Tag Archives: Psychedelic

Ask no questions tell no lies: An interview with Ask My Bull

Just ahead of their EP launch, in case you’re not yet convinced that you want to see, encounter or listen to these musicians, we asked their bull some questions and got some answers.

So where is the Bull I can direct the questions to lads?
Next question

 What was the decision behind the band name?
A friend of Fritz once misheard him and thought he was saying Ask My Bull, while he was actually referring to his uni tutor Mike Bull. Now we’re making up for that mistake and are again often mistaken for Ask My Ball while shouting our name to the audience during and after gigs.

So Ask My Bull, how did you get together as musicians?
We congealed in Fritz’ house one musician at a time. You know congealed, like when Mayonnaise has been left on a pizza box for a couple of weeks and it’s now gone hard rather than being soft.

Actually it was only Alex and Fritz in the beginning who had the idea of playing with different guest musicians for different songs. We got as far as Luc on saxophone and Tom on bass when we realised what this did for the overall sound of the band. Elliot filled in for Luc a couple of times when Luc was travelling. We ended up playing and writing a lot with Elliot and decided to have them both as soon as Luc was back. So we started out wanting guest musicians, but kept most of them in the lineup. That’s why Tom Moon on trumpet is appearing on the EP and there might be more collaborations in the future, though the core of Ask My Bull is pretty clear.

How do you go about composing music?
In the beginning Fritz had already written a lot of songs and often the guitar was used as the general foundation. Sometimes that can be a whole tune and sometimes the chords or a riff. That creates a certain mood and in the practice room evolves further and is strung together in interesting ways. It basically starts from one idea and is then free for everyone to play on top of using their imagination.

So far a big part of the writing process has been that all the musicians have joined Ask My Bull one by one, so that for most of the songs everyone has written their parts at different times. Powder Keg and Magpie Manoeuvre came from jams though, and jam definitely congeals. I guess we have a theme there. Congealing music.

 I am feeling some Punk influences in here and I hear some Eastern European/Gypsy Jazz influences too. If you had the choice of tight leather trousers and a gimp mask or an eccentric colourful jacket and silk scarf combo, what outfit would you go for and why?
The problem with gimp masks on stage is that it can often ruin communication and the saxophonists will have trouble playing. Except for Tom who hates communication and wants to be an anonymous machine who doesn’t have to look at any of his band mates who he doesn’t like to listen to anyway. Also no one would understand the emotion of the other musicians by looking at their faces which would result in less overall dynamic cohesion between them, except for Alex who registers emotions on peoples’ elbows.

 Your friend once described listening to your music as being like the mathematical mind of Mickey Mouse playing chess with a sledge hammer. What was he on and where can I get some?
That is our number one fan and cameraman Joao Meirinhos and the substance he was on is just his own genetic material. It’s a bit difficult to get you some, but he does donate his sperm on a regular basis. Which means you could make one that’s kind of like him, but you’d have to wait for it to congeal first.

                                      Above: Ask My Bull Teaser by Joao Merihnos

 No seriously, how do you like to describe your sound?
“Just don’t, we like other people to try. It’s certainly funny to ad up people’s weird attempts.”

“I like to describe it with my body rather than my mouth, because every time I describe it I come up with this boring list and in the act of describing, people lose all interest and I lose all interest in saying it.”

“Trying to find the middle ground between things that are not on the same scale.”

“Rock Fusion with a sense of humour.”

Ask My Bull started as a power duo which was loud and erratic. Once we expanded to the bigger lineup we wanted to keep this big Punk Rock energy, but were really interested in all other genres apart from Rock, like Jazz, Math, Prog, Video Game Soundtracks, Gypsy/Balkan, Afrobeat, Trip Hop and Breakbeats. So we basically try and bring a Punk energy to some of those genres and also blend them together, preferably in the same song.

ask my bull alex and fritz
What song were you humming in the shower this morning?
Powder Keg. 16 tons. Rolling Stones. Didn’t shower. Hyper Sweep. We actually try to stress the saxophonists out with the songs so much that they can never get them out of their heads. So it’s good to hear that this is working, as they were both humming Ask My Bull tunes.

 If you were to be eternally delayed on the M60 between Prestwich and Middleton and only had one cassette, what 10 tracks would you have on it?

Ask My Bull EP twice 😉

No, seriously.
Ask My Bull EP once normal and once reversed.

