations."

Director Lisa Enes took charge of the visuals, which you can find below. Lisa comments…

“In conversation with Ellen, we touched upon subjects such as loneliness, isolation, tactility, the contemplative and the ceremonial. I wanted the music video to substantiate the artist’s introvert and dreamy universe, and to depict loneliness as the feeling of carrying a heavy persona. A persona that feels like a burden by day, but that comes to life on a dancefloor by night.”

Tune in now.

'Mutual Dreaming' will be released on February 11th.

Photo Credit: Simen Løvgren

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Brooklyn experimental composer Faten Kanaan has shared new song 'Cascando'.

Out now, it follows Kanaan's Fire debut ‘A Mythology of Circles’, which gained widespread plaudits for its riveting sense of invention.

'Cascado' previously appeared on Adult Swim's Digitalis compilation, and it now gains a stand-alone release.

A slow-moving feast of glacial electronics, its analogue landscape rises and falls in subtle breaths.

Taking its name from Samuel Beckett's use of that term to describe a diminuendo in volume and/or tempo, there's a painterly touch to Faten Kanaan's work.

An intriguing step forwards, you can check out 'Cascando' below.

Photo Credit: Lola Serrano

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Jamie T was never easy to pigeonhole.

An indie songwriter who was equally influenced by hip-hop and rave culture, his approach broke new ground through its sheer individuality.

Across the summer of 2007 the songwriter played show after show, with each performance underlining the simple fact that Jamie T didn't write songs, so much as compose anthems.

His album 'Panic Prevention' felt like a real event, the sound of an unvarnished voice speaking truths that connected with people who didn't often feel heard.

Re-issued on vinyl in time for its 15th anniversary, 'Panic Prevention' remains a vital listen, one that retains a sense of mystery its peers have long since surrendered.

The Maccabees watched Jamie T's rise first hand, sharing bills and dressing rooms, crossing paths at festivals across the land.

Here, Felix White – who now co-runs YALA! Records – writes about 'Panic Prevention' and the album's impact on his life.

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It’s 2005. The Maccabees have just played Ocean Rooms in Brighton, sandwiched (as usual) between other guitar bands that look more coherent and leather-jacketed than us on a mid-week club night. I’m in a mental process that is becoming weekly routine – slowly shifting from the fantasy my brain has so keenly delivered me of the show, the room just about full enough to momentarily daydream us into a version of The Clash, before being back in the reality of dredging up leads on my hands and knees, stuffing gear back into plastic bags while the dancefloor dissipates back into an unpopulated nothing.

As I have stuffed the last lead back into the last bag (not the bag it arrived in and for all I know it might belong to the other band), a stranger is tapping me on the shoulder. He is immediately very familiar to me. This could well be because he is four inches from my face. Each of his characteristics are distinctly discernible; his cap casting a shadow over his forehead that extends to half hide his eyes, before they give way to a wide, toothy grin, framed by dark, curly hair jetting out at ninety-degree angles. The stranger is telling me that he is doing a gig downstairs, MC-ing at a breakbeat night, but just happened to walk upstairs and see us a minute ago. He mentions how The Clash lined up across the front of the stage too, just like us. There are some other bands plucked out of a roll-call of reference points he lovingly throws at me too; The Blockheads and The Specials, before, with all the comparisons and compliments ringing in my ear, I’m turning away again, slinging bags round each arm and picking up the amp without bending my knees (bending knees doesn’t seem appropriate when we’ve just been compared to The Clash), and walking it home through the streets of Brighton.

He might be the second or third person who has ever walked up to me and complimented our band without obligation. As I leave, the stranger has lulled me back into the fantasy I was reluctantly leaving and – instead of re-entering the real world – I develop a daydreamy speed to the amp-ferrying, suddenly making exaggerated assumptions through the dark roads about all the other people that might see the same things in our band, should they ever accidentally wander into a room we are playing too.

