Thanks so much to Mark Litten for this interview! Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike are back, with a slightly different lineup, but as good as ever, touring Japan and Europe. This year they released a retrospective album called “All Day Long in a Bliss” which you can get from their Bandcamp. It’s essential for anyone that likes indiepop! And there are more news, they are recording a new album!

++ Hi Mark! How are you? Right now you are in Europe touring! How is that going? What has been the best so far?

I’m good (ish). Very hard to answer that, because the audiences have been great everywhere. Each one different from the next, but all great. The show in Hamburg was probably the best overall. Sound, management, rehearsal time, a place to take a nap, and good food. Jane and I miss the place already.

++ I heard you have covered in this tour “Some Candy Talking” by The Jesus and Mary Chain! How come?! Have you done or you plan doing any new covers?

No, it’s “Just Like Honey”. Jane used to sing along with it as a four-year old. I just believe JAMC and the Pastels saved indie around the mid eighties, and it’s nice to do their songs live. There are a few new songs I’d like to do covers of. Mostly by Japanese bands (Tenniscoats etc.), so we might do our own translations!

++ A friend of mine in Hamburg was really impressed by your gig, but it seems she confused the JAMC song! Anyways, she was telling me that you definitely should play at Indietracks! So I want to ask you, after this Trixie tour, what’s in store for you guys?

Writing a new album now. Aiming for 14 pop classics, to be released Feb 2013. We have a couple of shows to do here in Japan, but I think we’ll be concentrating on recording for a while. Then we’ll be ready for any touring offers in the school holidays. Indietracks indeed looks like a comfortable spot for Trixie to park her bike.

++ I’m a bit sad that you didn’t get to come to New York, I was really hoping that you will come. Do you think there will be a another chance for you to play here?

It really depends on money. As you know, we are based in Japan and travelling overseas is extremely expensive for us. Of course we would love to play both the east and west coasts, where we seem to have quite a following!

++ This is a different lineup than the original Trixie from back in the 80s. Now you also live in Japan, right? How come did you decide to bring back Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike?

It all started about a year ago. The Trixie’s archive was in a mess, with dodgy MP3s floating around the internet, nobody knowing our discography properly, lost photos from the eighties etc. So I tried to bring everything together on the album “All Day Long In Bliss”, which we released in February this year. Lo and behold, people asked if we could re-form and start playing live. My sister Melanie is too busy (and shy) to do that, but my daughter Jane has always loved being on stage. Her voice is uncannily like Melanie’s, she’s now 15 years old, so we are back in action.

++ With this comeback you released “All Day Long in a Bliss”, a fantastic retrospective compilation of the band. My first question is, are ALL songs by Trixie included or were there any missing?

There are four or five unreleased songs which need re-mastering, plus some cover versions (“White Horses” among them). Then there are the two John Peel sessions. It would be nice to release them all on one album someday. I’ll keep saving my pennies.

++ Let’s go back in time, to the early 80s when you started the band. What inspired you to do so? And what sort of expectations you had with it?

I think it started when portable cassette recorders became available, around 1970. Melanie and I used to record little comedy sketches. We would also put each other to sleep by improvising lyrics to TV theme tunes, advert jingles etc. I was 16 when punk happened and it was a really exciting, inspiring period. I was completely obsessed with the Buzzcocks, Rezillos and the Undertones. I bought a guitar. When I got the albums “Colossal Youth” and “Beach Party” I started writing songs. I think those two records are the reason Trixie’s got going. Melanie expected exactly nothing to happen, and I expected to be a superstar within a few weeks. We have different personalities…

++ How easy was it to convince your sister to be part of the band? Did you two listen to the same music?

That’s an interesting question. She wanted to sing and record, and she loved hearing our stuff on the radio, answering fan mail etc. But she was too shy to get on stage, didn’t like having her photo taken and was totally averse to all the sexism in the rock biz. Actually, I was the same. Until we got the two albums I mentioned above, she was listening to Adam and the Ants in “New Romantic” mode, Haircut 100 and (thank God) Orange Juice. I liked Altered Images, TV Personalities and PIL. Suddenly we were both listening to the Marine Girls all the time. That’s when we did our first single, in 1982.

++ And where does the name Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike came from?

The Rezillos split up. I retired to my bed in utter disbelief. I think I had a dream based on the imagery in their songs. Then they came back as the Revillos. There’s a girl called Trixie in one track on their album, so it’s connected with that.

++ Your first 7″, the one with Invisible Boyfriend and A Splash of Red, is so scarce, 100 copies. Why such a small number?! I wonder if you even have copies yourself?! And why didn’t you seek for a record deal?

The budget for that was incredibly small. 100 was the most we could afford. We recorded it at home, also to save money. I’m glad we did it that way now, because I doubt it would have turned out better using a studio, engineer and so forth. I love the sound of it! I’ve just got one copy of my own. The other 99 are all in good homes, I’m sure. As for a record deal, we just sat and waited. Neither Melanie nor I were any good at business, promotion etc.

++ So you released that first 7″ on “Chew Records” and then the next ones on “Lobby Lud”. Both being your own labels. Why change the name of them though?

That’s the beauty of the DIY approach… complete control! The name change was just for fun. I’m still calling my label Lobby Lud Records and Tapes.

++ 1983 and you release “Norman and Narcissus”, perhaps my favourite song of yours, so I have to ask, who are Norman and Narcissus? Friends of yours?

Norman is me, and Narcissus is a cousin of mine. You know the Narcissus myth?

++ On this single you had Jane Fox doing backing vocals. How did you know her and ask her to join? I guess you were a big fan of the Marine Girls?

Yes, both Melanie and I are big fans. I especially liked Jane’s songs and bass style. We became pen friends, and they really encouraged us to make our music. In Summer 1983 the Fox sisters came down to the Isle of Wight and we met up. Jane sings on our second Peel session, and on that single. She let me play her lovely acoustic bass on it too.

++ Then there was also the 5 song EP, and again is a winner. I love the aesthetics, even if I only own the last CD compilation and not those 7″s, but I’ve seen the artwork online. The whole Trixie thing, the DIY, the choice of artwork for the sleeves, and even the little texts on the records, they show they were made with a lot of passion, and love. How important would you say that was compared to the music?

To be honest, I think the music stands up all by itself. I’m quite proud of some of those songs, our sound and of course Melanie’s voice. But the artwork was all part of our approach as well, yes. I guess the early eighties was the first time mass photo-copying became cheap enough for anyone to do, and it was a great way to control the whole atmosphere of the ‘product’. Again, I’m glad we did things that way. I wonder how many bands are proud of their records but have no affection for the sleeve design?

++ And last but not least there was a split flexi with Clive Pig, right? Were you good friends? Or how did this release came about?

We never met Mr Pig! We recorded our track on the Island, and he did his on the mainland. The whole thing was produced by the legendary Alvin Smith, who made fanzines and arranged events documenting the indie scene in Hertfordshire. Do you know that compilation album “Alvin lives! (in Leeds)”? Named in his honour.

++ Did you play many gigs back in the day? Any favourites?

I think I can count the gigs we did back then on the fingers of one foot. Shyness again. There were a couple of “jam sessions” with people hanging about, but nothing with a real audience, I’m afraid.

++ There was also a tape compilation called ” Reynard The Fox”  were you were included, what do you remember about that?

Yes. I’d forgotten all about that until I saw it on eBay a couple of years ago. A German label put it out around 1986 I think. We sent them a cassette of two songs and they did the master from that. When it came out it was dedicated to the Animal Liberation Front. That was a surprise!

++ And a Isle of Wight compilation called “Feet on the Street” were you contributed “When He’s By My Side” and “Fairytales”. Am I forgetting anything on your compilation? If not, where there any other good bands in the Isle of Wight?

That was a good experience. Those were our last recordings before we split up. The producer / label manager was Rod Gammons and he also did the Norman and Narcissus session. A really talented and trustworthy chap. He managed to get exactly the sound I’d been aiming for at Trixieland. We really didn’t have any contact with other Isle of Wight bands. We never heard anyone from there with even a remotely similar approach to music.

++ In 1995 there was an LP compilation called “The Intimate Sound Of Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike” on Accident Records. How did that one happen so many years after?

I was sitting watching TV in my flat in North London when the doorbell rang. As usual I went to the window and shouted “yeah?”. This bloke said “I’m looking for Mark Litten” It was Chris Vinq, owner of Accident Records. So he came up and told me he wanted to release all the old Trixie’s stuff. I found a couple of cassettes, and we did the mastering at Porky’s Mastering Services in Piccadilly. So the first ever Trixie’s album is a Porky Prime Cut. I’m proud of that!

++ In retrospective, what would you say is your favourite Trixie song?

I find myself unable to choose. There are six or seven that I will never tire of.

++ And now that you are back, are you writing new material?

Yep. Trying to write an album full of singles, if you see what I mean.

