wed 28/06/2017

New Music Interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Alison Moyet

russ Coffey

Alison Moyet is one of Britain's best-loved singer-songwriters. Known for her deep, soulful voice and down-to-earth personality she has managed to combine commercial sensibility with artistic integrity for over 30 years. Today, 16 June, she releases her ninth solo album Other, recorded with long-time collaborator Guy Sigsworth.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Nicholas Bullen, founder of Napalm Death

Guy Oddy

Nicholas Bullen is an artist and composer, based in Birmingham. He works across disciplines and media, including sound, installation, film, performance and text. In 1981, Bullen founded the Grindcore legends Napalm Death with Miles Ratledge.

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10 Questions for The Radiophonic Workshop's Paddy Kingsland

Barney Harsent

Formed in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop pioneered groundbreaking innovation in music making, using anything and everything to create new textures and tones to satisfy eager TV producers looking for otherwordly sounds to lead audiences through their programmes.

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Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

thomas H Green

The Brighton Festival, which takes place every May, is renowned for its plethora of free events. The 2017 Festival is curated by Guest Director Kate Tempest, the poet, writer and performer, alongside Festival CEO Andrew Comben who’s been the event's overall manager since 2008 (also overseeing the Brighton Dome venues all year round). This year the Festival’s theme is “Everyday Epic”.

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10 Questions for Poet Tommy Sissons

thomas H Green

Tommy Sissons is a 21-year-old poet, originally from Brighton, now based in London. He has won a number of poetry slam championships, and has performed across the UK at venues ranging from the Boomtown Festival to the Royal Albert Hall. His debut collection Goodnight Son was published last year. Sissons has taught classes and workshops as far afield as Germany and as close to home as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

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10 Questions for Musician Kevin Rowland

thomas H Green

After 27 years away, band leader Kevin Rowland (b 1953) successfully relaunched Dexys as a recording unit in 2012. The album, One Day I’m Going to Soar, then became a theatrical show that was performed extensively, including nine nights at London’s Duke of York Theatre in 2013.

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Mobydick: North Africa's outrageous rapper

peter Culshaw

A couple of years ago I saw an extraordinary outdoor concert where a rapper called Muslim (great name if you want to be hard to find on Google) performed at the Timitar Festival in Agadir in the South of Morocco to 80,000 delirious fans. The song which everyone knew was “Al Rissala" (The Letter) which called out corruption and ignorance in high places. The Festival acts as a kind of safety valve for dissent.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Marc Almond

thomas H Green

Marc Almond (b 1956) grew up in Southport, on the Lancashire coast. He first achieved fame when Soft Cell, his Leeds Polytechnic art school electronic project with Dave Ball, much to both their surprise, had a huge global hit in 1981 with their electronic cover of an old soul song, the 1965 Gloria Jones B-side, “Tainted Love”.

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theartsdesk Q&A: John Lydon

tim Cumming

It was first released on 23 November 1979, comprising three 45rpm, 12in records housed in 16mm metal film cans, and then reissued the following February as Second Edition, in the more friendly and familiar format of a double album, 33rpm, gatefold sleeve, lyrics on the back, no song titles, with just the PIL logo on the record label.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Agnes Obel

kieron Tyler

Agnes Obel’s new album Citizen of Glass is released next week. Conceptually underpinned by a fascination with the German idea of the gläserner menschen or gläserner bürger – the glass citizen – its ten compositions examine privacy, the nature of what is hidden, why it is concealed and question how much self-exposure is needed, whether in day-to-day life or as fuel for an artist. The glass citizen is one for whom everything is apparent.

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10 Questions for Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac

Ralph Moore

theartsdesk meets Christine McVie on a sunny Friday afternoon in September; the Warner Brothers boardroom (with generous hospitality spread) is suitably palatial. We’re the first media interview of the day, so she’s bright and attentive. McVie was always the member of Fleetwood Mac who you’d want to adopt: the most approachably human member of a band constantly at war with itself.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician John Foxx

kieron Tyler

“The best and most confident debut since ‘Anarchy in the UK,’” said weekly music paper Sounds of the debut single by Ultravox! “Dangerous Rhythm” had been released in February 1977. “Cosmic reggae," declared Record Mirror. Melody Maker identified a “rare quality and haunting presence”. The NME said the song was a “reggae abstraction” and “mesmeric”. Ultravox! – the attention-grabbing exclamation mark was ditched in early 1978 – were off to a good start.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician/DJ Mark Hawkins aka Marquis Hawkes

joe Muggs

This is not a standard dance music story. Marquis Hawkes is one of the club music success stories of the past couple of years – since the first release in 2012 on Glasgow's revered Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, there've been many 12" club hits on multiple connoisseurs' labels, and his album Social Housing on the Fabric club's Houndstooth label has soundtracked many people's summer this year, with the artist all the while remaining anonymous.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Jules Buckley

Matthew Wright

Conductor, arranger and composer Jules Buckley is a notable champion of non-classical orchestral music. He has pioneered orchestral arrangements with singer-songwriters such as Laura Mvula, Anna Calvi and Caro Emerald. Even more boldly, he has established orchestral collaborations with numerous artists from rock and electronic music, including the Arctic Monkeys, Professor Green, Basement Jaxx, and electronic improviser Beardyman.

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10 Questions for Musician Jasper Høiby

peter Quinn

Copenhagen-born bassist Jasper Høiby moved to London in 2000 to attend the Royal Academy of Music. In 2005 he created the trio Phronesis which has toured extensively in Europe and North America and won awards for Jazz Album of the Year in Jazzwise and MOJO for its 2010 album, Alive, as well as a London Jazz Award for its "Pitch Black" performance at Brecon Jazz festival in 2012.

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Paul Simon Introduces 'Stranger to Stranger'

adam Sweeting

Perhaps as a hopeful harbinger for Paul Simon's new album Stranger to Stranger, Disturbed recently topped Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart with their flabbergasting version of Simon's 1965 song "The Sound of Silence". However, while vocalist David Draiman could launch a career as a new kind of Wagnerian baritone on the strength of his extraordinary performance, Simon himself is headed in a less stentorian direction.

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10 Questions for Musician Martin Fry

adam Sweeting

It was in the long-ago year of 1982 that Martin Fry and ABC released The Lexicon of Love, a feast of addictively lush pop-soul swathed in Anne Dudley's orchestrations and producer Trevor Horn's sparkling electronic innovations. Fry bestrode it like a knowing nouveau-glam mastermind, treading in the ironic footsteps of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie as he effortlessly juggled camp, kitsch and sardonic wit.

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10 Questions for Musician Tinchy Stryder

thomas H Green

Tinchy Stryder (b. 1986) has had a successful pop career since 2009, including two chart-topping singles (“Number 1” and “Never Leave You”). Born Kwasi Danquah in Ghana, his family moved to London’s East End when he was nine and, in the early years of the new millennium, he established himself as a rising talent of the grime scene and member of the Roll Deep Collective.

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10 Questions for Musician Debashish Bhattacharya

thomas H Green

Debashish Bhattacharya (b 1963) is India’s leading lap steel guitar player. Equally happy in the worlds of Indian classical and West-leaning fusion music, it’s no exaggeration to say he changed the way his instrument is regarded, at home and abroad.

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10 Questions for Musician Beth Orton

thomas H Green

Beth Orton (b 1970) is a singer-songwriter who first came to prominence via her collaborations with the Chemical Brothers, at the start of both their careers. She recorded an album with the producer William Orbit in 1993 but it was her 1995 album, Trailer Park, a canny amalgamation of folk and electronica, that really put her on the map as a solo artist.

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10 Questions for Musician Graham Nash

adam Sweeting

It was in August 1968 that Graham Nash, then still a member of The Hollies, took a cab from LAX airport in Los Angeles to Joni Mitchell's house in Laurel Canyon. He was just embarking on a love affair with Joni, but also about to blast off on a different kind of adventure with the two musicians who greeted him at her house, David Crosby and Stephen Stills.