A year of roughly similar, ever enveloping nights later, The Maccabees (now with a record deal and someone else to pack leads into bags after shows), are playing a show at London’s Koko. We are, of course, sandwiched on a bill between guitar bands that look more coherent and leather-jacketed than us, each of which I now am well versed in beyond the local groups we shared stages with a year previous. There is one act on the bill though who is not a band at all. This in itself is quite a striking anomaly against the backdrop of Libertines/Strokes obsessed Britain. His is a mythical name passed around nights in Brighton and London. There is no recorded music of his I’ve heard. Someone has mentioned he does a cover of Billy Bragg’s ‘New England’. In a pre-streaming or internet-orientated world, I have no opinion on him yet beyond rare anticipation.

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As we walk in to soundcheck that afternoon, his is a strangely familiar figure sat on a table on the stage, dangling his legs back and forth, vacantly plucking an acoustic bass. As I get closer, squinting to make out the shape on the raised platform at Koko, it occurs to me suddenly who it is. It’s the breakbeat MC from Ocean Rooms. The same one with record references falling out of his mouth in Brighton a year ago. He hadn’t mentioned that he played acoustic bass guitar. Or that his name was Jamie T.

When Jamie T is due on stage later that night, we have just played and sit side of the stage waiting for him. Koko is stuffed full, the tier-upon-tier stacking itself into shelves of drunken attention for a singular boy about to walk into view, sit on the table and play songs alone with his bass. When he does – half swagger, half apologetic – the songs that leave him take on an exact impression of our first meeting. They have an odd quality of – though you are meeting them for the first time – feeling like you’d always known them. They are suddenly four inches in front of your face, grinning at you.

‘Back In The Game’ rolls out with a kind of surreal familiarity as if it’s always been in an ether somewhere, and just happens to have been plucked out of the sky by Jamie. This trippy affinity goes for the crowd too, who through first-hand osmosis from his London gigs in pubs over the past year, have already learnt it phrase by phrase, character by character. It’s not just ‘Back In The Game’.

Every song feels like it might be about a person that we know too, the frame of them at least, before they are flushed through a Desolation Row-ish re-imagination, then fixed permanently inside high adrenaline, slurred songs of South London idiosyncrasy. Jack who stumbled by the river screaming calling London. Harmonica man Sam that was so knackered. Crazy Billy Jay Jones who robbed banks just for the shits. Diego the friend with a criminal intention about a liaison. I leave the show again lulled back into a fantasy. This time the daydream is less focussed on myself, but instead one of fan-ish re-energisation that falling in love with music can every now and again do to you.

By the time Jamie T is touring the UK in 2007 for the release of ‘Panic Prevention’, The Maccabees have been taken with him in support. He has infused versions of the songs he once played alone and enlisted his band The Pacemakers. They are great. He has a camera on the tour with him at all times and, occasionally mid-backstage post-show drinking, he’ll whip it out and take a photo of you before putting it back in his pocket as if it never happened. The next day, you might find yourself captured on a slideshow of photos that roll throughout the show behind the band.

The songs themselves are being played everywhere by now, the new versions of ‘Sheila’ and ‘If You Got The Money’ and ‘Salvador’ daily occurrences across radio and MTV; all of them brilliant patch-workings of bedroom recordings, home-made samples and high-octane energy, walking exhibits that tie together previously unapparent relationships between Elvis Costello’s first two albums and ‘Paul’s Boutique’-era Beastie Boys. The band themselves play different versions of the songs, more straight ahead and shuddering to the point of breaking, in front of audiences entirely the same age as them, some who look like they belong at breakbeat nights and others in the room upstairs, everyone singing every single word of the songs as if they too know each and every character within.  

Mid-tour the album is released, the cover picturing Jamie swarmed in his room by records and posters. The morning before he plays London Astoria – bringing these songs that feel like have existed forever into a building no-one ever assumed could be knocked down – we all sit inside with a copy of the record in our different homes and listen to 'Panic Prevention' for the first time in it’s entirety.

