16
Oct

I only noticed today that it is actually the 9th anniversary of the Cloudberry blog. 9 years of writing about indiepop. 9 years of interviewing indiepop bands. Definitely the blog is one of the few resources these days to cover exhaustively the music we all love. At the time I started the blog there were many others, sadly Cloudberry Cake has outlived them.

The way we get our news has changed, that is true. Indiepop groups on Facebook are quite successful. Not totally, but they are a good resource. The only problem is that there is no curation and sometimes it can end up being a free for all situation. Another dynamic that has become quite fashionable is that of having indiepop being reviewed or debut the digital release on random hipster blogs. It is a way to get the message through. Maybe it works, maybe it gets a new audience. When I did that, debuting some videos on some website it didn’t make any difference if I’m honest.

What will happen in the next year or two? Or the next five? How will we get to know what’s new in indiepop? What are the next cool bands? The indiepop-list is almost dead. I have to be checking day and day again on Bandcamp and other sites for any uploads. I trust my friends who post on their own personal Facebook links to bands they’ve discovered. But Facebook also hides stories. I can’t follow all the posts the bands I follow post as I don’t see them. It really is a hustle. Because of all these problems I feel a blog is still a good way to present information for our case. All news are centralized and a good search function helps tracking and finding what you came looking for in the first place.

I continue ask myself when will I stop? I don’t have a date. It is true I wish many of the articles, especially the interviews would be great on a book. I wish I could do that. If I had the time or money. Maybe there’s a publisher interested, who knows. In any case I feel one more year of blogging won’t be a problem. I have the energy for that. Not a problem.

Making it to 10 years would be a success. I still don’t check how many readers I have, but the last year I feel I’ve had more comments. And that makes me terribly happy. Getting in touch with bands or getting to know about bands from people that saw them, that experienced them live or were friends with. I want to continue writing down for posterity what indiepop meant and means. This is history, and shouldn’t just be forgotten.

After those words, just a couple of new discoveries for you to check, I didn’t want to leave you empty-handed!

You can now order the latest 3 Shelflife releases, that is Pia Fraus, Airiel and The Luxembourg Signal albums. In the past weeks we could stream many of these records on different websites but The Luxembourg Signal’s. Now it is available to stream on the Big Takeover website and you can listen to it if you want to check if this is up your street. The album is a co-release with Kleine Undergrund Schallplatten releasing the record for Europe. The band formed by Beth Arzy and Betsy Moyer on vocals, Johnny Joyner on guitars, Brian Espinosa on drums, Kelly Davis on guitars and Daniel Kumiega on bass and Ginny Pitchford on keyboards has just been touring Europe with people loving their shows. I still haven’t seen them. When they played Indietracks in 2015, I didn’t go. Tough luck. This record also comes with a surprise, it has guest vocals from Bobby Wratten on the song “Fall Feeling”. Sounds like a very fine record, now I need to get a copy.

A recent discovery for me is California’s The Molochs who have a few records. Their latest, “America’s Velvet Glory” , was released this January on vinyl, CD and tape. The record has 11 guitar pop songs influenced by The Go-Betweens, Flying Nun Records and perhaps The Smiths? I hear some country sometimes too.  There are a few promo videos for some of the songs of the record, you can check “You and Me” and also “No More Cryin‘”. The Los Angeles band seem to have toured Europe quite well, even playing Primavera. They are formed by Lucas Fitzsimons, Ryan Foster, Cameron Gartung, Derek Cowart and Mateo Leonardo. The band releases their records on the Innovative Leisure label.

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Ticking checkboxes, many countries have already been featured in this indiepop world tour. I hope you have discovered some new music from all around the world. Indiepop, guitar pop, are not exclusive to the British Isles. That’s a fact. Definitely there’s less quantity in other countries but by no means less quality. So far, when it comes to Latin America, I’ve featured Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Too little. Maybe it is time to check out Chile, the country where the band who we are releasing next on our label, My Light Shines For You, hails from.

Of course, I’m not going to be talking about them now. We are here to rediscover lost, forgotten bands, not contemporary ones! I think my first sort of indiepop connection with Chile was through Soulseek too. It seems that story of Myspace and Soulseek seem to be a thread in my last posts. Well, that was my indiepop education in the early and mid 2000s. That’s the time I made so many good friends from all over the world and discovered music from every corner. That’s how I met Alejandra from Les Ondes Martenot. What a beautiful band. I thought at the time that they must be the only band making indiepop proper in South America. Probably they were. It was around 2003 or so. They sounded like a beautiful mix of La Buena Vida and Camera Obscura. But as I’m in touch with her still it doesn’t make sense to dedicate an article, I feel it will be much better to do a proper interview. I should do that. I wonder why it’s been almost 10 years on the blog and I haven’t interviewed so many friends I’ve made through the years.

Chilean music was never unknown to me. Mainstream bands like Los Prisioneros were very important while I was growing up. I still like their music, they are classic. I even saw them live when they reunited and played in Miami. Other bands from the 90s like Los Tres or Lucybell were well known and you could hear them on the radio. The Chilean scene output wasn’t as big as Argentina or Mexico but they managed to break through. I remember in the early 2000s underground fanzines in Lima were covering bands like Congelador or Panico. I wasn’t a fan of them, they weren’t pop, jangly, or neither of the things I like. But they were there. I always wondered if there had been any bands in the 90s that actually played pop. Only later, much later, maybe 10 years ago or so I discovered a band called Malcorazón which was heavily influenced by Lush and I became very curious about them. Why had I never heard them while I was living down in South America?

Malcorazón (sometimes spelled too as Mal Corazón) would roughly translate as “bad heart”. According to Discogs, which as you know is my first stop when digging for information, they were a Chilean indie, indie pop, indie rock, shoegazing & pop band, formed 1989 in San Bernardo, Santiago. There seems to have been a bunch of lineup changes, so I’ll just save myself sometime and copy/paste that information:
– Cathy Lean: lead vocals, guitar (1989 – •).
– Cristián López: guitar (1989 – 1994).
– Carlos González: bass (1989 – 1996).
– Rodrigo Norambuena: drums (1989 – 1997).
– Jorge Flores: guitar (1994 – 2004).
– Thomas Kalbhenn: bass (1996 – 1997).
– Sandra Neumann: keyboards (1996 – 1997).
– Cristián Córdova: drums (1997 – •)
– Giovanni Quezada: bass (2002 – 2004).
– Cristian Herrera: guitar (2011 – •).
– Maximiliano Parra: keyboards (2011 – •).
– Mauricio Horment: bass (2011 – •).

As you can see, lead vocalist Cathy Lean was the only one to be part of the band since day one. Listed on Discogs are two albums, “San Bernardo” from 1995 and “Abismo” from 2003. I definitely recommend the first one, which is really pretty, influenced by Lush or The Sundays.

San Bernardo is a city of Chile, part of the Greater Santiago conurbation. Administratively, it is a commune and the capital of the Maipo Province in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardo. The Chena hills, located in the basin of San Bernardo, are home to an Incan sacred site known as the Huaca of Chena or Chena’s Pucará. Initially thought to be a fortress, the structure in the southern tip of the Chena hills has been denominated as a huaca a sacred place, a space of ritual use. The Chena’s Pucará was observed to have a zoomorphic design, resembling a puma, which is a characteristic of Incan ceremonial and sacred structures. The word Chena means puma in oestrous cycle in the Quechuan language.