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10 Questions for Composer Errollyn Wallen

Jessica Duchen

Errollyn Wallen is celebrated both as a singer-songwriter and for her rigorous and communicative contemporary new music. Her works include 13 operas and a plethora of orchestral, choral, chamber works, solo and ensemble piano music and concertos, as well as award-winning music for film and TV; her Principia and Spirit in Motion were featured in the London Paralympics opening ceremony in 2012.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Youth

thomas H Green

Youth, AKA Martin Glover (b 1960), is a renowned music producer and bassist in the post-punk band Killing Joke. He achieved his first success with the latter in the late Seventies and has often been at the forefront of innovation and development in British music since.

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'Paul said he would like orchestral instruments. John couldn’t be bothered'

jasper Rees

A decade ago I was sent to interview George Martin and his son Giles about Love, the remarkable remix of the Beatles catalogue which they created for Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show in Las Vegas. After the interview proper, in which both talked about collaborating with each other and with Paul, Ringo and the widows of John and George, I asked Sir George Martin if we could talk about an area of particular interest to me.

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10 Questions for Songwriter Carla Marie Williams

Matthew Wright

Carla Marie Williams is a songwriter, artist mentor and founder of writing collective NewCrowd. She has written for stars including Beyoncé, Girls Aloud, Kylie and Rudimental, with a BRIT Award for her contribution to Girls Aloud’s single "The Promise", and Beyoncé’s recent hit "Runnin".

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10 Questions for Jazz Quartet Empirical

Thomas Rees

Described by Courtney Pine as "the most exciting jazz band to come out of the UK" and hailed in the press as the new young lions, Empirical broke cover in 2007, topping album of the year charts with their self-titled debut and picking up wins at the prestigious EBU/European Jazz Competition and the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award all within a few months.

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Jim Dolan, the Singing Tycoon

adam Sweeting

We're packed into the basement of Madrid's Costello Nite Club, a kind of narrow brick-lined tunnel off the Calle Gran Via. It's the kind of place where you could imagine finding groups of earnest jazzniks nodding along to atonal pandemonium in 11/7 time.

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10 Questions for Composer Ludovico Einaudi

adam Sweeting

Last month, Ludovico Einaudi's album Elements debuted at No 12 on the UK album charts, which made it the highest-charting modern classical album since Henryk Górecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs reached No 6 in 1992. It was proof of the quietly burgeoning allure of Einaudi, which has been stealthily expanding around the world since his first solo release, 1988's Time Out.

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10 Questions For Singer-Songwriter ESKA

Matthew Wright

Eska Mtungwazi (b 1971) was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in Lewisham, south London, her early musical tastes inspired and shaped by her father’s vinyl collection, and her experiences singing both church music and in classical ensembles. She studied Maths originally, and has built a career incrementally, spending ten years as a session musician, and accumulating generic and stylistic influences which have shaped her hugely varied act.   

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10 Questions for Musician Maria Schneider

peter Quinn

Maria Schneider is one of the luminaries of contemporary jazz.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Ray Davies

jasper Rees

The Kinks have turned 50 last and nagging talk of a reunion is still in the ether. In the absence of the real thing, there is a double-disc greatest hits album surfing the wave of latter-day Kinksmania. Meanwhile a kind of Kinks reunion stormed the West End in the shape of Sunny Afternoon, written by playwright Joe Penhall from an original story by Ray Davies.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Mercury Rev

kieron Tyler

The Light in You, Mercury Rev’s eighth studio album, is issued at the end of this week. It is their first for seven years, following 2008’s Snowflake Midnight. In the run up to its release, main-men and constants Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper (born Sean Mackowiak) took time to reflect on the new album, their attitudes to Mercury Rev's longevity – their debut album, Yerself Is Steam came out in 1991 – and their feelings about how music is heard and recorded.

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10 Questions for Composer Max Richter

Barney Harsent

Composer, pianist, producer… Max Richter (b. 1966) is nothing if not prolific, not to mention unique. His traditional training, which included Edinburgh University, the Royal Academy as well as Florence, under composer Luciano Berio sits alongside a fascination with the otherwordly sounds of German electronica and American minimalism.

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An Open Book: Laurent Garnier

thomas H Green

Laurent Garnier, 49, is a key figure in the development of French electronic dance music. A DJ at the Haçienda in Manchester just as house music began to explode in 1987, he went on to helm nights at the Rex Club in Paris in the Nineties. These became a vital hub around which French dance music coalesced. Garnier went on to be a successful producer and live performer, releasing multiple albums, many for his own F Communications label.

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10 Questions for Musician John Lydon

thomas H Green

John Lydon (b. 1956) is the singer and creative engine of Public Image Ltd. He was previously the frontman of the Sex Pistols. The latter group broke up in January 1978 when he was 21 but their brief career continues to cast a giant shadow over popular music, defining punk rock. Lydon, however, went on to form the musically more intriguing Public Image Ltd, releasing era-defining albums such their eponymous debut and, perhaps the ultimate album of the post-punk era, Metal Box.

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theartsdesk Q&A: soul singer Joss Stone

Matthew Wright

Joss Stone is one of our most popular and successful soul singers, with a rich bronze voice and supple delivery that’s already earned her two Brit Awards and a Grammy, and made her Britain’s richest woman under 30. She burst onto the scene at the age of 16 with Soul Sessions, an acclaimed album of soul classics from artists including Arethra Franklin and Carla Thomas.

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10 Questions for Eno Williams of Ibibio Sound Machine

Matthew Wright

Eno Williams is lead singer and composer of the band Ibibio Sound Machine, an eclectic fusion in which contemporary dance and synth are laid over classic Nigerian highlife rhythm and vocals. The full line-up consists of eight musicians working with a range of influences, including Brazilian percussionist Anselmo Netto, Ghanaian guitarist Alfred Bannerman, and producer and saxophonist Max Grunhard.

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Sinatras on Sinatra: 'He was a lonely soul'

jasper Rees

Frank Sinatra is back in London in the centenary of his birth. His disembodied voice is returning in a show called Sinatra: The Man & His Music. At the London Palladium, where he made his British debut 65 years ago, there’s to be a 24-piece orchestra, 20 dancers and video effects galore in a multi-media concert featuring many of his best-loved songs. At the heart of it will be footage supplied by the Sinatra Estate.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Richard Thompson

russ Coffey

On paper, Richard Thompson's career seems every bit as exotic as one of his songs. At the age of 18 he helped found folk-rock pioneers, Fairport Convention. Later, in the Seventies, he and wife Linda recorded several successful records together before retreating to a Sufi Muslim commune.

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Robert Glasper: 'When hip hop took over the world'

Matthew Wright

Pianist and producer Robert Glasper is one of the most versatile and innovative musicians on the scene, working within jazz, R&B, hip hop and related genres. He has won two Grammys, one each for his two Black Radio albums, 2012 and 2015, recorded with his electronic band The Robert Glasper Experiment. He also has an acoustic trio, working more specifically in the jazz tradition.

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10 Questions for Musician Kevin Martin (AKA The Bug)

Guy Oddy

Kevin Martin is a musician, record producer and journalist. He is best know for recording and performing as The Bug, however, has been and continues to be involved in a variety of other musical projects including: GOD, Techno Animal, Ice, Curse of the Golden Vampire and King Midas Sound.