++ How important was John Peel for you and Trixie? Any anecdotes you can share about those Peel Sessions you recorded?

John Peel was absolutely crucial for us, as he was for most interesting unsigned bands at the time. I remember the first time he played our record. Melanie was absolutely stunned (and gave me a big hug). Without his help it would probably have taken years for us to get our music known around the country. The only other stations playing our stuff were in Germany. The mainstream music press ignored us, (as they still do).             Melanie was very nervous at the first session, and we had to cope with the unsympathetic producer’s sexist cracks. The second one was great though. Jane was there, and we were all relaxed and well-rehearsed. The staff managed to get a lovely sound on tape, too. We were all exhausted though. I nearly got us all killed driving home (I fell asleep at the wheel).

++ Tell me about Trixieland. What was it? I heard it was a a 7x7x7 box?

That’s right. Maybe a little bigger, with the cupboard space. It was my bedroom. It was stuffed full of music gear, records, two tape recorders and a bed. I kind of learned how to record as we went along. The very last things we recorded there sound fine to me.

++ So when and why did that first Trixie’s lineup split? What is Melanie up to these days?

It must have been around 1986. Melanie went to live in Brighton with Jane and some other friends, and I stopped writing songs, so we just called it a day. She still lives in Brighton, with her son. She works in insurance.

++ You played guitar too on Sarah Goes Shopping. How was that experience? Were you involved with other bands after Trixie’s demise?

That was nice. When Twa Toots split up Sarah Brown called me and asked me to do the arrangements for her new songs. Then I went down to the Isle of Sheppey and we recorded a four track ep. Sarah Goes Shopping are a bit of a cult with the indiepoppers here in Japan. After our show in Tokyo in August the DJ played us off to a track from that ep, which was nice.

++ Do you miss the Isle of Wight at all? If I was ever going to go there, which is probable because it seems I go so much to the UK, what places would you recommend me visiting!? Or probably there’s some sort of local dish I have to definitely try?

I wasn’t very happy living there as a teenager, but I’ve been back a few times recently and yes, I do miss it sometimes. Melanie and I were born in London, so the Island isn’t really our ‘hometown’. The people can be a bit unfriendly towards outsiders, but I guess if you are a tourist you’ll be okay! It’s kind of split down the middle-the west is pretty rural with all the sailing types and pricey property, with the east being the more urban and popular for holidays. Newport would be the best place to stay because it’s right in the centre and you can reach anywhere in a couple of hours. I’m sounding like the local tourist board. The Bees are the best recent band from the Island. Not sure how often they go back there though. Best local food is fish and chips on the east coast.

++ And one last question, when you are not making music, what do you do? Any other hobbies or interests that you have?

My hobby seems to be annoying people on Facebook.

++ Well, that was a long interview! Thanks so much Mark! Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes… Jane and I are both also sad that we couldn’t get to New York this year. Some fab support bands were waiting for us. You know Daniel Fromberg from Chicago? And Rabbit Troupe? We are determined to play there in 2013, hopefully with the same team. New York! Please accept my sincere apologies!


Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike – Norman & Narcissus


Thanks so much to Phil Sutton for the interview. Pale Lights is Phil’s new band after being in Comet Gain, Kicker, The Soft City, and more. They are based in New York. And they are good. They play jangly pop. And they do it well. Recently they’ve released their debut 7″. And it’s great. And even though you can download it from Bandcamp, I say you buy it. There are only 300 copies. And it’s worth it.

++ Hi there! First of all congratulations on your debut 7″! I think it’s GREAT. I’m really enjoying it. But let’s go in order, when did Pale Lights start? And how did you all know each other? 

Thank you very much – I’m glad you like it! Pale Lights started October, 2011 with Lisa Goldstein and myself. Lisa had joined The Soft City on drums, and during that band’s hiatus, we decided to try some songs out, roping in Maria, Lisa’s friend, on bass along the way. Andy Adler, who had also played a couple of shows with The Soft City, joined shortly after. I met Lisa through friends of a friend, and we’re both librarians, and indie-pop types, who kept bumping into each other. I met Andy a few years back, before I moved to New York, through a mutual friend, Comet Gain fan Kevin Pedersen, who runs the What’s Your Rupture record label. It was at a Crystal Stilts gig, but before Andy was in that band.Our friend Brooke Watkins (another librarian) joined for the recording of the EP. We should really be called the Library Lights!

++ Where did the name Pale Lights came from?

We had to come up with a name, as we were due to play a show, at Otto’s Shrunken Head, on 14th and 1st. I always liked Felt, and Under A Pale Light is one of my favorite songs, so I stole it for our name.

++ In which other bands are you all involved or have been involved in the past?

I  was the original drummer for Comet Gain (the Wiiija years), then Velocette for a couple of singles, and later, The Projects. The first of the bands I started was Kicker, who released a couple of LPs in the 2000s, and who broke up in 2005. I immigrated to the US in 2007, and started The Soft City with Dora Lubin, Jason Corace (A Boy named Thor), and Kyle Forester (Crystal Stilts, and Ladybug Transistor). Lisa drummed live for Knight School, and Andy plays bass for Crystal Stilts. Andy and I also play occasionally in Cinema Red and Blue, with various Crystal Stilts and Comet Gain types. Very incestuous.

 ++ Does Pale Lights mean that The Soft City split or you are just taking a break? What do you say are the main similarities and differences between both bands?

The core of the Soft City is Dora and I, and also Jason. The Soft City didn’t break up. While we were recording the last EP, Jason got a job teaching in Baltimore, and then Dora went to Boston, to go to college, and after she graduated she got a job there. I’ve stayed in touch with both of them, and I hope we will record again at some point. I loved working with them, and miss them, so it would be great to do something more. We were never really able to play much, and I think the group was/is very much under the radar as a result. But I have songs for an EP ready. We’ll get around to it.

In terms of a comparison between the two groups, well in The Soft City, Dora’s vocals obviously, then there’s Jason’s songwriting. Also I played drums on those records, not guitar. I think Pale Lights is more scuffed up, and a bit looser maybe. Plus Andy’s guitar playing is different to Jason (and in some instances, Kyle’s), a bit more fee wheeling perhaps. The subject matter of the material is largely the same though. In fact She Won’t Ever Calm Down is an angrier version of How Long? on the Soft City LP. The Pale Light’s recordings have been described as denser. In fact, in terms of themes, Pale Lights are pretty much the same as the songs I wrote for Kicker, back in the UK. Pale Lights play a lot more shows. The Soft City played 6 shows in four years, compared to Pale Lights 12 in a year!

++ I remember you were going to have 7″s back in May and something terrible happened with them. I think Fedex or UPS lost them, right? Are the songs the same as in this new EP?

Oh that was funny. Or perhaps annoying. We pressed up a few dozen EPs for the New York Popfest, but they were lost in the post. They turned up the following Monday. It’s exactly the same pressing as the new single, only hand stamped, with a silkscreen sleeve by Keegan Cooke.

++ From what I remember you have in repertoire more than 4 songs, so, how did you end up choosing these four songs for this 7″? And which one of them is your favourite?

They were the first we had! Ghosts of Youth is an old Soft City song, that we never got around to recording. And Boy of Your Dreams too I think. Waverly Place was the first song I wrote for Pale Lights, and She Won’t Ever Calm Down is newer too. Ghosts of Youth is probably my favorite. Brooke Watkins (a friend and fellow librarian) plays a simple but I think pretty piano part, and it goes nicely with Andy’s guitar. The words are based on a story by Sherwood Anderson, and hang together quite nicely. I like Waverly Place to, as it’s quite sad, but bops along. SWECD is a whig out song, and Andy’s guitar is great. They’re all special – my babies! Though that’s quite an abstract thing to say, as I don’t listen to them.

++ I really enjoy “Boy of Your Dreams” myself, the guitar is really great. It reminds me of times of Mighty Mighty, Yeah Jazz, The Waltones, and you know, jangly bands from the heyday of indiepop! What would you say are your main influences for writing songs Phil?

In terms of writing, I’m very influenced by Felt, the Go-Betweens, The Chills, The Clean, Comet Gain (I know I was in them, but I was only the drummer, and they got better after I left), the Velvet Underground, John Cale, Orange Juice and the other Postcard bands, The Pastels, Monochrome Set, the first Belle and Sebastian LP, and the TVPs. I listen to a lot of Gene Clark, and for simple pop song arrangement, you can’t beat Michel Polnareff’s first LP. These are the song writing influences. I listen to much more. I love the Swell Maps, but I couldn’t write like them! I’m a formalist, you see.

++ And would you mind telling me the story behind this song?