“San Bernardo” came out on the label Alerce (catalog ALCE 853) which is actually a folk label. So that was a strange choice. Perhaps there weren’t many options at the time. It came out only on cassette, which is a shame. The album had 10 songs, all written by Cathy and music by Carlos González. The songs being: “Eternos Días de Invierno”, “Promesas”, “Noche en Espiral”, “Maravilla de Piedra”, “Vendrás”, “Sin Fin”, “Aguas Azules”, “Tras la Faz”, “Sin Piedad” and “10 de Agosto”. The last song actually contains a fragment of Lush’s “Lit Up”. The artwork for this tape was done by Italo Miranda and the design by Carol Vieytes. The photos were taken by Pablo Borón. The band had help from Alejandro Gómez on guitars and Gabriel Vigliensoni on samplers. The songs were recorded, engineered and mixed by Iván Quiroz with the help of Luis Serrano, Claudio Hijerra and Roberto Espinoza. It was recorded in the Filmo Centro studio and mastered in the Ricardo García studio.

The second album, with a totally different lineup almost came out on La Oreja label. “Abismo” saw a departure of their sound, becoming a bit more electronic. It is also much more mainstream. I wonder if they had some success with it? There were ten songs on it, “Abismo”, “Esperaré Por Ti”, “Todo Peor”, “Alma en Pena”, “Es Sólo el Comienzo”, “Carne Cruda”, “Luz de Amanecer” and “Coma”. There was a promo video for “Todo Peor” and the record was recorded, produced and mixed by Cristián Heyne. The album came out on CD format and the art was created by Javier Pañella, Paula Asensio and Carolina Maury. It was recorded at the Luna studio between April 2001 and March 2003. It was mastered at the Clio studio.

There is just one compilation appearance listed, one that is prior to the release of their album. On the 1994 CD compilation “Con el Corazón Aquí 2” released by Fondart, ATR – Asociación de Trabajadores del Rock, they contributed the song “La Muerte Atada”.

I come back to the first album, which as I said before, is my favourite, I like the sound in it. I recommend checking out the promo video for the song “Eternos Días de Invierno” which is very The Sundays in a way, don’t you think? I then find out the website MusicaPopular.cl where there is a biography of the band. Here I will learn a bunch of interesting facts. According to the MusicaPopular page the band was heavily influenced by The Sundays and The Smiths. They praise the guitar player Cristián López. What happened to him after leaving the band in 1994? I read he collaborated later with a mainstream band called Javiera y los Imposibles. It also mentions that in 1993 Cathy Lean became an actress in some TV series. I could find that she appeared at least in one that was called “Rojo y Miel”. The story says that at that time, 1993, the band already had demos for an album but López left the band suddenly. What happened with these recordings? There’s no mention. It only says that because of this situation the band lost the chance to sign to EMI and had to write new songs so they could finally release their first album. It is at this time they release the aforementioned promo vide which didn’t get much press or support. The actress Malú Gatica, which is well-known in their country and who is, according to IMDB, the only Chilean actress to work in Hollywood, appears on the video.

After the album was released, a 2nd crisis, the bassist Carlos González, decided to leave the band. At this moment the new lineup decides to explore with electronic sounds. They changed their name to Rever and released a single and an album. After that period the band would change their name back to Malcorazón and released their second album. A curious fact is that their promo single, “Todo Peor”, was covered  by the band Kudai on their 2003 album “Nadha”.

It is also worth mentioning that Cathy released a solo single titled “Última Oportunidad” in 2006.

After that, there were more releases too. There is an EP that dates from 2011 that is called “Pásalo Bien” which I have just found on Bandcamp. 4 songs on it, well actually 3 and a remix: “Pásalo Bien”, “Última Oportunidad”, “Un Día Más” and “Pásalo Bien (Sokio remix)”. I couldn’t find if this was released in any format, though I did find the band playing it live on a TV show called “Sin Dios Ni Late“. There was also a soundtrack appearance, with the song “Luz de Amanecer”, from the “Los Debutantes” movie in 2003.

On Youtube I found another TV appearance by the band on the national television channel of Chile programme “Contigo en Verano” dating from 1997. On it the presenter even shows a clip from where Cathy and himself were part of the TV series “Rojo y Miel”. On this appearance the band plays their arguably best song, “Eternos Días de Verano” and Cathy looks quite a bit like Rachel Goswell!

There are more TV appearances. A cool one from 1995 on the La Red TV channel playing “Eternos Días de Verano” and “Vendrás“. Or a 1994 appearance on the show “Extra Jóvenes” playing the song “La Muerte Atada“. And also there is a badly sounding Youtube video of the band playing the song “Noche en Espiral” at some place called Dinamo.

There are some interviews on the web but mostly about their later period. As I said I’m curious about their early days, the “San Bernardo” album and the 6 years before that release. Like I want to hear those demos recorded with Cristián López. On an interview Cathy says that those songs were so beautiful. I would love to hear them. Some song titles from that period were “Al Camino”, “Azul” and two that actually got released, “La Muerte Atada” and “Maravilla de Piedra”. I want to know how come no one in Chile has reissued that beautiful first album, “San Bernardo”, in some other format other than tape. A CD would a booklet with nicely written liner notes would be great. Or a vinyl LP. I wonder about that period. I wonder why they didn’t become more of a household name. I wonder how popular they were at the time? They did play in TV, but did they play much live? Where? Did they tour their country? Many questions, and not many answers, but a very nice first record full of chiming guitars that is worth rediscovering.

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Listen
Malcorazón – Eternos Días de Invierno‎

13
Oct

Thanks so much to Bernd for the interview! I’m very happy to learn more about this seminal German indiepop label, that released many classic records in the early 90s when they were based in Seeheim. Among their releases they put out 7″s by The Haywains, They Go Boom! and Merricks and more! On this interview Bernd talks a bit about each of his releases, clears some doubts about the catalog and shares with us his memories of those fantastic years of German indiepop. I hope next time we get to hear from him on an interview about his band, the great Die Blinzelbeeren!

++ Hi Bernd! Whereabouts in Germany are you nowadays? Will you celebrate Oktoberfest? 🙂

Hi Roque, I’m living in Darmstadt, a city located in the southern part of the Rhine-Main-Area, a centre of the Art Nouveau movement and also home to the football club SV Darmstadt 98. It’s a really good place to live!
Haha, Oktoberfest… oh no, not my cup of tea, I spend each October in Brittany, France.

++ How and when did Blam-A-Bit Records start? What was the main reason to start the label?

I think in 1988 I get the first time the idea to do something for myself, writing a fanzine, playing in a band or doing a record label. Releasing a compilation tape was the easiest part so I started with the label, had no idea what will happened later.

++ Would you say any other label influenced your label?