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10 Questions for Musician Pokey LaFarge

Lydia Perrysmith

Pokey LaFarge (b. 1983) is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and American history enthusiast. Based in St Louis, Missouri, but frequently on the road, he self-released his first album Marmalade in 2006, a well-received foray into American roots music, and consolidated his reputation playing mandolin for rowdy folk-revivalists the Hackensaw Boys.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Thea Gilmore

Lisa-Marie Ferla

It takes a particular combination of talent, guts, perseverance and sheer bloody-mindedness for an artist to take the creative decisions that Thea Gilmore has across her approaching 20-year career and get away with it – thankfully, all qualities that the Oxford-born songwriter has in spades.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Peter Perrett

thomas H Green

Peter Perrett (b. 1952) is best known as the singer and songwriter of The Only Ones, a group who originally flared to brilliant life between 1976 and 1981. Born to an English policeman-turned-builder and a mother whose immediate heritage lay amid the tragedy of Austria’s 20th-century Jewry, Perrett grew up in London. Already precociously bohemian, at 16 he ran away with his girlfriend, Xenoulla “Zena” Kakoulli. She would prove to be his lifelong soulmate and partner.

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10 Questions for Musician Ron Sexsmith

russ Coffey

Ron Sexsmith is a singer-songwriter who should, by rights, need no introduction: Critics and fellow musicians, after all, fall over themselves to praise the 51 year-old Canadian. Yet, despite a gorgeous back-catalogue and fans including Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, widespread commercial success has, hitherto, largely eluded him. Still, the singer remains philosophical.

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Percy Sledge: 'When a man loves a woman he can't even think right'

jasper Rees

No soul singer has been associated with one hit in quite the same way. Percy Sledge, who died last week at the age of 74, recorded “When a Man Loves a Woman” in 1966 and launched himself as a tearful balladeer. Its simple chord structure, featuring a descending bassline familiar from Pachelbel and Bach, was the bedrock over which Sledge howled plaintively of a lost love.

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'The Pain Swallowed Her Up' – Rebecca Ferguson Sings Billie Holiday

Matthew Wright

Platinum-selling singer Rebecca Ferguson has released two acclaimed albums, Heaven (2011) and Freedom (2013), though she broke through (in?) to the heart of the music-listening public on The X Factor (2010), when she came in runner-up behind Matt Cardle. Her voice oozes warmth and sincerity, and in only a few years she has acquired a passionate following. She’s also known for a troubled private life, which has become increasingly public.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Mark Stewart

thomas H Green

Mark Stewart is the singer and a founding member of iconoclastic band The Pop Group, who reformed in 2010. He grew up in Bristol and, with The Pop Group, between 1978 and 1981, pioneered an abrasively different post-punk sound based on jazz, funk and hip hop, with a direct and vociferous political edge. Their output, especially their debut album Y and the single “We Are All Prostitutes”, remain hugely influential within alternative rock circles.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain

thomas H Green

With The Jesus & Mary Chain reformed and currently touring their epochal debut album, Psychocandy, theartsdesk reaches into its archives to offer up a rare and very extensive interview with lead singer Jim Reid from 2010.

Jim Reid (b 1961) is lead singer and, with older brother William, the creative driving force behind The Jesus and Mary Chain. Together they created a furore in the mid-Eighties, bursting onto the scene with punk churlishness, a uniquely...

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10 Questions for Rumer 2015

thomas H Green

Last autumn Rumer reappeared with her third album, Into Colour, surprising everyone with a lead single that was disco-flavoured. The rest of the album was closer in scope to the opulent LA easy listening and classic West Coast singer-songwriter fare that the singer has made her own since her first major label single, “Slow”, blew up in 2010.

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10 Questions for Songwriter Jackson Browne

adam Sweeting

If there's one commonly-known fact about Jackson Browne, it's that (with a bit of help from Glenn Frey) he wrote "Take It Easy" for the Eagles. The first track off their first album, and their first hit single, it remained a trademark for the band despite all the changes they subsequently went through. The following year, 1973, Browne released his own recording of "Take It Easy" on his second album, For Everyman.

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10 Questions for Musician Michael League

peter Quinn

Michael League is the Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer, producer and bandleader with NYC-based jazz-funk-fusion band Snarky Puppy. Formed in Denton, Texas, in 2004, Snarky Puppy is comprised of a collective of over 30 musicians. In addition to touring and recording, the band is committed to music education, holding over 100 clinics, workshops, and masterclasses in the US, Canada, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

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Annie Lennox: The Jazz Singer

peter Culshaw

Annie Lennox is a far more fascinating artist than she’s often given credit for. Perhaps because she has been around for decades (she’s now 59) and hasn’t self-destructed like her friend Amy Winehouse or gone into exile for ages like Kate Bush, or Patti Smith, she has less of a fierce mystique and feels more a familiar part of the landscape.

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10 Questions for Musician Fuse ODG

Matthew Wright

Anglo-Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG – born Nana Richard Abiona – is a leading exponent of the new Afrobeats movement, which combines Western pop and rap with Nigerian and Ghanaian pop, and some stylistic elements from the Fela Kuti-inspired Afrobeat scene. Unlike many of his contemporaries on the scene, Fuse spent many years of his childhood in Ghana, returning to London for secondary school, and has detailed first-hand experience of both cultures.

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10 Questions for Musician Jamie Cullum

peter Quinn

Since self-releasing his debut album Heard It All Before in 1999, Jamie Cullum has gone on to become the UK's biggest selling jazz artist of all time. Since April 2010, he has also presented a weekly jazz show on BBC Radio 2, for which he won a Sony Gold award this year.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Holly Johnson

thomas H Green

Holly Johnson (b 1960) is most famous for being lead singer of 1980s pop sensation Frankie Goes to Hollywood. He was born and raised in Liverpool where, as a teenager he threw himself wholeheartedly into the city’s post-punk scene centred around the club Eric’s.

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10 Questions for Musician Gruff Rhys

jasper Rees

It hardly sounds like the springboard for an album, a film, a book and an app. In the 1780s a young Welsh explorer called John Evans journeyed across the unmapped North American continent in search of a tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans. His only source for the tribe’s existence – and linguistic preference – was a legend which claimed that a Welsh prince by the name of Madog ab Owain Gwynedd discovered the New World 300 years before Columbus.

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10 Questions for Singer Sarah-Jane Morris

Matthew Wright

Sarah-Jane Morris is in every sense an original voice. One of Britain’s most distinctive and versatile singers, she has enjoyed commercial success, spending five weeks at number 1 with the Communards’ version of "Don’t Leave Me This Way" in 1986, and selling 100,000 of her self-titled solo album in 1989. She has the distinction of having “Me and Mrs Jones”, which featured on the album, banned by the BBC for suspected lesbianism.

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theartsdesk Q&A: DJ Gilles Peterson

Matthew Wright

DJ, broadcaster and all-round musical pioneer Gilles Peterson is one of the most influential figures in contemporary music. In a career that has grown from a DIY pirate station to running a succession of record labels, global DJing appearances and his own Worldwide Awards, he’s become famous for his commitment to the most unexpected combinations of new sounds and genres, drawn from restless collaborations worldwide.   

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10 Questions for Bassist Marcus Miller

tim Cumming

This year’s edition of the Gnawa Festival in the medina of the beautiful coastal town of Essaouira featured two spectacular fusions – between Bessekou Kouyate with Hamid El Kasri on the closing Sunday night, and on Saturday night – in the early hours of Sunday morning, in fact, on the main stage at Moulay Hassan – bassist, band leader and Miles Davis alumni Marcus Miller with Mustapha Bakbou, forging a dense, deeply rhythmic fusion to match the pounding Atlantic ocean on one side, and the...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Chris & Cosey

joe Muggs

Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti are a living lesson in the rejuvenating power of remaining experimental in art. Their music holds its own alongside the young guns of electronica, who indeed frequently idolise them, and in person they frequently seem as excited about possibilities and open to new ideas as artists just starting out.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Guitarist Hank Marvin

thomas H Green

Hank Marvin (b 1941) was born Brian Rankin in Newcastle. At 16 he and his school friend, fellow guitarist Bruce Welch, headed for London to seek their fortune as musicians. They quickly found work at the 2i’s Coffee Bar in Soho, a seminal British rock’n’roll haunt. The pair were soon hired as Cliff Richard’s backing group, initially known as The Drifters and, eventually, as The Shadows.