Boy of Your Dreams, in my head at least, is a scene from a blank kitchen sink drama, set in a town or city, rooted in nothing very much more than a girl going on a date she’s not really bothered about. Metropolitan twenty-something ennui. I like prosaic themes – they leave it up to the listener to come up with the details. It’s influenced by my love of Neo-realist films and books, and sixties Brit girl singers. Sort of Up the Junction meets Sheena Mackay’s Music Upstairs, meets Girl Don’t Come by Sandie Shaw. In my head, anyway. A Taste of Honey, still gets me, every time I read it or see it. It’s perfect. I love music that makes me feel how I feel about these books and films.

The first songs I wrote were mostly for female voices – songs for Jill in Kicker, and Dora in The Soft City – and I found that very difficult, but fun. Trying to capture a female perspective, which I think, if you’re a man, can be next to impossible. But, still, that’s what I had to try and do.

++ Tell me about Calico Cat records. What’s the setup for your own label? And would you at some point release bands other than yours? 

Calico Cat is my own label, and I wouldn’t rule out releasing records by other people, but it’s still early days. I don’t feel qualified to make a mess of releasing other people’s work, so I’m learning from my mistakes with my own music! I always wanted to press up and release records, especially 3 or 4 song 7” EPs, my favorite format, and I love the D.I.Y. aesthetic. The next release will probably be an LP or mini LP by Pale Lights, and then hopefully something by the Soft City. We’ll see. A split EP would also be fun, but I don’t know who with…

++ I do know there are only 300 copies, and I recommend everyone buying it! But also there is the fact that the songs are also available for full stream on Bandcamp. How do you feel about that? Do you think them being easily available like that help or hurt selling the 7″? 

Thanks! I made the songs available on Bandcamp as digital downloads. People can download them for free, or make a payment. It’s up to them. I figure that’s how it is regarding digital music. The last Soft City record sold more records than downloads, so I think the people that bought it prefer the physical object to the MP3. Though I think you should get a free digital copy when you buy a record. I do think people should pay for recorded music though. I lose so much money, even if I sell out our records, and I keep records very cheap ($5), so I need some money to come in, to help pay for recording. The groups are way to small to recoup by playing live, so every bit helps.

++ Who made the artwork for the record? Is there any meaning to that closed door?

I did the sleeve art for the record, and Maria put it together. It’s from an image on the Library of Congress’s website. If the EP has a theme, it’s about interiors and exteriors, and how we navigate them. I sound like a literature graduate, but there is a lot of people looking out of windows, leaving houses, catching the subway, going into rooms, commenting on the décor, etc. I wanted to reflect that in the sleeve image. Also I liked the run down look of the room. It seems quite evocative of past lives. This is perhaps inevitable when you work in the history and genealogy division of a library! Plus, I like dark yellow. Is that a color?

++ You played New York Popfest, on the Saturday afternoon show, will we see you next year at later slot? Any plans of playing other festivals? 

Not at the moment. Maybe. I hope so! I’d love to play Popfest again. And Spain. Anywhere in Spain! Or Sweden. And London. I’d love to play Indietracks, not least because I like museums, and steam trains, and it would be an excuse to go back to the Old Country. And it looks like such fun, though it’s probably gotten that we’d be too small a band. This is looking like a hint session! We could always go as punters and busk it. I’m a dab hand with tents and campfires. Lisa, Maria and I did talk about going to Britain to play though, in Stoke I think. Or was it Chipping Norton? Chippy. I can’t remember why though…

 ++ What about gigs? You’ve played quite a bit. Which would you say have been your favourites? And why? Any anecdotes you can share?

We’ve played a fair bit in recent months, about a dozen shows in New York. I think that’s why we’re taking a wee break. I have to say Popfest was so much fun. So many friends – buddies from the UK, from Fortuna Pop and Comet Gain, mostly watching the European Cup of Soccer in the bar next door, and friends from New York, and playing with lovely bands. Then watching Comet Gain, and The Pooh Sticks, and some great new groups (I liked Pushy Parents) play later that night. Then nightcaps, gossip, and memories.

++ Phil, I always wonder, how different do you find the scene here in New York compared to the one in London?

Is there a scene? From the way I’ve described the group, it sounds like there is, but I’m not sure. I think Pale Lights, and The Soft City, didn’t really fit in with the New York Scene (if there is one), perhaps because were not as sonically hard as a lot of groups here. There are some great bands (What Next?, Crystal Stilts, My Teenage Stride, Ladybug Transistor), but I’m out of the loop. I spend too much time listening to Francoise Hardy. There’s probably a lot of indie-pop. Can you fill me in? Wherever the scene is, Maz and Clyde, and the gang at Mondo are probably at the epicenter of it though!

In London, although I left 5 years ago, I think there is definitely more of an indie-pop friendly scene, one that seems more inclusive, in terms of types of bands, and the people who perform and go to shows and clubs, all ages and genders. It feels a wee bit more cliquey here. Like, here’s five bands who all went to college together, and play each other shows, etc. Which I don’t think is actually such a bad thing. Family is good. London’s pretty small I suppose, and there are venues that like-minded people can meet. Everyone gravitates towards London at some point. And indie kids always find each other, and congregate. It felt easier in London, with fewer hipsters, but that could be my hang-up. I don’t know. I sound so ungrateful. I’m like the country boy in Manhattan Transfer. Still haven’t found the center of things!

++ So what’s coming up for Pale Lights? I hear you are going to go recording soon? 

We’re recording a song, called Dearest Virginia, for an LP compilation on the Japanese label Violet and Claire, which were excited about. We’re also recording slowly though the Fall (and probably Winter) for the long-playing record I mentioned earlier. It’ll come out on Calico Cat. Unless we get a better offer! We’ll play some shows too.

++ And what would you say has been the biggest highlight for Pale Lights? 

Popfest, definitely. Managing to make a record. Meeting some lovely bands (We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, Orca Team, Brown Recluse, were all lovely, and great groups too) I’d have to say, though, and this sounds a bit twee, but working with Lisa, Maria, and Andy was probably the highlight. When I was young, I loved The Monkees, and I still love the idea of being in a band, and making music, and having fun with nice people, who like similar things. I don’t need any of that Who aggro!

++ Tell me, what do you guys do when you are not making music? Work? Any fun hobbies? 

I’m a Librarian, as is Lisa. I’m a married homebody. I love classic movies, reading pop history, researching bits, and meeting for drinks.

++ And do tell me your favourite restaurants, bars, or places to hang out in New York? Where would you take a visiting friend? 

Phil: Aqua Grill for food, Oscar’s Shrunken Head / Kyle’s Korner for karaoke, the Double Windsor or the Diamond, in Greenpoint, for beer and fun. I would (and do) take visiting friends up 30 Rock (better view than the Empire State Building), after a ride on the East River Ferry  – you get the vertical and horizontal in the space of a few hours. And then to New York Public Library, of course!

++ Thanks a lot again, anything else you’d like to add? 

The EP is for sale online at the Calico Cat shop – you get a free button badge too!


Thank you for talking to us Roque – you’re the tops


Pale Lights – Boy of Your Dreams


Yesterday evening was quite nice, as they always are when Ed Shelflife is in town. Started with some beers at The Pony Bar in Hell’s Kitchen, I had a filling pumpkin stout, followed by Indonesian food for dinner (beef rendang as usual for me) and ended walking through Times Square to reach Rockefeller center. Also, as usual, we talked indiepop for the entire time. This is a feat for me, you won’t believe me, but I don’t usually like talking about music much. But with Ed it’s easy. We share our label dreams, our future plans, and then the inevitable gossip about the people involved in the scene.

Of course I can’t tell you what he is putting out next, that’s not my business, but there are some really exciting releases in the horizon that are still unannounced. It’s impressive though that by the end of the year he would have released 13 records just in 2012. That’s quite something. Especially now that it’s harder and harder to put out records as people, well I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, don’t buy music anymore. I believe by the end of the year, Cloudberry will have released, 2 Cloudberry Cake Kitchen releases, the 3″ CD by Tiny Fireflies, the new fanzine, and hopefully 4 7″ singles. That’s 8 releases. 5 releases short. Tough. I joked with him about the end of year Twee.net polls, we already know who is going to win, that one label whose releases are sold out within weeks. Who knows how they do it. Must be a Copperfield trick.

But I can tell you about some of the upcoming Cloudberry releases though. These weeks I’ve been working hard on the label, and even on the blog, with a renewed excitement, and with plenty of ideas, and a revamped love for indiepop. Most of you do know that the next 7″ is the Spook School one that has “Here We Go” on the A side and “Cameraman” on the flipside. That’s coming out on October 10th. The Spook School also are showcased on the upcoming zine with an interview and a song on the CD compilation. Talking about this zine, it also contains interviews with Youngfuck, Earth First, Caucus, Nixon and  Alpaca Sports. Yes, you read that right, Alpaca Sports are joining the label and will release a 7″ pretty soon. I’m very excited about that. As I write these lines they are finishing the songs that will appear on the A side. The B side will include that fabulous soon-to-be-classic “She’ll Come Back for Indian Summer”.

