Posts tagged uk
Posts tagged uk
My article from Issue048 of The Seagull Love Review (TSLR)
Originally published April 6th, 2013 selling out in first run at Ammex Stadium, Brighton, UK
Name: Tiny Dragons
Members: Lizzie Massey (Bass/Lead Vocals), Jim Corbin (Guitar), Marcus Burch (Drums)
Home Base: Brighton, UK
Other Tracks & Treats
- “Houdini” from their earlier days off the Phantom EP
I feel I’m jumping on the band wagon a bit with this one, what with Tiny Dragons recently gaining heavy momentum on NME Radio, Loaded TV and BBC-Introducing but when the wagon is this good sometimes you have to jump.
Besides the obvious comparisons to The Police due to their reggae influence and bass player/lead singer combo, undertones of The Gossip, The Scissor Sisters and even jazz can be found. Risk taking is safely within this band’s vocabulary.
If their music doesn’t catch the public eye their sex appeal and on/off stage humble, quick witted personalities certainly will.
An interesting choice for the single of the EP with a deadly music video to match. Jim Corbin keeps on point with exactly what funk guitar should be, simple highlighted pops to anchor the feel.
A girl singing about trust is a dangerous thing (cue coffee shop Taylor Swift impersonators and comparisons to Adele) but fronter Lizzie Massey’s vocals hit a sweet spot. Although leading strong through all tracks, her shimmery weighty touch brings forward notes of depth and vulnerability.
“Why don’t you take me home?”
Dance Hall Alt. Rock is rare and very special. This is the standout of the 4 tracks. Small hints of Barry Gibb and a whole lot of seduction, this track alone will convince you to take home the EP.
Drummer Marcus Burch drives this one with flare and a whole lot of cowbell. Brings to mind English Rock snake charmer music or Tony Blair in a hookah den. It’s the darker bit of the EP and nicely balances the whole.
As lovely as the album is, catching them live is a must. Find them touring the UK this June. And North America get ready to start importing these breaking Brits.
On a summer trip to bookstore/cafe Trident on Newbury Street in Boston, after wandering between the large bookshelves, I found on the centre isle table a small brightly colored paperback called “On Love, a novel” Numbered paragraphs, references to Joni Mitchell and unnervingly on point. Since then the book has become a permanent fixture. Caught up in the novel’s take on a couple’s development within and without each other, quiet insecurities, the strain of intimacy and struggles with happiness, it has continued to offer wisdom in an instant when picking pages at random.
Jumping forward nearly two years, I’ve now had the privilege of talking to the international best selling author of the infamous pink paperback, Alain de Botton. The trilingual (German, French and English) Swiss born London living author, philosopher and presenter is as lovely as his books are complex.
Open, Cambridge educated and first published at 23 his work has been turned into documentaries, a screenplay and led to becoming an honorary fellow of The Royal Institute of British Architects.
As my favourite author I cannot explain my excitement to be able to find out how and why his writing affects people like myself so much. Friendly and willing, Alain shared with me his thoughts on passion, how he continues to stay sane and even a favourite bit of Schopenhauer.
E - Your grandmother Yolande Harmer was an Israeli intelligence officer and your father Gilbert de Botton was the founder of Global Asset Management financial firm. Does this lineage affect the nature and delivery of your work?
AB - It’s frustrating for biographers and journalists because ultimately what they want to know is ‘why do you do what you do?’ and yet it’s very hard to find an answer to this. I couldn’t honestly say that I write the sort of books I write because of my grandmother (whom I never met) or my father… perhaps it’s true, but in a sense, it’s not for me to say or even to know. We’re the product of so much. In the immediate term, I think I write as a way of mastering anxiety - I find it terrifically helpful to be able to sit in a room alone and chew over experiences. After a few days of not doing this, my anxiety levels rise severely.
E - The Boston Globe described you as “a young British Woody Allen with the benefits of a classical education”. In your work there are elements of irony and humour that makes it so enjoyable to read. Is this subtle silliness a form of optimism?
AB - I never think of myself as funny and I never try to be funny -but I know that there are some funny bits of my books. I think the humour comes from one thing: pessimism. The darker the thought, the funnier it is, and my books have their very dark moments. Here is one of my favourite tragic, but funny philosophers, Schopenhauer:
What disturbs and renders unhappy…the age of youth…is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises the constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness of our dreams hover before us in capriciously selected shapes and we search in vain for their original…. Much would have been gained if through timely advice and instruction young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
E - In the following excerpt from your novel “On Love”you speak about Romantic Terrorism.
“Though ordinary terrorists may occasionally force concessions from governments by blowing up buildings or school-children, romantic terrorists are doomed to disappointment because of a fundamental inconsistency in their approach. I will force you to love me by sulking at you or making you feel jealous. But then comes the paradox, for if love is returned, it is at once considered tainted, and the romantic terrorist must complain, if I have only forced you to love me, then I cannot accept this love, for it was not spontaneously given. Romantic terrorism is a demand that negates itself in the process of its resolution, and brings the terrorist up against an uncomfortable reality - that loves death cannot be arrested.”
With such similarities being drawn between the polar topics of intermittences of the heart and political attacks, where can the margin be drawn? Is there a defining line that keeps good and bad separate or is everything swamped in duality?
AB - I like to build bridges between the personal and the political - to show that big things like wars and activities in parliament or congress are driven by some of the very same passions that can be found between two people in a kitchen. This isn’t to ridicule ‘high politics’, rather to show the continuity in human nature across large and small issues.
E - Is writing a natural way for you to express yourself or a way to explore yourself and then release it into the domain of the public?
AB - Writing is a way of staying sane. I love the sense of having found words to describe a feeling that I have long had but never quite been able to pin down properly before. And I want my books to provoke feelings of recognition in the reader.
E - Can philosophy get too personal? Is philosophy even personal at all ?
AB - No danger of the over-personal! At least not as philosophy is done at present, it’s the most relentlessly impersonal discipline, odd because it’s dealing with vital questions. That’s why philosophy has bored so many people over the last century: it hasn’t found the courage to sound intimate, it has equated seriousness with abstraction and logical distance.Follow @ElyseSimpson
E - Grammy award winning producer John Shanks has said you are a “singer-songwriter in the true sense of the word” What do you think defines a singer-songwriter particularly in the new music era?
JD - I think what he meant was that I had a classic sensibility to what I did, kind of like the earliest folks in the singer songwriter genre - Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan. They were all each a self contained unit just with a guitar and a voice, meaningful lyrics, and they could pull off a peformance without the fanfare and the band etc. In this current era of music it seems to have gone back to the pop stuff that is all about image and marketing, being the most successful. Just go on youtube and see which videos have 300 million views.. I think to be a singer songwriter today you still have to care about the song and being honest in your music as your central focus and not disguise a bad song with beats to make it seem good.
E - You live in Tennessee but are originally from the UK. What do you find the biggest difference is between North American and European music markets?
JD - In America, audiences are a lot less loyal to artists they enjoy. They are influenced easily by lights and colours and once one big thing displaces the last thing they liked they leave the old big thing. Also in the USA its all about the “beat” of a song whereas in Europe its all about the song itself. That happened because radio sells advertising and faster, peppier songs are less likely to be channel changed. So it’s evolved into people needing to write more upbeat, conservative songs, which is a bad direction in my opinion. A bad thing about Europe is they are more influenced by fashion and image, so you can have a mediocre band that has a few hit records because they look good in skinny jeans but then they are forgotten soon when skinny jeans go out of style.
E - What drew you to Nashville opposed to other major American cities known for having pounding music scenes such as New York or LA?
JD - My wife and I tried out LA, I liked it (I love it out there) and she didnt, I think she liked New York but I didnt (too similar to London for me). Our families both live in Michigan and Indiana so this is a good location to be close and also better standard of living (cheaper) than LA/NYC.
E -You just recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel on August 23rd. Do you feel late night shows still have the same power to promote new music as they did say back with the Ed Sullivan show?
JD -Well, not like the Ed Sullivan Show, because literally that was the only thing on and EVERYONE was tuned in. Now everything is saturated with internet and everything else. I think TV shows are getting a handle on it because they are providing content in different ways that are being consumed by people - its not just about the one off show now, its about the youtube clips of the show the next day and what the fans post about it, the itunes episode if you want to buy it to your phone, the tweets about it etc. Hey, we’ll see if it makes a difference to my career - this isnt a one off for me, my team is prepared for this to be a springboard for other opportunities, other TV, getting on a big tour etc.
E - You are the former front man of the Dum Dums which gained large success opening for Robbie Williams and being well known through BBC. Was it hard making the leap from band front man to only man solo artist?
JD - Well a lot of Dumdums songs started with me in my room writing them by myself, so in that way it is similar. Either way the buck stops with me - as the frontman of a band you are the focus just as a solo artist is the focus. Its just as hard in that sense. Its easier being in a band because at the beginning we would help the cause work towards common goals— one guy was great at organising practises, another guy was a peacemaker etc. You need organisation to get anywhere as a flighty artistic type and luckily I now have a management company who work with me to get it all together, but before I was on my own and it was harder.
E - In your song “The Meaning of Life” you have a very strong lyric - “All of my life I’ve been afraid of myself.” Is this a feeling that’s aided or erased by being a performer? Does this make you more or less afraid?
JD - Funny, I dont really analyse my lyrics after I write them, I just write them and hope people “get it”, yknow, deep down. That line is really about being afraid to look at yourself beneath the surface, to see what makes you tick. I think that is scary for people because they dont know if they’ll find that deep down, say, they are just like their mother, or maybe they realise they act like they have high self esteem but they hate themselves inwardly because they are addicted to something and out of control. In my case, the next line says “been putting on a mask for everyone else” and I feel that all too often, the different masks I wear to different people. I feel like being a performer is the real “me” its the “me” I want to be but in a sense I am still putting on a mask - no one is seeing my angry side or my cruel side. I think being a performer is like any other mask you wear, say, for friends, family, workmates, lovers, and it is always scary to get to the bottom of yourself its easier to just live superficially and pretend…