Anna Denejkina

Month: January, 2012

Interview with Professor Green

Professor Green, Bringing Music to Life

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on January 17, 2012

‘Alive Till I’m Dead’ was his breaking debut; one year on, the sophomore release of ‘At Your Inconvenience’ came as an intimate portrayal of the life of an artist who managed to crush the music scene in what appeared to be over-night. But Professor Green’s success is now a decade in its making, following the inadvertent discovery of his ability for rap at the age of eighteen.

From the plethora of media coverage concentrating on a pop-culture-entertainment side of his niche, including the obvious platitude of being compared to the likes of Eminem, it has become effortless to forget to look further than the aesthetic of a musician who has released an album that is laden with intimate events, and the challenge of setting free such a personal chronicle.

“I found it a bit of a worry, because when people heard it, what they were effectively commenting on was my life,” commented Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, on his latest studio release, ‘At Your Inconvenience’.

Always writing from personal experience, even when the lyric may seem to be coming from another’s perspective, the course of creating this album became a progression of his internal understanding and the discovery of what was really inside of him.

“For me, writing it was quite – and I know it’s a cliché – it was quite a therapeutic process,” he continued. “It helped me understand what was going on in my head better than anything else.

“Talking to people doesn’t really help me figure much out. There’s something quite challenging about it – but I don’t only take from negative situations, you know there are happy records, I do get happy like twice a month,” he laughed.

Green’s lyrics are filled with irony, honesty and humour, and this sharp sense translates to his telephone manner, as he took to the much-loved tongue-in-cheek ways of describing what he really thought of his comparisons to the aforementioned Eminem and shockingly, Vanilla Ice.

“A lot of people are not really a fan of the genre, so they only know the rappers that they hear of commercially – not to say that [Eminem] is a commercial rapper, he has more than paid his dues – so instead of then maybe comparing me to another rapper who has humour in his records, or just talking about me in my own right, god forbid,” the comparisons continuously lie in the easiest scapegoats.

“There are worse people to be compared to, the best I can [do] is to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s a bit of a wind-up sometimes … but I suppose the one similarity is that we both tell our stories,” he asserted.

A certain stigma has easily attached itself to white rappers within the industry, albeit this view is not held by Green, specifically due to his multicultural upbringing in Hackney,England, an overtly different environment to that of the US and its musical climate within the genre.

“We all live amongst each other; there’s now segregation here,” described Green. “In my [class] at school there were only two white kids: one was me and the other [one] was Turkish. I come form a very, very, very multicultural background; I’m lucky for that, because people here don’t tend to look at people by their colour.

“[England] is more class divided,” he continued, “and even with that there has to be a certain amount of council housing – the Square Mile – you all live on top of each other, you’re all amongst each other, which makes it such a special place.”

Even through his turbulent history, Manderson’s appreciation of where he is from became clear, and this was indeed the path that led him onto a career which was in effect uncovered by accident with a teasing push from friends. This path ultimately took him into the rap-battle arena, a space in which he rapidly gained respect through his talent and quick wit, but additionally a niche which left him with a lot to prove.

“I did have a lot to prove because there is quite a heavy stigma attached to battle rappers in that they can’t often make music: they’re great at battling, but they can’t really make music that people want to listen to. I’m just glad to have broken that mode,” he detailed, “It’s nice to be the exception to the rule.”

Already working on follow-up material to his 2011 release, ‘At Your Inconvenience’, Green stated that it would be easy for him to go in-depth in describing the details of the impending, new album – a title for which has already been established – but these minutiae he would not give away, keeping them as “something to surprise people with.”

“It has pretty much been studio hibernation in this past week,” he explained. “It’s rare that I get so much time in the studio, but I’ve just been taking every waking moment I haven’t got a gig coming up to get my arse in here and get some bloody work done.

“For me, on my days off I come to the studio, this part of it is all still fun for me and that’s the most important thing. I think as long as I still like that, I will be able to continue to put out music. I hope that never changes! Parts of it are work, but the studio I don’t look at as work – that could never be work. I enjoy writing music too much.”