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10 Questions for Howling Bells' Juanita Stein

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Howling Bells have come a long way in the 10 years since they settled on a name and direction for their musical project, both physically - the four-piece uprooted themselves from Sydney, Australia to their adopted hometown of London to record and promote their self-titled debut album - and philosophically.

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10 Questions for Drummer Billy Cobham

Matthew Wright

Drummer Billy Cobham has been an innovative and influential figure since the 1960s across jazz, Latin, funk and the areas of fusion between. He has played with Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Randy and Michael Brecker, and in 1971 was a founder-member of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, widely considered to have been the greatest jazz-rock fusion group of all.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Eels' frontman Mr E

russ Coffey

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10 Questions for Zara McFarlane

Matthew Wright

Zara McFarlane’s rise to jazz eminence has taken the scenic route, especially in these days of the super-educated jazz prodigy. From a Jamaican home where reggae was always in the air, via a love of musical theatre, and a degree in pop performance, McFarlane studied jazz and improvisation at the Guildhall. With the support of Gilles Peterson, who signed her to his Brownswood label, she released a debut album, Until Tomorrow, in 2011.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Singer Belinda Carlisle

thomas H Green

Belinda Carlisle (b. 1958) grew up in Los Angeles, one of seven siblings. In her late teens she was lured into California’s nascent punk scene, becoming briefly involved with one of its premier bands, The Germs. She went on to form The Go-Go’s with singer-songwriter Jane Wiedlin (and eventually a long-term line-up consisting of Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine, the last leaving last year in acrimonious circumstances).

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theartsdesk Q&A: Saxophonist Julian Siegel

Matthew Wright

Julian Siegel’s urbane, generically layered voice has, as both reeds player and composer, forged a unique and revered position in the jazz world. He leads a quartet of pioneering drive and technique, featuring pianist Liam Noble, bass player Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo. Their 2011 album Urban Theme Park was widely praised for its improvising ambition, diverse sound worlds and smouldering virtuosity.

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10 Questions for Fringe Magnetic's Rory Simmons

Matthew Wright

Trumpeter and composer Rory Simmons is one of the most innovative and diversely talented musicians on the contemporary jazz scene, genre-hopping with startling agility across its many cutting edges. Fringe Magnetic, Simmons’ acclaimed 11-piece band, has been blending the compositional rigour of classical music with the freer playing style of jazz for nearly five years now.

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10 Questions for Drive-By Truckers' Mike Cooley

Lisa-Marie Ferla

For almost 20 years, Drive-By Truckers have been one of Americana's most consistent and enduring voices  – and, since 2001’s breakthrough double album Southern Rock Opera, probably the quintessential southern roots rockers too. Formed in Athens, Georgia in 1996 by Alabama natives Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, the five piece specialises in catchy melodies with more than a hint of the southern gothic, vivid characters and wickedly witty lyrics.

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theartsdesk Q&A: DJ Kerri Chandler

joe Muggs

Kerri Chandler is quite simply one of the most revered figures in dance music, as much now as when he emerged from the New Jersey club scene onto the international stage nigh on a quarter of a century ago. True to the spirit of the disco, he has only ever released three albums in that time, but has made over 100 12” singles, and maybe twice that number of remixes of other people's work, as well as untold performances as one of the most consistently popular DJs in house music.

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Simple Minds and Ultravox, NIA, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Age can do interesting things to musicians who have once been regular fixtures in the media and who reappear in the public consciousness some years later. Time, it has to be said, has been kind to the two remaining members of Simple Minds’ original line-up. The band’s guitarist, Charlie Burchill, may look like Stan Smith, the star of the cartoon American Dad but he looks good with it. Jim Kerr also seems to be ageing gracefully.

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Tenacious D, second best spoof rock band

jasper Rees

“There is a misconception that we have called ourselves the greatest band on earth.” Jack Black, the self-styled “lead singer” of Tenacious D, is all for dispelling a persistent rumour about a band which has, if he’s honest, done practically nothing to make him a famous name in Hollywood. “People have marketed us that way,” he explains. “You won’t find it anywhere in the albums. You won’t find it in any of our songs.”

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10 Questions for Cellist Oliver Coates

joe Muggs

Oliver Coates is the very model of a modern musical generalist – able to jump, or ignore, the boundaries between musical categories yet retaining deep understanding of the nuances of each category or genre. He has feet firmly in both the concert hall and the artier side of the electronica world, and has collaborated broadly over recent years – though is only now emerging as a solo artist.

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10 Questions for DJ/Producer Richie Hawtin

joe Muggs

Richie Hawtin (b 1970) is no stranger to the art world, nor to working on a monumental scale. The British-born Canadian techno producer/DJ did, after all, collaborate with Jeff Koons, Jean-Luc Godard, LaMonte Young and Anish Kapoor for the French millenium celebrations.

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'It could be a zebra out there for all I care'

Graeme Thomson

In February 2010 I spoke to Lou Reed about his return to Metal Machine Music, a typically incongruous endeavour. Not content with touring his "difficult" 1973 suicide-song-cycle Berlin in 2008, he had decided to re-release his notorious 1975 "guitar symphony" and take his Metal Machine Trio on the road to perform entirely improvised instrumental music inspired by the spirit of the original album.

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10 Questions for Phil Campbell of Motörhead

thomas H Green

Phil Campbell (b 1961) has been guitarist with Motörhead since 1983. That’s four fifths of the band’s 38 year existence. His have been the dirty great riffs at the core of classics such as “Killed by Death”, “Flying to Brazil”, “Eat the Rich", “Stone Deaf in the USA”, “Rock’n’Roll” and multiple others.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Singer Linda Thompson

tim Cumming

Linda Thompson, one of Britain's great living singers, has just released her third solo album since her return to recording with 2001's Fashionably Late.

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10 Questions for Lars Ulrich

nick Hasted

In their new, semi-fantastical concert movie Metallica: Through the Never, the gas-masked marauder who hunts the band’s fictional roadie, Trip, through a nightmare landscape, pictured below, is less cinematically memorable than Metallica themselves. Director Nimrod Antal gets his cameras up amongst them on-stage, as their muscles and eyes bulge and mouths gape, revving up the fans with how much they get off on this music, too.

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10 Questions for Musician Yoko Ono

russ Coffey

Normally we introduce these interviews with a few biographical details about the subject. With Yoko Ono, however, there hardly seems any point: she’s as much a part of late 20th-century history as an musician. But if the whole world knows who she is, her work is a different matter. John Lennon memorably described her as “the world's most famous unknown artist”.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Johnny Marr

nick Hasted

Johnny Marr’s second single as a solo artist, New Town Velocity, describes his youthful propulsion by pop music in grey late Seventies Manchester towards a bright, boundless future he duly reached with The Smiths. It surely also describes the renewed energy he’s drawn from being back in his home city after five years in Portland, Oregon.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Frank Turner

Lisa-Marie Ferla

In a world of reality television show winners and interchangeable flash-in-the-pan singer-songwriter critical darlings, Frank Turner stands apart as the real deal. Over the past 18 months, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Turner had appeared as if from nowhere and his name was suddenly everywhere.

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10 Questions for Russell Smith of Terminal Cheesecake

thomas H Green

In the late Eighties one of the most sonically unhinged bands of all time came together in East London. Terminal Cheesecake caused few commercial waves but gathered a devoted coterie of fans for their unholy racket at pummelling concerts.

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10 Questions for The Duckworth Lewis Method

adam Sweeting

It's four years almost to the day since The Duckworth Lewis Method released their first album, a whimsical batch of songs about the myths and mysteries of cricket. It earned them a kind of nichey notoriety among cricket fans and was an eccentric treat for devotees of the duo behind the project, The Divine Comedy's mastermind Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh of Dublin-based pop band Pugwash.

