Yet another Eurovision hopeful, this time it's Georgian entry Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz who faces the questions about their career, Eurovision chances and the like. Although they might as well be fairly unknown across Europe, they have in fact been going a truly respectable sixteen years. Their song 'Midnight Gold' should give them the much deserved attention.
They're an all-male Indie Rock band and so despite the sexist connotations made in the interview, they are sure to win over the hearts of European Indie Rock fans.
As Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz look ahead to their inaugural Eurovision performance at the second semi final, GMA wants to stress that only ten countries can progress from each of the two semi-finals and join the big 5 (UK, Italy, Spain, France & Germany) plus Sweden. Georgia has never won an edition of Eurovision unlike their neighbours Azerbaijan, so perhaps it might be there year. Their best result is a commendable 9th in 2010 and 2011, last year they placed 11th in the final with the super-gorgeous Nina Sublatti.
Here is how the interview panned out:-
Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz, how does it feel to be representing Georgia for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016?
Of course I’m excited. Regarding my expectations, I don’t really know what to think, our strength I feel lies with our live performance.
How have you been preparing for this event? What was your reaction when the GPB chose you as their selected entry?
To be honest I didn’t even know what to think, I never thought I would get an offer to play at the Eurovision Song Contest, but after the first meeting I realized “why not” and now I’m pretty much into it.
Are you excited or nervous? Seeing as you're the first all-male entry to represent Georgia, do you take pride in this fact?
Well it's a bit sexist isn't it? Joking aside, of course we're proud to be representing Georgia.
Please explain the meaning behind your song 'Midnight Gold'.
It’s about what goes on in a persons head after a long night. Basically “hard nights day”
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
Well at the moment we've got more than enough songs for one album, the plan is to start working as soon as we come back. During the summer, for us is the best time for recording sessions.
Finally have you got any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
Love & music will save the world (seriously :) )
(Check out their video below)
Yet another Eurovision hopeful, this time it's Austrian entry Zoë who faces the questions about her career, Eurovision chances and the like. Although she is 19 years old, she has already released a debut album simply entitled 'Debut' and her Eurovision song 'Loin d'ici' comes directly from said album.
Despite her being Austrian she opted to sing in French, which in itself is quite unique but not as unique as her music per se. Yet for such a young musician, to see her album reached #5 in the Austrian charts is remarkable, so we're yet to see what she can really offer us. Previously she attempted to represent Austria last year but only managed third place, so to see her win this time and head to Sweden in May is a fairy tale come true.
As Zoë looks ahead to her inaugural Eurovision performance at the first semi final, GMA wants to stress that only ten countries can progress from each of the two semi-finals and join the big 5 (UK, Italy, Spain, France & Germany) plus Sweden. The last time Austria won the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2014 when Conchita Wurst set the world alight with her infectious 'Rise Like A Phoenix' and just like ABBA, became a success overnight. Last year Austria qualified for the final only to finish the final on nul points, so Zoë will almost certainly want to avoid the same fate - perhaps even going on to win Eurovision for Austria for the third time!
For Zoë, she is is "really happy and grateful" to be representing Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, adding that it is also "like a dream is come true", so clearly she is looking forward to it. Now clearly participants have their own ways of preparing for special occasions like this, more importantly is how to contain their excitement, so how did she do this when learning the news that she had won the 'Wer singt für Österreich' competition?
Well for her "it was so overwhelming! You know, it was the second attempt and I could not believe it..it took some time until I realized it!", of course this is just one of the hurdles till Eurovision and the biggest hurdle yet to jump over is the Semi-Final, so with last year's result for Austria being abysmal, is she nervous or excited about the prospect of overturning Austria's misfortune? "I am excited, I can’t hardly wait to be in Stockholm and to perform on stage. Well, yes there is some pressure, of course, but I will do my best and I am really motivated to make my country proud".
To help Zoë get into the Finals, if you are able to vote in the semi-final (only France, Sweden or Spain), then send your vote her way. Your vote can make the difference to whether she makes the final or goes home. Check out her song below:-
What with Eurovision welcoming new countries over the years, some not geographically European such as Israel and Morocco and some like Australia who despite are in this edition, were invited as a guest last year, can we see more non-traditional countries entering?
Well Kazakhstan applied for EBU membership, so we might see them next year. But what does Zoë think about this expansion?
"I think it’s great that Australia participates again and it would be awesome to see other non European countries participating, too. I mean the Eurovision Song Contest is followed by millions of people and has fans all over the world. I could imagine to see Asian countries and countries from Latin America bringing their music on the Eurovision stage, why not?"
Well this year China tried to apply but was denied by the EBU, what with Zoë wanting to see Asian and Latin American countries taking part, along with Iceland's Greta wanting the Faroe Islands to participate, it would seem that the Eurovision Board will need to consider these wishes because clearly there is opportunities to push and market the Eurovision brand worldwide.