Admittedly a meticulous writer, Green expressed that he doesn’t listen to his albums following their release. This is can be explained as self-preservation due the criticism he places toward himself, and the internal questions of “why didn’t I do this instead?” which, for him, come from the action of hearing an older record.

“The thing with music, and I’m sure it’s the same with any kind of art form, nothing is ever finished,” he began. “I don’t listen to my albums once they’re out, if I did it would drive me crazy, because you progress, you change, and you hear things differently.

“You can’t find perfect, you strive for it, but it comes to the point where you have to just let something go.”

Professor Green’s return to Australia falls to this March for the annual Future Music Festival, a run of dates which additionally mark his inaugural Australian tour in his own right, something which he stressed was meant to come earlier than the forthcoming shows.

“I was actually meant to come back in 2008,” he explained, “but it was a toss up between finishing the album [At Your Inconvenience] or coming to Australia to tour. And as much as I would have liked to have what would affectively have been a holiday for me, it was the album.”

Green’s impact on the music industry has openly come within the last four years, and specifically, following the release of his debut studio effort in 2010. But the ten years of his work haven’t changed his views and love of what he does, admitting that a permanence of performing and writing is still his main goal.

“To be able to continue to perform myself, by doing something that I love, to still have my music well received: that would be more than enough for me to be honest,” commented Green. “That, and world domination,” he exclaimed in jest.

And to what his fans should expect from him on his forthcoming dates: simply put, it is “the music brought to life. Completely brought to life,” he concluded.

‘Untitled’ – From the Musician

The following, untitled piece was written in early 2011. This article was never published, and until recently almost forgotten.

The piece is a collection of three interviews with: Trent Grenell of The Seabellies, Treelo Herrington of Norse and Nathan Morrison of Sex In Columbia, describing the current entertainment industry environment from the view of the musician, taken from three levels of accomplishment.

It is ‘outdated’ due to the passing of significant events mentioned, albeit, it is still relevant within the current climate.

Untitled

Open any street press magazine, click on any industry website, and you will find yourself inundated with artists – successful artists – that seemingly came to light over night. Their struggles, misfortunes and years of hard work are left in the past, becoming a void that is seldom touched upon again.

Forget the genres and their myriads of subgenres; ignore the niche of any musical style, and thus open your eyes to the fact that each band starts at the bottom of the same ladder – that allegorical beginning of any working and striving artist; the foundation that has been fittingly dubbed as the “grassroots”.

Born and bred in an industry climate that longs and feels nostalgic for the eighties and the nineties, where possibilities seemed endless, to the current, and assumed, end of possibilities. From financial problems, personal relationships taking a sharp fall south, to numerous sacrifices – this path appears to have become the rite of passage for an upcoming band in the 21st Century, the latest version in the plethora that is the struggling musician.

“I used to always kind of be in favor of it when Napster first emerged,” commented Trent Grenell on the issue of music becoming a free medium. “I couldn’t understand why so many artists were up in arms about it.”

The Seabellies, NY

He continued. “To be honest, it’s pretty disappointing these days. There are a lot of factors, but I guess the main thing that we’ve been dealing with first hand in the last year, is trying to get people buying music, buying our albums. A lot of people are in the camp of “music and art should be free”, but I don’t know if many of those people have ever actually tried to make a living from it.”

Grenell is one sixth of Sydney based, alternative rock outfit, The Seabellies, and has voiced an opinion that resonates with musicians from all walks of life.

“It’s a bit delusional to think that everyone should be getting it all for free,” concurred Treelo Herrington of Southern Highlands-based, extreme metal duo Norse. “Music should be free to an extent,” he said, “but it is a service and it should be paid for – if it weren’t, then you can watch every band go out of business.”

Last year saw one of the world’s most popular peer-to-peer file sharing websites, LimeWire, shut down after a four-year legal battle – but has this become as case of pointing fingers? One is able to throw a rock to find their personal scapegoat, as no one wants to take the blame, even partially. Unfortunately, it also seems to come down to public unawareness of the effort, time, love and money that goes in to making a record.

“If we rocked up to their job, wanted what they do; their service, and efforts that they have been working on for months, for free, I think that they would be outraged,” explained Grenell. “But for some reason, in this kind of discourse of music, people have just kind of got used to the fact that, “oh it’s free”, you can download it illegally, but you won’t get in trouble for it.”