I’m calling this one the Emerald fanzine. As usual the color ink of the fanzine changes. I think the next one will be orange. This zine will come with a CD like always, it’s aptly titled “Exposed on the Cliffs of the Heart “. The heart being my favourite topic, and not from a biochemical, physiological, point of view. The cover is graced by the beautiful and one of the few movie-crushes I’ve ever had, Irene Jacob as Veronique, from Kieslowski’s masterpiece The Double Life of Veronique. The CD will include songs by Youngfuck, The Spook School, Caucus and two new exciting bands that are yet to make a splash in the scene, but I’m sure they will in the not so distant future! Hopefully by the end of the week there will be more information online about the zine, and perhaps a pre-order button.

Also by mid October the Strange Idols compilation will be out. It includes all the songs ever released plus many unreleased tracks, among them the 4th single that sadly never came out. There are in total 13 songs, and they are all brilliant. I’m very happy with this release and I hope that those people that missed them when they were around get the chance to enjoy one of the best contemporary jangle pop bands. And those who did know them and were lucky enough to see them live, well, to rediscover them, and enjoy all these new tracks that you haven’t heard before. This CD is pure indiepop bliss. It will definitely charm any indiepop fan out there. I feel so happy because I really wanted to release that 4th single back in the day, and now at last I can do it. I was a big fan of theirs since I discovered them late in 2005 I think.

And there are some news too on the 7” end. There are two new bands that will join the Cloudberry family soon like Alpaca Sports. From London, UK, the band Flowers, who will start touring with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart shortly, all over Europe. And from Hamburg, Germany, Tripping The Light Fantastic, a quite popular band in their country but sadly not yet abroad. The quality of both singles is amazing. So please support the label so I can release these records as soon as possible.

There, that was a breakdown of what’s in the pipeline for Cloudberry. It’s going to be busy, it’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be fun and rewarding. I can’t wait for all of them to be out. And now I have to start working on a new Cloudberry Cake Kitchen collection. I have a couple of ideas, a couple of bands that I would like to do a deluxe collection of their songs. We’ll see, I’ve also gotten some nice suggestions by friends and readers alike.

But this is not the only stuff that’s keeping me busy. I’ve retaken the amazing project that is The Sound of Starke Adolf compilations. I’m working now hard on volume 2, seeking down these swedes, that are so difficult to get in touch with. I persevere, I’ll keep bugging them until I got their songs, and everything else I need to make a quality release as volume 1 was.

There is one thing that I need to stop doing though. I have to stop buying so many records. As of late I’m winning so much on eBay and it’s just dumb. I shouldn’t be spending this much, but I’m not sure what has happened but eBay sellers are listing every single item I have saved in my four different usernames’ saved searches! That’s 400 saved search items. I’m nuts. But I tell you, it makes this heart happy and forgetful.


Let’s go all the way to Australia for the band of the week: Dreaming Genies. I’ve been looking for so long, after a tip of a friend (or was it because it was listed on Twee.net?), for their 1994 CD “Joan”. Still I haven’t had luck. I think because this was released in Japan, and it’s not very common for Japanese indiepop fans to be selling their collections. Or even to list items on eBay. Not common. Luckily some weeks ago, Heinz (again!), uploaded one of the tracks from the CD, and well, I fell in love with it.

The song is called “Sheperd song” and it’s just a wonderful blast of indiepop-punk, a la Eggplant, a la Juniper Moon, that I got hooked to it immediately. The band that I get reminded me the most is The Sorayas from Sweden though, do you remember them? I actually been looking to contact them so I can include them in one of The Starke Adolf comps. But ok, that’s another story. Let’s get back to the Dreaming Genies, let’s wake them up.

The band seems to have been formed in 1992 in Canberra, Australia’s capital. I try to recollect all my indiepop knowledge, and I can’t think of other bands coming from there. I can think of plenty from Melbourne, Perth or Sydney, but not Canberra.

The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation’s capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. The word “Canberra” is popularly claimed to derive from the word Kambera or Canberry and mean “meeting place” in the old Ngunnawal language of the local Ngabri people

The band was formed by  Mark Broomhead on guitars, Alex Castro on drums, Jeff Smith on bass, Heath Stephens on bass, and Tania Zadoroznyj on guitars and vocals. And aside from this Joan CD they had also released two other CDs: “Wistaria” and “Pretty Hell”.

The little I know about “Wistaria” is that it was an EP and was released in 1993. The name of the album probably comes from Wisteria (also spelled Wistaria or Wysteria) is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, that includes ten species of woody climbing vines native to the Eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan. Some species are popular ornamental plants, especially in China and Japan. An aquatic flowering plant with the common name wisteria or ‘water wisteria’ is in fact Hygrophila difformis, in the family Acanthaceae.

From “Pretty Hell” I could find one song on Youtube. It’s called “Breathe” and it’s said to be the 2nd song from this EP. The vocals are really nice, sounding like The Popguns, and the music it’s a bit rockier than the “Sheperd Song”. A sound that reminds me of The Heart Throbs. Not as engaging as the other one but still pretty enjoyable.

Let me figure out first where the word genie comes from:

The jinn (Arabic: جن‎ ǧinn, singular جني ǧinnī; also spelled djinn), or genies, are supernatural spirits mentioned in the Quran and Islamic mythology who inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. Together, the jinn, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of God. The Quran mentions that the jinn are made of a smokeless and “scorching fire”, and they have the physical property of weight. Like human beings, the jinn can also be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent.

The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, meant a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at their birth. English borrowed the French descendant of this word, génie; its earliest written attestation in English, in 1655, is a plural spelled “genyes.” The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights used génie as a translation of jinnī because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning. This use was also adopted in English and has since become dominant.

So the Dreaming Genies. I found the names of other songs, but sadly I haven’t been able to listen to them, maybe some of you could help me: “Joan”, “Mina’s Story”, “Man with Backpack”, “Skeleton Man”, “Flowers”, “Thursday Night” and “Cyren”.

Going back to the “Joan” CD. It was released in Japan by a label called Behavior Saviour, and it was catalog BS009. This label seems to have been closely linked with a band called Tricycle Popstar, which I barely know and I guess could be reviewed on the blog sometime soon. Most of the releases on the label are by this band and in different formats from tapes to flexis. There were two CD compilations two, on both of them They Go Boom were included. On one of them Bulldozer Crash was included. We start seeing familiar faces.

And that’s all there is. All I could find about them. I wonder, are the rest of their songs as catchy and fun as this one? Some Japanese fan that I read (well, thru google translate), was saying the rest of the songs are more power pop style, and this “Sheperd Song” was anorak-sound. Was he right? Also whatever happened to them, the band? Were they involved with other bands before or after Dreaming Genies? Where are they now? And has anyone have a spare copy of this CD? So many questions, hope someone can help!


Dreaming Genies – Sheperd Song


After a couple more of those bright silver Sapporo tall cans Elisabeth showed up with some friends. The Echo didn’t feel as lonely and immediately headed with her to the bar. I was surprised how good her English was now, she had picked a new accent in Oxnard and talked smack like a true American. The Dane that found her place in California. I gave her one of the free drink tickets I got and ordered some liquor. I continued with my Japanese spree.

We ran to the dancefloor as soon as we heard the first seconds of”Bigmouth Strikes Again”. Without any struggle we found ourselves in the middle of the crowd, in the middle of Guadalajara,  in the middle of the fiesta. Liz had joined us already and also another friend of Eli whose name I forgot! She was dancing and dancing waving her long hair all over the place. Some ‘naco’ kid, with his shirt half open, started dancing close to this nameless girl and doing his Latin moves all over the place. Hugging her, holding her hands, dancing way too close. He reminded me the Magneto kids. I’d love an early 90s Latin retro party.

“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” struck me. Got reminded of some things that I was trying to bury. Break-ups are never easy, even if you go through them many times, and they are a very common experience for the common folk. I grabbed the nameless girl, took her from the gold chained Chicano, and made her dance with me. Cheer up. Let’s have fun. It was close to 2 am and the DJ announced that this was going to be the last song. “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out”. He thanked everyone for coming and started dancing again with perfectly practiced Moz moves. I was told that this DJ actually plays in a Smiths tribute band, and of course, he plays to be Morrissey.

The song was quite a surprise, the DJ would mix the original Smiths song with Mikel Erentxun’s Spanish version. It was quite a treat. I was dancing happily, singing along, both in English and Spanish. Until the song was over. Until the night was over. I hugged the girl, and namelessly kissed her bye. I headed towards the bar, find Liz and Elisabeth, find a ride back to my host’s place. It was my last night in LA and I was told not to walk from the Echo to Silver Lake, that it was a very rough neighborhood.

The whole bunch of Eli’s friends and me walked towards a parking lot, a couple of blocks away of the venue. We hanged out there a bit. There was a big plush bear tied to one of the light posts. It had black tape on it’s eyes and mouth. Bear bondage. I rescued it, as I was the tallest I was asked to take him down. It was all wet though, maybe from the rain from the night before. We left it on top of someone’s car. I wonder what the reaction of the car owner had been. Goodbye to everyone and the night was over.