Naturally Eurovision enables bands and artists to showcase their wonderful songs and rejoice in unison through music, speaking of which, what does Zoë's song 'Loin D'ici' mean? Well simply put it "is a song about a journey to an imaginary paradise – a place where everyone is happy singing and dancing. It’s not a physical place, more a state of mind. The song is meant to radiate positive vibes to put a smile on the faces of those who listen to it!"
So does Zoë have any parting words? Of course!
"Hey dear readers! I'm really looking forward to the Eurovision 2016 and I cant wait to be on stage and sing Loin d'ici for you! If you like my song and feel happy after listening to it, then of course, I'd be honoured if you vote for me! Kisses from Austria, your ZOË."
Eurovision Semi-Final dates:-
#1 - 10th May
#2 - 12th May
The ESC 2016 Final is on the 14th May.
Another Eurovision hopeful, this time it's Switzerland entry Rykka who faces the questions about her career, Eurovision chances and the like. Although she was born in Canada, she eventually stayed in the Alpine nation after her album 'Straight Line' was released back in 2010. Since then she has gone on to release four albums in title, and now her biggest challenge awaits.
As Rykka looks ahead to her inaugural Eurovision performance at the second semi final, GMA wants to stress that only ten countries can progress from each of the two semi-finals and join the big 5 (UK, Italy, Spain, France & Germany) plus Sweden. The last time Switzerland won the Eurovision Song Contest was way back in 1988 with Celion Dion, and where was Celion born? CANADA. Can lightning strike twice?? Last year Switzerland failed to qualify for the final, so Rykka will almost certainly want to avoid the same fate - perhaps even going on to win Eurovision for Switzerland for the third time!
Some may question Switzerland's choice because of Rykka not being born in Switzerland, but some will recall that Katrina & The Waves represented the UK and they're American! Besides, Rykka's heritage hails from Switzerland through her grandfather. So surely representing Switzerland must be a huge honour for her? Well obviously it is:-
"Being part of Eurovision is such a special adventure! It means a lot to me because Eurovision connects so many great people. It’s so amazing to meet so many amazing people who are connected to Eurovision in some way. Also, I’m so proud to represent Switzerland because it’s really in my heritage and I love it here so much."
So how has she prepared for this momentous occasion? Well Rykka remained focused and dedicated to the task in hand, saying she always aims to think about the positives, however as she went on to explain that at the ESC 2016 – Die Entscheidungsshow competition she didn't worry about winning, because for her it was about "having a great time because everyone backstage was so wonderful and it felt like family". However, she is working on improving her stability and health through strengthening her voice up by harking back to her early days where she "first started singing professionally... making everything strong from the ground up", this includes her mental state; clearing her head.
Obviously she's excited about being there, but she doesn't seem phased by the big occasion expressing that she's ready to give it her best shot and hope for the best, whilst making it a truly special moment in her life. She goes on to explain her feelings about how Switzerland is celebrating 60 years since hosting and winning it:-
"I don’t think there is a formula. I think there is a place for everyone, and that maybe some things work better at a certain time than others. That doesn’t mean that something is better or worse for eternity, just maybe at that particular second in time. Of course it would be absolutely amazing to win ESC and it would also come with a huge responsibility. One that I am capable of accepting and thriving in. I’m absolutely up for it and imagine it all the time, I’m big into visualisation."
Check out her chosen song 'The Last of Our Kind' below:-
Speaking of her single 'The Last Of Our Kind', you might be asking what is behind the title? Because well all songs have a meaning right? For Rykka it's about being yourself, standing on your own two and showing that you care about others in your life:-
"The message of 'The Last Of Our Kind' is to always stand up for love above all. Stand up for yourself and for people and other beings who can’t stand up for themselves. Standing up for love also sometimes means to go against your own ego and really search to find the truth."
Post-Eurovision Rykka is releasing her new album (of which we presume the song 'The Last Of Our Kind' will be included on) and touring with her band. Rykka signed off our interview with her with the following message:-
"I want to thank everyone for their amazing support! It’s such a dream to share this crazy experience with all of you. Sending love out to everyone!"
Eurovision Semi-Final dates:-
#1 - 10th May
#2 - 12th May
The ESC 2016 Final is on the 14th May.
As Iceland's Greta Salóme looks ahead to her inaugural Eurovision performance at the first semi final, GMA decided it was time to turn the interrogation spotlight onto her. Remember only ten countries can progress from each of the two semi-finals and join the big 5 (UK, Italy, Spain, France & Germany) plus Sweden. Last year Iceland failed to qualify for the final for the first time, so Greta will almost certainly want to avoid the same fate - perhaps even going on to win Eurovision for Iceland for the first time ever!
Of course representing your country at Eurovision is such a huge privilege, and for Greta "It´s a once in a lifetime experience that I get to do for the second time so I´m very grateful and happy", her second time round has come about through her winning the Söngvakeppnin 2016 contest which ultimately determines who goes to represent Iceland at the ESC in each edition.