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10 Questions for Musician & Comedian Reggie Watts

James Williams

Equal parts prodigiously talented musician, consistently funny comedian, auteur, theatre performer, free thinker and writer, Reggie Watts is nigh on impossible to pigeonhole. He is a hurricane of furious creativity operating completely in his own lane, hurtling full-speed towards Parts Unknown. Primarily known for his inimitable blend of improvisational music and comedy, each show he performs is completely original, never to be repeated.

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10 Questions for Musician Cerys Matthews

jasper Rees

“He who sings frightens away his ills.” Cerys Matthews has spent a lifetime heeding the wise counsel of Don Quixote. Born at the tailend of the Sixties, she grew up in the Welsh tradition of musical surroundsound before veering right into the heart of Britpop as the wailing amber-topped siren of Catatonia. Four albums and many stadium triumphs later, the painful break-up more than a decade ago was fed through the distorting prism of the tabloids.

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10 Questions for Internet Broadcaster Jamal Edwards

joe Muggs

In six and a half years of existence, SBTV has redefined what youth culture broadcasting can be. It began as nothing more than a YouTube channel where Jamal Edwards would put up videos he had filmed of his favourite grime MCs – but his natural ambition and charm ensured it kept expanding from that base.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Steve Earle

adam Sweeting

A renaissance man from Texas? Hell yeah. Loosely pegged as "country singer" when he struck out for Nashville in the late Seventies, where he survived on a series of odd jobs before landing himself a songwriting job with a music publisher, the mature Steve Earle has blossomed creatively in all directions. Were he to use business cards, which I can't imagine somehow, he could justifiably bill himself as singer, songwriter, actor, playwright, novelist and political activist.

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Interview: Hariharan

peter Culshaw

Hariharan gives the appearance at least of being fabulously laid-back when I meet him in the lobby of one of Mumbai’s top five star hotels. Wearing a jaunty hat, he is recognised by a lot of passers-by, and when he orders a cappuccino HH is fashioned artfully from chocolate in the foam (see photo below right).

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Nick Rhodes

thomas H Green

Nick Rhodes (b 1962) is a founding member of the group Duran Duran. Their synthesizer player and driving force, he is the sole member to have been in every incarnation of the band. Duran Duran started in Birmingham in 1978 when Rhodes was only 16, a post-punk synth-pop act indebted to Roxy Music and David Bowie.

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10 Questions for Musician John Fullbright

adam Sweeting

"We know we belong to the land, and the land we belong to is grand!" as they sang in the title song of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! Singer-songwriter John Fullbright is no less enthusiastic about his home state, but he views it more from the direction of hobo balladeer Woody Guthrie than from the tradition of the Broadway musical.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Producer/DJ Coki (from Digital Mystikz)

joe Muggs

Croydon-born Coki – Dean Harris – is without question one of the most important musicians of modern times, but unless you are a close follower of underground club scenes it is unlikely you would have heard of him.

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Rock and Pop: Raw Power at 40

theartsdesk

Mick Rock was the court photographer of glam. Among the (un)usual suspects found in his lens were Lou Reed, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. But no one played up for his camera quite like Iggy Pop.The proof is in the six images released today as limited-edition art prints to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raw Power. Each of the editions is overlaid with handwritten lyrics from "Raw Power" and "Death Trip", and are individually hand signed by both Rock and Pop.

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10 Questions for Musician Soweto Kinch

peter Quinn

Born in London in 1978 to a Barbadian father and British-Jamaican mother, Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians to hit the British jazz and hip hop scenes in recent years. Following a degree in modern history at Hertford College, Oxford, Kinch has carved out a music career that has so far led to two Mobo wins for best jazz act (2003 and 2007) and a Mercury Prize nomination for album of the year in 2003.

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10 Questions for Musician Richard Thompson

Graeme Thomson

Richard Thompson has been stretching boundaries and defying expectations for almost half a century. An unassuming 63-year-old with a neat beard whose sole concession to showbiz is his jaunty black beret, though nominally a folk artist Thompson remains doggedly unaffiliated to any scene, trend or ethos.

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10 Questions for Musician Peter Jobson

russ Coffey

Over the past 12 years I Am Kloot have quietly built up a faithful legion of fans who look to the poetic lyrics of lead singer John Bramwell for inspiration and comfort. Sky at Night (2010) won them a Mercury Nomination for its smoky, late-night reflections. It was a slight departure from their normal fare, with a cohesive theme and full arrangements.

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Q&A Special: Dave Brubeck, a Life in Music

adam Sweeting

Two years ago, I spoke to Dave Brubeck just before his 90th birthday. The occasion was being commemorated by a film executive-produced by Clint Eastwood, Dave Brubeck - In His Own Sweet Way, which was aired on BBC Four as one of several broadcast tributes to Brubeck's unflagging creativity over more than six decades.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Björk

russ Coffey

When an artist calls the people of their hometown their family, it's usually a metaphor. In the case of Björk Guðmundsdóttir it’s actually true. Reykjavik has a population of only 200,000 and everyone is somehow related. But she's more than just the capital's favourite daughter: to the outside world the diminutive singer has become as emblematic of Iceland as its volcanoes and midnight sun.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Herbie Hancock

joe Muggs

Herbie Hancock has never stood still. He hit the ground running, joining Miles Davis's second great quintet on piano in 1963 at the age of just 23, and from that moment on demonstrated a Stakhanovite work ethic and appetite for the new which saw him on the crest of wave after wave of revolutionary music.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Conor Maynard

thomas H Green

Conor Maynard is a 19-year-old pop singer, originally from Brighton. He first gained a profile by posting YouTube footage of himself covering a variety of pop and R&B songs. His success increased dramatically when he started working with Virginian rapper Anth Melo. Record company attention arrived after he was spotted by the American singer Ne-Yo and in 2012 his debut album Contrast appeared, featuring three hit singles, “Can’t Say No”, “Vegas Girl” and “Turn Around”.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Diana Krall

peter Quinn

Jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall has won two Grammys and sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. Born in 1964 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, she attended Berklee College of Music in the early 1980s and had her major breakthrough with the 1995 album, All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio. Produced by T Bone Burnett and featuring Marc Ribot on guitar (and a cameo from Howard Coward, a.k.a.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Matthew Herbert

thomas H Green

Matthew Herbert (b 1972) is a leading experimental musician. His work is sometimes as much sonic exploration as music and mostly inhabits territory where the two realms meet.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Tori Amos

Lisa-Marie Ferla

The past few years have seen the anniversary reissue, or concert tour in which classic albums are performed in their entirety, become something of a standard. Not so for Tori Amos, who this year is celebrating two decades since the US release of her debut solo album Little Earthquakes.

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Lady Gaga: Back to the Future

Graeme Thomson

Lady Gaga arrives in the UK this weekend to play two huge shows at Twickenham Stadium, before moving on to Manchester. Today, she is the biggest pop star in the world. Three years ago she was in the final stages of a highly orchestrated campaign intended to claim that position. What follows is an interview with her in Israel in the autumn of 2009, right around the time the world went Gaga gaga.

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10 Questions for Ian Hunter

Graeme Thomson

Ian Hunter’s new album, When I’m President, is an almost obscenely vibrant piece of work for a man who – despite that impossibly golden mop of hair – is now 73 years old. But then Hunter has always been a rock'n'roll survivor.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Pop Duo the Pet Shop Boys

russ Coffey

Pet Shop Boys are the kind of national treasure that make the English so inscrutable. For 30 years they have made pop music that is sophisticated, camp and deadpan, an unlikely formula which has shifted over 100 million records, making them the most successful pop duo ever. Their 11th studio album, Elysium, will be released on 10 September. Recorded in Los Angeles, it is a slower, more sumptuous work than their fans have become used to. Could it be the time has come for a change?