I woke up terribly late on Monday. There was no time for breakfast. Chris from Silver Screen was coming around to pick me up around noon to go get some nice lunch not too far from where I was staying. He showed up on time on a big black pickup. I met his wife, the sweet vocalist of Indonesian band Mocca. Do you remember them? They had some very nice releases a couple of years back. They rapidly filled me in how they met, how they fell in love. Long distance didn’t matter. That felt reassuring after what I’ve been through.

We talked and talked over beer and bloody marys. I devoured a fantastic salmon burger and a mountain of fries. We went through the early days of Silver Screen, the labels that Chris approached, the bands he loved, his new album that is waiting forever to be released, the 3″CD we did, the 7″ I have offered him and more. Talked about his Indonesian experience, his wedding, the great Indonesian cuisine, how people are so friendly there. It was fantastic to meet one of the most talented indiepop one-man band around at last. And I hope to see you again my friend.

After lunch I met with Marion for some more Los Angeles sightseeing, the last hours of my stay in California’s biggest city. We drove to Rodeo Drive, walked around that posh area; Beverly Hills, where I took photographs for a Russian couple; Bel Air, where I didn’t see the Fresh Prince; and eventually ended up driving next to the beach. We saw Malibu first and then we stopped at Venice Beach were we walked along pot doctors, crazy weightlifters, and tennis enthusiasts. Then headed for some happy hour cheap seafood, shrimp, fish and squid. My favourite.

The drive to the airport was short and mostly quiet. I was missing traveling with a partner, and pondering how much more rewarding it is. The sunset was happening and the orange sun was bleaching the houses and shops on the way. I found excitement again in music, in collecting, in talking about it, in sharing that with friends and fans alike. I enjoyed being alone in the mornings in a foreign place, walking on empty streets, holding no one’s hand. I would always miss her smile when I turn around, poking her nose, and waiting for her to pick her candies. I won’t deny that. There’s a special place for her in my heart. And when the sun was disappearing behind the last buildings I could see on the horizon, I decided to move on.


I have news for the few Cloudberry fans out there. On October 10th The Spook School’s 7″ will be out! You can’t miss it. It’s one of the finest indiepop debuts in years, sounding so fresh, they’ve already become a favourite at all indiepop festivals! Also you can pre-order the Strange Idols’ Idolatry retrospective CD. That’s coming out very soon, hopefully by the end of October. So yes. Plenty of news. Also I’m working again on the fanzine and have some interviews lined up for the blog. So not all is bad, now I have much more time to work on the music I love.

Also, I’ve putting a lot of time, a lot of effort, to getting the second volume of The Sound of Starke Adolf compilations. Only today I emailed like 15 people! So, hopefully the 20 song CD that I have planned will be ready by the end of the year. Fingers-crossed.

I do want to ask for some tips and suggestions for the next Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release. I’ve been thinking of some bands but there’s nothing concrete yet. Who would you like to see as part of the Kitchen family?!

Oh, and last but not least there was this interesting academic paper written about the blog and the label: http://www.wordsinspace.net/lib-arch-data/2012-fall/?p=232


The song for today is a recent discovery thanks to a Youtube upload from Heinz! I don’t know exactly, but the song makes me happysad, giddy at some points, and longing for days that won’t come back at some other moments. There’s something about the melancholic lyrics over the happy and bouncy, shambolic beat. It creates that beautiful contradiction that indiepop has.

The band name is Madison and the song is “She’s June”.

Well, there’s plenty of Madison places in the US alone. The Wisconsin capital being the one that most people know about. But the actual origin is that it was a surname, a variant of Mathieson meaning son of Matthew.

And about June, there are two theories of where the name comes from: The first is that the month is named after the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter and equivalent to the Greek goddess Hera; the second is that the name comes from the Latin word iuniores, meaning “younger ones,” as opposed to maiores (“elders”) for which the preceding month May may be named.

Also June’s birthstones are the Alexandrite, the Moonstone, and the pearl. The meaning is health and longevity. Of course the Alexandrite part makes me cringe.

But about the band, nothing, zip, zero, nada. The only thing I could figure out from the image posted on Youtube is that the song appeared on a tape called Garage-Flowers. On the green sleeve I could recognize The Pearly Gatecrashers on the tracklist. The Honeyloops. Eliminator Jr. And Silvania. My fellow Peruvians! Seeing Silvania and Eliminator Jr. it makes me guess that the tape compilation has some sort of Spanish and Elefant records connection.

I would guess they are English and they sound great!, with those na-na-nas, on the back. Great lyrics, ramshackle guitars, a bit like How Many Beans Make Five, or The Lovelies, but dreamier than them! Me and Dean Martin too? Possibly. A lot like Mary-Go-Round from Sweden without the girl/boy vocals. But that kind of pop! I can’t even imagine what happened to them. As far as I know they never released anything, but if they recorded one song, they must have recorded more. So if anyone knows anything about them, let me know!


Madison – She’s June


Thanks so much to Civic for the interview, and also to Yugo from Happy Prince for the translation! Civic will be releasing very soon their debut album on the Happy Prince label, and for the past weeks I’ve been enjoying it a lot. Noisy, fun, poppy, this record is one of the surprises of 2012! Please enjoy, and you can visit their website here. And order from Happy Prince here.

++ This September your new album will be out! Must be really exciting! I’ve been listening to it non-stop and I have to say it’s a great one. What expectations you have with it?

We are all glad to hear you have listened to our album, Thank you! Regarding our album, it is so lucky for us, a cheap and odd band, to be able to release the album. I would like to go back to the time when we had started the band and told us at that time “you will be able to release the album! It should be surprising!” if we can trip the time by a time machine.

++ Let’s go back in time, how did Civic start? What year was it and how did you all knew each other?

I am not sure, but we started the band around 2004. We started the band with very close friends. We were all just beginners at musical instruments. I let my younger sister Tomoko play the drums, it was full of trial and errors. But lots of fun.

++ Have there been many lineup changes during your run?

We just added one more guitarist. When Marikko (bass) got pregnant, Ouji joined the band as a support bassist. And when Marriko get back to the band, Ouji replaced his instrument to the guitar because of his interest. Now we have triple guitarists.

++ What about playing in other bands? Have you been involved with other music projects?

We are doing not so many. Sometimes we supported the friends’ bands. Kodai is playing at his another band called Electric Brand as a vocal/guitarist.

++ Why the name Civic? Do you like Honda Civic? 😉

Because we had lived in very close places, so we started our practice at a studio in the ward office. To reserve the studio, we have to tell a band name, so we named after the ward office’s name ‘Civic Center’. Now we do not have a car, so if we would be able to sell many CDs, we will buy a Civic.

++ What would you say your influences are? And are there any Japanese bands that you’d like to recommend?

I guess we were affected by Galaxie 500, Daniel Johnston and Beat Happening. We liked them because they all have a very warm human energy. But when we started playing the guitars, we got to like to play loud with much distorted sound. Then we liked The Jesus And Mary Chain and Dinosaurs Jr.
As for the Japanese bands, Caucus and Shinda-Boku-no-Kanojo (My Dead Girlfriend) are what we cannot do so and great bands. NAISHO (who will release their debut album on November by happy prince), Shojo-Skip, Herajika are very twisted and I love them. I have loved Hartfield, Love Love Straw and Dog Hair Dressers for so long time.

++ So the new album is out thanks to Happy Prince Records. Care to tell me how did you get to know Yugo? And how important is his label to you guys?

A few years ago, Yugo called us to join the Apple Light release party. That is the first time we met. We are not so energetic and not so accurate to create something, so we were very helped by his adding the sense to create and manufacture the CD.

++ From this fantastic album, what would you say are your favourite songs and why?

The first track “toilet monster” is rush and we feel good when we play this song at the show. The 6th track “koi no uta” has a good latter part. The 3rd track “innocent” has good guitar riffs and odd groove. The 7th track “tensai”, tensai is a ‘genius’ in Japanese, I like this song because I am not a genius, but sometimes I like to be a genius.

++ The song titles are in English, but you sing in Japanese. Have you ever considered singing in English?

We would like to sing in English, but we are not good English speakers, so sing in Japanese. We just made the track tiles in English.

++ And why the name “Toilet Monster” for the album name?

The 1st track and the 2nd track were “toilet paper” and “monster”, so we fused them to “toilet monster”. I often go to the toilet, so I like the toilet.

++ How was the recording of the album? Any anecdotes you could share?

Gathering together, we recorded about in two days. I thought some kind of groove can be recorded when we do it in a short time. Eating snacks, playing the games, the recording was proceeded well. It should be good for us in a relaxed mood. We always make a practice at Kodai’s house.

++  This is your debut album and before you’ve appeared on compilations right? Care to tell me about these compilation albums?

