The Staves are an English indie folk trio of sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor, from Watford, Hertfordshire. The Staves began performing together at open-mic nights in Watford hosted by a local pub, The Horns. Originally performing as The Staveley-Taylors, the trio later changed their name to The Staves.
The Staves’ ‘Good Woman’ was written and recorded in a time of severe turmoil for the band, seeing the ending of relationships, the death of their beloved mother and the birth of Emily’s first child. Produced by John Congleton, the album stands as a testament to their strength and that of other women, to sisters, mothers and daughters. To love, loss and change. To trying to be a good woman.
Praise for Good Woman… “their three-part blood harmonies form the shimmering centre of an elaborate, album-long soundscape” 8/10 – Uncut “elegantly nuanced” **** – Mojo “an album with attitude” – Sunday Times Culture “pop-rock sophistication” – **** – The Times “melodic sweetness is bolstered by a sense of urgency and stylistic cool” – **** – The Guardian “a sophisticated return” – **** – NME
Headlining our Friday night Good Karma Club Takeover, Alfie Templeman has been hotly tipped by just about everyone with a history of backing the next big thing!
Alfie Templeman knows music. At just 17, this boy wunderkind already has four EPs to his name, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of music history that some veteran artists would envy. He’s been called a “bedroom producer”, and that’s true – all of his songs were crafted at home in the small village of Carlton, Bedfordshire. “It’s kind of boring,” Templeman says cheerfully. “I live in a nice place and everyone’s friendly and supportive, so I’m lucky. But there’s not a lot to do, so that’s one of the reasons I got into songwriting.” But where many young artists create tracks from pre-made samples, Templeman is more likely to pick up one of the 10 instruments he taught himself.
It started with his father. A builder by trade but a passionate guitarist by nature, Templeman’s dad would fill the house with the sounds of classic rock, while his son banged away to the rhythm on pots and pans. Then one day, his dad brought him along to do some work at a friend’s house. That friend wasn’t sure how to entertain a child, so he put a video of a live Rush concert on the TV. “I was blown away,” Templeman recalls. “I can vividly remember watching Neil Peart play. He became my first musical hero.” He began saving his pocket money to buy “all of the Rush albums”, then set out converting a mate so they could form a band together. Aged eight, using his sister’s toy microphone and an old laptop, Templeman recorded his first demo.
At school, he always felt like the odd one out. “All the boys were playing football, and I hated that,” he says. “I felt like the weird kid because I didn’t want to do sports.” He began going to cello lessons, which he credits for his perfect pitch. Then he fell in love with the drums around the same time he was teaching himself to play one of his dad’s left-handed guitars (right-handed). After that it was the keyboard, mandolin, “a bit of violin”, bass, sitar, harmonica, synths… “One of the reasons I learnt all that was so I could play and produce everything myself,” he explains. “I had to have full control over my first EP. I just wanted to see if I could put everything together so it sounded good.”
It definitely worked. Like An Animal, released by Chess Club Records in 2018, is an astonishing, self-produced collection redolent of Kevin Parker and Mac De Marco. There are hazy, sun-drenched twangs of guitar; swooning, Eighties-style synths; moody, wandering basslines and warm percussion. Unlike many other artists, who might try to compensate for their youth by tackling the “big” subjects, Templeman makes no attempt to hide his age. These songs are about feeling like an outsider, exam stress, and those all-consuming first crushes.
Like An Animal was followed by two EPs in 2019, Sunday Morning Cereal and Don’t Go Wasting Time. The former was infused with heavy funk influences, from the squelchy bass and vocal fuzz of “Stop Thinking (About Me)” to the dreamy psychedelia of “Busy”. The seven-track Don’t Go Wasting Time was an ambitious leap that shone a brighter spotlight on Templeman’s extraordinary range, encompassing pop, indie, rock, Latin and prog influences. It’s all the more impressive upon learning that, around this time, Templeman ended up in hospital, where he was diagnosed with childhood lung disease.
“It doesn’t really bother me, but I’m one of those ‘vulnerable to Covid-19’ people, so I’ve been shielding since March,” he reveals. “It’s been a long summer!” Until the diagnosis, Templeman and his family thought he had bad asthma. You wouldn’t think he had any sort of condition to hear him – or, indeed, see him onstage. “It can get messy,” he laughs. His gigs, including a sold-out London show at COLOURS in Hoxton, are raucous affairs, filled by screaming fans only too happy to catch him whenever he hurls himself offstage. After a string of UK performances last year, including his triumphant Radio 1 Introducing Set at Reading and Leeds festival, he’s eager to get back to it.