Outlook voiced on the current musical environment came in harmony of one another, as this stress affects each musician equally – what was fascinating, however, was finding that the inner issues between musicians also held a lot of similarity, once again demolishing the differentiating factors of their genres.

“It’s a life style,” stated Herrington, a life-style that does not have a nine-to-five blueprint, but finds itself connecting with each outfit through sacrifice and becoming the central aspect of their lives.

NORSE, Robin ‘Frog’ Stone and Treelo Herrington

“We have tended to drop everything when good opportunities come along,” said Grenell. “We’ve all managed to get out of inner plans, at the drop of a hat really. It seems to be our main focus in all of our lives.”

“End of last year, we moved completely. Picked up and moved to the city,” affirmed Nathan Morrison of pop-punk band, Sex In Columbia. “Even now, we all work so that we can play music. And relationships, we’re lucky enough to have nice girlfriends, that you know, don’t get jealous, which comes into it a lot,” he laughed. “A lot of time goes into it, four, five nights a week is music, and now that we’re demo-ing, which takes up endless nights, and you’ve got to work straight away the next day, music is really kind of everything we do.”

Stories of playing to empty rooms, disappointments of driving for hours to find that their next show failed to get anyone inside – as well as sour experiences with promoters – are further phases connecting these three bands. Financial issues becoming a stress on the musicians themselves, through lack of any payment for their performance, or withering cash that barely covers gas money, was expressed by all through different occurrences.

“I know a lot of friends who have quit music all together because they need to make more money,” said Grenell.

“Melbourne was always our most notorious spot for that,” he continued. “We’d drive twelve hours toMelbournefor one night, play the gig to barely anyone, then turn around and go home, it was quite disheartening.”

“To win over Melbourne, which was actually quite recent, we had to go down and spend over a month there, doing residencies. A month of your time is no mean feat,” he concluded.

Treelo Herrington described a show in Newcastle, which saw them play to a near-empty room, making them understand that promotion of an event has become a factor which bands have to pursue, almost solely, themselves.

“We played in front of like ten people,” he explained. “We felt disappointed, I mean, it’s never a good feeling to travel so far and work so hard. At that point we were rehearsing five days a week, so to rock up and play in front of ten people, it’s disappointing.”

Morrison expressed the strain that travel and constant rehearsals have had on their inner network, leading to the loss of their former drummer, Mitch Gordon. “His job was a back-up plan for him,” he explained, “and with us being away all the time, [it] didn’t work out for him.”

“When we finally got our gigs in Melbourne, and knew that we had a few more shows line-up in Sydney- whilst aiming forBrisbane- that kind of really drew him apart from us. We’re still mates now, but for a long time it was a bit awkward, and we ended up just playing acoustic shows for six months while we were looking for a drummer – which is a pretty big gap.”

Through scratching the surface of these musicians and their bands’ existence, the question of why they keep striving and pushing forth is one that cannot be ignored. Their answers, alike, translate their passion with an adoration that is palpable.

“Have you ever been on stage in front of a couple of hundred people?” Humorously asked Sex In Columbia’s Nathan Morrison. “It’s amazing! There’s nothing better than playing music to people – especially your own music. To have people know your songs, and loyally come to watch you play because of your music… it’s a better feeling than anything else. Especially when we put so much effort into something, it’s just really rewarding.”

Nathan Morrison of Sex In Columbia

“When everything seems so tough, and then you finish and achieve it, it’s a really great feeling,” coincided Trent Grenell of The Seabellies. “I think the hole that it would leave us [with] if we were to just give in, just have day jobs, not have a band, and just make money and get on with life – I think I would feel eternally empty.”

Grenell’s zealous tone alluded to music taking over his life, choosing him, rather than him choosing it as a path, “it’s just such a satisfying, amazing feeling, and yeah, we’ve really got no choice.”

Rounding off these statements was Treelo Herrington of Norse, for whom music has been a central aspect from a young age. “I wouldn’t stop doing it. It is worth a lot more to me than that,” he asserted. “It’s a natural thing. I’m still studying all the time, I love teaching music and guitar, and you know, even if I wasn’t in Norse, I would still just play music every day.”