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Karl Wallinger

Graeme Thomson

In February 2001 a brain aneurysm nearly killed Karl Wallinger. It didn’t do World Party many favours either. The aftermath of devastating illness resulted in a five year hiatus for his band, followed by a gradual, tentative return. Since 2006 there have been shows in Australia and America, but no new music and no gigs on this side of the pond. Until now.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Nik Kershaw

thomas H Green

Nik Kershaw (b 1958) is best known for a run of hits in the mid-Eighties, songs such as “Wouldn’t It Be Good”, “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me”, “The Riddle” and “Wide Boy”. He achieved international success and played Live Aid in 1985. Raised in Ipswich, he had a background in local bands before his breakthrough came with 1984’s Human Racing album. His look from the era, all mullet, snood and casual suit, has become definitive Eighties imagery.

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10 Questions for John Prine

jasper Rees

The caterers at Cambridge Folk Festival will be happy it’s John Prine headlining tonight. “The more I sing the thirstier people get,” he claims. “I can sell a lot of liquor when I sing. Maybe they're trying to clear my throat: they hear this gargle with my throat and go, 'Wow, I could sure use a beer'.”

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Q&A: DJ and Festival Promoter Rob Da Bank

joe Muggs

The 21st-century British summer would be a very different thing were it not for Rob Da Bank. With the Bestival brand, Rob – originally Robert Gorham – and his wife Josie have, over the past decade, redefined the weekend music festival, setting the stage for the current massive proliferation of boutique events.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Jimmy Cliff

thomas H Green

Jimmy Cliff (b 1948) is one of Jamaican music’s biggest names. Raised in the countryside, he went to Kingston in his teens and persuaded record shop owner Leslie Kong to record him.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Daryl Hall

adam Sweeting

When he joined up with John Oates, Daryl Hall became half of one of the most successful duos in pop history, which has sold upwards of 60 million albums. From the mid-Seventies to the late Eighties, the pair notched six platinum albums and posted a remarkable streak of hit singles.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Joe Walsh

thomas H Green

Joe Walsh is one of classic American rock’s guitar heroes. For the solo at the end of The Eagles' “Hotel California” alone, he earned his place in those ranks, but he’s done a whole lot more in the 44 years he’s been a professional musician.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Django Bates, Part 2

peter Quinn

Django Bates ascribes the variety of musical influences at play in his work to his childhood - growing up listening to his father's remarkably eclectic record collection. In the first part of my conversation with Django, he talks about Loose Tubes, StoRMChaser and his new post at Bern University of the Arts.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Django Bates, Part 1

peter Quinn

Born in Beckenham, Kent, in 1960, Django Bates is a self-taught composer and founder member of the seminal big band Loose Tubes (1983-1990). As well as leading his own groups, Human Chain and Delightful Precipice, he has composed works for the Brodsky Quartet, Joanna MacGregor, Evelyn Glennie, the Britten Sinfonia and the Dutch Metropole Orchestra, amongst others.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Neneh Cherry

Nick Levine

Neneh Cherry has never been conventional. The singer and rapper's latest album is a collaboration with The Thing, a Swedish free jazz trio who have previously tackled songs by PJ Harvey and The White Stripes. If anything, the presence of Cherry has made them braver: The Cherry Thing features reworkings of The Stooges' "Dirt", Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" and MF Doom's "Accordion". It's gutsy stuff, but it works. The album already sounds like a contender for the end of year lists.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Rumer

thomas H Green

Rumer has recently returned to public life. Her new album, Boys Don’t Cry, is a collection of songs from the Seventies by male singers such as Townes Van Zandt, Leon Russell, Tim Hardin and Jimmy Webb.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Gary Numan

thomas H Green

Gary Numan (born Gary Webb, 1958) was born in Hammersmith and raised in the western outskirts of London, the son of a bus driver. By the latter half of the Seventies he was fronting punk band Tubeway Army but his fortunes changed dramatically when he added synthesizers to the formula and became, with the album Replicas and songs such as “Down in the Park” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”, one of electro-pop’s great innovators.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Spoek Mathambo

peter Culshaw

Spoek Mathambo is one the year's brightest new hopes. From Johannesburg but based in Sweden, Spoek (real name Nthato Mokgata) plays with genres like few others. He makes radical, sometimes disjointed music, some of which - like his new single “Let Them Talk” from his recently released album Father Creeper - you can actually dance to.

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George Harrison: Something in the Vaults

Graeme Thomson

My, what strange and wondrous treasures await the record producer given exclusive access to the private vaults of a Beatle. He will, for instance, find entire radio programmes preserved on multi-track tape, and recordings of F1 cars roaring past at some unspecified race track. He will stumble upon a humbled Fab being given his very first sitar lesson by Ravi Shankar, and be privy to a brief musical moment beamed in across the decades from a room at the Jaipur Palace Hotel.

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Edda Magnason: Interview & Video Exclusive

kieron Tyler

Goods, the second album by Sweden’s Edda Maganson was one of last year’s highlights. With a playful jazz sensibility which intertwined with a quirky pop, Magnason’s approach was unusual and refreshing. Coinciding with the release of her new EP, theartsdesk premieres the video for its lead track “Jona”.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Ilan Volkov

alexandra Coghlan

Relentlessly energetic, opinionated, and never less than passionate about music-making, Ilan Volkov is a close as you get to a prodigy in the world of conducting. Appointed as Young Conductor in association with the Northern Sinfonia at just 19, at 28 Volkov became the youngest ever chief conductor of a BBC orchestra, and almost 10 years later still continues his relationship with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as their Principal Guest Conductor.

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Interview: 10 Questions for Norah Jones

Graeme Thomson

Norah Jones is back. New haircut, new sound, new producer. The first of these, while very nice, needn't concern us too much. The second, meanwhile, is largely a result of the presence of the third, the ubiquitous Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, who is working so hard these days I'm starting to suspect there might actually be two of him: Danger and Mouse. 

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Interview: Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström of e.s.t.

peter Culshaw

“I guess it's jazz, but it's not what jazz was... if you have to call it something... " Esbjörn Svensson was the leader, pianist and main composer of e.s.t. and at the time of his death in a scuba-diving accident on 14 June, 2008, it would seem the band had the world at its feet.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Todd Snider

tim Cumming

He has been called “America’s sharpest musical storyteller” by Rolling Stone, and has enough talent to give Bob Dylan’s talking blues a run for their money. The East Nashville-based singer-songwriter, guitarist, yarn-spinner, troubadour and amiably agnostic stoner has 10 new stories on his 14th album, the title of which acts as a pretty accurate calling card for the Snider experience: Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Stephin Merritt

russ Coffey

For those unfamiliar with his work, Stephin Merritt is like a modern-day Cole Porter: prolific, highly camp, and with a genius for beautifully crafted witty three-minute songs. He performs with the 6ths, The Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes as well under his own name. However it is with The Magnetic Fields that he has achieved greatest recognition.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Gonjasufi

thomas H Green

Gonjasufi, AKA Sumach Ecks (b 1978) was raised in San Diego by a Mexican mother and an American-Ethiopian father. His musical ability first came to more than local prominence when he appeared on the Flying Lotus album Los Angeles in 2008. His own debut album, A Sufi and a Killer, produced by Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer and Mainframe, appeared in 2010.

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Interview: U2 Producer Steve Lillywhite on the Alchemy of Hit-Making

Graeme Thomson

Record producer Steve Lillywhite has been awarded a CBE in the 2012 New Year Honours list. Born in 1955, Lillywhite started his career in the late 1970s working with new wave and post-punk bands such as XTC and Siouxsie & The Banshees. He went on to produce everyone from Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads to Morrissey and Kirsty MacColl, to whom he was once married. His most enduring relationship, however, is with U2.

