Entries in Interview (34)


Hanging out with the Soulful Cara Hammond

Soulful solo artist Cara Hammond recently caught our attention with the single 'NO'. Spending almost half her life writing and performing, we caught up with the young Welsh singer to chat about sharing the stage with the likes of Gregory Porter, growing up in a house full of music and how the lyrics that come to you while sitting on a train are sometimes the best. Harry Upton writes.

Thanks for your time Cara, can you tell us about how you got into music? 

My mum and dad always used to play music around the house on the weekend which started my love of listening and dancing to music but I got into creating my own music when I went to my first guitar lesson when I was 11. I loved that I could create a song and play it instantly to family and friends.

Your latest single 'NO' has a powerful message, was it difficult to write?

‘No’ was written after I travelled to Prague with my friends for a little holiday and we went to the 5 story club for a night out. Whilst we were there some boys were dancing with us and must have got the wrong message and asked us back to theirs. We said ‘no’ and they didn’t like it and one got quite nasty. So I came home and wrote this song quite quickly because I wanted to stand up for myself and other women.

The video is great, was it fun to make?

Thank you! It was so so much fun! I got to travel to Paris and saw some of the sights, it was amazing! I loved the team we were working with as well, they were so hardworking and talented. It really was a great experience

As an accomplished writer, do you have a method or is it more spontaneous?

It depends. Sometimes I just sit at a piano or guitar and just create a melody first and then the lyrics but this can be quite difficult. My favourite songs are when I’ve just thought of a lovely lyric whilst sitting on a train or having a conversation with a loved one

You recently performed at Love Supreme, tell us about that?

It was such a dream! I still can’t believe I performed there, especially since artists such as Nao, Gregory Porter and Laura Mvula also performed there! I had such a great time and luckily was able to enjoy the rest of the festival too which was really cool.

So what is coming up next from you?

Busy promoting the new single and just continuing with writing more material. I’m due to go to a few songwriting camps too, both in the UK and abroad. I’m performing at the North Leeds Food Festival on 22nd July and I’m supporting the Undercover Hippy at the Hifi Club, Leeds on October 22nd too.

What can we expect from your live shows?

A mixture of pop, soul and folk and a mixture of full band and acoustic performances. I’m also a very honest performer and I like to talk a load of rubbish between songs so I guess if you like that then I’m for you!

Sounds good to us! Finally, what stimulates your soul?

Hanging out with friends and family, travelling with my boyfriend and writing my own music

You can find out more about Cara Hammond and stream her music here


No interruptions with London funk outfit The Milk

The Milk are an amazing four piece soul, rnb and funk outfit hailing from London who believe with utter conviction that on their latest record they have now found their way. Their soulful hooks and synergy will keep you on your feet and screaming for more. They’ll also be heading to Soundcrash’s Funk and Soul Weekender this May. 

We caught up with Bass player Luke to chat about what it’s like being The Milk, what we can expect from the upcoming gig, and what it was like working with Paul Butler. Harry Upton writes. 

Tell us about a normal day in the life of The Milk?

When we aren’t hanging out at our studio writing and rehearsing or out on the road touring and gigging we have very different days. I’m also a photographer, so if my bass isn’t in my hands a camera is! It’s hard at times hanging out with a bunch of models but someones gotta do it.

Haha sounds like a tough life, how did you all get together? 

The Milk is like a family, we’ve been in and out of bands together since school! The band was originally conceived by my brother Mitch (Drums & BVs) and Rick (Lead Vox, Gtr, Keys). Dan was convinced to join round the trampoline at a PE lesson and I was asked to join some weeks later purely cos I was the only bloke they knew who could afford to buy a bass!

Thankfully it sounds like you have learnt how to play it. Love the funky bass lines! Now I have to ask, how did you decide on the band name?

Over the years we’ve had a lot of journalists come up with elaborate ideas as to the meaning behind The Milk. Sadly the reality is far from exciting. We couldn’t decide on a name leading all the way up to the release of our first single on ‘Naim Edge,’ when it was crunch time The Milk was the least offensive name to all of the band members. After all what’s in a name? The biggest compliment we have now is that people think the music sounds like the name so it can’t be bad.  

Would you say you all bring different influences to the group?

The strength in The Milk comes from the synergy of us all playing together! That’s the beauty of such a rich history together, you can’t fake that sort of chemistry. Each member has their own strengths and influences that when brought together in the mixing pot makes The Milk sound. 

So I guess that makes recording together a fun experience?