“Hearing the end result is a regular satisfaction, and you know that it’s taken all that time and all that effort, and it’s just like, you know what? It’s worth it! It’s really gratifying,” he exclaimed.

Entrepreneur, Michael Eisner, once stated in an interview from 1994, that hard work is the most important characteristic of success and through the changing environments of the music industry, to what we know it as today, passion and the aforementioned hard-work continues to be a blatant attribute, which seemingly overcomes any setbacks.

“It’s really rewarding, we love it, and we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” finalised Grenell. “We just kind of hope that in the future people start to realize what goes on behind the scenes – its not just as simple as; get in a garage one afternoon, write an album and it magically appears out of nowhere – it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of time out of people’s lives.”

For more information on the bands, visit:

The Seabellies: http://seabellies.com

Norse: http://www.facebook.com/norse.official

Sex In Columbia: http://www.facebook.com/sexincolumbiaAU

Interview with DJ Tiga

Tiga, Always Caring

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on December 20, 2011

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes to all those things,” Tiga responded through the telephone line, discussing the silence he kept on his project with Munich-based Zombie Nation, under the moniker of ZZT – an endeavor of a personal and musical escape, as compared to his solo work, and an escape from attention and, ironically, the media.

“… I don’t get so involved in it,” he continued. “First of all, I live in Montreal; most of my work is inEurope, and it’s not like I live inLondon, or live inBerlinor something. So I’m a bit removed, and that’s kind of deliberate.”

His intentional removal from the hackneyed “hype” holds its pros and cons, albeit Tiga [James Sontag] described himself as lucky not to care so much for the content of the coverage – specifically, never feeling particularly criticized – and not being sucked into what he calls the “distorting” place, an emotive space created through judgment and myriad of opinion.

“If anything, one thing that is a little stressful now is that now there is so much coverage of everything,” he expressed. “It’s all on blogs and at the end of the year in the Pitchfork, in the Resident Advisor, in the DJ mag [sic], in the charts and the lists.

“What I do find is that everyone gets kind of sucked in to a little bit of this… I don’t know how to say it,” – almost getting lost in thought, he began to underline his view of how an artist can become absorbed by the discussion surrounding them. “… I find it can be a little bit – what’s the word I’m looking for – distorting. It’s easy to get sucked into this thing of “okay, where does your music fit in with all these different little groups and opinions”, which is not a healthy thing to care about.

“I guess there’s this part [to] the modern age. There’s so much information, and there’s so much discussion and so much of it’s out there, it’s easy to sometimes get caught up in that, and it’s not such a healthy place to be if you’re trying to make [music] – best to ignore it all.”

Returning to the Australian shores for the annual and imminent run of new-year-celebration music festivals, the topic of changes within these circuits, globally and generally, came through the concept of producers and DJs taking to performing with a full band line up. Indeed this is a change that makes sense to Tiga, due to the increasingly rising popularity of DJs as headlining acts and pop stars, but it is one that also signifies a transformation in the notion, the connection and interaction of the artist with his audience.

“I think the days of just one, lone figure standing off in the distance and playing his records alone – that might be a thing of the past. I might be one of the last,” he commented, for whom the idea of a full line-up has crossed the mind, but was never thought of seriously. “I guess me personally, I always thought it was kind of lame,” he stressed, “it just seems so fake.”

“The DJs that I always liked,” he continued, “the DJs that I always looked up to when I was really young – it was just a completely different aesthetic. The DJ was providing the soundtrack; obviously he was still the star, we were aware of him, but [there] was just much more modesty involved. It was more: heads down, everyone dancing, and [now] it’s just been transformed into like a kind of cheerleader type of thing. And I’ve no criticism of that – it’s just a different aesthetic.”

Through Tiga’s above portrayals, and his previous commentary that the 2011 ZZT full-length release, ‘Partys Over Earth’, was pointing fun at how bizarre the development of big festival and big party music has become – asking the question of “what’s next?” – a sense of cynicism began to linger behind his words on the current musical climate. But this idea was misheard and misread, as “I’m actually, I’m pretty optimistic,” he explained.