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Catherine Ringer: Life After Les Rita Mitsouko

kieron Tyler

Asked what attracted her to the music of South America, Catherine Ringer says, “C’est comme ça. Boom-ta-ta-boom, ta-ta-boom, ta-ta-boom-da boom, boom-da-da-boom.” She begins singing. “Boom-da-boom-da-boom, doo-doo-da-doo. It’s the rhythm of rock'n’roll,” she concludes. Ringer still exudes the spontaneity that defined Les Rita Mitsouko, whose first French hit, "Marcia Baïla", was fuelled by Latin rhythms.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Lemmy Kilmister

thomas H Green

Lemmy Kilmister (b 1945) was born Ian Fraser Kilmister in Burslem, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, but spent his formative years in Anglesey. His father, ex-RAF padre, left when he was an infant and he was raised by his mother, who worked as a librarian, and his grandmother. He was interested in rock and pop from an early age and formed various local bands, most successful of which were The Rockin’ Vicars who had a CBS recording contract.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Singer Gregory Porter

peter Quinn

Born in Los Angeles, raised by his mother in Bakersfield, and now living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Gregory Porter's resonant baritone is one of music's wonders. Porter's Grammy-nominated debut album, Water, has earned him praise from critics and fellow artists alike. Released in the UK in April this year to coincide with his appearance on Later... With Jools Holland, Water leapt to Number One in both the UK's iTunes and Amazon charts.

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Interview: Roy Haynes, Jazz Drumming Giant

nick Hasted

The man who played with everyone, Roy Haynes earned his Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Grammys, in a career even his 86 years hardly make credible. He was 21 when he got the call to drum for Louis Armstrong in 1946. He was at the drum stool as Billie Holiday played her last club gig, crying at the pain of her dying body. Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Archie Shepp and Pat Metheny are among the names who’ve enjoyed his sympathetic touch.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Singer-Songwriter Feist

joe Muggs

Nova Scotia-born Leslie Feist is the very model of a 21st-century artist: independent in spirit yet able to work the mainstream industry to her advantage, technologically savvy and au fait with all the means to build and sustain a profile and sales while still maintaining some sense of artistry and dignity.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Cosmo Jarvis

thomas H Green

Cosmo Jarvis (b 1989) was born in New Jersey but grew up in Devon. He has produced two albums, Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch (2009) and Is The World Strange or Am I Strange? (2011), that combine incisive lyricism, goofy humour, rap, rock, terrace-chant choruses, studio orchestration and an unlikely fusion of musical styles, sometimes more jovially eccentric than hip.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Judith Owen and Actor Harry Shearer

russ Coffey

You may know Harry Shearer better as Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons. His wife, Judith Owen, is as well known for her recent stage show with Ruby Wax, Losing It, as her own albums. But though they may have limited street recognisability, in the three cities they call home they are legendary for their hospitality.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Esperanza Spalding

peter Quinn Funky bass lines, circuitous melodic lines, Grammy winner: Esperanza Spalding

Bassist, vocalist and composer, Esperanza Spalding is one of the most exciting things to happen to jazz in recent memory. Born and raised on what she has called “the other side of the tracks” in Portland, Oregon, Spalding grew up in a single-parent home. Encouraged by her mother, she began playing violin at the age of five and gained a place in the Chamber Music Society of...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Seasick Steve

thomas H Green

Seasick Steve Wold (b 1941) has achieved widespread popularity over the last five years with his raw, rootsy, blues-flavoured sounds. He's also renowned for his customised guitars, such as one featured on his new album, You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks, that's made from Morris Minor hubcaps, and for his stage patter which combines US Southern charm with hobo lore and anecdotes.

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Q&A Special: Electronic Musicians Bonjay

Paul McGee Bonjay's Ian Swain and Alanna Stuart take a break from bass-heavy dancehall futurism

A potent combination of growling electronics, sub-bass frequencies and expressive vocals seems to have moved back to the centre of the UK's pop landscape in recent months, whether via the likes of James Blake, Magnetic Man or even the unlikely sound of Britney Spears appropriating dubstep signifiers on her new record. All of which makes the arrival in the UK of Canadian duo Bonjay seem...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Moby

thomas H Green Moby, punk, electronic orchestrator and self-confessed nerd

Moby (b 1965) has been a presence on the dance scene and in global clubland for two decades. He is best known for the multimillion-selling 1999 album Play which, among other things, combined lush electronic orchestration with old field recordings of a cappella blues shouters. Moby's musical career, however, began at least a decade earlier.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Martin Carthy

Graeme Thomson

One of Britain’s most esteemed and influential folk artists, Martin Carthy (b 1941) celebrates his 70th birthday on 21 May. The occasion is being marked by the release of a two-disc career overview, Martin Carthy Essential, and next weekend's celebratory concert at the Southbank Centre, London.

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Q&A Special: Musician Mary Gauthier

tim Cumming Mary Gauthier: Her concept album 'The Foundling' tells the story of her adoption

The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury preserves the story of the Foundling Hospital, established in 1739 by Thomas Coram, the artist Hogarth and the composer Handel. At the end of April, American country singer Mary Gauthier performed The Foundling, a concept album telling of her birth and adoption in 1962 and the attempted reunion with her birth mother some 45 years later. Spiky-...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Electronic Musicians Hype Williams

joe Muggs Inga Copeland and Dean Blunt aka Hype Williams

The music of Hype Williams is the definition of an acquired taste. It sounds ramshackle, thrown together, deliberately awkward – either deeply contrarian or the work of very, very messed-up people just playing around with archaic home recording equipment. But immersion in it reveals all kinds of layers of strangeness, and particularly a rich and emotionally resonant sense of melody that weaves through all the clashing rhythms and crackly recordings. Even the arrangements, it becomes apparent...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Pop Musicians The Human League

thomas H Green

In one of pop's true fairytales, Oakey, with a tour imminent, recruited teenage schoolgirls Catherall and Sulley to the band when he saw them dancing at a nightclub in Sheffield. With this trio fronting a new line-up, The Human League put together Dare, one of Eighties pop's biggest albums with its breakout hit "Don't You Want Me".

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Michel Legrand

jasper Rees

“I want to be a man without any past,” says Michel Legrand (b 1932), who has perhaps the longest past in showbiz. Orchestrator, pianist, conductor, composer of countless soundtracks, who else has collaborated as widely - with Miles Davis and Kiri Te Kanawa, Barbra Streisand and Jean-Luc Godard, Gene Kelly, Joseph Losey and Edith Piaf? On his mantelpiece in the large white sitting room of his splendid classical manoir 100km south of Paris, four familiar gilt statuettes stand sentry. The...

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theartsdesk Q&A: DJ Annie Nightingale

Hilary Whitney Annie Nightingale: 'There’s nobody I know in my age group who remotely likes this kind of thing. I don’t understand why. I really don’t. I’m driven by it. It grabs me by the throat'

In 1970, Annie Nightingale became Radio 1’s first female DJ. The appointment was made somewhat grudgingly - DJs, believe it or not (and we’re talking about the likes of Ed “Stewpot” Stewart and Tony Blackburn here), were perceived to be “husband substitutes” and it was generally accepted that a female voice would alienate the listeners. And yet 40 years later, Nightingale is the only DJ left from the original line-up.

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Q&A Special: Musician Bob Geldof

nick Hasted

Bob Geldof only shuts up in the end because a plane he should be on is imminently taking off for India, and he is still in his local South London pub, refusing to let a heavy cold stop him from talking like others drink - with unquenchable relish. He is in passing promoting his new album, How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell, a lesson Geldof could have given with conviction during his old band the Boomtown Rats’ pomp between 1977 and 1980, when their first nine singles hit...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Producer/DJ Carl Craig

joe Muggs Carl Craig, Detroit emissary

Carl Craig is extraordinarily easygoing. Most dance producers of his seniority and level of achievement would come with at least a publicist in tow, but when we meet him in his London hotel, his only entourage is his nine-year-old son, playing happily with an iPad or chatting to the photographer as we talk, and Craig is very easy and engaging company. One might expect someone more driven-seeming, given that, in the notoriously fickle world of club music, he has managed to keep both fiercely...