Although this news startled Greta, leaving her surprised and ecstatic, she is looking forward to and excited in joining the 'Eurovision bubble' (as Måns Zelmerlöw put it last year) expressing that she has faith in her song before adding that she "believes in the message behind it and I´m just excited to get that message out there and share my music with the world". Speaking of the world, we asked her what her thoughts of the likes of Australia participating once again, and whether the Eurovision should expand further afield, if so, who would she like to see join in the fun?
"The more the merrier! I´m really happy Australia is participating. It gives the contest even more diversity. I would love to see the Faroe Islands in the contest also. They have so many great musicians there. One of my favourite ones is Teitur."
The Faroe Islands have previously attempted to join the EBU in hopes of furthering their chances of Eurovision participation but have routinely denied due to their current status of being within the Danish Kingdom, which is slightly funny seeing as you have countries like Israel and Morocco who have been it and are not on the European continent yet are in the European Broadcasting area, funny no?
Portal, a Faroese media outlet posted about this news back in June 2015 and can be read here (non-Faroese/Danish readers should use Google translator): http://portal.fo/bjorn+kalso+limaskapur+i+eurovision+er+treytadur+av+at+landid+er+sjalvstodugt.html
Check out Greta's official music video for the Icelandic entry 'Hear Them Calling' below:
For Greta, 'Hear Them Calling' carries an important meaning and message:-
"The message of the song is that we should not listen to the negative voices and influences that we are so exposed to in today´s society. Instead we should focus on the positive voices and be a positive voice to others because they are the ones that will lead you where you need to go."
This resonates within the notion that music should be considered a form of positivity, that we can relate to songs and place them in context with our daily lives, be it pop, rock, metal, electronic music or whatever, music speaks to us and in relation to Greta's song 'Hear Them Calling', as she said we should be concentrating on "the positive voices and be a positive voice to others because they are the ones that will lead you where you need to go", safe to say Iceland's entry is more than just a song, it's a personal statement and it's this type of song that we reckon will finish in the top 5 in the finals... you read it, THE FINALS.
Post-Eurovision, Greta's activities don't stop there as she heads back to Disney in June where she has a contract with them performing on board the Disney cruise ship (which travels between Florida and The Bahamas) "and then will be travelling and performing until September and then it´s concerts throughout the year and new material. So it´s gonna be a big year." So we may yet see Greta reach the UK shores, here is an artist who has an agenda in check, she may well be one of Disney's and Iceland's princesses, but she has the potential to become the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 Queen.
Greta has a message to send out to her fans and fans of Eurovision:-
"Lets now let the negative voices bring us down and listen to the positive voices and be a positive voice to others!"
Eurovision Semi-Final dates:-
#1 - 10th May
#2 - 12th May
The ESC 2016 Final is on the 14th May.
We're always looking to draw in new elements into what we do, this time we spoke to a star-to-be, you might not have heard of her just yet, but she has a good career in the making on the horizon.
We speak of course of Becca B, one of R&B's hottest properties, so hot we think she's metal enough to deserve the coverage by us! Becca B supported Gareth Gates and Stacey Solomon and so you would think this would be the perfect start to any music career in the mainstream, however Becca admits that she was slightly nervous at the time in question:
"I was so giddy when I came to being on the same stage as Gareth but didn't really bother me with Stacey. I actually didn't stay and watch her, plus she arrived late! All I was thinking watching Gareth was that's going to be me one day".
Of course during life we all make decisions that can either be straightforward or so hard and difficult to apprehend that we don't know what to think, so when Becca shifted from playing football to singing, she reiterated her passion for football and despite her drawbacks when she was 18 she remained determined to achieve something life. Regarding playing football (and at a charity match; let's hope someone reads this who wants her on their side), Becca shared her thoughts on it:-
"I never really achieved anything major with it as I had a kid at 18, so couldn't go on to play for anyone major but having to give football up was where I needed to be to knuckle down on my career. Yes of course I would play a charity match that would be awesome!"
Music connects with us and we connect with the musicians, but a compromise has to be met according to Becca in terms of how musicians use social media, it's becoming harder yet ironically easier as well, "it’s great to interact with fans and answer questions but so hard to get a reply back from radio papers etc, they just seem to ignore it! Lol", but naturally social media has enabled musicians to share their music to an international audience; potential at that, so of course Becca's new single 'Ready & Waiting' would surely act as the catalyst for her exposure.
After all it featured MceBisi who Becca regards as a "cool and an awesome artist" and one who she'd love to collaborate with again, currently she's "working on new material, but I really want ‘Ready and Waiting’ to be heard, it's different, easy listening and so catchy!" (we couldn't disagree), clearly Becca has vision in mind so take note, this lass isn't giving up anytime soon!
‘Ready and Waiting’ without any doubt has given Becca a boost in confidence following comments made about the song, especially when "a lot have said they can't get it out of their head", clearly it is loved, whether it be because of the music or the lyrics that Becca wrote for it. Her inspirations are drawn from her own experiences, emphasizing that it makes "the lyrics fresh, it's good to offer something different".