It doesn’t strike me then, nor will it for at least another decade, that maybe the really special thing about these songs, the thread that encourages such affinity, is not the ingenuity of the collision between the references that littered his walls and the ‘have a go hero’s’ inside. Nor is it the juxtaposition between the ‘I think that’s the scrappiest version of that I’ve ever done in my life’ delivery and the particular sonic detail within. Neither, even, is it even the lulling between fantasy and reality that Jamie has encouraged in me in myriad ways for a couple of years previous. It might be that at every show, whether we know it or not, the thousands of us embarking on adult life for the first time are screaming out in unison to a young man’s articulating of his own, extreme anxieties. If only we’d known how prescient that would be fifteen years later.

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'Panic Prevention' 15th anniversary edition is out on vinyl now.

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East London's Ty Leone hits hard on debut single 'Blackberry'.

An artist who works at the intersection between the UK underground and Stateside ambitions, he draws from aspects of drill, hip-hop, and grime's icy flair.

Growing up absorbing vides on Channel U, Ty spent hours listening to 50 Cent, switching up between these two poles.

'Blackberry' sits in its own lane, with the heavyweight production providing a dense sonic landscape to frame his bars.

Equipped with a solid swagger, 'Blackberry' refuses to hold its punches, backed up by moody visuals set in his native East London.

An impressive start, you can check out 'Blackberry' below.

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A Scouse soul, an artist with a purpose, Jamie Webster knows that he has something powerful to give and share with others. He is gifted at connecting with people, and the Liverpudlian indie folk songwriter continues his dynamic journey, which involves music, football, and politics.

“I've always been good at talking to people and get my point of view across,” Webster says. Naturally, the strong sense of argument is reflected in his songs. If the 27-year-old’s philosophy comes with bold strings attached, it’s because of his need for realism. There’s a determination to stay grounded. To forget who he really is, and where he’s from, would be unacceptable.

“I pinch myself all the time” he tells me. To be fair, his route of navigation into the music industry isn’t standard, and it explains, why he appreciates the turn of events more. Taking nothing for granted, he is aware that good tunes and hard work alone do not fund or facilitate a music career. “Anyone who tells you they got there without any luck is telling you lies,” he states. “There’s luck, chance, and opportunism, being there at the right time, jumping on what you can, ride with it to the best of your ability.”

And so far, that is precisely what he has done. With some luck on his side, his story shows what promise, passion, and timing can do. Last year, the singer delivered a well-mapped tour of the UK to high acclaim, and his second album ‘Moments’ just landed, last week. The release shows significant ambition, as the songwriter takes things up a notch, looking further afield in terms of sound and influences.

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Self-described as a “Scouse folk album from the status of the bedroom to your ear”, the tag is spot on. Catchy, anthemic, and true, the songs depict bright idealism and realism. And there’s enough realism to draw on for Webster, who worked as an electrician for seven years. To some degree, he views the work as a musician as easier. “This is a walk in the park compared to crawling on the floorboards, getting up in people's lofts. It's all about my career, and it’s to do with my life, so I don't see it as an imposition, when I get out of bed.”

But referring back to the point made earlier about timing. The need for Webster’s working class identity is there. Artists with a political and social sensitivity don’t appear at great frequency, and it seems to warrant his reason for being, it becomes more urgent. "Politics is a part of life at the end of the day,” he argues with emphasis. “Life is political, whether you live your life by politics or not. When music is part of your life, it all ties in.”

The prospect of changing things by means of music is an overriding driver for Webster. “Even if it doesn't bring about change, the fact that we're aware that more people feel these things, it will make us feel closer together by music, and make you feel stronger.”

In order to inspire change he sees it as key to reflect the current climate many live and breathe. ‘Moments’ will resonate the current situation and inspire people to feel more equipped to deal with it. “I will always walk the line I'm walking now,” he says. “There will be songs that are about having a good time, whereas others aren’t. The next time Boris and his government affect the everyday of people in a negative way, I'll have pen and paper ready.”

The urge to connect with the people he encounters, who then become part of his journey, is evident in every aspect of his life. Something special happens when he sings, plays, and performs live, and the feeling he gets on stage with the people, who connect with the songs he writes, is unique. “My songs are about working class life, but I'm writing them for those people, who are stood in front of me,” he reflects. “When people get into it on the tour, and you really feel part of things. It’s not just about the gig itself, you feel part of something more, something special, part of some movement, and that's what’s connecting with people as well.”