As a Wimp-POP-Kid in the late 80s I was really in love with Sarah Records, 53rd&3rd or Subway, many interesting labels like Creation, Woosh or Bi-Joopiter and of course Frischluft in Germany. I think all of them were important for my musical socialization and have some influences.
Ah, and of course some of the compilation tapes of that time like „Are you ready?” or “Something’s burning in Paradise“

++ And was it just yourself running it? Did you get any help from anyone else?

No I didn´t get any help, it was only me. The label was only a hobby and not my profession, I was still at school during that time.

++ What does the name Blam-A-Bit means? Why did you choose this name?

To be honest, there is no meaning of the name. I went to a wedding present gig and I got the “Invasion of The Wedding Present fanzine. I can’t remember exactly, but there was something written like „…a-bit“ and some beers later the label “Blam-a-bit” was born. I think the word „Blam“ was a bow to one of my favourite band „Biff Bang Pow“

++ And who took care of the art direction of the label? Did you print and fold your sleeves yourself like many labels back in the day?

Well, I did all the work for the label, artwork, distribution, but at some releases the bands did the artwork. Paul from the Haywains made the sleeve for the freshen up EP and this was the only cover with more than one printed color ,-) I had two co-releases with Frischluft where Krischan did the artwork.

But it was great to spend hours in printing shops, fold the sleeves or cutting some flyers. Later I decided to press only white-label records and colored them for myself with watercolors or potato-stamps. I really loved to „produce“ each release, sitting at my parents dining table coloring the labels or cutting-out the sheep for my second compilation tape.

++ How many releases were there? Twee.net lists from 001 to 014, but doesn’t show 012. Was there a 012 on the label? Or is this all that was released?

Twee.net is right, there were only 13 releases, blam 012 should be „Ein warmer Sommermorgen“ 7“, but it was never released.

++ Your first release was a tape called “Instant of Pleasures” which included all-time favourites like The Field Mice and St. Christopher and obscure gems like that Aurbisons track. What inspired you to make a tape? Did you know this was going to be the seed to starting a label? Was it easy getting so many bands from UK in a German label? Seems like a tough job with no internet!

As mentioned, after such great tapes like „Are you ready?“ or „Something’s burning in Paradise“ I think a compilation tape is a good way to start a label. I have no idea what will happen next. Some of the bands I asked at gigs if they like to be contributed on the tape, I remember a Field Mice gig and I just asked Robert and gave him my address. Some weeks later I found their song in my letter box. I was still at school during the time of the label, and it was always a pleasure to come home and finding some new tapes. I think it was not even more difficult than it is today getting in touch with bands, even the answer takes some more time ,-)

++ Any cool anecdotes about this tape? Like… why the name? or how many copies of it were made? which kind of tape was used? Who send songs too late that didn’t get in the tape?

I made about 200 copies at a pressing plant in Berlin.

I did not want to just make a tape, it should also be something special with the 7 “cover or with all the inserts. The best compliment about the tape came from Olaf Zocher (Firestation Rec), who described the tape as an important step in his Indie-Pop socialation. And I always had instants of pleasure listening to jingle jangle pop.

++ Then you release your first 7″, the “Freshen Up EP” by the Haywains! How was the move from tape to vinyl? What was the feeling of receiving a box full of records fresh out from the pressing plant for the first time?

It was so amazing!! 7“ singles are still the perfect medium for music! If I could had afford it I would have produced 7“singles much earlier. „the freshen up EP“ was a cooperation with the band, we pressed about 500 copies and both of us get 250 copies to sell. I was absolutely happy with the songs and I still like them!

++ Okay! now I’m very curious about this tape: “Hat das Schaf die Blume gefressen oder nicht?”. Why that title?

This is a phrase from The Little Prince („Did the sheep eat the flower or not?“) and I thought it’s a good name for my second compilation. This is probably the release with the most passion on it.
I made about 200 copies, copying tapes each night for a couple of weeks, cutting-out 200 paper-sheeps, making a small fanzine and put a lollipop in each tape set. The tapes were fixed at the cardboard sheeps and I colored each of them by hand. I remember I got an order from a mail-order in Germany of 50 copies and I had not produced enough. So I had to get up all 30min to turn over the tape to deliver the order.

++ I notice you released a bunch of tapes and also 7″s. I wonder what would your favorite format would be and why?

7“s are still my favorite format and I still collecting them. I think it’s an inexpensive, personal format, I like the idea of hand-assembled packages.

++ Also, what is BLAM 006, Das Kuchenrezept?

It is an ordinary recipe of a marble cake and was only a joke. Unfortunately I get some orders from UK and they send me 3 or 4 GBP for a cooking recipe written in german and I felt uncomfortable with it to keep the money. But marble cake is so delicious!

++ You released Die Blinzelbeeren which was your own band. I just wrote a piece about the band and I hope to interview you about the band. But I want to ask, how come there is no music like this coming out from Germany anymore?

Because the current bands know playing their instruments,-) the sound wasn’t nearly so important as the spirit of it; we didn’t know how to play our instruments well, nor having a great singing voice. But I think there are still some bands keeping the D.I.Y. idea alive, like Woog Riots or Zimt from Augsburg. And I’m not sure if there ever was a big Indiepop scene in Germany. I think it was a small but well-connected scene, without internet.

++ Also you released a Merricks 7″! That was the sound of young Munich, right? How do you remember those early nineties with that explosion of German pop bands? Was there any other German band that you wish you could have released?

The Merricks are still one of my favorite Bands from Germany and it was a honor releasing a record with them (together with Frischluft and Roman Cabbage). At that time I haven’t got any ideas about the Sound of Munich, and still have none about their significance. I phoned quit often with Bernd from Merricks, but we basiclly talked about football.

Hmm, I think it would have been brilliant to release a propper 7“ with The Fluffy Pillows (now known as Space Kelly) .

++ And of course there’s the 7″s by the FANTASTIC They Go Boom! that you put out. How did these releases happened? They didn’t have to send you a demo, did they?

I first heard the song „I Think I’m Falling“ and immediately I felt in love with it! So I wrote a letter to Mike and so it takes it course and we released a 7“ and the Split-flexi with the Cudgels. Mike is really friendly person and once I visited him at his flat in Margate spent some days there. I think he introduced „The Cudgels“ to me

++ That Brighter flexi you put out… it was distributed on fanzines as well right? Tell me a bit about it. I still have to find it. I have the other ‘German’ flexi by them, the Sturm und Drang one, but yet to find yours! Was it cool and easy to work with a Sarah band back then?

I think it was distributed with the Smuf fanzine (Olaf from Firestation rec) and he got about 200 copies. And a fanzine in UK, which I can’t remember anymore. I have no idea how, but I got 1100 copies and I nearly sold them all. It was brilliant to release a flexi with a Sarah Band and much easier than expected. Both, Alison and Keris were so lovely people, and it was cool to meet them once in Brighton. I still remember our first meeting at their flat, a crate of german beer as souvenir, met “The spinning wheels” later and listen to a lot of great music.

++ There’s two other bands still to talk about, The Cudgels and Besotted. Why did The Cudgels joyful pop is so underrated? Do you understand this? I think they wrote some wonderful tunes that could have been pop hymns! And the Besotted? They are quite mysterious, who were they? It’s one of The Golden Dawn guys right and his girlfriend, right?