We joined a split album called “Anorak Shoegazer” with Boyfriend Dead, who we like. The title is not determined by us, but I like it. The compilation album “Happy Gift For The Pop Kids” is joined by many foreign bands and colorful pop song compilation. It is always good for us to be asked to join the compilation. We are willing to do it. We have many many songs, almost songs for three albums, When we get the opportunity, we are ready to try!

++ So after the album what comes next for Civic?

Playing some shows, we are expecting to release the next album sooner. In fact we are considering the songs for the next album these days. We hope we would be able to release the next album in the next year.

++ What about gigs? Do you play many? What has your favourite gig been so far?

We are all lazy ones, so we do not play at shows so many times. But it is fun to play in front of many audiences. When we play at the show first time, the audiences are less than members, but it was also fun. I remember it even now.

++ You are from Tokyo, right? What are your favourite places in town to hang out? And if I was a tourist, which sights would you recommend not missing?

I like clouded towns such as Shinjuku and Akihabara. There is not so many historical places in Tokyo, so you should enjoy many and many of people clouded.

++ What about Japanese food? What are your favourite dishes? And Japanese beer?

Maybe it is not a pure Japanese food, but I like ramen (the Chinese noodles very Japanized) . I guess Japanese beers are also good. Highball is also fine.

++ Let’s wrap it here. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for your interview. To keep our activity in a good way, we will keep our good life, sleeping well and eating much. Please sleep well all the people. If you listen to our album, play it loud!!


Civic – Toilet Paper


A couple of weekends ago I visited Los Angeles. It was Labour day weekend here in the US, meaning it was a 3 day weekend. Monday being the holiday. As my work schedule allows me, I could fly on Monday night and arrive Tuesday morning and not lose a day of work. On every holiday I try to squeeze a trip, like I’ve done previously to visit many North American cities. I love the traveling drill, from airports to trains, from picking up tickets to taking off my belt at the x-ray security check. It just builds up my excitement, and then of course, the destination is the cherry on the cake.

Although I’m a formidable planner (if I may say so), this time I didn’t plan any fun activities in LA. My current mood and a dear friend, who I guess is not that dear, in Santa Barbara that bailed on me, made me go to the other coast of the continental US without any expectations whatsoever. Of course I wanted to see the Hollywood sign, the Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t actually have an itinerary unlike all my previous trips this year. Of course I did plan to have one, I did plan to have things lined up, contact friends, and more. I even bought a Los Angeles Lost Planet guide, whose pages I never flipped through until I stepped in Californian ground.

I guess my trips to Spain and the UK set the bar too high for me. And just to think that these experiences might not repeat ever again was a hard blow. And what’s worst I have this same gut feeling for my upcoming trip to Chickfactor, but hell, that’s another story. There’s a couple of months to regroup and get the mood up. I’m positive that this UK trip will be alright. Actually I have started looking into Rochester Castle and Bodiam Castle, two of the places I want to visit this time. Prices, train schedules, and history. I probably will end up going there alone, but that’s fine. I was always a loner.

It was at the last NYC Popfest that I met Marion for the first time. We’ve been good friends online for some time, chatting and emailing about indiepop. She hosts this great club in LA called Hungry Beat and also has a radio show from 3am to 6am on KCRW. A pop activist. The kind of people I like. When she was here, which was just for a day, as she only came to see Comet Gain and Pooh Sticks and then take the plane back to LA, she told me to come and visit LA this year, that it would be fun. She wasn’t the first to invite me though, before also Jackie and Joey from Sweater Girls had been keen in me going and visiting them. So after I came back from Indietracks, bummed to be back at work, needing to look forward to something, I decided to book a flight on Virgin America to Los Angeles.

So I walked all over Sunset Blvd. I saw the pink stars on the sidewalk. Keanu, Britney, William Shatner. The Wedding Present I thought. Sean Connery, Marilyn, Burt Lancaster. Hombres G came to mind. The strip was packed with tourists but also by groups of quinceañeras. The neon lights of the different museums and stores reminded me of my old neighborhood in Miami. Walked to the Chinese Theater and saw James Bond Sean Connery’s hands and feet on the cement. Judy Garland’s too. And Marilyn, where “Gentlemen prefer them blondes” was written. I guess I’m a gentleman.

The Guinness World Record museum, the Madame Tussaud one, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Chain-store museums, that you see at every touristy downtown in the US. The culture of capitalism. I wanted to go to the Jim Henson’s museum, but that was closed. Would have loved to see the history of the muppets, Mr Kermit and Miss Piggy, and the Dinosaurs, Baby Sinclair. For lunch we stopped in an In-and-Out Burger, a Californian staple I was told. It was quite alright for a fast food joint. Reminded me of Five Guys. But less expensive. Next door was Hollywood High, with a big mural were Laurence Fishburne was the centerpiece. Cantinflas and mighty Bruce Lee were there too. Excellent students, why didn’t I study there?

But the apotheosis was definitely the visit to Amoeba Records. Then all these non-expectations I had were shattered. Cheap 7″s galore! And box after box my hopes of great finds increased and increased. I definitely didn’t score nothing out-worldly but i grabbed at least 20 7″s and a couple of LPs for a fantastic price. All indiepop, all in bonafide labels. It’s just that they are the lesser known releases, but I don’t care. I love them all. While an auction was taking place at the store, I picked every single 7″ box and found the likes of Lois, Courtney Love, Girlroy, Witching Hour, Le Mans and more. And then a 12″ by The Groovy Little Numbers. And for the first time in a month I was smiling.

That same day I tried for the first time Chiles en nogada, a Mexican dish whose name comes from the Spanish word for the walnut tree, nogal. It consists of poblano chiles filled with picadillo (a mixture usually containing shredded meat, aromatics, fruits and spices) topped with a walnut-based cream sauce, called nogada, and pomegranate seeds, giving it the three colors of the Mexican flag: green for the chili, white for the nut sauce and red for the pomegranate. The walnut used to prepare nogada is a variety called Nuez de Castilla or Castilla Walnut. I have to say I can’t recommend this dish enough. It was glorious.

We bought some Modelo beers that night and enjoyed a quiet time with Jax, the cat, and playing the Loveletter LP Marion found at Amoeba. Talked about music, relationships, cats naturally, and the plans for the next day. I was exhausted that Saturday, I’d been up since 3:30am. So I headed to bed pretty early.

The next day I walked across Hyperion Avenue and over the LA river. Ended up in a Salvadorian/Mexican restaurant for breakfast. I had Huevos Mexicanos of course, in honor of The Hit Parade. Then I walked back to Silver Lake, up the hill and down the slope for The Loft. I must have been the only person walking these huge avenues that mostly looked like freeways. That’s LA. But it wasn’t that terrible, just a 15 minute walk where the only sights were huge houses, big yards and concrete.

The plans were to meet Brian and Yvonne from The Tartans, we were going to head to the Huntington Library. Some issues with our cellphone networks threw these plans to the trash. In the end, I didn’t get to see them, and dear Brian ended up injured. Time to rethink our plans. Alright, let’s go up to Griffith Observatory. From up there, I could see the Hollywood sign. I posed for a couple of pictures. Then in the Observatory, which was free, I got some amazing views of Los Angeles. The spread of civilization, houses, houses and houses, and in the horizon a couple of tall buildings rising. It was such a view. Quite enchanting I thought. Inside the observatory I was perplexed with the Camera Obscura and thought of my days in Glasgow, and then astounded by the Tesla Coil purple rays. That was quite something.

We then met with Joey from Sweater Girls and went to another record store: Wombleton Records. Lots of goodies here, but everything way overpriced. I ended up buying a couple of 7″s and LPs, just for the sake of it. If you have money to burn this is your place, they will stock and have plenty of rare records, but they will price them quite high. I guess they save time for you, no need to look to hard for that rare TVPs 7″s.  Walked to a bar some blocks down, called the York, and got some fries and beers. It’s in this place where Hungry Beat will take place soon. Shame I wasn’t there for the come-back party. By now I was starving, and the rest too. So we drove to Pasadena, to Jackie’s vegan restaurant. It was a nice late lunch/dinner. Catching up about indiepop, their band, festivals, future plans, friends, a bit of gossip here and there, was great. One last stop for me this night, The Smiths night party that was held at the Echo by Michae and his Part Time Punks.

Neither Marion or Joey stayed too late. I stayed until the end of the night. Michael was kind enough to give me a couple of drink tickets. I spent them all in those tall Sapporo cans that I always fall for. What’s this Smiths night, you’d ask? Well, they only play Smiths songs and Morrissey songs. The crowd goes wild. I was amazed how much the Moz is loved by Mexicans. And not just regular indie Mexicans, but the gangster type too, the ones they call “cholos” in California. I was surprised by it. I always thought it was the sensitive, whining guys, who loved The Smiths. Not here. Not in LA.