Becca goes on to confess her love for Olly Murs, adding that not only is he cool but also that she loves most music genres, as for R&B if it is listened to both musically and lyrically it is just as good, if not better!". Of course music borrows elements from all types, metal from classical for example. She confesses she want's to do a music video for ‘Ready and Waiting’ and Eurovision, adding "once I get a feel for how well the songs doing! And most definitely hell yeah I would defo do Eurovision!"
Becca wishes to thank:-
"Electric Bear Records both Simon and Jared have been so good helping me produce this track and I’m sure I do Jared’s head in, I’m constantly on the phone! I wanna say a massive thank you to all my fans for sticking by me in all the decisions and directions I’VE been taking and hope they all like "Ready and Waiting" also to my family and friends for their support and hello to all my new fans!"
"Ready and Waiting" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kWHkGrkvlw
By Rhys Stevenson
Two years ago, the German Industrial Goth / EBM / NDH trio Oomph! unveiled their twelfth album "Des Wahnsinns fette Beute" (Eng: "Fat Booty Of Madness") and this year mark their 25th anniversary as a band who have never split, nor have had any line-up changes (apart from the live setup where long-standing drummer Leo handed over drumming duties to Silvestri and bassist / backing vocalist Tobi handed over his duties to Hagen Godicke, whilst the band introduced Okusa and El Friede on percussion and keyboards respectively).
GMA spoke to Dero (middle of the photo) about what makes Oomph! tick along nicely.
Hi Dero hope all is well. Now as Oomph! have been going a staggering 25 years, what in your opinion has been the highlight(s) and the least favorite part(s) of the band's career so far?
Well our first ever record deal which was with Machinery Records, this lead to the releasing of our first album "Oomph!". Our first ever club show and the first festival we played at (GMA: we presume this is Ozzfest 2002), our first ever duet, our first show in a foreign country, our first video-clip... there are so many highlights to mention and we're very thankful about that fact.
Four years ago you released your first English compilation album "Truth Or Dare" (Wahrheit Oder Pflict), what was the reception like from the non-German speaking fans?
"Truth Or Dare" is to be seen as a gift for our non-German speaking fans... the album was mainly released in foreign countries, so it was clear that it has not been done for the German, Austrian or Swiss markets... our foreign fans were very thankful for our English adaptations, because they are able to understand our German lyrics far better now with this album...
"Truth Or Dare" can be purchased via: eBay / Amazon.de / Amazon.com / iTunes
Now you're considered pioneers of the Neue Deutsche Harte (NDH) movement, could you explain to our readers would that exactly entails, what makes the music genre what it is?
As this "trademark" had been mentioned by some German music journalists, in the middle of the 1990's, OOMPH! was already there for about 6 years..."NDH" deals with the associations of the 1980's "Neue Deutsche Welle" but implies some kind of hardness, strength and German cliches... OOMPH! never used to be a band who was only hard, so this explaination did not fit very well on our music... even if bands like Rammstein, Eisbrecher or Unheilig claim that OOMPH! were the main influence on them, in my eyes OOMPH! is far too versatile to put a very one-dimensional stamp like "NDH" on it... we don´t like to deal or play with some cliches about Germans that´s been spread especially in foreign countries... that would be too ambigious for us...
Now have you performed in the UK? If so when? If not, would you consider this in the future? Speaking of the future, what plans does Oomph! have for the coming year?
Unfortunately we didn´t have the opportunity to play in the UK so far... if we were left to our own devices, we´d play everywhere in the whole world, but it does not depend on us, you know... it needs a proper local promoter and distributor, who believes in the band and wants us to play there... we´re busy with working on our forthcoming album which hopefully will come out early next year... we´re looking forward to it very much... it would be great to have the chance to play some festivals or club-shows in the UK next year... if you see any chance, please contact our live booking agency... ;-)
Check out "God Is A Popstar" below, this is taken from their release "Truth or Dare" - it is the English version of "Gott Ist Ein Popstar".
"God Is A Popstar" taken from the album "Truth or Dare"
The song "Gott Ist Ein Popstar" caused some controversy in Germany, what enticed the band to write this song and could it be said that the song highlights modern religious traits that have 'glamorized' more traditional religious traits?
Actually the song was a pretty ironical approach on all those casting events..."Britain´s Got Talent", "Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar" and so on... it seems that the now gods are those casting heroes... fortunately they´re not very long-lasting gods... you can recognize a transcendental decay in our "Western world" and I´m not sure yet, if it´s good or bad for us... ;-)... let´s see...
If you could choose any five Industrial / Goth bands past or present that you could tour the world with, who would it be and why?
NIN - one of the most innovative and influencing bands of the last 25 years..."The Downward Spiral" is just killer!
TYPE O NEGATIVE - such a versatile and dark romantic band..."Bloody Kisses" is a true piece of art...rest in peace, Pete!
D.A.F. - to me, one of the most innovative bands from Germany, which had a huge impact on other bands... try "Der Mussolini"!
KRAFTWERK - real heroes, as we all know..."Das Model" is just cult!
NITZER EBB - great British band... unfortunately very underrated... "SHOWTIME" was their best album in my eyes...