And why wouldn’t he be? 2020 has already seen the release of his best EP to date, the irrepressible Happiness in Liquid Form, which has achieved millions of streams – not to mention praise from the likes of The Guardian and NME. Templeman refers to the title track as “colourful sugary disco pop”, but there’s plenty more to love besides that. Writing with Justin Young of The Vaccines fame has instilled a new confidence in Templeman’s songwriting. You can hear it in the cheeky bounce of “My Best Friend” – which will remind listeners of Billie Eilish’s insouciant charm – and the infectious Caribbean sound on “Things I Thought Were Mine”.
“I listen to everything!” Templeman says, explaining how he came to have such a broad range of references. This is a teenager who will just as happily discuss John McLaughlin and Miles Davis as he would The Weeknd and Harry Styles. “I think some people might consider me as ‘just’ an indie artist, but my music is a broad mix,” he continues. “There are modern influences, but also a lot of prog, classic jazz, funk… I like to play things that people don’t expect, that hit you right in the feels.”
He praises his label, Chess Club Records, for helping him to “come out of my shell a bit” and be the charming, exuberant and driven young man he is today. “I’ve definitely become more open,” he nods. “I didn’t always know how to talk to people before, and I could get pretty anxious. I’d get scared, but everyone’s really nice!” He’s eager to become one of the voices of a generation determined to change the world: “Everyone at my school was so intelligent and well-informed. Young people have more of a voice now than ever.”
Templeman now has his eye on 2021, with a brand-new collection of songs on the way – the superb Forever Isn’t Long Enough – that he describes as “the best representation of what I’m about”. “Each song is different but linked,” he says. The mini-album opens on the thrilling rhythms of “Shady” – produced by Tom McFarland from the Mercury Prize-shortlisted collective Jungle. From there, you’ll be hooked, whether to the strut of “Wait, I Lied” (with nods to Gnarls Barkley and Justin Timberlake), or the gleaming “To You”, which recalls the sound of The Weeknd’s chart-dominating 2019 album, After Hours.
“My mum kept wanting to hear what I was working on, but I can’t show anyone until a song’s finished,” Templeman laughs, thinking of the reaction his fans will have when they hear this new material. He wants to do as many shows as possible when he gets back on the road, performing to a fanbase that now stretches around the world. “I want those new experiences,” he says. “2021 is going to be massive.”
Vistas are an indie band hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland. The line-up consists of Prentice Robertson, Dylan Rush & Jamie Law. Vistas are a band with catchy choruses, hooky guitar lines, and rhythmic thunderous baselines.
Vistas have been surging to the forefront of the indie-rock scene over the last few years with a steady stream of catchy, radio ready releases leading the band to pick up extensive praise from the likes of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, 6 Music, DIY Magazine and Clash Magazine among many others.
Having picked up over 15 million streams and cultivating 650k monthly listeners on Spotify in a short space of time, the Scottish trio have quickly become known for their brand of colourful and energetic guitar-based indie pop and are quickly beginning to show their universal appeal.
The single ‘Eighteen’ is another high-tempo, hook-laden anthem, full of the huge choruses and infectious melodies that have been cementing Vistas as one of the most exciting emerging bands in the country right now. Speaking on the track the band explain “Eighteen is about looking back on the best summer of your life and wishing you could go back to that moment. What often happens when you look back on those moments is you can forget about some of the bad sides of those experiences because your memory is clouded by nostalgia.”
Having spent the past six months holed up in the claustrophobic confines of their gloriously ramshackle Bethnal Green recording studio, London four piece Flyte – Will Taylor (vocals, lead guitar), Nick Hill (bass, vocals), Sam Berridge (keyboards, guitars, vocals) and Jon Supran (drums, vocals) – emerge from the process energised and ready to unleash a raft of new material on the world, kicking off with debut single ‘Closer Together’ released on 31st July through Island Records. Combining a wealth of influences ranging from the wry storytelling of The Kinks, the off-kilter new wave sensibilities of Talking Heads, and the lyrically incisive optimism of the best mid-90s British bands, Flyte’s songs are always driven by a sharp ear for melody and laden with hooks. Flyte’s recent live performances – including a stunning slot at Scala with Hinds – have seen the band growing in stature as performers from their early shows on the road with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club. Fans will be able to catch them on the road this summer at various festivals such as Secret Garden Party, Kendall Calling, SWN and Victorious. With new releases on the horizon and more live dates on the way, Flyte are definitely ones to keep an eye on.
Cj Pandit is an ArtPop performer who crafts songs for movies that were never made and places that you’ve never been. Working and living between London, New York and hometown Leicester, Cj has spent the majority of his life floating through different scenes, cities and circumstances, so is inevitably informed by heartbreak, longing and a search for meaning between the cracks in our day to day lives.
Inherently driven by the same escapist spirit as Bruce Springsteen, the curiosity of Talk Talk, and the lingering late night lyricism of Leonard Cohen through a truly modern lens, Cj is an anomaly and one of pop music’s most intriguing outliers.
Listen to any of APRE’s music – be it Without Your Love’s shimmering, celestial bounce; the liquid grooves and clean lines of All Yours; or the widescreen pop cloudburst that is Don’t You Feel Like Heaven? – and it’s likely your first impression wouldn’t be that all these songs have their roots in the backroom of a West London chess club. But that’s exactly where APRE’s story begins.
Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny were no strangers to making music individually, but it wasn’t until Sue who runs Ealing chess club (or, to use her full title “this legend called Sue”) suggested they should hook up and work together that the strands that make up APRE’s unique sound started to fuse together.
“She knew that we shared this passion for music and she paired us up,” recalls Brown, “we started playing together and found this love for the same thing.”
However, things didn’t quite immediately leap forwards from that moment to where we are today. Three years passed and Brown and Konieczny would spend their days playing in other groups, producing, working on other people’s material, making ends meet and trying to find their way in music. But something special kept bringing them back to that room. It wasn’t because of some over arching grand plan, it was simply what they did for fun outside of other projects.
“This was a happy accident,” notes Konieczny. “It was always our side project. The focus was the other bands we were in and me and Charlie would just go back in the evening and do this for fun. Then it got to the point where we had 35 songs and were like, ‘Hang on we’re being stupid here…’”
“APRE was the fun side where we could go and be ourselves in music.
We always thought it was better than the other stuff and we enjoyed it more,” adds Brown. “Even now, if a track’s not fun while we’re making it we normally fuck it off to be honest. It’s all been extremely natural. It’s not done in a fancy place, it’s done on quite terrible equipment and that’s what it’s about.”
You might read that and imagine APRE’s music to be a bit rough around the edges, something slightly carelessly tossed together for a bit of a laugh. Nothing could be further from the truth though.
They may have been recorded out the back of Ealing chess club or in the front room of Brown’s nan’s place, but these songs sparkle like a well-polished gem. Synths glisten like rays of light on a pool of water; bass lines slink in and out; a gentle cascade of guitar will wash over a crisp, irresistible beat as Brown’s vocals find the sweet spot between soulful, wistful and empathetic.
And all that delivered within pristine, intelligent pop songs. Pop songs with brains, heart and laser guided melodies.
“Don’t bore us get to the chorus” deadpans Brown. “Surely that’s the point isn’t it? If it’s a good song. If you bought a pair of trouser and they looked nice and people kept on saying ‘You’ve got nice trousers,’ you’d be like, ‘Yeah, because they’re good trousers.’ So if you write a good song why do people need to go, ‘Oh it’s quite pop…’ Mate, it’s just a good song.”
Part of what makes APRE so special though, is that there’s more to them than just good songs. Each APRE release is its own self-contained universe where everything matters and nothing is throwaway. From the thematic threads that tie the songs on each EP together to the subtle visual clues in the artwork and videos, right down to the clothes they wear on stage – like with any great band, to listen to APRE is to immerse yourself fully in their world.
“We always wanted to create something where if you go to a gig or your listening to it you’re pulled into this APRE world,” says Brown. “My favourite bands always did that to me. When you come back from a gig and you feel like you’ve not just seen a gig, you’ve entered a different place. It’s an escape. If every person who comes to our gigs or listens to our music can escape and become part of something, feel that we’re all in this together – that’s why we’re doing this.”
The door to APRE’s world is open. All you need to do is walk through it.
Lottery Winners have a whole list of achievements: their debut album ‘Lottery Winners’ hit number 10 in the UK Official Charts and number 3 in the vinyl charts; they have over 10 million streams and thousands of tour tickets sold, including a sold out headline at the Manchester Ritz; they released three albums and one EP within 18 months.
They have supported Kaiser Chiefs, Blossoms, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Wonder Stuff, Tom Odell, We Are Scientists, Tom Jones and more.
They are also the hosts of their own TV production, ‘LWTV’, featuring guests including Jamie Cullum, Rick Astley, Andy Burnham and Rowetta (Happy Mondays) gaining over 125K views.
Sunflower Thieves are a dream-folk duo, combining rich harmonies and storytelling lyrics to create their own unique world of ethereal melancholy. Influenced by Phoebe Bridgers and Fenne Lily, the band have written and performed together for many years.
