———– Writer / Music re-views / inter-views / and my points of view ———– The GROUND Magazine / HungerTV

Month: November, 2013

Hudson Taylor / FIASCO Magazine


My interview with Hudson Taylor is out now on FIASCO Magazine Issue 24


The French House in Soho may be atypical for it only serves beer in half-pints but it is also quite distinctive for people like General Charles De Gaulle, who is believed to have written the “À tous les Français” speech in here, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud have been regulars over the years. I am not meeting up with a psychological nor with an Irish-born British figurative painter but I wonder if this Irish-born duo of brothers, Harry, 20 and Alfie, 18 will eventually make it into the list of the famous persons who hung out in this pub.

Hudson Taylor is a phenomena born on the streets, sensationally spread all over YouTube and making its way into a music business that recently has been welcoming to artists like Jake Bugg, whom they are supported during his UK tour, The Lumineers and Mumford And Sons. What is magical about these brothers is how their breakthrough happened purely as a result of word-of-mouth, from busking on the streets to number 1 on iTunes Ireland with their debut EP “Battles”.


We all have a half-pint of Guinness, of course, and Harry, with his guitar under the seat, opens up about taking the road of busking instead of talent shows, apparently the key to fame for their generation. “At the beginning it was a way to take the load off our parents. A lot of people would move to New York, L.A. or London, and if it doesn’t work out, they have people telling them you can always come back home. For me it is not a nice thing to say, you should encourage people to face challenges. We are lucky to have each other to get through the hard times. Even if we were living on 30 pounds a week when we moved here, it didn’t make it any less enjoyable. We did not make it, this is just a start”. Being Irish also seemed to help during the big move, “any country you go people receive you well, nobody hates Irish, every country in the world has an Irish pub” and we cheer to that as Alfie, with his chunky green trainers and oversized jacket, remarks “I tried the accent technique when I moved to London and everything worked out”.

Talking like very humble young men for their age, Hudson Taylor know quite well that they are seizing a once in a lifetime opportunity and they are doing so by simply living out their passion: music, a constant in their lives as their dad brought them up with classics like The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Simon And Garfunkel, “I still turn on those records, I have my road trip album, walking through London album, most of them are 50’s, 60’s, 70’s stuff. That was a time in music where people were expressing themselves in a similar way me and Alfie do. I grew up on the White Stripes as well, I like an independent feel to music”. For Alfie it is more like a chill out experience, “I listen to a wide variety of music but when I am cooking and I am clean in my head I still listen to those oldies”.


Being brothers also means arguing over a can of soup, yes they did, but when it comes to creating music Alfie has no doubts, “We know each other so well so it helps the song writing. We have a lot of songs written by us for the album, it keeps on changing but we are gonna stick to the simplicity and writing about being grateful for what it is happening. We don’t have time to think about what is going on and when you are so busy you risk taking things for granted. We are just excited about everything being so positive at the moment”.

Songs like “Drop Of Smoke”, aka London, and “Care” are just about those relatable feelings accompanying us when we move away from our families, certainties and securities. Being young and popular turned out pretty badly for some pop stars but Harry seems confident in discerning what is real from what is not, “I am very thankful that my family and parents are very supportive of what we do. It is not the most secure journey and only a small percentage of people actually succeed and it is hard for a parent to accept it. I never got into this business to become famous or to be on the front page of magazines and tabloids. I do recognize that it comes with the package but you have to work for it. We have been working for 4 years and we just started it as a full-time career in the last 2 years. Relationships and friendships will get tougher but if you have real true friends I think you don’t have to see them all the time, you might see them after a year and you can start off where you left”.

Their sweet, harmonising vocals fuse classic and contemporary influences to create a raw, folk-melodic pop, at times stomping and spirited, at others stripped back to only acoustic guitars. I want to ask them what does make their specific kind of music so successful at the moment and Harry goes straight to the point, “When music is played on traditional instruments it resonates with people because it is a lot more accessible and they can try to play it. You can go on the beach and entertain people with a guitar basically. You can’t go with your DJ deck and speakers cause you need a table, a power supply and at the end of the day if there was no electricity, I am sorry Calvin Harris but you wouldn’t be able to do anything. People with the guitar would be able to do an acoustic version of your songs and that is invaluable”.


They are a living proof that talent and passion can get you from, literally, the streets to a full-time job that you actually love. “It is very important to know what you want and be passionate about it, no matter what people say, just take it on board and figure it out for yourself. Music is not an easy route but it is not impossible. You do it because you love it and this is the only reason, not because you seek fame and fortune”. This applies for any kind of career, according to Alfie, “if you want to do something and you think that you are good at it just keep practicing and work at it. Your passion could get you to a stage where you could live on it”. Cheesy philosophy? They agree it may sound like that but I think that wisdom does not have to be complicated and if they will manage to keep their sane balance between family and career as they did so far, there is nothing they cannot achieve as musicians and songwriters.



An Interview with CLAIRE / A shiny rough diamond

Read it on The GROUND Magazine

Munich has always been a hub for new underground music to blossom and be heard. There is a certain kind of vibe and openness that few places in Europe has and five-piece band Claire could not come from anywhere else. Lead by the melancholic yet intriguing vocals of Josie Claire Burkle, Claire’s musical direction does not aim for an easy ride. This is why they are already in the lineage of artists such as James Blake, Bastille, and their debut EP “Broken Promise Land” is a colourful and eclectic mix of synths and orchestrations not quite easy to categorize.