I met with Nick from Catwalk and talked quite a bit about his next album. I look forward to it a lot. And while I was waiting for dear Elisabeth from Leaving Mornington Crescent to arrive, some Mexican girl came to me and asked me about the Cats on Fire t-shirt. I wasn’t really in the mood to be hit, but I went with it. She was obviously not my type, “why someone like you is alone here?”she asked. Of course I had asked me this question before too, where’s my girl?, but I politely replied that I was waiting for my friends to arrive. She instantly picked up my accent and asked me where I was from. She was surprised that I was originally from Peru, “so exotic”, but of course, as a true American, the poor girl thought my country was close to Puerto Rico. “If you feel like it come and join me and my friends at the dancefloor”, and she left.

(to be continued…)


Talking about Mexico, Mexicans, did you know the word Avocado arrived to English dictionaries through Mexico?

The word “avocado” comes from the Spanish aguacate which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word ahuácatl (testicle, a reference to the shape of the fruit). Avocados were known by the Aztecs as ‘the fertility fruit’. In some countries of South America, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua name, palta. In other Spanish-speaking countries it is known by the Mexican name and in Portuguese it is abacate. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivars). The Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the Spanish word guacamole derives.[8]  The modern English name derives from the Spanish form avocado, “advocate”, which was formed as a folk etymology that substituted (and obscured) the Nahuatl origins of the word. The earliest known written use in English is attested from 1697 as “Avogato Pear”, a term which was later corrupted as “alligator pear”.

True. I call it ‘palta’ myself and I had the best of memories when being a kid climbing the avocado trees and picking as many as you could, passing them to my brother so he could put them in a plastic bag and then take them home, so they could ripe, so we could have some great salad. Avocado with onions and rocoto chili pepper. Add salt. Add lime juice. Fabulous days. I can’t seem to find avocados here as big as the ones in Peru.

It was a couple of days ago that Nana, my dear friend, my big sister, probably trying to cheer me up, sent me a youtube link. A link to a song. She must have known I was going to like it immediately. She doesn’t really send me songs anymore, not since prehistoric times. It was quite a surprise. I was hooked immediately. Why has this song been missing in my life? The song was “I Never Knew” by The Avocados.

This is the long lost single by Dolly Mixture! I wanted to scream. I love, utterly adore, Dolly Mixture. And here I was presented with a song that could have been part of that pretty box set I got some years ago, that could have been part of The Demonstration Tapes. Right? I don’t think I’m hallucinating here. This is really fantastic, spot on Nana! She was telling me that it was a friend of hers and Andreas that was visiting them in Hamburg that showed them this track. Always so humble Nanita. In any case, what a find!

Immediately I checked eBay, Discogs, Musicstack, to see if I could find their 7″. As I expected there was no luck. But even worst, the information about them on the web was almost none. Of course this song was rediscovered through the Messthetics CD series. The Avocados were showcased on “Messthetics #107 DIY London 78-81”.

The 7″ was released on Choo Choo Train Records, catalog number CHUG 03.  Released on 1981.  The band members listed on the sleeve are: bass, flugelhorn – Steve Beresford, drums – Else,  guitar – Dave,  guitar, bass – Oisin  and vocals – Etta. The producer was Captain Strike. The B side of the single is “Television Brought Me Up”, but sadly I have never heard it. So if you want to cheer me up too,  be nice and share it with me.

About Choo Choo Train, there’s a little blurb on Discogs: Small-time label run by Andrew Brenner, mainly to release records by his band, The 49 Americans, and his friends – namely, the I Never Knew 7″, by The Avocados.

But that’s about it. The fun sleeve of some shrimp (?) playing music with a seedless avocado on the middle, way ahead of the indiepop halcyon days to come. Proto-indiepop. Fantastic lyrics, chirpy jangly guitars, and the vocals, so so Debsey! That’s all I seem to find and gather about this fantastic band. There were no other releases or any compilation appearances it seems. Probably they had more songs, but who knows, perhaps they are still in moldy tapes in someone’s cupboard. Anyhow, if you know anything about The Avocados, their songs, their whereabouts, or if you have a spare 7″, please let me know. I’d love to hear their B-side, I’d love to interview them and find out more about their time in the band. This is such a great finding!


The Avocados – I Never Knew


A swami (Sanskrit: स्वामी Svāmi [sʋáːmi]) sometimes abbreviated “Sw.” is an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into the religious monastic order founded by Adi Sankara, or to a religious teacher.

“Swami”, when used as a prefix with a monastic name. The term usually refers to men, but can also apply to women who have taken the oath of renunciation and abandoned their social and or worldly status to follow this path. The monastic name is usually a single word without a first and last name.

In the Bengali language, the word, while carrying its original meaning, has a dual meaning of ‘husband’. The word also means ‘husband’ in the Malay language, where it is spelled ‘Suami’.

I don’t drink coffee. “And all those little things they add up”. Black coffee. Soy milk. I learned how to ask. Not American, not a espresso. I never understood exactly what the name was. I would just ask. In Spanish and in English. There wasn’t a chance to do it in Welsh. Not that I speak it, but I felt no one in the places we were in Wales understood it either. “Sip a cup of coffee”. We took fikas at park cafés, ice cream parlours, at pubs. I usually didn’t order anything. Sometimes perhaps a diet coke.

To think those days are over. That’s the hard part. “And I’m still not awake”. I scroll through flashbacks, photos, at Indietracks, the first night when we arrived to Travelodge an hour earlier than we thought. We kept asking train officers to let us take the earlier train, earlier than the ones we were supposed to take with our purchased tickets. After three transfers, after leaving Stansted where I picked her up, taking the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street, we arrived to Alfreton. We took a cab to the Mansfield Travelodge, we checked in and decided to stay in, not head to the festival grounds. It was already 9pm mind you. Instead we ordered some Chinese food thanks to the lovely front desk woman. Minutes after she would show up at our hotel room bringing us plates  and utensils. 10 minutes after a short Chinese man brought our spring rolls and duck in black bean sauce. We ate sitting on the blue carpet. There are no chairs at Travelodge rooms. We devoured our food. And then we watched TV.

Mornings at Mansfield. Heading to the breakfast buffet. Sausages, beans, tomatoes, eggs, and orange juice. And coffee for her. Joining Cris and Madidi. Getting another serving. Not paying, just heading out. “Somewhere in My Heart” by Aztec Camera playing on the background.

“And I’ll always find you”

Introducing her to fellow librarian Bart. Taking pictures of Rose and her. Listening to Rose telling the story about “Alaska” where she was about to move for a guy but never did. Could have been a precaution? We used to fantasize of a life in the remote Unalaska.

The hours on the last seat of the stationary train. Behind the merch tent eating burritos and getting stuffed. The hours on Sunday having fun, joking all around with Matthew and Heather. Buying Secret Shine CDs. The muddy, slippery and dangerous route that ruined my shoes, from Butterley to Indietracks. The pecks. The kisses. Her fingers looking always for mine.

Losing her sunglasses at the taxi. Going to the outlet mall 10 minutes away from the hotel. Shopping at Marc & Spencers. Cocoa at Cadbury’s. A jacket for me at Reebok. Because I was dumb and didn’t pack one and well, it’s English summer after all. Sharing another cab with a random girl one night. Same girl that the next day would sell us ruffle tickets. We didn’t win anything of course. But we supported it.

Getting into Indietracks. Having to call Andy to find us in the Gold-Bears guestlist. I told her I would take care of everything. All tickets, all train tickets were bought months in advance. The cows behind the hotel. The day we left Indietracks in the middle of heavy rain just so she could see and pat the donkeys. The curry at Gopals. Water for her, warm beer for me. And coffee at only one of the food stands.

“I’m late for work”

Indietracks was different this year for me. The gigs were great. Meeting new people, new friends is always a thrill. Seeing old faces. Hugs. Hellos and goodbyes. The community I’ve learned to love. The people that have a similar, if not the same, sensibility as me. Friends that I believe understand. Understand how important our indiepop is. What it means. Which is all good. My third indietracks. The one that I didn’t drink much, the one I didn’t experience with the same passion. But the memories I have, even though not really music related, are intense, big, important and affirming as I could barely explain. At the moment, I don’t feel like going next year. Or to any festival really. Feeling like I need a detox, as strange as that sounds. I know friends are already used to see me at every single indiepop festival. But I need some new things in life. I’ve been dying to travel to Japan for example. I could well do that.

Talking about these coffee moments, the days when things were good, and being reminded about all this through La Casa Azul’s “La Polinesia Meridional”, with that line “dime si la espuma del cortado te complace” (tell me if the foam on your coffee is good for you), I ended up revisiting another coffee song, aptly titled “Coffee Song” by The Swamis. I don’t know anything about this song. I believe it’s the A-side of a 7″ but that’s about it. “Coffee Song”. By The Swamis. They sound English. Or who knows, maybe Welsh. Not Scottish I’d say. But who can actually know.