Good question, i can’t understand it too. In my opinion The Cudgels are one of the underrated bands that area and in a perfect world, this would be on the radio I saw them once playing live in their practice room and it was a blast! Unfortunately their wasn’t a proper 7“ of them on Blam-a-bit, I think Sunday Records could pay them more 😉

It’s a bit similar with The Besottted. It was absolute stunning to release a 7“ with them, as I’ve been a big fan of The golden Dawn. But for whatever reason it was the worst selling release on the label.

++ Did you get to see any of your Blam-A-Bit bands live?

Regarding of band releasing a song/record on Blam-a-Bit I saw a couple of times The Merricks, Die Fünf Freunde or Painting by Numbers. Die Blinzelbeeren played their first song live as a support for St. Christopher.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen The Haywains playing live, but this could still happened.

++ And did the label get much attention from the music press or radio? What about fanzines?

Their first attention from the press I got for the „Hat das Schaf die Blume Gefressen, oder Nicht? Tape at the german Musicmagasine Spex. That was amazing for me. There were some attentions in fanzines too, I remember a label story in a French fanzine from Rennes. There was a really good Indiepop Radioshow in Belgium where some of the releases has been played.

++ When did you call it a day? Why did you stop releasing records with Blam-A-Bit?

In 1992 I get more and more interested in 60s music and for a short spell I was bored in the current Indiepop Music that time. So I decide to call it a day.

++ Where you involved with music after? What do you do nowadays?

Well, music is still a big part of my life. I used to play in several Bands releasing records on different labels.
I’m still a record collector, and used to DJ a lot.
Nowadays I live with my wife and daughter in Darmstadt and I work as a pharmacist. But I still have a regular Single-Day in a Winebar in Darmstadt once a month, were I only spinning soul 7“s on one record player. And that’s a lot of fun.
I started a new label, calling „Laughing Seven records“ some years ago with 2 7“s so far. and I hope to to revitalize it soon.

++ What would you say was the biggest highlight of the label? And what was the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest highlight was the chance to meet so many great people in the vein of Indie Pop and with some of them I’m still keeping contact.
The biggest challenge was to satisfy the unexpected request of the second tape, it was the fasten selling out release.

++ One last question, what would you say indiepop means to you?

I get my musical age in the mid-80s, growing up for example with The Smiths, so Indiepop was my very own punk! It was exciting, vibrant, welcoming, and it was me. I loved my anorak with a strawberry at the hood and it was more than just music for me. We were exchanging letters, fanzines, tapes or records and meeting each other at gigs.
Nowadays i have an open-minded taste of music, but indiepop is still a big part of life and there are still exciting new bands to discover.

++ Thanks so much for the interview. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks a lot for the interest in Blam-a-Bit and many apologies for the delay in answering.

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Listen
Merricks – Der Schönste Tag Im Jahr ‎

12
Oct

Well, I was expecting to be the happiest today, but well, I’m only moderately happy. On Tuesday my home country, Peru, played Colombia in what is the South American qualifiers to the Russia 2018 World Cup. A win was to qualify us directly but that didn’t happen. What happened was that we tied and so we are not eliminated but neither qualified. We have to play two more games, an international play off against New Zealand next month. In theory Peru is a better team. But this is football, and you have to play the games first. Anything can happen. So yes, happy to the extent that we are still alive after 18 games in the most difficult qualifiers in the world and that we are two games away of me seeing Peru for the first time in a World Cup (last time was 1982). I have to wait another month to know if I will buy plane tickets to Russia, I’m very positive that that will be the case (sorry my kiwi friends!).

As it is becoming usual on the blog, Thursdays are also new post days. Not much to tell about Cloudberry right now, but let’s see what new sounds or interesting news we can find in the indiepopworld.

Ultra happy that finally we can hear the 6 songs from the Verandan EP. Weeks and weeks of anticipation since the first time we heard the first song of Ville Hopponen’s new project. We recommended this band time and time again. We wondered where those songs that were popping up on SoundCloud were going to end up. Finally it seems it is a digital EP that is right now available on all digital platforms. Me, I’m streaming it from Bandcamp. And what can I tell you, it is everything that I expected. It is beautiful. My only concern, request, complain, is that I want this in some physical format. Will it be released on vinyl? on CD? I need this on my collection. It can’t just be a digital release!!

All these exclusive premieres on blogs or magazines I have no clue they exist is becoming a new norm for some indiepop releases. This time I had to head to a webzine called God is in the TV to be able to stream the new Pia Fraus‘ album “Field Ceremony”. You can do that now too if you like. Or you can wait a couple more days, until October 16, for the release date. Maybe the second option is better, we support the band, the label, and we don’t give clicks to random pages?? Or am I wrong?

Another Chinese band I discovered lately was Self Party. But I wasn’t sure if I should or not recommend them. You see less than half of their songs are good, the others are not my style. But when they are good, like on “Jaguar-Jaguar” or “Regina Sue” it is quite refreshing, especially the first one which is my favourite. The band hails from Hangzhou and have a digital album titled “Pop Songs” on Bandcamp.

Then thanks to the Latin American Twee page I end up on the Bandcamp of a new Peruvian band named Los Niños Vudú. The band has made available their first release, a digital EP titled “Pueblo Libre”. It has 5 songs, “Multicolor”, “Para Siempre”, “Girasoles”, “Por las Azoteas” and “Niños de Pueblo Libre”, and they are quite good! I’m guessing this is a very young band and that maybe they hail from the Lima district Pueblo Libre that gives the EP its name. I haven’t seen them playing events with any of the Peruvian bands I follow on Facebook, but hopefully they start making a fuss, this is a very promising debut and I hope it gets released in some way. The band is formed by Inti Arteaga on vocals and guitars, Andoni Granda on guitars, César Horruitiner on drums, Adrián Muñoz on bass and Rodrigo Urbiola on keyboards.

Lastly some fantastic news from The Honeydrips! The Stockholm band is back with a new album titled “Give Each Other Some Solace” and it will be available in 12″ vinyl LP and cassette. The album is expected to come out on October 27 and right now the band is previewing two of the songs (out of 8) on their Bandcamp: “Through the Darkness” and “DCI Gates”. I am very happy to see Mikael returning in top form with The Honeydrips! Both songs are brilliant! The copies for this record will be very limited it seems so don’t miss it! Also keep an eye on this page, as very soon, I hope, there will be news about a new project Mikael is involved with!!!

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I wanted to visit Asia again in this indiepop world tour but not sure what is missing? Hong Kong perhaps? I can’t think of any older obscure bands. I know before The Pancakes there were some bands that had Dejay in them like Tricycle Riders, The Postcard or Ginger Biscuits, but never heard any of their songs so I can’t tell if they were good or not. So Asia seems to be covered now with features on bands from Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. Maybe there’s something to dig in Malaysia or Thailand? Maybe someone could recommend something.

Our story today is about the little known Serbian indiepop fans and the band Mizu.