You were 19 or so when you started Oomph! How did you meet Crap (Andreas) and Flux (Robert Flux) and what inspired you to play NDH / Industrial Gothic Metal?
Crap and I used to live in the same skyscraper when we were kids... we grew up in Wolfsburg, which is a very industrial city, which is focused on the manufacturing of the "Volkswagen"... if you want so, the perfect base for founding an industrial band... ;-)... so we were hanging around in the late 80's with our first synthesizers and made some pretty infantile noise... but it was much fun to try and compose our first material back then... Flux joined us in 1989 and thus we founded OOMPH!...
Most people would have recognized you from the "Wahrheit Oder Pflicht" - era with spiked hair and trademark-style beard, did you get inspiration for this or was it along the lines of 'lets do something unique'?
As a kid of the 1980's, I tried out almost every haircut and color that´s been available... ;-)... maybe it was just the right style at this point of time... it was kind of a mixture of everything that i tried out before... ;-)
Check out "Augen Auf!" below, taken from the album "Wahrheit Oder Pflict"
"Augen Auf!" taken from "Wahrheit Oder Pflicht" and featured on the FIFA 2005 soundtrack.
Now "Augen Auf!" is without a doubt Oomph!'s best charted single to date and has featured on FIFA 2005, now two things:- 1. what is the story behind the song and is there a difference in meaning between "Augen Auf" and "Augen Auf Ich Komme"?
The lyrics contain parts of an ancient German child´s game which is pretty much like "Hide and Seek"... we wanted to create a creepy version of this game... "Augen Auf!" means "Open Your Eyes", and "Augen Auf Ich Komme!" means "Open Your Eyes I´m Coming!"... but you cannot translate it one to one into English, that´s why we chose "Ready Or Not I´m Coming!" in the English version... you can decide yourself, if there´s a double meaning in those lyrics...;-)
Oomph!'s songs all tend to vary across lyric topics e.g. more romantic "Brennende Liebe" to cosmetic surgery-style "Wer Schön Sein Will Muss Leiden", how do you choose what lyric topics you want to do and does each album have a theme?
Not every OOMPH! album is a concept album with a certain topic, like "Wunschkind" or "Defekt"... sometimes life in itself offers just too many stories to tell just to be fixed on one single topic...if you walk with open eyes through our world, you´ll be inspired permanently...
How does "Des Wahnsinns Fette Beute" compare to the rest of the albums Oomph! has released?
I would consider it our most courageous album so far... I guess, it was about time to show our self-ironical side with this release... if you wanna avoid becoming ridiculous over the years, you have to have the guts to laugh about yourself and make fun of yourself... that´s true badass behavior in my eyes... ;-)
Check out "Das Letzte Streichholz" from the album "GlaubeLiebeTod" below.
"Das Letzte Streichholz" taken from the album "GlaubeLiebeTod"
Finally are there any thank you's and hello's you wish to express to fans, friends, etc? (feel free to add any other information)
Thanx a lot to everybody who believes in OOMPH! and who helps to spread the OOMPH! virus all over the world... keep your eyes open, ´cause we´re coming... ;-)
It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with Tuesday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Iceland, whose entry Pollapönk made it to the finals (live Saturday night on BBC1 - check your own national broadcaster), they mix punk rock with children's music, this however is overshadowed by the interesting fact that their back-up vocals are split amongst Óttarr Proppé (from Ham) and Snæbjörn Ragnarsson (from the Viking Metal band Skálmöld). You might as well admit that Iceland and Finland have both gone down the rock route this year (we would like to see more of this), what with Ukraine's Gothic pop entry also gone through, there is a little theme going on this year.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Pollapönk and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'No Prejudice' and the Icelandic Rock Music scene. Many thanks to Haraldur
Gíslason for talking to us.
"Eurovision is a happy place".
Hey guys, first off how does it feel to represent Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest?
It is a dream come true to get on to a big stage like this and to get our message out to as many people. We don’t feel any pressure, but we are determined to have fun and do our very best to make Iceland proud.
The song "Enga fordóma (No Prejudice)" is about a young person who has the habit of stuttering around others and fears to be mocked or bullied because of this. With this song it is Pollapönk’s aim to help eliminate all bullying and prejudice as everyone has the right to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the world. We think that the world needs to hear the "no prejudice" message. Especially from middle age, heterosexual, white men like us. Being middle age, heterosexual, white men makes us a group that is most unlikely to be discriminated against and we believe that we should use this opportunity to point out the injustice in this world. Of course we know that it will not instantly make the world a better place. It is our small contribution.
What inspired you to get the suits? Especially in vibrant colors :)?
With different colors we are calibrating diversity. We may look different on the outside but on the inside we are the same. Also we just look very good in these colored suits.
What does Pollapönk mean and why that name?
Pollapönk means two things. Punk for kids and puddle punk.
Could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Icelandic Rock scene?
The Icelandic rock scene is very good. All the members from Pollapönk come from the Icelandic underground rock scene. There is a lot of good bands coming up and the scene is growing.
Now you have been going eight years, where have you played outside Iceland?
