Mercury Prize Nominees – my interviews with Wolf Alice and Jamie xx

Congratulations to Mercury Prize Nominees – Wolf Alice and Jamie xx. I did interviews with both over the summer. See what they each had to say about their music and why they do what they do.


Jamie xx

Jamie xx

Jamie xx

Jamie Smith, better known as Jamie xx, has had a meteoric rise in the music world. He’s accomplished so much already – first with The xx, whose debut album, xx, won them a Mercury Prize, and grabbed top position in a host of end of year lists. Their second album, Coexist, was released to major acclaim, and The xx were in demand. Shows like the limited run series in New York City at the Park Avenue Armory attracted a range of high-profile fans from the art and film world. And Jamie xx has created remixes of artists as diverse as Adele and Radiohead, and worked as a producer with Drake and Alicia Keys. After releasing a number of singles, his first highly anticipated solo album, In Colour, is finally going to be released in June. As he said, “I’ve gone from being a fan of electronic music, admiring great artists and producers, to feeling like I’m a part of their world.” There’s no question that this release will only confirm his status. Northern Transmissions was able to connect with him as he arrived here to prepare big summer of festivals, both here and in Europe and the UK. Alice Severin talked with Jamie xx about the brilliant new album. Soft spoken, he gave the impression of an individual with an encyclopedic knowledge of musical artists and a deep connection to what he does.

I guess when I first play them, I really don’t know how well…basically if they will make people dance or not. I never expected things like “Girl” to work so well live, because it’s not like, it’s not even the same tempo as anything else I’ve played. But it does work. It’s nice, it probably takes people by surprise in a way, it’s a bit different, yeah.

Jamie xx keeps talking – click link

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

London-based Wolf Alice fears no genre. As the repressive need for boundaries evaporates, the four piece has jumped into the fray with an array of songs that casually parades their mastery of the free range. From pop to garage, grunge to folk, the band stamps every song with their inventive energy, like on their first official EP, Blush. Songs like “White Leather” scored them comparisons with The xx. No surprise that right from the start, the band has been one to watch. Now Wolf Alice is due to release their first album, titled My Love Is Cool, on June 23 through Dirty Hit/RCA, and the latest single, “Giant Peach,” was one of Zane Lowe’s hottest records in the world. They’ve been on tour in the US and UK, and are now gearing up for festival season, which gave Northern Transmissions a chance to hear from the hard-working band. Ellie Rowsell, the front woman of Wolf Alice, talked about creativity, challenges, and cute pets with Alice Severin.

We just have a lot of influences and we all have a hand in writing, so it makes sense that our sound is quite varied. It’s important to us as we don’t want to be pigeonholed, and we like the freedom of being able to take our music to different realms.

More right this way…




My interview with LA Band Gateway Drugs

On their Facebook page, Gateway Drugs describe their genre as “drug pop.” It might be tongue in cheek, but if your ideal drug experience is fun, unpredictable, swirling, and unbound by rules, then the band probably has a point. Straight out of Los Angeles, Gateway Drugs are the three Niles siblings – Gabe, Noa, and Liv, and friend Blues Williams. They all share the instrument and vocal duties. And the Niles trio knows a bit about the music world – their father is Preston Niles, from a little band you might have heard of called The Knack. But this is no throw-back to the 1979 classic hit “My Sharona”. Instead, there is a punchy garage band meets pop punk psychedelia ethos that could call for the formation of a whole new set of classics. Their latest song, “Fridays Are for Suckers” off the album, Magick Spells, shows a band who knows exactly what they’re doing. Northern Transmissions caught up with Gateway Drugs in the middle of their tour. Alice Severin asked about how this spell was cast.

NT: The chorus to “Anu” is great – do you think there is a certain feel you were trying to capture?

Liv: Thank you, no not really, we just wanted it to sound like Chuck Berry on Acid.

interview here!

Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday

My interview with Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday – Crush DLX

Crush DLX is a musical partnership formed by the joining together of two very provocative personalities, Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday. Bunny is a model and designer for American Apparel, whose icon-busting take on Southern California imagery is both playful and edgy. Pop Levi is an indie music perennial, a producer and multi-instrumentalist. He’s been part of Super Numeri, Ladytron, and The Emergencies. He’s possibly best known for his solo album The Return to Form Black Magick Party. Self-produced and recorded in various locations around the world, Pop Levi toured the album in the US, UK, Europe and Australia, which led to Lauren Laverne naming him on the UK’s The Culture Show as one of her favorite artists. He also wrote and produced the Childish Gambino song “The Party” for his album Because the Internet, one of the nominees for Best Rap Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards. His latest creative endeavor is the Micro Sex Tapes 370 project. Experimental and intuitive, the project releases a new song every day on the Crush DLX SoundCloud for 370 days. Nearly halfway through, and they’ve already collaborated with Ariel Pink on one of the tracks, “My Pleasure”, and plans are in the works for other musical hook-ups, possibly including members of Cabaret Voltaire and Duran Duran. Alice Severin spoke to the extremely charming Pop Levi and Bunny Holiday about their inspirations, how to get your cassette into an Oscar goodie bag, and what it takes to release a song every day.

The idea of it is to keep it dirty and sketchy on purpose, as opposed to making a final polished product album. Both of us are really turned on by…the idea of doing it, of giving people a music series rather than a polished album. Like, watch us make it with all the faults and all the good things. Like music should be, I think.

tap tap interview this way…

It’s an intriguing collaboration. …check it out –
Twitter: @crush_DLX

My interview with Rupert Edwards from Dick Diver

Dick Diver hails from Australia, and consists of two guitarists, Rupert Edwards and Alistair McKay, drummer Steph Hughes (Boom-gates) and bassist Al Montfort (Total Control). Formed in 2008, their first album, New Start Again, met with critical praise. Calendar Days, the follow-up, was described by Rolling Stone as “everyday Australian life made bittersweet and poetic,” and named by The Guardian as the best Australian album of 2013. Now they are about to release a new album, Melbourne, Florida, which continues to explore a musical universe that’s both warm and sharply observant at once. Northern Transmissions wanted to know more, and Alice Severin lobbed some questions down under.

NT: People seem surprised that your songs talk about life in Australia. Why do you think that is?

RE: The country is run by people who wear their arseholes on their sleeves. ‘Life in Australia’ becomes for many people a feature of music or art rather than something that is inherent to it. Maybe that will change someday.

tap tap dick diver

I seriously love this track. Yessss

the link in case tapping is broken

Springtime Carnivore, Greta Morgan

My interview with Springtime Carnivore – Greta Morgan

Greta Morgan is the mind and person behind Springtime Carnivore. If you haven’t heard her yet, then the video Name on a Matchbook will introduce you to her culture-exploring storytelling and her pop-flavored, almost retro, alluring persona and musicality. The debut album, also called Springtime Carnivore, was produced by Richard Swift, who has worked with The Black Keys and The Shins, and has just been released on Autumn Tone Records. She’s been playing here and there, and is gearing up for more touring in the New Year. Catch up to your friends who are already hooked on her music, or introduce them first, because it looks like Springtime Carnivore is just taking off. Northern Transmissions wanted to know more, and Alice Severin was able to catch up with Greta and ask her about how she approaches music.

The process of self-discovery and personal evolution is really fascinating to me, regardless of age. Transition in general. I’ve spent endless hours googling “before and after” stories, whether it’s for addiction recovery, weight loss, sex changes, travel, religious experience, etc.

Interview this way…

Interview with In the Valley Below

In the Valley Below  pic

Northern Transmissions spoke to Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail from In the Valley Below while they were hanging out in their rehearsal space/recording studio in downtown Los Angeles. There’s a bit of advance buzz about the new album, The Belt, which is coming out August 26. The arty video for “Peaches” is racing around the internet. And with a slightly dark image that German Vogue saw fit to immortalize within their pages last winter, the pair that may or may not be together are keeping mystery alive with their retro American Gothic by Grant Wood meets LA look and a lot of chemistry. At the same time, they have a solid grip on the Southern California laid back vibe. Their sound manages to mix it all together, somehow. Alice Severin talked to Jeff and Angela about being inspired by David Lynch and how they create the songs. And making beer.

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