“Like anybody I have my moments of doubt and everything. But no, I’m pretty optimistic actually. I think there’s a lot of amazing music being made right now, and I think there’s a lot or really, really exciting stuff.

“There was a period of time,” he continued, “I think the past couple of years, but I think it was more personal.” As he minutely alluded to his private moments of doubt, Tiga returned to the growth of the industry, its evolution and its overt changes.

“… There have been so many changes; I think that’s the thing. I think dance music, not electronic music in particular, but music in general, has gone through kind of a revolution during the past five years or so, I mean really much more than most industries,” he expressed.

“How people access music, how people buy it or don’t buy it, the styles; the popularity; everything has really changed quite a lot…”

“I mean, just as a stupid example,” he began, “when my first record came out… I don’t think there was even such a thing as Facebook, there was no social [networking], there was nothing. You go from a period where that’s not even in existence, to a period where that’s like the dominant PR tool.

“So there are some major changes, and with those changes there are moments… I guess there are moments of cynicism because that’s human nature. You kind of [think] “oh god, I liked it how it was”. But all of that has disappeared for me now, and I think it’s a glorious, golden era that we’re heading into right now.”

Having been active as a musician, producer and DJ for over a decade, it was bracing to hear Tiga’s words come through hand-in-hand with overt passion. Fittingly depicting himself as an artists who does not take much conciliation in the past, Tiga spoke of the intended follow-up to his 2009 sophomore studio effort, ‘Ciao!’. Describing the stages of planning and scheming, and “when you actually start to get anxious,” Tiga currently falls into the latter of the three phases, “which is a good stage to be at.”

“For me, about a month after a record is finished, I’m like “oh god, I haven’t done anything. What am I going to do!?” So I’m kind of deep in to that right now, where I’m very excited.”

He continued, “I feel lucky to be in the position I’m in, I’m very excited to make something new and to kind of redefine myself. I’m looking forward to it.”

With a feeling of zero external pressure whilst working on a new record, Tiga explained that his pressures grow internally; massively, “like uncomfortably massive,” he laughed.

“It feels like not, not, not especially pleasant,” he began to illustrate. “It’s easier once you really get started, once you’re really working on something, then it becomes more manageable – because you’re tackling individual music problems… But when you’re just planning in broad strokes, it’s easy to get carried away with too much expectation from yourself.

“It’s dangerous. Sometimes you start, and that’s when artists lose the plot, when they’re too obsessed – “it’s gotta be new, or it’s gotta be different, and it’s gotta be original”… these things are all illusions anyway.”

Revealing his ultimate anxiety, Tiga voiced that his “greatest fear is just not caring anymore.” Nevertheless, this idea does not fall under the cover of becoming stale or redundant within the niche, purely two concepts which he emphasized to be someone else’s judgments.

“It’s different… my ultimate nightmare is just that I don’t care.”

“If you just wake up one morning and you just don’t have that drive. You just don’t have the ambition anymore; you don’t have the desire… I would say it is losing desire,” he explained.

Giving an allegory of “it’s not someone else saying you’re not attractive, it’s you not caring if you could sleep with them or not,” for his above beliefs, Tiga spoke of what is behind his passion to continue creating music, something that came forth as a metaphorical puzzle, which he is still trying to piece together.

“I have quite eclectic tastes,” he began. “There are all these different things that I really love – I kind of love simple pop music, I love techno; I love kind of deep dance, kind of dark dance music and acid. I like all these things that don’t necessarily fit together, and I feel like in albums of my work I’ve kind of always been trying to fit them together, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever really gotten it totally right.

“At this stage, for a third album, for me the ambition, the drive, it’s to kind of really find a way of putting those pieces together. Like properly. That’s how I see it now.”

Growing up in the 80’s with a love for classic, vintage, synth pop, the 90’s saw Tiga fall deeply into the techno, acid and rave culture, “and I don’t know too many people where those were their real informative influences,” he expressed. “I guess it’s my mission to try to find it, and forget intelligent, just a cool way of putting those things together.”

“I’ve come close on occasion,” he continued, “but I think there’s room for improvement.”