Other than touring and playing live, recording is one of the true joys of being in a band. To bring an idea together and hear it grow into a song is a wonderful thing to be part of with your brother and best mates. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Sometimes it’s stressful and hard and arguments ensue but it’s all for the greater good of the music. The bulk of the experience recording our latest album ‘Favourite Worry’ was an absolute joy, we were holed up in a studio, converted from a medieval barn on the tip of the Isle of Wight over the 2014 Christmas period. Bringing in the New Year listening to latest single 'Loneliness Has Eyes' will be a memory I never forget!

Sounds amazing and I understand that was with Paul Butler, tell us about working with him?

In Paul we found a brother in arms, a man that completely got what we wanted to achieve on ‘Favourite Worry.’ His approach to recording was very much what we wanted to do, focusing on a live performance capturing a moment in time that combines that right amount of energy, groove and feeling. Paul is a man that loves to improvise and it was refreshing to not have everything worked out prior to recording and go into the studio, hit record and see what happens! He is a great man, a wonderfully creative musician, and an inspiration to work with.

What about taking that live energy on the road? Any tips for staying sane?

The last tour to celebrate ‘Favourite Worry’s’ release was a real joy, it was great to hit the road and play a load of new tunes! Touring is a load of fun, and every town you go to wants to party, so my advice is to soak it up! And on your days off go to a spa, you’ve earned the steam!

Great advice there. And in a few weeks you're playing the Soundcrash Funk and Soul Weekender, what can we expect from your live show?

A contemporary take on 70’s soul, full of energy from a band that have played together for years, fronted by a man with an amazing vocal.  

We’ll be there! Who else on the line up are you keen to check out?

Roy Ayers if only for 'everybody loves the sunshine’ - love that tune!

Yeah don't want to miss that! Finally, what Stimulates your soul?

Good music, good people, good food, and good liquor.

Soundcrash’s Funk and Soul Weekender takes place in East Sussex on 13-15 May and The Milks ‘Favourite Worry’ is out now.


Fusing blues and hip hop together with The Bad Tenants

The Bad Tenants are a playful trio that are influenced by not just musicians, but by an Outkast mashup, to a conversation with the UPS guy, or a nursery rhyme from their childhood. This already indicates that the quirky trio don’t just mess with flawlessly mixing blues and hip hop together, but use all experiences of life to create their magnetic sound. They recently dropped their latest track ‘Mush’ which was created organically fusing blues, soul and hip hop.

We chat to the lads Casey G and Good Matters about how ‘Mush’ came about, how jazz has always been the root of hip hop, and why they keep pushing the envelope. Margaret Tra writes.  

You guys just dropped Mush, tell us about that track. 

Casey G: Mush kind of just wrote itself. I was on my honeymoon last year when they sent me the beat, and it had Matty's hook on it and I immediately sat down and started writing. It's simple and pure and has more soul than it knows what to do with. Maybe it was the honeymoon love swell, maybe it was the hook encouraging the action, but for me, that song and I immediately connected. It turned out to be kind of an ode to the women that keep us going. They put up with a lot from us and all that we do. At the end of the day, no matter what's going on, there's no one I'd rather kick it with.

Good Matters: Mush was definitely an organic experience, I had originally just been in the booth singing so that I could come in with horns later and replace them. The original horn line I just found to be super catchy, so I thought I’d get something else on there to allow for vocals to be built on top. Then we hit the get it on and on and on, and it just felt so smooth. Then I was thinking I’d have a chorus over that, but realised that the song was solid as it was. It evolved into a really fun track, I love when sitting down in the booth and playing around with different ideas leads to a beautiful outcome. Also a lot of props to IG88 for taking my nonsense and making it sound gorgeous.

How did you guys link up? You guys effortlessly infuse blues and hip hop, how did all that happen? 

Casey G: We actually got asked to be in a big battle of the bands early on in our time together. There were a bunch of bands that made a fuss about us because we were just some rappers backed by turntables compared to all the 'live bands.' Matt and I both grew up playing a variety of instruments, Matt was, and still is, a phenomenally talented blues singer. I'd played in jazz bands most of my life, so we said f*** it let's figure out how to put this all together and we've been trying to push that envelope further ever since.

Good Matters: Friendship, mostly. We’ve all known each other forever, and played music in our own right. We found each other again at the right time and the different influences and musical backgrounds smushed together to make our mix of blues, jazz and hip hop.

Do you ever feel like your crowd can either be hip hop head or blues? Or do they appreciate the mix? 

Casey G: Our crowd is very mixed. We can rock a crowd full of hip hop heads, senior citizens, or soccer moms and we'll find a way to give that crowd what they're looking for. The show we put together is rarely expected, but always appreciated.