My first contact with them was going through be during the golden years of indiepop in the early and mid 2000s. That is when I was always discovering music through Soulseek and being part of the Twee Folks room in that P2P music sharing program. There I was to meet Nikola who would introduce me to another Nikola, one that had released an indiepop compilation in Serbia called “A View of Our Dreams”. His label was called On a Balcony, a play on words on the Balkans, and it came out in 2002. It included many superb bands, La Casa Azul, One Night Suzan, Aquadays, The Crooner and more. But to my surprise there were no Serbian bands. Why?

I guess with that question I got introduced to Serbian guitar pop. The first band I was to be aware was Eva Braun which actually had one record where they sing in English under the name Viva Braun, “The Nowhere Land”, that was released in the US by Zip Records. I own this one. But the Serbian band I played the most during those years was Mizu.

Nikola introduced them to me. He sent me one song, “Dobar Dan”, which I thought was brilliant. Almost immediately he sent me their one and only album. And I really enjoyed. There was not much more to know about them then, nor did I went into indiepop archaeology at that time. Now many years later I decide to rediscover this song, this band, learn their story.

First thing, “Dobar Dan”, means “good day”. Mizu seems to mean table? What is good is that the band actually has a small bio on Discogs, there it says that the band hailed from Bečej and were formed by the end of 1997. The name was the idea of the band’s first bass player Saša Ajdanov.

Bečej is a town and municipality located in the South Bačka District of the autonomous province of Vojvodina, Serbia. The town has a population of 23,895, while the municipality has 37,351 inhabitants. It is a multiethnic town, predominantly inhabited by Serbs and Hungarians.

It also says that some of their more memorable concerts were the ones they played as warm up band for Veliki Prezir at Rex and then in Barutana with Eva Braun. They also appeared on a “Live Session” on NS Plus. Their album on CD was supposed to be released in 2000 by Automatik records but that never happened, only some promo copies were available. That would explain why on Discogs their album is listed as an MP3 album that dates from 2008 on Label Star.

I was listening to this album quite a lot back in 2003, 2004. Maybe later too. At some point my MP3 hard drive died and lost it. Now that I think of it, this might have been the pivotal point for me to dislike MP3 releases. They are ephemeral. Physical records are always the way to go.

The album had 13 songs: “Dvadeset I Dva”, “U Velikom Stilu”, “Sve”, “Pogledaj”, “Konan”, “Kompromis”, “Dobar Dan”, “Vožnja, “Ispod Noći”, “Kraj”, “Jedna Reč”, “En” and “Korpa Korpa Cveća”. The credits for the record are as follows, Boris Smoje on vocals and guitar, Marko Vujkov on bass, Igor Batinić on guitar, piano and backing vocals and Dragan Bašić on drums and percussion. They got help by Vanjus (Ivan Milinkov) on synthetizer, Seva (Dušan Ševarlić from Eva Braun)  and Kole (Vladimir Kolarić, leader of Veliki Prezir) on backing vocals. The record was mixed by Jan Šaš and it was recorded by Dušan Ševarlić as well. So there was some sort of scene between these guitar pop bands in Serbia? Mizu, and the legendary Eva Braun?

I then check the band members, what other projects are listed under their names on Discogs? Boris seems to have been involved in the band Superstudio and also on Rebel Star. On the other hand Marko was involved in the pop punk band Super S Karamelom.

That Live Session on NS Plus that I mentioned earlier is actually available on Youtube! It dates from April 1998 and on it there is an interview to the band (wish I understood a word) and 4 songs, “En”, “Sve”, “Kraj” and “Dvadeset i Dva”.

Happily this is not the only thing I was to find on Youtube. There is the promo video for the song “Dvadeset i Dva” and watching it for the first time now make me terribly giddy. The 90s so well reflected here.

Then I find the setlists for Indie-Go!, the Belgrade Indie Night, that my friend Nikola used to host. Such good setlists, they must have been long nights, everyone dancing. I see that he even played some Cloudberries, like Horowitz’ “Tracyanne”, but also I see that Mizu’s “Dobar Dan” was a staple in the club.

On Discogs the band is listed to have a compilation appearance, but definitely that is not them. I wonder though if they actually appeared on any compilation?

I couldn’t find much more information. What other gigs did they play? Did they record any more songs? Are there any unreleased tracks? What happened with that label Automatik? Why wasn’t their album released during their time and only many years after and only on MP3?Any other Serbian bands you’d recommend? Maybe some other bands from the Balkans? Many questions that hopefully get answered! Now discover this upbeat and jangly pop song called “Dobar Dan”, a classic to my ears!

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Listen
Mizu – Dobar Dan

09
Oct

I’m still unpacking boxes and records and reordering everything of course. I’m almost done though. As I say these things I’m also discussing with two bands for new 7″s and little by little reaching the 50th Cloudberry 7″ is becoming no more of a dream but a reality. And that is quite exciting!

I haven’t written down many news during the last 4 days. Since my last post. Actually only one, that Gingerlys have a 2nd song from their album now available to stream. It is called “See You Cry” and it is superb of course. I reviewed already the first single, “Turtledoves”, off their self titled album just a week ago I think, and now there is this lovely, sweet, new song. It looks like their album is going to be a winner. I hope though that I get to listen their whole album soon instead of recommending a song every week!

OK! There was one more but no music to listen. That is that Firestation Records will be releasing a new record by the Love Parade!! It is titled “Out to Sea” and it is a 6 song EP recorded in 1991. It will be available in CD and vinyl.

Well, now it is time to dig the internet, let’s see what we find on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. Thanks to my friend David from Madrid I found out a band from Gainesville, Florida, called UV-TV. He posted the song “Glass” on his Facebook and thought that it was some great shambolic pop. Then I noticed that it wasn’t their latest effort. Their last release is an EP titled “Go Away” that was released by the very fine Emotional Response label that is ran by Stewart from Boyracer. Shame I hear them this late as last week I placed not one, but two orders from them. It will have to wait a few weeks then, but there are some terrific songs here, check them out!

Grrrl Gang hail from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Earlier this year they released two songs on the Indonesian label Kolibri Records. The songs being “Bathroom” and “Thrills” Just a digital single I believe. The songs are sweet and on the lo-fi side of indiepop. There is an official music video for Bathroom and Thrills which seems to have been recorded in France and is very cool! The band is formed by Angeeta Santana on vocals and guitar, Edo Alventa on guitar and Akbar Rumandung on bass.

The Japanese label Galaxy Train keeps releasing new music and their latest offering is a tape, limited to 48 copies, of the Japanese band Dronjo Kept By 4. There are 6 songs, mostly lo-fi, that ate quite nice. The tape includes a booklet and some stickers. It is titled “Lost in Perspective EP” and the songs included are “Three Chord City”, “Kitty Roly”, “Rain Kids”, “Tobin Sprout on the Moon River”, “Dry Gin” and “Toddle”.

Howlin Banana Records is a DIY record label based in Paris and they have just released a digital single by the band The Soap Opera. The band is formed by Bloody Bulga on guitars and vocals, Professeur Zorrino on guitars nad vocals and Holden Brahms on drums. They seem to be French too. The two songs are straight up indiepop and they are titled “Eggs to Hatch and Cats to Kill” and “No Name No Pack Drill”.  They are quite good and I especially like the opening song which there is a promo video on Youtube!! That was exciting. And then I find out that there will be an album to be released in November by the same label that put the digital release and also Ample Play from the UK. Looking forward to it!