Deco move within their own lane. Blurring the line between timeless 80’s synth-pop and contemporary discernment, Deco create undeniable bops with a bite.
In 2019, Deco enjoyed a summer performing on some of the UK’s biggest stages, including Isle of Wight Festival, Truck Festival and Y Not Festival, as well as supporting Jess Glynne at the 8,000 capacity Scarborough Open Air Theatre.
Following a sold out tour in November/December 2019, Deco unleashed their debut EP, Real Life, in spring 2020. They then went on to be nominated for Best Live Act at the AIM Awards, up against AJ Tracey, Bombay Bicycle Club and more.
Much of 2020 for Deco was spent writing, recording and releasing their best music yet. Somewhere along the lines of Duran Duran and George Michael, meets Dua Lipa and The Weeknd is where their sound sits now.
Deco hit the ground running in 2021. Following a string of TikTok worthy covers and content, their mashup of Oasis’ Wonderwall and Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy well and truly went viral, with more than 4 million views to its name. This led to TV appearances on BBC News and Good Morning Britain, as well as plays on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, Radio X, Absolute Radio, Virgin Radio, and countless more across the world. Bronski Beat’s Jimmy Somerville said he was “blown away”, and Oasis’ Liam Gallagher gave it his seal of approval by sharing it on his official TikTok account.
“Infectious indie-synth pop that’s set to go huge. See ’em now, brag you were there at the start in years to come.” – Elle Magazine
“They’re finding really Interesting ways to do these pop songs that I love” – Declan McKenna “Alt-rock fans will love the mellow tones of Americana grunge mixed with nineties pop.” – Gigwise “The four-piece are working towards ‘big things’ with their easy-breezy take on lo-fi retro pop.” – Dork “That’s really good, I really like that” – Elton John
York’s alt rock songsmiths, Bull recently announced their debut album ‘Discover Effortless Living’, featuring ‘Eugene’, a mini-symphony of self-flagellation which trips through the various stages of feeling down on yourself (lethargy, frustration, anger etc) using tempo changes to paint an audio picture. It manages to be both melancholy and spritely at the same time, another example of the band’s idiosyncratic song writing.
“I wrote the song Eugene when I was feeling dissatisfied with what I was doing” Tom (guitar/vocals) explains. “It’s kind of a self-hate song, you know when people talk about self-love? It’s not that. I’m slating myself; it moves through the key changes and different moods, and ends in a way that mocks the sadness, another form of self-deprecation!”
The video for the track is again a collaboration with artist friends of the band that reflects the different moods of the song. Dan and Kai from the band kick things off with some DIY Claymation before handing over to artists Jack Iredale, Rory Welbrock, Roxy Linklater and Holly Beer who each tackled a different animation style.
The band’s debut album, ‘Discover Effortless Living’ is a cornucopia of alt rocks sounds, the band having refined their song writing style into 13 indie bangers. The album includes previous singles such as ‘Disco Living’ (actually an abbreviation of the album title) ‘Green’, ‘Bonzo Please’ and ‘Love Goo’.
“Its songs written and rocked on between the years 2012 and 2020” Tom elaborates. “The title is taken from the opening lyric to the final track ‘Disco Living’. We wanted to use a lyric from the album and felt like this was a good one. I first saw the words in London written on the side of a mansion being built and thought it was funny, it also ties in with ideas around class, new beginnings, a golden era of prosperity, and hoping to have life ‘in the bag’.”
At radio the band are already being championed by the likes of Chris Hawkins and Steve Lamacq at 6Music, Huw Stephens at BBC Introducing Clara Amfo, as well as being acclaimed by fellow musicians like Elton John on his Beats 1 show and Declan McKenna.
Formed in 2011 by vocalist and songwriter Tom Beer and guitarist Dan Lucas, Bull’s mission is simply to make the music they wanted to listen to, inspired by their 90’s heroes such Pavement, Yo La Tengo and the Pixies. The rest of the band came together through a mix of friendships and happenstance. Drummer Tom Gabbatiss joined after he and Tom jammed together in bars while they were back-packing round Thailand, and Kai West had previously used to jump up on stage with the band and “Bez” (verb meaning to dance badly while intoxicated) before they eventually let him play bass.They’ve played support shows for the likes of Squid, The Orielles, Pip Blom and even one of their long-time heroes in the form of Spiral Stairs (AKA Scott Kannberg of Pavement), and their constant gigging has seen them build up a dedicated local following. Not to be restricted to God’s own county, the band have plied their wares in mainland Europe, playing a series of unforgettable shows in Germany and the Netherlands. The band will be back on the road in 2021 with a full UK tour starting in September.
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