While music is a strong vehicle for bringing people, the power of football may be an even greater force. Before experiencing a UK-wide breakthrough in music, Webster’s face was better known in football circles than music ones. A keen player and fan of the game since childhood, he enjoys a close to professional musician status at Liverpool Football Club. Initially, he started out playing intimate gigs in local pubs around Liverpool, which then led to getting noticed by the club.  

Webster’s two core passions – music and football – continue to play out in patterned synchronicity. While his mother wanted her children to learn to play instruments, he admits to struggling with the formal structure of music – and guitar – lessons. “I was infatuated with football, and I didn't want to learn an instrument, but I was always singing and dancing in the car, and at parties. I loved music as a young lad, but playing football in Liverpool is everyone's dream, so trying to get me to sit in and practice every night in between the guitar lessons – once a week – is quite a task.”

His deep-rooted relationship between football and music would reach a new height in 2019. One specific event would have more impact on his career in music than anything that went before. The pivotal moment came on a Madrid bound flight in June of that year. He was scheduled to play live at Liverpool versus Tottenham’s Champions League final in front of 60,000 people, when he got chatting to a guy, who said his name was Dave. It was David Pichilingi of Modern Sky UK, but the songwriter was unaware of Pichilingi’s role and background at this point.

The connection they built that summer would pave the way, and help form a critical path in his entrance to the music industry. “Dave was so interested,” he says. “I thought he wanted me to play at his son's wedding or something, but that wasn’t it.” After the trip to Madrid things quickly took shape, and they prompted immediate action, when he received a text from the label boss with the words “let's talk on the phone”.

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One thing led to another, and Webster’s rise came quite instantly. His debut record ‘We Get By’ came out in 2020, and it was followed by this new contemporary folk record. ‘Moments’ displays the songwriter’s musical ambition. Acknowledging Liverpool’s musical heritage, there are echoes of acts such as Shack, The La’s, and The Beatles. The songs also reach across the Atlantic showing his passion for Bob Dylan, his music hero of all time, as well as giants like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Talking Heads, and Fleetwood Mac.

Having always listened to a wide range of music, his dreams of making a big album that sounded similar to the bands that influenced him prompted this album project. Collaborating with accomplished musicians like Lightning Seeds members Jim Sharrock on drums, bassist Tim Cunningham, and Danny Murphy of Red Elastic Band on guitars, really helped. “I'm lucky that I've got a great band that I play with,” he says. “I’ve got unbelievable musicians, and I wanted them to play to the best of their ability, and make a great sounding record that’s bigger, and more developed.”  

It’s a natural progression from the debut. “It’s got a got moments joy in there. But it's also got a lot of slander toward the government as well. People say to keep politics out of music, but I raise these two fingers to those people, because you look at Bob Dylan, look at what he brought about in his songs in terms of change, the awareness that he raised, to start thinking alone.”

Webster loved the Rockfield Studios experience, and he enjoyed working there. Recording with Dave Eringa at the iconic studios was an experience involving plenty of know-how, energy, and excitement. The record producer was enthusiastic, he delved deep into the songs, which he knew before the recording process began. They just got on. ”We hit it off straight away, I felt like it was my mate from the first day. He’s such a real down to earth person.” Eringa’s genuine passion for the songs was infectious, creating an openness that became the foundation of the recordings. Once, again the ability to connect would contribute to a successful outcome.

And ultimately, there is one thing that keeps him going. It’s the idea of there being people, who are very similar, people who come from similar backgrounds, and the same individuals tend to see the world in similar ways, and they share his views.

“When you feel alone, you feel outnumbered in the world. So it's nice when you're in that room with a thousand people, we’re all together. You're there in that spirit, enjoying yourself. It's an amazing thing, I'll never tire of experiencing that feeling. That’ll always keep me working, because that's what I do it for.”

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'Moments' is out now.

Words: Susan Hansen
Photo Credit: John Johnson

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