And lastly, our friend Brian Castriota, who released a 7″ with us under the name Earth First, has a new album out with his new band, Fimbria. The album is titled “Eternal Return” and is available on a limited edition CD and a limited edition cassette. He told me to check out the last song of the album, “Passage”, he told me there’s some jangle in it. I check it out and it is such a beauty of a song, such fragility. Then I play the whole album, now in order. Yes, it is not exactly indiepop, but it is a really pretty electronic album, with pop sensibility, and a lot of elegance.

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Super: very good or pleasant; excellent.

It is time to return to Europe. Still many important countries missing in this world tour. Today we need to stop in Finland, a country I visited this year and every time I think about it, I feel nostalgia for its cleanliness, for its lakes, the bright green of the trees and the good times I had in the many cities I visited. I hope to visit again in the future!

My only complain would be that there was absolutely no indiepop around. Ok, I didn’t travel for it, but would have been nice to see some bands live. As I’ve mentioned before, it took me a couple of record stores until I found the Burning Hearts LP that had just been released. It wasn’t easy. I looked through the bins and the racks at these record stores in Helsinki and I couldn’t find anything worthy! That was a shame. But it didn’t matter in the end, look, I saw Olavinlinna castle and drove through that beautiful landscape that is Punkaharju and that paid my trip. And crossed the Arctic Circle too!

Generally speaking Finland hasn’t produced huge amounts of indiepop, but when there has been indiepop it has been great, fantastic even. Think of Le Futur Pompiste, Cats on Fire, Burning Hearts or even back in the day with the likes of Cessna. It is time then to focus on Finland and one of their finest bands, Super.

On Discogs the band is considered a lounge-pop group. A lot of late 90s bands were described like that. But I’ll start reviewing their discography with the record I discovered them, a compilation titled “Seven Summers International Pop Volume 2” that was released by my good friend Peter Hahndorf on his own TweeNet Communications (TweeNetTwo) and Kindercore Records (KC023) in 1998. It was actually in Bremen, when I visited him, that he gave me a copy of the CD, a compilation that may well be some sort of indiepop world tour of the time with bands spanning all over the world. On it I was going to listen Super for the first time, and their song “All-American Cheesecake” was soon going to become a true favourite of mine!

It is true that I don’t own their whole discography, I will probably go slowly until at some point I get all their albums, singles and EPs. It is hard to complete discographies. But I do own a few of their releases and I know they are pretty good and I will be happy to recommend them to you. The band’s first record was an EP titled “Spark” that was released in 1995 by Tangerine Records (TANG 007). It included three songs “Spark”, “People’s Democratic Movement” and “Trouble With Sex”.

The year after the band was to release another CD EP, “Tempted”. The band had changed labels now and were on Odor (ODOR 0,2). Three songs were included, “I Didn’t Expect to Be This Tempted”, “Historical Sights, Out of the Blue”, “Spare Us From This Infinite Moment”. Here on Discogs I do find credits, Teemu Soininen on bass, Arto Ellonen on Congas, Ville Hietala on drums, tambourine, melodica, keyboards, backing vocals, Jukka Tiirikainen on flugelhorn, Jussi Pietilä on guitar, Okke Komulainen on organ, electric piano, keyboards, samplers and loops, Teho Majamäki on vibraphone, and Minna Joenniemi and her sweet vocals. The record was mixed by Janne Haavisto and recorded by Tuomo Puranen. The interesting thing about this EP is that it was going to be reissued by Odor the year after as Odor 0,3 with four songs. The first song was going to get the name shortened to “Tempted”, and then there was “Misty Hours”, “Bingo Hostess Goes Berserk (Skillsters Remix)” and “A Day With the Crimplene Kids”. Why the reissue and why so soon? And why change the tracklist?

They were going to catch the attention of the Japenese label Escalator Records, and in 1997 they were to release the “Tickets” EP in both CD (ESC012) and 7″ vinyl format (ESINGLE3). On the CD version there were 5 songs, “All-American Cheesecake”, “Last Flight to Sardinia”, “Roadblock”, “Bilbo Baggins” and “Frostbite”. A song about Bilbo Baggins from Lord of The Rings? Yes, that’s true, and it goes like this, “Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, only three feet tall, Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, the bravest little Hobbit of them all”. Amazing. The 7″ version only included three songs and in a different order. On the A side there was “Last Flight to Sardinia” while on the B side we find “Frostbite” and “All-American Cheesecake”. By now we know that the bands lyricists were Minna and Ville.

That same year, 1997, would see the light their first album, “Rendezvous with Super” released in Finland by Odor (Odor 1,0) and in Japan by Quattro (QTCY 2097). The album had twelve songs, “Caruamba Wax”, “Girls Go Bravo!”, “Bingo Hostess Goes Berserk!”, “People’s Democratic Movement”, “Proposal”, “Misty Hours”, “Tempted”, “True Gentleman”, “Travelogue”, “Historical Sights”, “Wicky-Wacko Rodeo” and “Coup de Soleil”. It was recorded at Hitsville IV Studio and Finnvox. Hitsville IV being a studio based in Helsinki run by Janne Haavisto and Tom Nyman while Finnvox is run by Risto Hemmi these days in Helsinki. Here we can already define the band members, we know that the core of the band were Minna Joenniemi, Ville Hietala, Okke Komulainen and Teemu Soininen.

As expected the Japanese version of the album on Quattro came with three bonus tracks, “A Day Out with the Crimplene Kids”, “Infinite Moment” and “Spark”. It also had different cover art, front and back. Also it is important to mention that there was a CD Promo for the album with just the song “Girls Go Bravo!”.

The same Japanese label, Quattro was to release a 7″ in 1999 (Quattro Disc 003) with the song “The Broken Girls” on the A side and a remix of it on the B side, “The Broken Girls (Super Splendid Strings Escape Mix, Remixed by Escalator Team)”.

That year, 1999, was to see the release of the band’s second album, “Tipsy” on Odor (Odor 3,0). The album had 10 songs this time, “Welcome to Our Soundscape”, “The Broken Girls”, “Don’t Tell Me You Jog”, “Love Was a Bomb”, “Departures”, “Disco Solitaire”, “Golden Boy”, “Country Star”, “We Hate Muscle Men!” and “Ice Cubes”. Aside from the core of the band here we see the band got help from Juha Kulmala on drums, percussion and handclaps, Tintti Simola on flugelhorn and trumpet, Serafiina Kämi on flute, Arimo Komulainen on trombone, Teho Majamäki on vibraphone, and Andrei Sytchak, Elina Huusko, Emma Toppinen, Tanja Jukarainen and Tuula Nurmo added strings. The record was mastered by Mika Jussila and was mixed by Ian Cat (yes, that Ian Catt) except the second track, “The Broken Girls”, which was mixed by Risto Hemmi.

And of course the Japanese were going to release the album. In 2001 the label Quattro put out “Tipsy” (QTCY-73006) and instead of adding bonus tracks they included an extra 3″ CD with four songs: “The Broken Girls (Super Splendid Strings Escape Mix)”, “Persian Risk”, “Calypso at the Office” and “Scary Waltz”.

Now onto the compilations! If we go chronologically we know that “Tempted” was included in the CD compilation “Tähti CD 6/96” released by Enormi-Opus Oy (TÄHTI CD 6) and also in 1997s “Bonus CD 6: Finnish Dance & Pop” that was released by Äänitealan Yhteismarkkinointi (BONUS CD 6). “Tempted” was going to be included in more compilations. On the “Reindeer Rock ’97” CD by CD-Linja OY (Poropromo 97), on “Europodium – Exitos Europeos – Top of the European Pops – Top Europeu 01/98” (98MEU01) that was released by RFI Musique in France in 1998 and where they appear alongside The Corrs (!) and also on the “Odor Sampler ’98” released by Odor (ODOR1998) where not only “Tempted” was included but “Girls Go Bravo!” too.

The song “The Broken Girls” was to appear on two compilations, on the “Popkomm Licensing Guide” released by Fono Magazine (Popkommcd 01) in 1999 and on the “Levottomat Soundtrack” released by BMG Finland in 2002. Levottomat being a movie which I have not seen, but I guess I’m curious now.

The song “Line Dance” appeared on the “Epe’s Star 2000” CD promo compilation released by Poko Records in 1998. And then the song “Disco Solitaire” on the “Reindeer Rock ’99” comp that came out on CD-Linja OY (Poropromo 99). “Love Was a Bomb” came out on another Odor sampler, “The Finland Odor Sampler” (ODOR P 99) in 1999 obviously.

Lastly the song “Car & Chauffeur” appeared on two CD compilations, on “Reindeer Rock 2000” released by Suomalaisen Musiikin Tiedotuskeskus (Poropromo 2000) and on the 4CD Boxset “Sivulliset – Valikoima Suomalaista Viahtoehtorockia Vuosilta 1985-2000” released by Poko Records (Valosa 1) in 2005. This last one looks like a cool compilation with Finish bands from those years, I may want to get this! Maybe discover a tune or two!

Now time to look if the band members were involved in any other projects. When I look at Minna, it doesn’t look like it. Okke Komulainen does seem to have been in a few bands: Bomfunk MC’s, Liekki, Skillsters, Skillsters Plus One, Sleepy Sleepers and as himself, as Okke, on a compilation titled “Pyssy 5”.

Then I noticed that Ville Hietala’s real name was Ville Särmä and that the has also been in bands like Kevin, Tanssiva Karhu and Them Bird Things.

I do find a Wikipedia page for Minna. It seems she is now a cultural publisher and has been involved in many different cultural programs in Finland. I also see that her father was the Peace and Political Scientist Pertti Joenniemi.

I then find an article on the website Elävä Arkisto where they are called the Finnish Cardigans and how they became a hit in Japan. I also find out  that they weren’t from Helsinki but from Tampere it seems. On that same article do check the short clip were we see Minna having lots of fun dancing!

Now I wonder, are there no promo videos for the band? There must be! But I can’t find any. I did find Minna having a speech at the Interesting Helsinki conference.

An interesting blog post not exactly about Super is the one on PhinnWeb where the author discusses Tampere Pop. It is good to read it to have some background and also because there’s a cool photo of Iisa Pajula from the band Regina and Minna that was taken from the morning paper Aamulehti.

But definitely the coolest thing I found was that on the TweeNet website there is a page with info about the bands on Seven Summers. There is an address for Minna Joenniemi and what was really amazing is that when I stayed in Helsinki in May I stayed in the same street, Uudenmaankatu. I stayed at number 13 and it seems she lived on 33. Wow!

I couldn’t find much more. I guess if I knew Finnish I would have better luck at choosing my search terms on Google. I wonder if they had been in bands before Super. If they recorded any videos. If they still have unreleased songs? Why did they split? What did they do after? What made them make pop in a country were metal is more popular? I don’t know, I have many questions, that I hope get answered some day, in the meantime I’ll keep enjoying their music.

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Listen
Super –
All-American Cheesecake

06
Oct

Thanks so much to Michel and Marjolijn for the interview! I wrote about Formica some weeks ago when I thought it was a good time to feature a Dutch band on the blog and was lucky to get in touch with both of them and even better, they were up to answer my questions! They also clear some doubts I had, made some corrections of my previous post and tell the whole picture of Formica! The band released just 2 singles and they were truly great, if you haven’t heard them yet, this is a good time to discover them! Oh! And they shared with me this exclusive cool photo of the band which was taken by Kathalijne van Zutphen.

++ Hi Michel and Marjolijn! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. How are you doing? Are you still making music?

Michel: I’m well, thanks. Not doing much music anymore, although I have an ‘internet band’ called Transatlantic Bunnies. So far I’ve put out one 7” on the Australian Insipid Vinyl label. The A-side (“Formula One Generation”, a song written by Steve Gregory for the Pooh Sticks) was sung by Lauren Rocket from L.A. band Rocket and the B-side (“Girl’s Going Crazy For The La La La”, written by Steve and me for International Language) has Sara Johnston from Canadian band Bran Van 3000 singing. I still haven’t met Lauren, but I did meet Sara in 2015, not long after the single was released. She was on tour with Evan Dando and they played a gig in Utrecht, so we finally met and did that song as part of her set, which was a like a dream come true for me.

Marjolijn: I’m not making any music anymore, just listening to music.

++ And are you still based in Utrecht? How was Utrecht back in the mid 90s? What were your usual hangouts? The venues you used to go to?

Michel: I’m still living in Utrecht, Marjolijn is living close to Utrecht and Noortje moved to Amsterdam.

Marjolijn: We used to go to places like Tivoli (Utrecht) and the Melkweg (Amsterdam), to see bands…

Michel: …like Blur, Pulp, Oasis and even Kula Shaker.

++ As I was saying on my blog post there is very little information about your band on the web so this is for sure a great opportunity to learn more about you. Also I must say when it comes to indiepop, not much is known about The Netherlands either. So maybe you can recommend some bands?

Michel: As far as we know, there weren’t many indiepop bands in the Netherlands. If there were any, we didn’t know them.

++ Going back, when you were kids, what sort of music did you grow up listening to? What was your first instrument? and how did you get it?

Michel: 70’s rock: the Stones, Alice Cooper, the Sweet, Slade, Status Quo… And then punk happened. I could never choose between guitar and drums, but my parents gave me an acoustic guitar when I was 11, or so. Years later, when I joined a band as a drummer, I bought a drumkit.

Marjolijn: Noortje and I were listening most of the time to Britpop, Elastica, Blur and also bands like the Ramones and the Kinks. I started playing clarinet and after that I started playing guitar.

++ Let’s talk about Formica, or was it Formica 2000 (!?)? What’s the story of the name of the band?

Michel: A friend of ours came up with the name Formica, because it sounded a bit like Elastica! We thought that was funny.

Marjolijn: We have no idea why we added 2000.

++ Had you been involved in any other bands? I know Michel was in a few, what about the girls?

Marjolijn: Just Formica. Noortje too.

++ How did Formica start as a band? How did you all know each other? How did you meet?