Good Matters: Yeah, I’ll have to agree with Casey on this one. Our crowds are definitely a can of mixed nuts. While the hip hop heads tend to be the first in line, the folk/blues/jazz/rando’s show up in the same numbers. Exactly how I like it.

You just dropped your LP in August, what else have you guys got planned?

Casey G: We have our hand in a few pots right now. We're working on new video ideas, some potential remixes and we've already got some new music in the pipeline that we're excited about. Touring is definitely on the agenda as well as a new secret handshake and some heavy drinking.

Who are you influences? 

Casey G: It might be easier to pick who we're not influenced by. From underground hip hop to the Blues Brothers to Muddy Waters or Paul Simon, we make the music that feels good to us and that inspiration draws from anywhere at anytime. In the past week alone I've found my writing being influenced by an Outkast mashup, a conversation with the UPS guy, a nursery rhyme from my childhood and an illegible street sign. Take what life gives you and run with it.

Good Matters: I am, inarguably, the least hip hop of The Bad Tenants. If you couldn’t tell by my T-Rex t-shirt. I grew up on Motown, jazz and blues (Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, The Spinners, Marvin Gaye, etc.). A mixture of punk rock and metal during my high school years, where hip hop started to rear its head. In my early college years/late high school I got introduced to Atmosphere, Blackalicious, and J5 as well as others. Spent a long time, and I am still currently working as a singer songwriter. Lately I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration with the creations of my friends and seeing how much they progress as we get older.

Jazz has been infused in hip hop a lot these days, how do you guys feel about the movement and incorporating that sound? 

Casey G: If it's dope, it's dope.

Good Matters: All rock and hip hop has it’s roots in soul, blues, and jazz. I feel like this transition is easy and it is bringing it back to the root note of hip hop. I think people are responding really well. Blues makes people feel better. Well, blues makes me feel better and I’ll just hope from there.

What stimulates your soul? 

Casey G: New music. Nice butts. Good food and drinks. Family. Packed shows and freestyles in the park.

Good Matters: Family, friends, living a happy life. Music, expression, cheese-based products.



Dealing with adversity with Akroyd Smart


Akroyd Smart has been consistently performing around Melbourne over the last year since his debut mixtape “Introvert” dropped online. With sounds similar to Childish Gambino, Logic and Drake, his influences actually derive from outside of hip hop. Ranging from artists’ such as Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke.  In his early childhood years Akroyd suffered from an identity crisis, having to grow up dealing with adversity as well as being bullied, Akroyd decided to turn his trials and tribulations into his music. 

The East side rapper talks to SYS about the definition of success, the pros and cons of Australian hip hop, as well as the personal struggles that lead to the fruition of his most recent single “I can do anything.” Bree Stewart writes.

Akroyd, your debut mixtape ‘Introvert’ has been circulating online over the last year, talk us through the latest single off that album ‘I can do anything.’ What’s the backdrop to this track?

In the context of ‘Introvert,’ ‘I Can Do Anything’ plays an important part of contrasting with the more self effacing and philosophical songs on the project. A lot of my early childhood was dealing with the adversity of trying to fit in with people and getting bullied for who I was. I know who I am a lot better now, but previously there was definitely an identity crisis. So this song sort of paints this positive uprise through any times of struggle, especially as ‘Introvert’ was created and is all about a particular point in my life where there was a lot of struggle.

I listen to ‘Introvert’ and hear a little bit of Gambino, a little bit of Drake and maybe a dash of Logic. Who are your musical influences? Anyone on a local level that you’re into at the moment?

Man, there are lots. The three you mentioned are definitely on my radar when it comes to frequent listens but I would say heaps of my influences come from outside the genre of Hip Hop. I love lots of Soul and R&B like Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson and even Prince. I love Freddie Mercury and Queen as well as a lot of punk bands like Say Anything. And Jeff Buckley is like my Elvis. 

On a local level however, RY is really cool (Ryan, I still really want to be your best friend if you're reading this!), Mikey Hundred is another one and in fact, he was who put me on to Allday. Also Wolf Henson is making some absolute tunes at the moment There's a punk band local to me who I'm really digging right now called Set the Score. They make some really cool sounds!

You not only sing and rap your own material but you produce it too. Does the beat always come before the words do?

Beats definitely usually come before words. However, it's different every time. Sometimes a hook idea comes first. Like a melody and then some chords come in after that. ‘#barz' was like that. My old DJ, TLIK, he sent me a crappy voice recording over Facebook of him doing what is now the hook and I just chopped it up and made a beat around it. But yes, generally the beat comes first. I feel like if I create a really good atmosphere first, then the words come very easy and write themselves.