In a music business where the word “pop” starts being feared and everyone tries too hard to be different, Claire tells The GROUND why there is nothing wrong about being put in a box… As long as it is filled with a brand new kind of originality.

In terms of creativity how does it feel to be the only woman in the group?

I’m a bit of a Tomboy and the guys treat me like a guy so actually there isn’t any difference especially if we are just talking about creativity. We started the band and we noticed that being creative works best for the band when we do things together.

You have all met, and made your first song, thanks to one of your friends who was working on a short film. What kind of films inspire you and would you ever like to work on a soundtrack for a film in the future?

We all have different tastes when it comes to creative things but often we agree on how a music video is absolutely great, for example “Iron” by Woodkid just to name one. Working on a soundtrack for a film would be something really great to do. Good music always takes the film to a new level, “Drive” for example is a great film with a stunning soundtrack. It was definitely an inspiring film for us.

Claire came about quite spontaneously and yet your music is hard to put in a box. How would you explain this?

Before we found each others for “Claire”, we all listened to different genres of music. Messel and Nepi are quite into the electronic stuff but they really grew up listening to hip-hop mainly. Fridl and Flo listen to a lot of metal & hardcore, they even played in the same band at some stage. Flo is also really into indie and Josie grew up with a lot of singer songwriter stuff but in fact, the one thing that bring us together is good music. In the end we never end up listening to one genre and maybe that makes it so hard to put us in one particular box, so we made our own box and called it “Neon-pop”.

The video for “Pioneers” looks like a fashion film, how did this project come together and what is the meaning of the diamond?

The video for “Pioneers” looks like a fashion film, how did this project come together and what is the meaning of the diamond?
It actually is a “fashion film” from our good friend Christoph Schaller who also got us together in the beginning. He and a few other friends wanted to do a new so once again they took our music and also got us giving a bit of inputs like the flag with our diamond on it and Josie being the opening and closing shot. We wanted some kind of symbol that people could relate to us and so we got the diamond in the video as well. We are planning to go further with it, like incorporating it on stage and stuff like that but until now the time and money are missing.


The title-track, “Broken Promise Land” has a strong 80′s vibe to it, what do you like about that era?

As we use many synthesizers, we automatically come across the 80’s and its completely own sound and vibe. We bought some old synths from the early 80’s and started to use them. They naturally made their way onto our songs. “Broken Promise” Land is a track that we started with our sweet Juno 60 so with a start like that you can’t get rid of that 80’s touch.

“Games” on the other hand has a feel-good and pop vibe to it. Where do you think pop music should be heading to?

Over the last few years pop music has changed a bit because you can make pop music and mix it up with all sorts of genres and this is a really great development already. Now you don’t have to be ashamed of saying you do pop because there are so many creative young musicians taking this genre and making it colorful. Pop is getting really versatile in its definition.


How does the “making of” a Claire’s song look like?

Nepi, Messel or Flo start to mess around with an instrument. This goes on for about 5 hours, where 8 to 16 bars are recorded. Then the one who started quits because he’s sure that what he’s doing is bullshit so he would go into the kitchen feeling frustrated. Now the other two guys continue working on this raw idea until the one who started it comes back in and hopefully likes, what happened to his first idea. After spending hours taking turns on the computer as the others are complaining or sleeping on our studio sofa, an instrumental version is ready. Josie then comes into the studio and we all listen to it collecting all the images that come to our minds in order to get them all into one reasonable text and start to check out melodies. Josie sings into a microphone and here you go, a new Claire track is born. Truth to be told, it’s never that easy!

How did Munich shape you and inspire you as musician?

We think that in our case it wouldn’t matter were we would make music as long as we are working together in this constellation, the sound would stay the same. Munich is a very cosy and quiet city so if you want to take a break from work, you can do that without having too much distraction but above all it means home for us.


Matthias and Nepomuk are the band members in charge of your synths driven sonority. How did you start playing synths?

On stage, we had to divide tasks, so Nepi and Messel play the synths and Flo plays the guitar. In the studio though everyone plays everything. Nepi is the only one who knows how to play the piano properly. It’s probably the fact that you have endless possibilities with synths that fascinates us, it’s more about which sounds you can create rather than how good you can play them. We started using synthesizers out of our computers but we really discovered the magic of old analog synthesizers. It’s the imperfections of these old instruments that make them so personal. We spend hours and days just pressing one key and changing the position of every single knob. It is quite an obsession.

Josie, as a woman and a singer, what do you think an artist should try to achieve?

Bringing people together.
You recently played NYC’s CMJ Music Marathon, what do we have to expect from Claire in the next year?
We are planning to release our debut album in the US and actually our goal is to play live as much as we can! The guys are also fired up about writing new stuff and we hope we’ll get the chance to come to the US a second time, that would be really awesome!


Claire are:

Josie Claire Burkle- vocals

Florian Kiermaier- guitar

Fidolin Achten- drums

Matthias Hauck- synths

Nepomuk Heller- synths