Okay, now for real.
1. Richard Wagner – Tristan und Isolde Prelude
2. Mr. Bungle – Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz
3. Tortoise – On the Chin

tortoise on the chin
4. Quantic – Time is the Enemy
5. Nobuo Uematsu – Cait Sith Theme
6. Madvillain – Rhinestone Cowboy
7. Glaxo Babies – Christine Keeler
8. Portico Quartet – Zavodovski Island


9. Venetian Snares – Hajnal
10. Too Many Zooz – F.W.S.

Who should we be checking out on the local Manchester scene?
Dirty Flowers
Luna Marada
Turf
Lucy Mae
Apes Grapes (who will be supporting at the EP launch)
Salutation Dub Collective
Henge
Shyfinger
Galivantes
The Peace Pipers
Psychedelic Pirates
Kalakuta
Esmegma Jazz
Salvador Dalai Lama Farmers

What can we expect from the EP launch?
We’re gonna play some songs and you will definitely get a definition of our sound that we might have failed to describe in question 7. And we’re gonna sell the EP. There will be Tom Moon on the trumpet. Live music that’s different. No vocals. Make sure to check out Apes Grapes, who are fucking awesome. Unusual stuff basically, that you wouldn’t find at every concert, like fortune tellers, face painters, visuals and performance of some sort. We wanted live bulls, but we can’t get them up the stairs, so we’ll have loads of invisible animals instead. There’s also a chance of the real Mike Bull turning up.

ask my bull EP artwork

                                Above: Real life, hard copies for purchase on Friday 4th March

What does the future have in store for Ask My Bull?
Eventually we’ll all die 🙂

We’ll have more band members and still be playing the same tunes as two years ago, but with more instruments and a greater arrangement. We basically intend to never play any more songs than we already do. We might have a DJ set and remixes of our tunes. An all acapella version with everyone humming their parts is feasible as well as a session with Ask My Bull songs arranged for five guitars. Some of this might be lies, some of it are definitely good ideas 🙂

We got invited to do a session with Samsara Sessions in February and will record a live video with them. Also, we’re on the list of The Sessions of March.

TSOM.jpg

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Catching up with Johnny Sly

Johnny Sly are one of the bands we (M20) have seen emerge and develop over the last two years – and not to sound biased, but we’re very fond of them! We worked with them in their earlier days when M20 were doing regular Solomon Grundy events and local gigs, and they just keep moving onwards, upwards and side ways (quite literally as they get bigger and bigger as an outfit)! It was great to catch up with them on their movements of the last year or so and the Sly journey, thus far.

Tell everyone a bit about yourselves, the story till now…

Jonny: I think the band grew like a plant in that it started with one seed and each new element was a natural progression but also an evolution, so it was organic and no-one feels responsible.

Jack: Jonny started playing and writing music in Brighton when he was lil, and then when he came up here he started playing open mics on his own. Me and Aeve joined three years ago – we used to practice in this little basement room in some upmarket uni halls we sneaked into. It was really echoey and we’d go there at night and get weird. We were a funny lil’ threesome, not quite sure what we were doing, but we managed to get some gigs like Antwerp mansion and open mics.

Aeve: We recorded a video for Mosaic Sessions on this really nice sunny, autumn weekend on Salford Quays. These guys on pit bikes kept appearing on the horizon every time we’d start a take and steadily get closer and louder until all you could hear was engine revs, and we’d have to start all over again. We all look really sad in the video because we were trying to look like serious musicians. But we loved it! Some people in a high rise flat clapped out of their window at the end.

Johnny: Although there are nine of us now it doesn’t feel like an ensemble – it still feels like a family – and that’s because we’ve never really sought out new members, they just seem to come along and it fits.

johnny sly2

 

You performed on BBC Radio 4, how was that?

Aeve: It was great because they gave us breakfast and I got to play a Steinway. We all got really pissed afterwards in the BBC bar and Jack was flirting with Joan Bakewell for ages. And we gave Jennifer Saunders a CD as a christmas present! It was all very surreal and giddy.

Jack: And we met duke from Tracy Beaker! He was a very flamboyant man, I never knew. I remember we watched back some footage that our friend Arthur had video’d from the sound booth and having this realisation that we sounded so much better than we’d heard ourselves before, recorded really clearly, and together and live. That was where the idea for our new EP came from.

What’s been your favourite gig to date, anywhere?