Not so much as Pollapönk. But Heiðar and Haraldur are in a band called Botnleðja that has toured a lot outside Iceland. Once they supported Blur in the UK. Gudni and Arnar are in a band called Mugison that has toured a lot as well. Bibbi or mister Orange as we like to call him is in a heavy metal band called Skálmöld. Our member of parliament Óttarr is also in a band called Ham.
Could you give a brief history of the band and how you met?
Pollapönk was founded in 2006 by guitarists Haraldur Freyr Gíslason and Heiðar Örn Kristjánsson of the Icelandic post-punk trio Botnleðja. They created Pollapönk when graduating as Bachelors of education from the University of Iceland. The purpose was to write and perform music that children and adults alike would enjoy and be able to sing-a-long to. The first album "Pollapönk" was a major hit in Iceland. In 2007 drummer Arnar Þór Gíslason who is Haraldur‘s brother and bass-player Guðni Finnsson joined Pollapönk which then became a quartet. Pollapönk have made two more albums, and played numerous gigs for children and grown-ups all over Iceland. In everyday life Haraldur Freyr is the chairman of the Association of Pre-school Teachers, Heiðar Örn is a Pre-school teacher and Arnar Þór and Guðni are professional musicians.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
No prejudice! Spread the word.
The Eurovision Semi Final No.2 is on tonight on BBC3 (again check your national broadcaster) at 8pm and UK viewers CAN VOTE tonight - we'd like Malta, Israel, Lithuania, Finland and Slovenia to go through amongst others - Romania, Ireland, Norway, Poland and Belarus.
The Eurovision Final is on Saturday - BBC1 (again check your national broadcaster) at 8pm we believe.
It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with yesterday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Malta, whose entry Firelight employs a unique mix of folk, country and pop music that ultimately is overshadowed by the interesting fact that four of the members are all family members. Moreover front-man Richard Edwards has had his own stint performing across the UK by performing alongside the likes of Leona Lewis, Ray Quinn and more as he had entered the X Factor competition, getting applauds from Simon Cowell and making it into the last 80 before joining the rock band Cast Away, before heading back to Malta in 2009.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Firelight and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'Coming Home' and the Maltese Folk Music scene. Answers by Richard Edwards, front-man of Firelight.
Eurovision is "lots of fun and millions of viewers".
Hey guys, so first off how does it feel to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014?
It's a very good feeling. As individuals we have entered the Malta finals several times, but as a band it was fantastic to finally win. We are proud to be proud to be representing Malta in Copenhagen.
And so how did you all meet, and did you all have the same aspirations?
Well four of us are family members -- three brothers and a sister. Two good friends of ours make up the rest of Firelight. We all have a tremendous passion for music.
So how did you all get into music and who inspires you?
Our Dad is a famous singer in Malta. We were brought up in a house full of music. I have many musical heroes from Johnny Cash to Sir Paul McCartney.
And could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Maltese Folk music scene?
We've tried to create a sound that mixes folk music with rock and pop. It's fusion music. It's proving popular in Malta. We just hope the rest of Europe likes it too.
Now what do you think of the UK entry this year?
It's good. It's a great song and we like hanging out with Molly too. I had my own UK experience when I took part in X Factor. Simon Cowell gave me the thumbs up and I had the pleasure of performing at boot camp with the likes of Leona Lewis.
Please tell us a bit about your song 'Coming Home'?
There was a personal story behind me writing it. It's very much about overcoming difficulties. But I think it will mean different things to different people. All the Poles, Czechs, Latvians etc in the UK know what it's like to be away from family for months at a time. Hopefully, 'Coming Home' will mean something to them.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
We love the UK. Our Mum is from Yorkshire. So vote for us and we promise to come to the UK to give you all a big kiss.
Catch Firelight tomorrow night performing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 semi-final number two at 8:00PM (GMT) on BBC3 (or your broadcaster linked here). VOTE FOR MALTA!!!!!
"We don't have a uniform or set dress style. It's just really an expression of each individual and who we are".
Following their successful performance at the charity event Danfest, which was a festival designed to raise awareness for autism involving raising money for the chosen charity from which former drummer David Pankhurst's son has autism; and David's sad departure from the band leading to the new drummer Jay being instated, I had a couple of minutes sit down time to talk to the band and find out what's happening, how they enliven their sets and what the future has in stock for them.
By Rhys Stevenson
So guys you played Danfest which was raising money for charity in order to raise awareness of Autism, how was this for you?
We had a great time, playing for a good cause. It was worth while for us to see Dan and Evie's face light up watching the bands play. Was great that the day turned out well and raised money for the charity.
Danfest was David Pankhurst's last live show, what was the band's reaction to him saying he can no longer play?
We were really shocked Dave was with us for just over a year. It was a bolt out of the blue and we were gutted. It was a tough time for the band and Dave but with his blessing we carried on and found a new drummer. Leaving a band is always a difficult thing especially when the decision is taken away from you. Dave's now gone into band management and we wish him every success in the future and glad he's managed to keep himself involved with music in some aspect.
