A new musical crush, and a new Swingles video.

 Send help. Nothing on my to-do list is getting done. I’m much too mesmerised by this cover of All About That Bass:


It’s a likeable song in the first place – a big-is-bootiful manifesto with a doo-wop flavour that winks at OneRepublic and Justin Timberlake along the way. And, of course, it’s a total shoo-in for WOOFER’s set at LACF 2015 (the obscenely good line-up of which is now public, by the way).

But maaaaan, Kate Davis. Kate. Davis. There’s nothing I don’t love about the effortless old-school class of her version. And then I follow the link to her own channel, and find out that she can also write songs like this. And it’s not fair.


On the subject of videos: we just put one out for Piper, the debut single from the forthcoming Swingles album, Deep End. We shot it in an abandoned Edwardian swimming baths in Birmingham, and it’s a taste of the album’s moody direction. Dive in.

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From the vaults: Clean Bandit interview

In my previous life as a journalism MA student, I was given an assignment to interview an up-and-coming music act. I chose Clean Bandit, partly because I knew their cello player a little from school, mostly because I had a sneaking suspicion they were on their way to hugedom. At the risk of saying “I told you so”, they’re currently no. 1 in the UK charts. The elements that make Rather Be so striking (synths, classical strings, big joyful house choruses, unexpectedly soulful verses, mad and marvellous video) have been in place more or less from the start, but the pop runes have now aligned for them, and deservedly so.

To my shame, I’ve sat on this interview since March 2012. Seems as good a time as any to post it.

Clean Bandit can’t believe they are getting away with it. “I thought there’d be more die-hard classical fans, like, ‘You bastards! How dare you touch Mozart!’” says Jack Patterson, the band’s soft-spoken synthsmith and audiovisual mastermind. “But most of the negative remarks are more like, this is good but the strings sound shit. This would be a good tune if it didn’t have these strings on it.”

The drummer, Jack’s 19-year-old brother Luke, agrees. “Most are just – they don’t get it, but in a good way. It’s like, ‘What is this? Why does it work?” Continue reading

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Why did the chicken art cross the road?

Our last afternoon in Dubai is spent talking business, rehearsing Christmas music and throwing together a hotel room iPhone cover of the Doctor Who theme, to put out in time for the 50th anniversary special. The Swingles and the Doctor share a birthday, and we’re both regenerating spacetime travellers, so it seems apt. Plus, Sara can sing real high like a theremin.

It feels good to bring an idea to fruition so quickly – even if it is just a bit of ephemeral fun – and to watch the likes and tweets and comments roll in. What did needy artists do before we had instant feedback to obsess over?  Continue reading

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Ice sculptures on the beach, and other obvious metaphors for pretend fame.

What is SoJam? It’s the biggest geek-out and knees-up on the aca-calendar, held over a weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Pitch Perfect made flesh, if that helps.) For us, it’s three days of being fussed over and enfolded in a community of talent and warmth and silliness, an artificial moment of celebrity to be savoured in small doses. The grassroots participants of a festival like this are college groups, and although I feel almost a generation removed from them, I have to remind myself that it’s less than five years since I was singing in such a group, cooing over the Swingle Singers and wondering if I’d ever get to audition for them. At least two of the festival’s staff and workshop leaders competed in the 2007 ICCA finals in New York, as I did, and the last time we hung out we were under 21 and couldn’t buy a drink. Haven’t we grown?

Singing for an entire audience of singers is scary, but we rise to the occasion and our gig is met with the rabid enthusiasm that belongs uniquely to this kind of festival. The highlight for me is having the whole crowd sing along to my song Burden. Check it.

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Tippling / toddling.

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On a crisp Sunday morning, Greeneville TN is a small town straight from a Hollywood backlot. The red-brick-and-white churches and courthouse gleam in the November sun, and the only movement is a flutter of the Stars & Stripes and a rustle of russet leaves. Nothing’s open on main street.

The lull comes after the first show of the tour, a homecoming triumph for Greeneville girl Sara. The gig, and the brunch her family laid on for us beforehand (squash casserole, biscuits and gravy, sweet potato pie) are a mighty fine advertisement for Tennessean hospitality. For Sara, the day is presumably one of those dreams in which you’re suddenly in a room with everyone you’ve ever met.

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Make like a lump, and split.

We’re at the start of an insane four week tour. Tennessee, North Carolina, Chicago, North Carolina again, Chicago again, Indianapolis, Dubai, Seoul, home. I’m pretty proficient by now when it comes estimating luggage weight, packing quarters for the coin laundry, collecting frequent flyer points and so on. As I packed I was thinking about how to be good traveller in the more, forgive me, spiritual sense. Being present, open-eyed, keen-eared, not letting experiences go to waste – it’s an ongoing project. It’s why I’ve resolved to write more about our trips (no, for real, I mean it this time.) And I’ve realised a lot of it comes back to lumping and splitting.

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This Will Be Our Year

Happy New Year! I made this for you (yes you).

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