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Q&A Special: Musician Lee Hazlewood

kieron Tyler

Forty-five years ago today, Nancy Sinatra’s risqué “These Boots Are Made For Walking” entered the British charts, beginning its rise to Number One. This country-slanted ode to sex and domination, sung by Frank’s daughter, hasn’t had its impact blunted by repeated exposure on nostalgia radio.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Simon Raymonde

joe Muggs Simon Raymonde at the South By Southwest festival in Texas, conspicuously not following the crowd

Simon Raymonde's Bella Union label occupies an enviable position within the music world. Successfully (although, as you'll see below, only just) weathering the travails of an industry beset by downloading and market fragmentation, it enters the 14th year of its existence strong and confident, with an impressive roster of maverick artists with actual or potential mainstream appeal. But then Raymonde knows a thing or two about making the weird popular: as part of the Cocteau Twins from...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Bruce Springsteen

adam Sweeting

It's a season of retrospection for Bruce Springsteen. New light has been thrown on his pivotal 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town with the release of The Promise, a double CD of out-takes and unreleased songs, alongside an expanded box set of CDs and DVDs telling the Darkness story in sound and vision.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Producer/DJ Richie Hawtin

joe Muggs Minimal techno kingpin Richie Hawtin deals with those allegations of over-seriousness head on

It's only after hanging up the Skype connection to Richie Hawtin that I realise how effective a branding exercise he has made the interview. In conversation the English-born, Canadian-raised Berlin resident is charming and smart, but listening back I realise that he has subtly repeated the names of his projects and products over and over, with the slickness of a high-flying salesman. But then you don't sustain a 20-year career making relentlessly odd music - yet still be regularly...

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Interview: Anton Corbijn on making The American

nick Hasted George Clooney as Jack in 'The American'; 'More brutal than Bond'

Joy Division brought Anton Corbijn to England in 1979 and, nearly 30 years later, made him a cinema director. The sleeve of the band’s album Unknown Pleasures fascinated him so deeply he felt compelled to leave Holland for the country where such mysteries were made. The photographs he took of them for the NME helped make an icon of their singer Ian Curtis even before his 1980 suicide, and were themselves icons of a school of serious, black-and-white rock photography.

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Q&A Special: Musician Femi Kuti

nick Hasted

When the hit Broadway musical Fela! reached London last week, Femi Kuti joined the ovations on opening night with more feeling than most. The musical’s subject, his father Fela Kuti, was a government-taunting mix of James Brown and Che Guevara, a musical revolutionary who, with drummer Tony Allen, forged Afrobeat, and a polygamous, dope-smoking thorn in the side of successive corrupt Nigerian governments.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

thomas H Green

Andy McCluskey (b 1959) is singer and frontman of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, one of the most successful groups of the late Seventies and early Eighties electro-pop boom. They reformed five years ago but have been in no rush to dive into things, finally releasing a new album, History of Modern, this autumn.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musicians Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

james Woodall

Since December 2007, the question has been: will they or won’t they?

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Q&A Special: Composer Scanner

ismene Brown

Over this weekend the spaces of London's Royal Opera House will be transformed by strange sounds, vaguely operatic, vaguely foresty, thoroughly chilled. The ambient atmospheres will be made by Scanner, who calls himself a “cultural engineer” and has made sounds for morgues, dances, Philips wake-up lights and chill-out rooms in clubs, during an extraordinarily eclectic career that seems to exist somewhere on the very edge of technology.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Jo Bartlett of the Green Man Festival

joe Muggs The Green Man himself at the 2009 festival

The Green Man festival takes place this coming weekend at the Glanusk estate near Abergavenny in the rolling hills of the Brecon Beacons. What begun in 2003 as a glorified gig for the husband and wife duo It's Jo And Danny has become the very epitome of the 21st-century “boutique festival” - indeed is very possibly responsible for that concept itself.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Dan Treacy

thomas H Green Dan Treacy: 'I'm sick to death of guitars, I'm through with them. I played last week and thought, what's this round my neck?'

It has been said that Dan Treacy (b. 1960) is the TV Personalities in the same way that Mark E Smith is The Fall. Certainly he has been the sole consistent member since they appeared in 1978 with the single "14th Floor" and subsequent cult hit "Part Time Punks". The early Eighties incarnation of the band, which included "Slaughter" Joe Foster and Ed Ball (later...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Gareth Campesinos!

Rose Dennen Hold on now, youngsters: Los Campesinos! briefly stand still

Los Campesinos! are revelling in deserved notoriety on both sides of the pond. Their first two albums, Hold on Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, saw Los Campesinos! lumped in with the twee-pop tag of bands like Bearsuit, Tiger Trap and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but new release Romance is Boring sees the eight-piece delve into more lush and experimental realms. Their touch is more technical and their approach much more mature. It's as if...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Mark E Smith

tim Cumming

Since releasing their first record, Bingo Masters Breakout, Mark E Smith (b 1957) has led The Fall through some of rock music’s most extreme and enthralling terrain, cutting a lyrical and musical swathe that few other artists can match. An outsider, self-confessed renegade, and microphone-destroying magus, Smith has seen dozens if not hundreds of musicians pass through the ranks of The Fall over the last 34 years. With their 28th studio album featuring a line-up that’s as stable as it gets...

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Q&A Special: Musician Ben Drew, aka Plan B

thomas H Green

Ben Drew, who records as Plan B, is busy on the promotional rounds. He has spent the day at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios being interviewed by Fearne Cotton and others for TV and radio, and performed his new single "She Said" as well as an ebullient cover of Charles & Eddie's "Would I Lie to You?" He's accompanied by a nine-piece band, including three gospel backing singers, and is as sharp-suited as the promo photos you see here.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Mariza, Diva of Fado

Graeme Thomson

Marisa dos Reis Nunes (b. 1973) is an African-Portuguese singing superstar whose music has deep roots in fado, Portugal’s dark-blue, intensely poetic national music, but which over the course of five albums has gradually taken on inflections of jazz, blues and bossa nova. Born in Mozambique to an African mother and a Portuguese father, Mariza (like all good divas she has long since dispensed with meddlesome surname, converting along the way the soft S in her forename to a zippy Z) grew up in...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Tim Lawrence

joe Muggs

Tim Lawrence is an author and academic, whose musical studies have led him from the dance scene of the 1990s to researching New York's disco scene – his Love Saves the Day was the first and remains the definitive history of the music, history and politics of disco – and then to the singular figure of Arthur Russell.

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theartsdesk Q&A: DJ Mary Anne Hobbs

joe Muggs

Immediately following the death of radio DJ John Peel in 2004, it became clear very rapidly that there was no obvious heir apparent. With so many specialist shows on the station, nobody ran the full gamut of leftfield and underground music in the same way that Peel had. But if anyone comes close, it is Mary Anne Hobbs.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Guitarist Wilko Johnson

nick Hasted

In Oil City Confidential, Julien Temple’s exhilarating new documentary on Dr Feelgood, the first thing you’ll see is the spidery, alien movements of the band’s guitarist Wilko Johnson, as he looks out over their Essex heartland, Canvey Island. The film is a sort of prequel to Temple’s Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, digging into the early 1970s pub rock scene the Feelgoods ruled with their hard, sharp R’n’B before punk, lessons learned, stole the stage.

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theartsdesk Q&A: DJ Kode 9

joe Muggs

Glasgow-born, south London resident Steve Goodman – better known to discerning lovers of modern music as Kode 9 – has a unique and privileged position in relation to the ever-shifting UK dance music underground.  In the mid 90s he formed part of the slightly cultish Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) founded by Sadie Plant and Nick Land at the University of Warwick, where he gained a PhD in philosophy.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Singers Chas and Dave

jasper Rees

After four decades in beards and braces, Chas and Dave are no more. It was announced this week that, following the recent death of Dave Peacock’s wife, the duo have performed their last ever pub gig. Chas Hodges will soldier on in his own band, but it’s no exaggeration to say that rockney, their chirpy fusion of three-chord rock'n'roll and rollicking Cockney wit, has officially lost its mojo.

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