From September till the end of the year, what plans have you got and how do you plan to finish 2013?
We're planning on doing a load more gigs really and planning what's next for new recordings and videos.
Some people have commented on each member and their dress style on stage, what would you say your individual dress style is like?
We don't have a uniform or set dress style. It's just really an expression of each individual and who we are.
Now Brad as your the lead guitarist, what was the most challenging aspect of you learning to play and what tips and tricks can you share with GMA's readers?
Learning to play for me was fairly tough, especially with the lead work (my fingers aren't that quick).
As for tips and tricks, learn the music you like, then forge your own style. There are a million faster players who can out shred, sweep pick or whatever than me. But I aim for feeling, and that counts more in our music than any amount of technical ability can give you. Matt has a much more technical role in the band and is often overlooked on the 12 string, as he is more often than not playing a lot of melodic lead runs throughout the songs and I consider him the lead guitarist as well in this band. We both play rhythm and we both play lead. Without the other, the band would not be the same.
Ken, same question as above but applying to Bass Guitar.
I wish I could give you more of an answer, I didn't find anything particually challenging, at the same time music shouldn't be challenging except to the listener.
Melany, your vocals are sensational. How do you practice your singing and how did you get into singing?
Thank you that's very kind. Since I was young I've always loved to sing.It just is such a free way to express yourself.I can't not do it.
Jay, you're now Trash Monroe's new drummer, how have you felt so far and how would you sum Trash Monroe up in one sentence?
So far I have felt welcomed into a warm and loving rock and roll family which allows me to have a whole lot more freedom of expression. To sum Trash up in one sentence?? Trash Monroe are a pop-punk through to monstrous heavy metal enema that the whole world needs in it's playlist.....and other places
Regarding the stage presence, Brad and Melany, the relationship between you two on stage is interesting, who came up with the idea of what you could call 'dramatics' whereby Melany puts her arm round Brad's throat, what is it meant to portray?
Brad: From my side of things, I wouldn't really say it was anything that was planned out, how I react to Melany, Ken, Matt or Jay on stage depends on the song and the feeling I get from it at that moment, be it the rhythm of the music, or how the lyrics affect me or how I want to interpret them at that time. Everything that comes out on stage is a reaction to the music, the energy in the room and is my way of expressing myself further.
Melany: It's because I'm trying to get his attention ;) but to be serious, this is NOT a show for me. I do not plan to do anything beforehand. There are parts in certain songs which makes me want to be close to certain members of the band at certain times and other times I like to stay alone. For me it's my mood. How I'm feeling. A vibe. Sometimes I draw strength from the physical contact onstage. It reminds me that I'm not alone. Sometimes it's not as deep as that and I just wanna say 'Hi, enjoying yourself?' to my band mates.
To all band-members, if you had to choose what person you wanted to be for a day (musician, actor, celeb, etc) who would it be and why?
Brad: I'm quite happy being me to be honest, but as with most people, i'd like to be playing music as a way of living and playing alongside those that have influenced and inspired me.
Ken: Stephen Hawking to just have that clarity of mind and imagination would be great gift. I would just hope I'd be able to keep the things I've learned till the next day.
Melany: I've never wanted to be anyone else. I'd have the same amount of problems in a different body. What's the point in that? I would much rather spend the day with someone like Martin Luther King / Elvis Presley / Nelson Mandela / Marilyn whoever and try to learn something about myself through them.
Jay: I'd be Nikki Sixx for a day. To see the world through the eyes of someone with that level of determination, that will simply not allow life to put you down, would be amazing. If you can survive everything he has been through and keep going then you must have great depth of character. Plus the fact that the man defines Rock and Roll, a pure legend!!!!
Matt: I think i'm pretty fortunate to be me as I get to play music with some really good friends, but if I had to choose anyone I'd probably choose Duff McKagen as he played in and with some amazing bands and the guy is really focused and has his head screwed on.
If you have not played outside the UK yet, where would you play first and why?
Anywhere where people want to listen to something original and will have us.
Finally are there any greetings, hello's, thank you's you wish to issue to friends, fans, family?
Special thanks go out to Becky Rowe for helping us with merch at gigs and everything else you continue to do for us and to Alan Comerford for getting us through some tough spots and taking amazing photographs.
Thank you to all that come out to shows, Buy our merch, leave kind words on our pages and generally support us in everything we do. You all know who you are. You make this band what it is and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Viva la Trash
Catch Trash Monroe at the following confirmed dates:
27th September - The Green Room @ Welwyn Garden City, Herts
25th October - The Square @ Harlow, Essex
23rd November - The Judge & Jury @ Colchester, Essex
"I believe that there is real power in music, and that if we find the best music to listen to—music that is uplifting—it has the power to change us for the better"
Following Lindsey Stirling's hard-worked rise to international stardom, it was time for GMA to take time out to have a chat with such a talented musician in many aspects: creativity, originality and most importantly the ability to challenge the unthinkable. GMA's Rhys Stevenson set to find out what lies behind the violin and the musical genius of Lindsey Stirling.