The information is non-existent. I’ve never seen this record on eBay or discogs. The first time I heard about it was through Takashi, the Japanese guy that disappeared. He uploaded it to Youtube. These days it is still there, but uploaded by a Peruvian fan. Googling about The Swamis leaves you empty handed.

On Last.fm there’s a photo of some Swamis. But they look like rockers. There’s also a link to two Swamis’ albums there. I can’t tell if it’s the same band. These seem to hail from Baltimore, US., and even though they say their songs were jangly, I can’t really tell if they could have penned this “Coffee Song”. I guess you can tell by yourselves here http://lynnpoint.com/swamis/index.html

But yes, if you actually know anything about this “Coffee Song”, about The Swamis, anything you’d like to share, please do. Maybe try to convince me to go to Indietracks next year. Or something else. A little cheer up can’t do no wrong.

Till next week.


The Swamis – Coffee Song


Back in 2003-2004 I fell in love with a handful of songs by mysterious Swedish band called Fibi Frap. I played them often. Very often. On repeat. I burned them on CDs. Took them everywhere on my CD player, the same one I still use daily today. I didn’t know anything about them. I had downloaded these tracks from Soulseek, perhaps from the Twisterella room, or the Picknick room. From some Swedish user most definitely. Those were the days when I was falling for everything indiepop, when I was discovering how beautiful and how life-affirming this music is.

I wouldn’t revisit Fibi Frap until 2010. It was January and things hadn’t worked with K. It was hard to swallow and understand. She had written to me a letter where she called us soulmates. But soulmates wasn’t enough for it. Perhaps it was the long-distance situation. Miami to Stockholm was a long way, though it would turn out that we’d see each other about five times in the year to follow. Then maybe she just didn’t like me, or she wasn’t ready at all. She used to be depressed. Very depressed during those days. She was the first one in my long history of meeting depressive Swedish girls. A history that still follows me, where the worst thing is that I haven’t learned how to deal with them yet. Always ending in drama. Funny, as it’s usually us the “latin” people who are supposed to be more melodramatic and who produce an infinite number of cry-me-a-river soap operas.

There were plenty of songs that coloured my days then, that I identified myself, that I made mine. The Clientele’s “Since K Got Over Me”, St. James Infirmary’s “How Many Times”, Rose Ellinor Dougall’s “I Know We’ll Never” or the Marine Time Keepers’ “When Will You Realise That I Care”, were among them, though the song I heard the most was Fibi Frap’s “Sadeyes”.

“Sadeyes” ended up being my theme song during those dark months, when things were confusing,  and where I wouldn’t assume that this wasn’t meant to be. I nicknamed her “Sadeyes” too. It rapidly became the most played song of mine on Last.fm. It made me smile and look with a bit of a positive outlook the whole situation. It wasn’t me. It was her. The connection, the chemistry, most probably had idealized everything. I wrote extensively about her on the blog, the zine, and various inserts. I was heartbroken. And Cloudberry as a label that believes in unrequited love, continued, stronger than ever. Finding strength where there was pain. Today the story repeats itself. Time to regroup. Hacer de tripas corazón. Time to find Fibi Frap again among my old hard drives, or find the songs again on Soulseek. If I just had the original releases. I can only imagine holding those CD-R EPs whose cover art I’ve never seen, but that I picture as something cute, done with love, and it would mean the world to me.

Saved. Up and down I smile, giggle and enjoy the four tracks on their first CD-R release, the eponymous titled EP. Four playful songs, “Sadeyes”, “Applecoins”, “To Make You Happy” and “Sunny Days”, that were ahead of their time, a mix of Action Biker and The Deirdres, in a bedroom style recordings. They could just be your two best friend playing songs for you, in your living room. There’s closeness and not a single bit of arrogance, ambition or pretentiousness. It’s what it is. Songs straight to the heart. Proper popsongs, no tricks, no cheats. Just make them yours.

As far as I know there’s a book called “Fibi – Frap” by an author called Doe Mena-Berlin. I couldn’t find any relevant information about her/him aside that there are other books by the same author like “Vis – Öä” or “Coco – Dies”. I assume it’s a Swedish author, and that is half Spanish, or with half-Spanish descent, as Mena is a very common last name in Spanish speaking countries. Also the publisher of “Fibi – Frap” was Bra Böcker and the book was out for the first time in 1996 according to Google Books. I don’t believe these are novels though, but most probably volumes of an encyclopaedia, where Fibi is the first entry on the volume and Frap the last. That’s what my instinct tells me. But either Fibi or Frap don’t seem to be Swedish words. There doesn’t seem to be any other hints about the nature of this cryptic name. Can anyone of you solve this mystery?

Fibi Frap were two girls, Madelaine Sillfors and Sarah Andreasson who lived in between Gothenburg and Stockholm, probably one in each city. According to their old myspace, they made “happy and sad casio serenades about love”. And listed a long list of influences: Manga, picknix, Boris Vian, Paul Auster, Maurice Blanchot, Magnetic Fields, Will Oldham, Morrissey, Computer Vikings, Oski, Lifli, Brendan Perry, Neil Young and the guys, The Cure, Alma Cogan, Nina Simone and looove. They had good taste. And these serenades about love that they used to write were a clear example of that.

They started the band neither in Stockholm or Gothenburg, but in Kiruna in 2001. Kiruna being the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in the province of Lapland. Population 18,148 in 2010. I might guess both Madelaine and Sarah were originally from there and were good friends, or just perhaps were going to school there and met randomly. During their stint in Kiruna they recorded their first EP, the “Fibi Frap EP” in 2002. After this release they moved to Gothenburg and Stockholm and they gigged extensively in Sweden, playing the hip clubs of the time like the mighty Starke Adolf in GBG and Lava in STHLM. Other clubs that saw them were Debaser (Stockholm), Club monsters of Indie, Popaganda (festival) and on Meths Salonger (Gothenburg) They also appeared on radio, in shows like P3 Demo or P3 Pop, one of my favourite radio shows during those years, where Hanna Fahl would even play some of our own Plastilina releases! On P3 Pop they played live too, in the studio, in March 2003. I wonder if anyone has those recordings!

In 2002 they also contributed the song “Sunny Days” on the compilation “Alltid hela tiden: Utökad familj volym ett” (“Always all the time: Extended family volume one”) released on the “Alltid Hela Tiden” label run by Johan Jakobsson, a music journalist that writes for Sonic Magazine and perhaps the biggest fan of Strawberry Fair, who he would later release a delicious EP in 2006, the last time we heard from Jenny!

The next year, in 2003, they contribute “To Make You Happy” for the “Picknick Picks!” compilation tape released by the American label Popgun Recordings that the good Raoulie de la Cruz used to run. This tape, catalog number 055 and that had Argentinean comic strip cult hero Mafalda on the cover, included five songs by five Swedish indiepop bands picked by the Picknick fanzine. It was during those days that I also discovered on soulseek the Picknick room where I used to hang out silently and learn about all these small and fantastic bedroom projects that were appearing every minute in Sweden.

Fast forward to 2004 and they release another EP, “How Fast is Your Heart Beating”, from which I have barely any information other than they were released on the My Secret Garden label, that used to be run by a guy called Martin, who lived with his girlfriend and cats in Gothenburg.

Every year they would make an appearance, so in 2005 they contributed another song to another compilation. The song was the fantastic and catchy “Where’d You Learn to Kiss That Way?” (a nod to the Field Mice?) and the compilation was “This is My Secret Garden”, on the My Secret Garden label (catalog 010).

2006, another obscure release, “Remember Being Born”. Also this same year they showed up in yet another compilation on Rokit Records. The song “Catherine” was included in the “Robots And Electronic Brains – Telephone: Smethwick 2341-2” CD that came for free with the fanzine Robots and Electronic Brains (Cambridge, UK) in it’s 15th number.

And after that they totally disappeared from the face of the Earth. During their brief run they were praised by many bloggers and fanzine writers alike, from Tangents to Le Manchester, but for some reason they never ended up being a household name, a popular band. If only they would have lasted a year or two more, I would have pestered them until we could have made a release on Cloudberry, or help them play at Indietracks or some other Popfest. Their playful songs, their witty lyrics, and the bouncy melodies were always on repeat. I hate myself for not being able to buy their records, those DIY CD-Rs released in those years. They were pretty limited and today must be really impossible to find them.

I tried to get in touch with no luck through the Myspace some years ago, when compiling what would become The Sound of Starke Adolf compilation. I wanted them to contribute a song for me, but never heard from them. How much I would have liked that. I would even dream putting together some sort of compilation of all their songs. That would make me terribly happy, possibly poor, but who cares, this is indiepop!

But if anyone know their whereabouts please do let me know. I would still like to showcase them in the next Starke Adolf, I would love to hear the rest of their songs, I would love to know if they are still making music. And most and for all I would like to thank them for the music.


Fibi Frap – Sadeyes