Which came first -  rapping or producing?

I guess those two naturally happened at the same time. Songwriting came first definitely and then being the recording person for any bands I was in way back when. Actually making beats and writing raps sort of happened really close and virtually at the same time.

How have you grown as an artist since you started writing music?

As I said before, I definitely know myself a lot better than I did. I think I definitely push myself more to make things as accurate as I hear them in my head. I also get a chance to research particular topics and learn about things I never knew before. I'm always learning new things.

You’re a Melbourne based rapper - do you feel the city is an inspiring canvas for a hip hop artist?

I mean it depends what you're writing about. It's all about creating moments that make you feel like you're standing in the room or the space with the artist. Personally, I focus more on spaces that affect me immediately, like my car or a room I'm in. I however, can definitely say in much more recent times, I've been walking through the city and surrounding areas and have come up with ideas just due to how I've been feeling in that moment.

What is lacking in the local hip hop scene at the moment?

I think the thing that's lacking in local hip hop is the ability to be oneself. I feel like the music most rappers are making is kind of like an impression or an impersonation of a style that's kind of popular right now. And if that's what someone likes and wants to try, that's great, do it! But I think adding your own flavour and personality to that pushes the genre forward.

If you could collaborate with one male artist and one female artist, who would they be?

I would like to make a song with female rapper, Noname Gypsy. I think she is the coolest and just so genuinely herself. Love her style. I think I would like to work with Frank Ocean, I am just really fascinated with the way his mind works and the results that come from it.

What genres outside of hip hop do you immerse yourself in? I can definitely hear some Jazz undertones in your tracks…

Any thing by Miles, Herbie and Wayne Shorter, I will love. I'm a big fan of any noisey experimental music, bands like Karnivool, Cog, Sleep Parade, Animals as Leaders, Death Grips, Clipping, are all things I listen to as well.

Are there other creative realms you get into besides music?

I really enjoy both making and watching film. A friend of mine and I have been trying to get some videos together to help convey the messages I want to explore from current and future projects so maybe some ideas will come out of the woodwork soon in the next year or so. But being involved in film and acting is something I really love to do outside of music.

Is music a full-time career path for you?

It has to be. I'm not really exceptional at much else haha!

What is your advice for other young rappers trying to come up in an overly saturated world of online music?

I would say, know who you are before putting things out. Experiment and find what is inherently ‘you' and emphasise that to the world when you do decide that you want to put music out there. Also define what success is to you and work out what and why you're really doing it. Don't do it for money because that never works and there's already enough of that out there.

Finally, Akroyd what stimulates your soul? 

A unique question for sure. I would say, stories and discussion. Anything that creates a connection between two or more individuals. That's what I've decided my purpose is and music is a tool that I can use to share and learn about this weird thing I'm in called life.





Re-connecting with music: a moment of truth with CharlieRED. 


For some people music simply serves to entertain a moment, for others it provides a deep and direct connection to the soul. For Cobaine Ivory and Rocki Evans from producer/singer duo CharlieRED, creating is an “instinctive desire” that comes from within, "full of emotion" and often accidental. Since the release of their debut EP ‘Religion’ late last year, CharlieRED have gone from strength to strength proving that this Blues/Hip Hop duo are indeed the truth in music we’ve all been missing.

Stimulate Your Soul has a chat to CharlieRED about the need for truth and honesty in art, their first sold out show opening for Marsha Ambrosius and why their debut collaborative EP is a message to believe in something so much that it becomes your religion. Jesse Kuss writes.

Who is CharlieRED? How does the name represent you both? 

Rocki EvansCharlieRED represents the calm yet bold versatility of both our energies.

Cobaine Ivory: I feel like I represent the "Charlie" part. I come from a more old-school way of production and "RED" is definitely Rocki's energy, all caps! 


Before CharlieRED the two of you were pursuing your own separate musical paths, how did you both get into music and how did you meet?

Rocki Evans: I got into music through church, seeing preachers sing. The emotion they evoked appealed to me and the passion grew from there. Cobaine and I met through our manager, at the perfect time in each of our lives.

Cobaine Ivory: I've grown up with music all around me. My mum was a singer and I would sleep in the studio when I was younger. My stepdad was a Jazz drummer and DJ so his ear is crazy! We were introduced to each other by our manager and decided to try this together. 


Cobaine, I have heard you say that you feel like CharlieRED was created “out of lack.” What do you think was missing and how do you hope CharlieRED will fill that void? 

Cobiane Ivory: I feel like we are all missing the truth in music. It exists, but it's not as prevalent as it was in different times. Much of today's music is drowning in marketing and brand schemes and the connection is lost. Fast food music. My only hope is that CharlieRED remains true and honest. 