Jonny: We loved Berlin this summer because we were introduced to lots of interesting, creative people who showed us an inside view of the city. We were lucky enough to stay in a beautiful apartment and played a really nice set to an audience of mostly horizontal people. There’s a sense of freedom in Berlin which is inspiring musically. You can drink beer in the street and then put your bottles by the side of the road and people looking for pennies pick them up and recycle them for you. It’s better than some uniformed bruiser tipping your bottle down the drain just because you’re too poor to go to a pub. We saw a rainbow there in the sky with no clouds around it and it looked like the sky was smiling. I have no idea how it did that.

Jack: Also Amsterdam – we felt like we’d dropped into the coolest place to be with these great people that were all creative and cool and way more organised than us. It was inspiring. And sunny. It seems a long way away right now…..

Aeve: Special mention needs to go to Mischief Festival, who booked us way back when we were a three. It was a very strange vibe, really small and everyone looked like gangsters or pirates. At one point we played Deja Vu and the bass from the main stage was bouncing perfectly in time with us. It was a little adventure.

What about in Manchester?

Aeve: We’ve had some really special gigs in the last year or so, it’s so hard to pick a favourite! But one that really stands out is the gig we did at the Roadhouse [R.I.P] before it closed down last January. We put a lot of energy into promoting it, and had two of our favourite Manchester bands supporting us: Kolo Tamam and Oh Man, The Mountain. Loads of people came down and there was a really great vibe, and we all wore wacky hats on stage which is always a winner! We were all on a massive high after that gig, it was loads of fun.

Tell us about the New EP then

Jack: The EP we released last year, Lost Thoughts, was all recorded in my bedroom, with all the parts laid down one by one. It was a cool process, and one I’m really proud of in retrospect, but at the time it felt frustrating. Sometimes the parts just didn’t move together and mixing it all felt like tricks. That’s why we wanted to do this new one live. For me it’s a mystical thing – I just think you can feel the magic of it all being played together, in the pauses and the lifts. And this way we didn’t spend hours getting each take perfect, we had the weekend, and at the end of that weekend the product (and then Andrew Glassford spent two months mixing it… Thanks Andrew!)

johnny sly lost thoughts.jpg

(Artwork for the Lost Thoughts EP released Nov.2014)

https://johnnysly.bandcamp.com/album/lost-thoughts-ep

Jonny: We recorded videos of the live tracks, which we’re releasing one by one. They were stressful at the time but there was a real sense of focus and emotional energy, and although we were all worrying about the little details, I think we took for granted that we were playing a set that had been honed over many months of consistent gigging in Manchester. Our bodies knew what they were doing and the pressure just added to the ‘pizazz’….

Do you have a favourite Johnny Sly tune?

Aeve: I am really in love with White Light, White Lies from the new EP. It’s just got such a lovely groove and makes me go ‘mmmmm’ inside. I’ve always been drawn to chilled music though so I think the feeling of this one just connects with me more than some of the others.

Phil: Totally agree with Aeve. Also really digging our latest song ‘Tryer’ but it’s not yet on record, so you’ll have to join us for a gig to hear that.

Oli: My fav is probably Remember, from the new EP, cuz it’s f****** epic and ends with a bang and I like bangs because I’m a drummer!

How do you guys write your music?

Aeve: Jonny has always been the songwriter, because of the way the band has grown from his solo project. Essentially, he writes his guitar parts and vocals, and then we all mainly write our own parts. But there is always lots of collaboration and discussion: someone will have an idea for how I could play a part on the keyboard, or one of us will find a harmony for someone else, or Jonny will already have an idea of what he wants someone to do in a certain part of a song. So it starts with Jonny’s parts, then is just a process of trying out different things and sharing ideas for the rest of us!

Who are the biggest influences of the band?

Rosalie: Each other! We all have such varied influences and we share them all.

Any local inspirations, bands killing it in the scene (or off the scene)?

Jack: We’ve already mentioned our band brothers / sisters Kolo Tamam and Oh Man, The Mountain, they are both great in different ways. Pareidolia – they’re a bit like us if we were cooler and less weird. John Ainsworth and Rosalie 23 are honestly two of the best and most original musicians I’ve ever seen. And honey feet. I saw Honey Feet play after us at The Hotspur Press once and they were amazing, upbeat fun, with a mama-jama, diva of a front woman with an insane voice. Further afield Cousin Kula are releasing some insane live videos of their new material at the moment – its Snarky Puppy meet Syd Arthur meets Riot Jazz. And The Mouse Outfit, they have some freshhhhh hip hop sounds that I can’t quite believe are from where I’m from. Gigging and attending gigs can be exhausting and sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have seen and heard musicians like these guys. And Arctic Turn, our bassist Phil’s solo project. I feature on a track of his called Bait and he’s got it on the Tom Robinson playlist on 6 music. Great work Phil. We’re going to record a music video where we throw gross stuff at him in slo-mo and he plays the song. I’ve got a cameo in it but I don’t know what to wear… (video now released see below).

If you could describe Johnny sly as an animal what would you say?
Phil: Some kind of flying iguana mongoose. Next question.

See and hear more of Johnny sly on any of these below links

http://www.facebook.com/johnnyslymusic
BUY their new EP here: https://johnnysly.bandcamp.com/

 

Dialect – Advanced Myth – Review

Tasty Morsels are both internet label and collection of friends with a refreshingly playful approach to making music; with artist names like ‘Cute Boobs’ and mixtapes called Life on Wheels: Music To Play Tony Hawk To. Their releases are wonderfully done, Lo-Fi pop master-strokes. Life on Wheels is particularly great; call it Psychedelic Hip-Jazz interspersed with hilarious audio clips. Something along the lines of Onra’s Chinoiseries or The Avalanches’ Since I left you.  

Next up from them is Advanced Myth by Dialect. It’s a continuous roll of beautifully crafted, wide-open soundscapes and maritime flavoured Jazz meanderings. The scope of the background sounds and outdoor ambience is pretty staggering. It means the record creaks and heaves, scattered with the ghostly whispers of life on these isles: birdsong, a football match, Jungle breaks speeding by.

The whole thing seems like it’s underwater, like a dream sequence in a film viewed through some aquamarine lens. Opener ‘Developers’ begins with an uneasy kaleidoscopic refrain that flits in and out of a deep rumble, warning of some empty depths before a burst of sunlight pierces the mire, filling the space with a shimmering glow. ‘You better wake up’ we hear, all the while coaxed into staying firmly in the dream.

It’s a continuous piece of music but there are high-points. Hung Rose dances like an oriental firefly skipping around the mysterious half-light between night and dawn. Jabba‘s pulsating synths and low bottom carry a menace absent from the rest of the album whereas album centrepiece Chroma is undeniable. It’s serene claps and languorous and good humoured horns build slowly before being drenched in the album’s only vocals before washing away like a spent wave.

Advanced Myth by Dialect is released free via the Tasty Morsels website tomorrow (14th Feb). You can check out the beautiful video for Chroma below as premièred by Dummy Mag.

Stream it now via Soundcloud

An Interview with… BERNARD + EDITH

The aural equivalent of a David Lynch directed journey through the streets of South Manchester, Bernard + Edith are girl/boy musical duo, Nick Delap and Greta Carroll. Of home-grown-in-Whalley-Range stock, they make beautiful, ethereal songs that synthesise art and music, the kind that infiltrate multisensorily, leaving behind faint impressions of intangible silver wisps, haunting chimes and a deja vu-inducing mix of nostalgia and modernity. Having played to lucky crowds at a whole heap of different music hotspots in Manchester and beyond, they’re garnering national attention – we were lucky enough to catch up with them for a chat….

How did you guys come together?

Nick: We met in 2010 in a bar, we discovered that we were both into making music and Greta asked me to help her out with some tracks. They were amazing so we started making more together. One thing led to another.

What or who inspired/s your song lyrics and musical composition?

Julie London’s vocals, the Knife’s production and the atmospheres of Twin Peaks.

What has been your favourite venue to play in Manchester and why?

St Margaret’s Church, Whalley Range.

I grew up down the road and knew how nice it was. We started putting on shows here under the name WESTWOLF. The church is a beautiful space with great acoustics and the vicar is very open to art and music.

A snow covered St. Margaret's Church, Whalley Range
A snow covered St. Margaret’s Church, Whalley Range

If Bernard + Edith could be described as a smell or scent, what would it be?

Old pennies

What would you ideally like to bring to the Manchester music scene?

Somthing fresh that can bring different people together and make them feel good.

Are there any events, releases or side projects that people should look out for in 2014?

Our single – Poppy came out on March 31st on Sways Records – www.swaysrecords.com

And after that we’re putting out a few more suprises ;£

What is the Bernard + Edith dream? (in a few words)

Lying in the grass in China with little puppies running around everywhere before playing a show to 1000000s of people in New York.

And finally, any words of wisdom for the M20 clan?

You have to enjoy urself, dont do things to appease others, always be humble and dont brag about urself.

 

For more Bernard + Edith….

www.soundcloud.com/bernard-edith

www.facebook.com/bernardandedith

www.vimeo.com/bernardedith

edithbernard.tumblr.com