Article: The Getaway Plan

This is a PR article I wrote on The Getaway Plan whilst interning at Warner Music Australia in the latter part of 2011.

Censorship and its Reckoning 

Written for Warner Music Group Australia

September 2011

Devoting one year to a hiatus, Australian born-and-bred alternative rockers, The Getaway Plan, have returned to the music scene with a brand new album and its inaugural video, which has already rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, amounting to the “censored” sticker planted firmly across the clip for first single, entitled “The Reckoning”.

Taken off their sophomore and as yet unreleased new album, ‘Requiem’, the boundary pushing video for “The Reckoning” was lensed by renowned director Jonathan Desbiens, also known as Jodeb, who has previously worked with the likes of such metal outfits as the Deftones, Underoath and punks The New Cities. But unlike the aforementioned bands and their music videos, The Getaway Plan’s “The Reckoning” has found itself distanced from the MTV audience, whose network has banned the uncensored version of the periphery overstepping clip.

Inspired by Lars von Trier’s art-house horror film ‘Antichrist’, The Getaway Plan has kept the vision of a grotesque masterpiece in strong hold with their version and take on violence and the macabre. These are, seemingly, two concepts that are not only regurgitated, but in fact, are ones that rarely invoke any true discomfort for our desensitized society. They are, however, notions that are also kept far away from innocence, and yet, this Melbournian quartet has managed to discomfit the hardest of the population, having invoked un-innocence by the most innocent of human beings – children.

Ritualistic violence and torture see their climatic end in the murder of a child by fellow children. The almost unnatural imagery and concept represented are overtly highlighted by the scene that pushed this video from the simple macabre, to a macabre chef-d’oeuvre! The slaying of a prepubescent boy by the slashing of the throat against a backdrop of the most beautiful aesthetic and nature, has conjured up a bizarre visual that leaves the audience in a sense of confusion, together with the well expected distress and fluster.

Filmed in Toronto, Canada, the footage screams ‘international-act-with-a-big-budget’, and rightly so, as The Getaway Plan is solidifying itself as a band that is visually and musically present alongside acts renowned for pushing and stimulating its audiences.

Interview with Ryan Sporer of This City Ignites

Written for Australian Hysteria Magazine

Originally published in Issue 6, 2011

The scorching Brisbane sun is ready to spawn the next troupe of hardcore in the form of This City Ignites, and if you think that this is yet another rehash of everything that has been done over-and-over again within an oversaturated niche, make sure to welcome these guys with open arms as they run at you with a closed fist.

Having recently finished the recording of their debut album, entitled Streets of Rage, the four piece – featuring guitarist Ryan Sporer, vocalist Sean Mccullagh, bass guitarist Elliott Bate and drummer Marcus Frater – worked with Dan Field in Queensland’s 454 Studio, having found itself on the first wave of success following coveted support slots with metalcore giants A Day To Remember and Underoath earlier this year at the prestigious Tivoli…

Full Article:

Interview with Duane ‘Ice’ Jackson of Electrik Dynamite

Written for Australian Hysteria Magazine

Originally published in Issue 6, 2011

The big hair and glam has returned deep Down Under, and seemingly, the life-style of sex drugs and rock n’ roll is still alive and well… on the other hand, maybe not! This is the reinvention of the old school metal glamours mixed with modernity – whilst keeping the infamous, flammable fashion – which is spewing forth Electrik Dynamite, a band of five rockers and a lady who have been making waves for the last four years, finally climaxing with the release of their debut record, the aptly titled Hair.Denim.Sex.Metal

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Interview with Jesse Dracman of Darkc3ll

Written for Australian Hysteria Magazine

Originally published in Issue 6, 2011

A new journey has begun for the innovative minds behind Devilution, and comes in the form of latest industrial rock project Darkc3ll, a duo featuring Jesse Dracman and Post Mortem Matt, who have set the end of 2011 for the release of their debut album REBOOT:REPEAT.

“Reboot: Repeat does not conceptually walk a single path, but many,” explains vocalist Jesse, whose history with his musical counterpart Matt encompasses over five years of mutual creativity…

Full Article:

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