Hi there Lindsey, I see you are performing in Australia next month, is this your first time performing there?
Yes! Actually I have never been to Australia, so I’m hoping to meet a wallaby and a kangaroo or two lol
So what made you or who influenced you to play the violin?
When I was young my family didn’t have a lot of money, but that didn’t stop our family from having fun! My dad would find all kinds of fun things for our family to do, one of which was going to free orchestra concerts. It didn’t take me very long to notice that the violins were “front and center” and had all the interesting parts. When I was about six years old I started begging my parents to give me lessons. My mom finally found one teacher who was willing to give me a fifteen minute lesson every other week. I’m so grateful to my parents and to my first teacher who believed in me enough to give me a chance.
You mix the classic elements of the violin with dubstep and other alternative genres, what gave you this idea and are you hoping other budding artists will catch onto this genre crossover?
As I got older I started loosing interest in violin, and it occurred to me that it was because I was playing other people’s music. I had an intense desire to create my own, and to share it. In high school I joined a punk rock band called “Stomp on Melvin” and I learned to improvise and create music “on-the-spot.” This is also when I started learning to “move” on stage. I continued to perform / jam with bands throughout college. One day I decided to record myself dancing to “Pump It” by The Black Eyed Peas and put the video up on YouTube. The video went viral, but shortly after that I decided to serve a full-time mission to New York. http://www.lindseystirling.com/lindsey-blog/in-memory-of-nyc/
Once I returned home, my friends kept encouraging me to try out for America’s Got Talent, so when the show contacted me I decided to audition. During the competition I improvised to several popular songs. It wasn’t until I was “X-ed” lol that I realized that what I really wanted to do was create my own songs… I didn’t want to just improvise over someone else’s music anymore. It was a that point that a friend introduced me to Marco G. He believed in me enough to help me create three singles for what I could afford at the time (which was very little). Together we created “Spontaneous Me,” “Transcendence,” and “Song of the Caged Bird.” I’ve been creating music ever since.
You recently appeared on BBC's The One Show, how was this for you?
SO much fun! Jon and Sian were amazing; I enjoyed the interview and I felt extremely honored to be on the show!
Your self-titled debut album charted at no.1 in Austria, what was your reaction when you learned about this and is there a tour of Europe in your plans for next year given you did one this year?
I was pretty shocked. It is just amazing to me that so many people throughout the world are enjoying my music! It’s truly a dream come true for me. I’m not entirely sure what the plans for next year are yet, but I am pretty certain I will be visiting Europe again in the near future. I will actually be visiting Europe during the next several months for promotional purposes, etc.
Upon Sharon Osbourne commenting: "You need to be in a group. ... What you're doing is not enough to fill a theater in Vegas." - I guess it's now safe to say you have proven her wrong?
Yeah…basically lol. But at the same time I know that having Gavi and Drew on tour with me has made a huge difference. I don’t think my performance would be quite as exciting if I was on stage all by myself with a synthesizer playing in the background lol, so in a way she was right.
I see you helped contribute to the theme tunes for the Skyrim and Halo video games, was this a challenging aspect in your career and could we see you helping out on any film scores in the future?
I actually don’t play a lot of video games, so yes. My fans kept requesting these, so when I decided I liked the music enough to do a cover I had to listen to the songs quite a bit before I could create the medleys. I also had to research the games, and I did my best to stay consistent with the characteristics and look of the games and the characters in them. “Gamers” can be really picky about those particulars lol.
What advice could you pass on to musicians who idolize you when playing the violin? Do you feel that you can mix and match music genres in different ways without friction between the multiple genres?
When it works, it works. I have always loved ALL kinds of music. There are very few music genres that I don’t like. Within every genre of music I like certain songs and styles. I believe that there is real power in music, and that if we find the best music to listen to—music that is uplifting—it has the power to change us for the better. Alternatively, music can also affect and change us for the worse if we are not careful of the things we choose to listen to.
What are the rest of your plans for the latter half of the year? What can fans expect from you?
I will be touring Asia / Australia for around two weeks in August. After that I plan to work on my album as much as possible in between my promotional visits to Europe, etc. I honestly don’t know how I am going to finish the album by March with all that is going on lol but that’s the goal!
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, greetings, etc you wish to issue to friends, family, etc?
I definitely would not be who I am or doing what I am doing if it were not for my amazing parents. My friends and family have always been a huge support and believed in me. Today I’d like to give a shout-out to my awesome dad, who taught me that anything is possible. He has always wanted to publish a book and finally, after years of hearing “no” from publishers, his first book has been published. I’m so proud of you dad! You did it! https://www.facebook.com/StephenJStirlingAuthor
Readers can check her music out on the YouTube channels below, news via her Facebook page and website.
You can purchase Lindsey Stirling's self-titled album via iTunes (http://po.st/StirlingYiTx1) or online (http://www.shopbenchmark.com/lindseystirling/)
The Alternative music interview page features interviews from Eurovision entries to other non-metal music entities.
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