Rocki you’ve said that when you connected with Cobaine you felt that your expression finally found a home. What was different about working with Cobaine compared to your previous experiences?

Rocki EvansGreat question, I feel working with Cobaine is different simply based on the quality foundation he provides me as a singer and songwriter. The beats often feel like theme music to my emotions, I've never felt that prior to Cobaine. 


When you first started releasing music together as CharlieRED you were an "unknown singer/ producer duo." Was keeping your identities hidden a conscious decision? 

Rocki EvansInitially keeping our identities unknown was conscious, simply because we wanted the focus to be music oriented. It worked out because the focus is still on the music; they just have a face to attach it to now. 

Cobaine Ivory: Personally, I feel it's just about the music. Of course, we have to "reveal" our identities once we began performing, but I like remaining unknown. At times, we get wrapped up in the packaging of the message. 


It is evident that you both take your relationship with music very seriously. Cobaine you even have a rule that no one else can be in the studio when you are recording. What defines your relationship with music and how would you like this to flow down to your listeners? 

Rocki EvansCreating is an instinctive desire within me. It's a legal high that takes me places no drug can, I appreciate my gift and would only ask that the listener be open to it.

Cobaine Ivory: As in all things, remain true. Quincy Jones said it the best when it comes to music, "We can only go by god's dividing rod; goosebumps, chills. If I'm turned on by it, it is more than likely that others will be turned on by it as well."


Rocki I have heard you say your influences come from what you force yourself to be surrounded by. What is influencing the music the two of you are making at the moment? Do you often reflect on who and what you are surrounded by in life?

Rocki EvansI often hear of writers that write based on something that happened in a particular day; I've done that but my source of inspiration is built over time. Meaning I think for days on a particular topic and when Cobaine provides a track, it all comes pouring out. At the moment, I am listening to lots of Stevie wonder and Bobby bland.


Tell us about the ‘Religion’ EP? What is the overall concept and how did it come about?

Rocki Evans ‘Religion’ was a moment that happened so naturally. It's basically saying that your Religion is the "life you lead not the creed you profess." From relationships, time and life in general. My religion is a bit unknown at the moment. (Laughs)

Cobaine Ivory: 'Religion' is just a musical representation of conversations Rocki and I were having at the time. We allowed the muse to come and the songs wrote themselves. The concept of the EP is essentially, "Believe in something so much that it becomes your Religion...not the other way around." Our faith was completely in the 'Religion’ EP before anyone knew it existed.

What has the response been like since you released ‘Religion’? What has been the most memorable part of the journey to its release?

Rocki EvansAll of it is memorable to be honest. It's truly amazing to hear people genuinely speak on what they received from the music, even more mind-blowing when their perspective is exactly where I wrote from. It's shown that people want truth and honesty in art. The response has been amazing, we released it a little over four months ago and the universe has worked wonders for us.

Cobaine Ivory: The responses continue to be amazing. Hmm, I would say when ‘Kansas’ landed on VH1. At that moment, we were eating dinner with our band and both of our phones blew up as well as our numbers! It was a great moment.


You opened for Marsha Ambrosius at SOBs in New York last month, a situation I understand came about because Marsha herself asked you to open for her. What was it like knowing that you had her support? How was the experience?

 Rocki EvansHaving Marsha's support is amazing. I grew up on floetry, listening to the songs and loving their vibe. The experience was one to remember, I learned a lot from her in terms of vocal and crowd control.

Cobaine Ivory: It was an experience. It was our first sold-out show! I just appreciated the opportunity and every opportunity to let others know that we exist.


You have both spoken of the vulnerability and truth in the music you create. Why is it so important to make honest music? What does making honest music mean to you?

Rocki EvansI never really focus on making honest or dishonest music. I pride myself in being an extremely passionate and vulnerable person, so creating simply comes from me being myself.

Cobaine Ivory: I believe the more you ‘think’ about making music the less that you heal yourself, which in turn leads to you not healing others. Everything I've ever created has been completely absent of thought, full of emotion and accidental. It's pretty simple for me. I do it for the feeling. Something else wrote those songs. I'm just happy I was used.


What’s in the future for CharlieRED?

Rocki EvansThe future is bright for Charlie, more music, more honesty and more experiences to tell to amazing interviewers as yourself.

Cobaine Ivory: We're working on new music that we love... We hope you will connect with it as well!


What Stimulates your Soul?

Rocki Evans: Pain, love and life stimulate my soul.

Cobaine Ivory: The Life experience.


Want more? Get Stimulated with CharlieRED here: