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Tracks Of My Teens: Melis

23 Sep

Welcome once again to our occasional feature where we delve and rummage in the psyche of some of our favourite musical people. This week we have a very special treat as the divine Melis celebrates the release of her latest, oh-so magical, tune “Sober (Over You)” by sharing three tracks of her teens. More about “Sober (Over You)” follows but first, enjoy Melis’ selection of important and favourite songs from her younger days.

The Libertines – “Music When The Lights Go Out”

I was 12 years old when this song came out. It was the first thing I learned to play on my guitar which makes it special to me and to this day I adore it. The songwriting is amazing. I was always mesmerized by the UK indie music scene, back in that time it was all about the british ‘boys in the bands’ and I loved it. Pete Doherty was the worlds’ best poet/writer, and generally, it’s around that time I first started to realize that I wanted to write music, too. It’s also where my obsession with moving to England came from. I followed that dream straight after finishing high school.

Stornoway – ”Coldharbour Road”

I was 16, it was Easter 2012 and my BFF Cassie showed me this song. I remember having it on repeat, walking around the city (Prague) and balling my eyes out like a real teenager. This song touched me in a way a very few in my life had. I still feel something when I listen to it, despite having heard it so many times. The whole Beachcomber’s Windowsill album is amazing, actually. It’s on my all time faves list. I felt very connected with the emotions they captured through the heart-warming instrumentation and vocals. I was really sad when the band announced their split last year.

Cold War Kids – “We Used To Vacation”

I have a wonderful memory hearing this song for the first time. I was in Lübeck, Germany with some lovely people I met in a music competition I had participated in. We all came from different countries but the love for music connected us. After a long day, a couple of us went out to a very cool indie pub (I think it was called Sternschnuppe. I wonder if it’s still there..?) We were all underage but they served us beer anyway. As we were drinking and talking, the room was illuminated by fairy lights. They were playing one amazing song after another. Until then, I had never experienced such a great atmosphere. As far as I knew, there wasn’t a place like this in Prague. I felt like I fit in there, which was really nice. As this song came on, one of the guys told me it was Cold War Kids. It’s a simple but powerful memory, thinking back of how uninhibitedly naive and young we were…

A huge thank you to Melis for taking part and taking us on such a fun and personal trip down her memory lane. Thanks as well for continuing to make and share such gorgeous music as “Sober (Over You)”. Her voice is utterly heavenly. A pure crystalline gem of rare beauty, as she sings these heartfelt lyrics, it thaws the crisp and icy electronics to reveal an added, hidden layer and depth. From moments of minimalist, jewelry box melodies building to rich and full synths and sharp digital production, the whole thing is yet another example of why so many people are (rightly) getting so excited about Melis’ solo career.

”Sober (Over You)” is taken from Melis’ debut EP, ‘Parallels’, which is available for pre-order now.

Get to know Melis: Facebook / Twitter


Tracks Of My Teens: – Flying Vinyl

12 Aug

Welcome once again to another edition of Tracks Of My Teens. This is the place where singers, artists and others in the industry can share three special songs from their youth with us, and describe what it was that had such a profound impact on their life or that they associate with special or important memories.

This week we are delighted to welcome the founder of Flying Vinyl, Craig Evans to ABHQ as we delve into his mind, rummage around, and pull out three fantastic songs.

Pink Floyd – “Time”

Dark Side of the Moon was released long before I was born but I remember discovering it in my teens when my dad played it to me during that period where rap and hip-hop subculture was changing the way people thought about pop music. So, at that point I really felt like we were living through this incredibly disruptive time in music, which we were, but I didn’t consider that people had been pushing the boundaries of art long before my peculiar little generation and there was this whole world of mind-blowing stuff out there. It’s one of those great ‘staring in the mirror’ moment of realisation songs that as long as it feels when you’re young, life is short.

Nirvana – “Come As You Are”

It’s weird to see kids that are so eclectic now, because of technology they listen to all these different genres. I was a teen when the Internet was just starting to disrupt music (illegally) and people were still very genre-orientated. I remember I listened to a lot of grunge and Kerrang TV but I did-so in a really closeted way. It’s funny to think about now but I was deeply embarrassed to relate to that music, because that was for the kids at school wearing Slipknot hoodies who hated their lives and I didn’t feel like that. I’d listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with my headphones on and that led me to “Come As You Are” which I used to just play on repeat for hours on end.

Kanye West – “All Falls Down”

I like Kayne West. I know that’s not a particularly popular thing to say. He was possibly one of the first of that new wave of rappers at the time whose lyrical content was actually relatable to middle class white kids who were suddenly consuming the genre. I think Kayne West was an innovator in that sense, he really brought that kind of music to a wider listener. To this day I listen to his work with my jaw on the floor – mainly because of his genius as a producer and ability to sample records in a really stylised way. I respect his views that art comes first and commerce comes second, I respect that he’s dived into different fields and though I think he often sounds like a bit of a tool, he’s certainly one of the most important producers in the world.

A superb and eclectic selection from Craig, though given his role in the industry, we are not surprised. Flying Vinyl is an amazing monthly vinyl subscription service that sees members receiving five 7” each month, from some of the best up and coming bands around. The service features a multitude of genres and has already established itself as being one of the best places to discover new music.

More details about the service and what prompted Craig to set it up are included in this great interview he did with The Von Pip Musical Express.

If you are interested in becoming a member (and you really should) then you can sign up at

Tracks Of My Teens: Queen Alaska

29 Jul

Welcome one and all to the revival of a fun feature we last ran back in 2013, back when the world seemed a much simpler place, Tracks Of My Teens.

The concept is fairly straightforward, all of us love music for one reason or another and there are often particular songs that sparked that off. Tracks Of My Teens is a place where singers, artists and others in the industry can share three of those special songs with us and describe what it was that had such a profound impact on their life, or the special and important memories that they associate with them.

Previous editions can be viewed here and to start this reboot we get to delve into the mind of exciting new electro-pop artist, Queen Alaska.

Claude Debussy – “Arabesque”

In my teen years I didn’t listen to a lot of pop music. The songs on the morning radio in the bathroom didn’t do much to me, I rather listened to the french radio of my mother or the very informative german national radio station that my father liked to listen to. What really touched me on deeper levels was the music I got to know through the weekly piano lessons. Fréderic Chopin and Claude Debussy were my favourite composers to play and listen to. I quickly fell in love with the harmonic diversity of Debussy, all his playful layers building soundscapes so modern for his time but still dreamy and sentimental. I guess this is where I developed my desire for layers! The sound aesthetic of the impressionism in general influences my style until today (won’t be able to deny that when the album is out..).

Hearing Debussy’s “Arabesque” makes me remember calm and sunny afternoons at home as a child / young teen. My older sister learned this piece on the piano some years before I did. The melodies were softly dancing from one corner to the other through our wooden-stony house near the forest.

Air – “Run”

Ok, eventually I also discovered pop music for myself! It was after I visited my older cousin Annika and her boyfriend in the big city up north, like I did every summer as a teen girl. For the long train ride back home they gave me some of their CDs, the best ones, they said. One of them went straight to my heart – I had never heard music like this before! And I loved every little thing about it: the sounds of these instruments, harmonic changes, melodies, loops, these beats, the simplicity and complexity at once, vibes… It was Moon Safari by Air. My adoration for analogue synths and electronic aesthetics was born. As well until today a huge influence for producing own music. It is hard to choose only one of the songs – Moon Safari functions as one whole piece. So for now I pick a song from a later album called Talkie Walkie which I loved just as much. “Run” is full of loops, pitched voices, and beautiful harmonic changes – my favourite things! 1:00min – 1:12 -> listen closely, so cleverly beautiful.

Steve Reich – “Music for 18 Musicians”

It isn’t easy to only choose one more piece of music now. I could go further back in time when I was still a child, playing Pachelbel’s Canon on my wooden flute. I seriously loved it and didn’t stop playing it for years. This piece might sound a bit cheesy nowadays but keeping in mind that it was written in the epoch of Baroque around 1690 (!!) – it makes it genius. J.S. Bach’s fugues, like the little one in G minor, attract me because of the same reason: the interaction of different voices that all have the same importance. My song “Fuge” that will be released on the first part of my album Interlude of the Inner Voice refers to that.

I could also pick the song that made me start producing music when I was 18: Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” – just wanted to sound like that. But it is too close to Air so I now choose a composer that I discovered at the very end of my teen years / beginning of ‘adulthood‘ (hope that still counts): Steve Reich. A whole new horizon opened up when I first discovered his sound and his approach to music. It seemed as if he took Debussy’s soundscape and made it into electronic music.. Many years before Techno was actually born. I was lucky to listen to “Music for 18 Musicians” live at Kraftwerk, Berlin, some years ago – the best music in concert experience I’ve ever had.
Here, live in Japan, with Steve Reich on the piano:

A huge thank you to Queen Alaska for taking part and kicking us back off. Her debut single, “Under My Skin” is out below and fantastically, you can actually hear the influence of the artists and tracks above. It’s a multi-layered, glitchy and icy dream world that swirls hypnotically as you listen. We predict big and exciting things for this new artist in the coming months and years.

”Under My Skin” is out now and available to buy on iTunes.Her debut EP, ‘Interlude of the Inner Voice I/II’ is due for release later this year.

Get to know Queen Alaska: Website / Facebook

‘J’ is for… Jitterz

28 Jul

If you ask people what Leicester is famous for, chances are they’ll talk about the 5000/1 shot football team winning the Premier League recently. Some might mention Gary Lineker, others may go for cheeses, pork pies or watches. It’s possible that Showaddywaddy could feature but truth be told, the sound of punk and blues probably wouldn’t come up. Yet that is exactly what the Jitterz duo are bringing us, and in such a fantastically fuzzy and effervescent way that we just had to add them to our Alphabet Bands Class of 2017.

The Oreo loving pair of Beth (whose cat may be her toughest critic) and Jaime (who is quite possibly a wizard) have been Jitterz for just over a year and do a cracking line in song-titles. Their first track, “One Good Song”, came out last year, and was soon being drooled over by a couple of very reputable blogs. Today sees the pair release their debut EP, Get A Real Job, which features tracks like “Unicorns and Glitter”, “Lobotomy Eyes” and “Girl I Hate You”. The great thing is, the songs are even better than their names.

“One Good Song” is a 2 and a half minutes of frenzied guitars and drums crashing together in a gloriously scuzzy and garage rock cacophony of ambition vs the mundanity of reality. It’s hopeful, desperately honest and damn catchy.

In fact, ‘damn catchy’, pretty much encapsulates Jitterz perfectly. Each of the four tracks on the EP is highly infectious. Riffs and rhythms combine brilliantly to batter your brain into submission, able to withstand no longer it lays down and allows Get A Real Job to plant its flag and set up camp.

Their sound is refreshingly raw and authentic. Bluesy guitars stomp all over “Girl I Hate You” and “Lobotomy Eyes” making you want to stomp along with them. Comparisons with The White Stripes are inevitable but not misplaced. The same energy and excitement emanates, like sound-lines from a Scott Pilgrim riff, as guitars are shredded and drums pounded.

They claim to be ”the uncoolest band you’ll ever meet” but the definition of cool is fluid and subject to change. Their sound, however, is positively radiating with influences from rock, punk, blues and soul that gives it a timeless quality that will never not sound great.

Jitterz ‘Get A Real Job’ EP is out now and available to buy from Bandcamp.

Get to know Jitterz: Facebook / Twitter

‘S’ is for… San Jua

26 Jul

Despite having just three demos available online and with no sign (yet) of an official release to their name, Anglo-Swedish duo San Jua are quickly establishing themselves as an exciting new name in the world of electro-pop. They are also the latest member of the Alphabet Bands Class of 2017.

Their music seems to exist in the space between conscious and subconscious thought. Gently probing and planting ideas like some kind of inception-y ninjas using neuro-linguistic programming or Jedi mind tricks. Their debut track, “Laid To Waste”, is about passing through a city at night, and that is all you can see when you listen. The bass and guitar lines pass by like cars on the street as Mags, whisper soft, sings of buildings and streets and the hidden majesty of urban life. It’s some devilish and dreamy musical onomatopoeic wizardry. Or something.

As you listen, shapes and emotions marble in your mind to form images and sensations as their wondrous electro arrangements drift and swirl.

With that (quite literally) in mind, the nominative determinism of their latest track should come as no surprise. With it’s stunningly evocative soundscape, “Swirls In The Swimming Pool” is a devastatingly dreamy and disarming piece of electro-pop.

And it swirls, and swirls, and swirls. Around and down, deeper into the water.

The piano line opening gives way to deftly pulsating synths that whirlpool around, pulling you under into San Jua’s sub-aquatic playground. Treasures await below, amongst that magical swirl of electronics and vocals that open out before you, a mesmerising undulation of sound and imagery. It’s gloriously catchy, subtly powerful, a little bit dangerous, and utterly gorgeous.

Elsewhere, “Break Your Fall” comes with a feeling of tension and drama woven into the synth-threads and quickening-heartbeat rhythms. There is an urgency that is beautifully juxtaposed with the soft, quivering vocal that evokes confusion and stress whilst remaining dreamy and heartfelt.

They are quite something, a mysterious and marvellous musical duo that seem to reside on a different plane of existence to us mere mortals.

Get to know San Jua: Website / Facebook / Twitter