Marjolijn: Noortje, Edske and I knew each other from school. We started playing music together. We met Michel at DaCapo. And he became the drummer.

++ What would you say influenced the sound of Formica?

Michel: Britpop, punk rock and Phil Spector.

++ Marjolijn, you took the photos for the sleeve art. Nowadays you are a photographer. Were you a photographer already then?

Marjolijn: It was just a hobby at the time. I studied architecture. But two years ago I started taking photography more seriously, and I just finished my study photography.

++ How did the relationship with Steve Gregory from Fierce Recordings and The Pooh Sticks start? And how come he was not part of the band, only credited for the lyrics?

Michel: This is a long story. The Pooh Sticks “Alan McGee” CD boxset came with a little booklet in which it read: “Are you in a band? Everybody should be in a band. Let us know about it.” Or something like that. Just for fun I sent a cassette with recordings of some of my bands. One of them was Beatle Hans. I then got a letter from Steve/Fierce asking if anyone was releasing the Beatle Hans stuff. If not, Fierce Recordings was up for it. And by the way, would the band (minus singer Hans) be interested in recording the next Pooh Sticks album, which became “Great White Wonder”. Me and bass player Hard Cor (Cor van Ingen) played on two more Pooh Sticks albums: “Millionseller” and “Optimistic Fool”. After that Steve and I released a 7” and a CD on Sympathy For The Record Industry as International Language. (By the way: “Rodney’s English Disco” by Helen Love is not the International Language tune.) We enjoyed writing songs together, so we also wrote a couple for Formica. But Formica was always just the girls and me. Oh, and the 3 Formica girls’ first recording experience was doing some backing vocals on the International Language tune “Christmas Will Be Magic Again”, which first appeared on a christmas CD on Sympathy For The Record Industry.

++ And who was the bassist for Formica? I see on the first record Edske is credited, while on the second it has Hard Cor, Ron and Hanneke. Why was there never a proper bassist in the band?

Michel: Edske left the band after the first 7”. On the “Gameboy” EP we had Cor on two songs, my brother Ron on one, and Marjolijn’s younger sister Hanneke on the fourth song. For the gigs we had Ron on bass.

++ How did the creative process work for the band?

Marjolijn: Michel and Steve wrote the songs. We rehearsed at home. Instead of rehearsing we sometimes played our Gameboys. That’s why we wrote the Gameboy song.

Michel: I asked the girls to write lyrics for a song called “Look At Your Game, Boy”, which has nothing to do with “Look At Your Game, Girl” by Charles Manson. Marjolijn’s sister Hanneke added some lines too, so that’s why two Hoelens are credited on the label.

++ Your first 7″  was released on Spirit of ’86 who were also connected to The Pooh Sticks. On this single the brilliant “Johnny & Anita” was included. I must ask, who were Johnny and Anita? What’s the story behind this song?

Michel: Johnny’s and Anita’s were annoying (Dutch) youths on scooters who liked house music and had crappy haircuts.

++ Your second 7″ came out on the fab Damaged Good label How did you end up releasing with them? And I must ask, how come two English labels for your releases, and no Dutch ones? Why was that?

Michel: In 1995 Hue Pooh Stick had his Spirit Of ’86 label. I told him I wanted to join the girls’ band and he said that if I did he would release whatever we’d record. I’d already offered my services as a drummer, but the girls told me I was too old. Fair enough. I was twice their age. But when I told them they could make a record if they had me on drums they agreed to give it a try. Spirit Of ’86 was distributed through Damaged Goods/Shellshock, so after that first single Ian from Damaged Goods asked if we could do one for his label too.

++ You worked on the recordings with Hans Blieb twice, what did he add to the band in the recording studio?

Michel: Nothing really. He owned an affordable studio and was the engineer. I did production and mixing.

++ Then there were no more releases by the band, why? No compilation appearances? Are there any unreleased songs by the band?

Michel: There is one song we wrote but never recorded properly. For the gigs we chose a couple of covers by bands we liked, like “Time Bomb” by the Ramones and Josie Cotton’s “Johnny Are You Queer”.

++ And from all of the Formica songs, which one is your favourite and why?

Michel: I like “Wire” and “Cross My Mind”, ‘cause they’re slightly Spector-esque.

Marjolijn: “Johnny and Anita”.

++ Did you play many gigs? Maybe any in the UK? Are there any in particular that you remember? What were your best ones?

Michel: We only did two gigs, both of them in Utrecht in 1998. But we almost played our debut gig in London as part of some MTV thing. Unfortunately the Fierce Panda label, like Damaged Goods also related to Shellshock distribution, had one of their acts play there instead. I think our first gig was the best one, opening for the Donnas. A great night.

++ And were there any bad ones?

Marjolijn: The second one was not as good as the first one. Haha!

++ Did you get much attention by the music press? What about radio?

Michel: I don’t think I ever saw a review and I definitely never heard us on the radio.

++ When and why did you split? What did you all do afterwards? Did you continue making music?

Michel: Like Abba, we never really split up.

Marjolijn: Noortje moved to England to study. It became too much hassle at the time. We just kept in touch but didn’t make any music anymore. Nowadays Michel and I meet up in town to take pictures sometimes. Our new hobby.

++ I must ask, where do you think you had more support, in the UK or in The Netherlands?

Michel: We did an interview with a local music magazine. I don’t think anybody outside Utrecht knew about us, except some friends and a couple of girls from Rotterdam who had a Britpop fanzine.

++ Michel, I must ask even though it is not strictly Formica related, but the single “Go Eliza” by The Nightblooms is truly brilliant, and you produced it! How was that experience?

Michel: I didn’t really produce “Go Eliza”, but I was there during the recordings (and played a twangy guitar part in the choruses). Studio engineer Ward, who would also work on the first two Pooh Sticks albums that we recorded in Utrecht, asked me to come to the studio for the first Nightblooms session there, ‘cause he thought I would understand their kind of music better than he did at the time. That was about a year before “Go Eliza”. That first session remains unreleased, although I have a cassette of it somewhere. The Nightblooms are nice people and we got along really well, so I was there again for the “Go Eliza” session. I don’t think I was present for any Nightblooms sessions after that, although I went to England with them in 1990, as a guitar roadie and to play some guitar on their John Peel session. I also played guitar on one song on their first album and I was their manager for a while.

++ And today, what do you do? Any hobbies that you have aside from music?

Michel: I like analogue photography, shooting portraits mainly.

Marjolijn: Photography

++ There was a comment on my blog post saying that one of you guys worked at Da Capo Records. Is that right? How is Da Capo Records? I’ve been told many times that it is a fantastic record shop!

Michel: I worked at Da Capo for 22 years. That’s where I met the Formica girls. I stopped working there in 2008. Three years later the owner died and on December 31st 2011 the shop closed. A sad day. It was a vinyl collector’s shop and probably the best one in Holland.

++ One last question, I’ve never been to Utrecht so I’m quite curious, what would you recommend not missing out? Sights? Traditional food? Bands?

Marjolijn: We recommend going up the Dom tower. Beautiful view.

Michel: Food! Broodje Mario and Vocking worst.

++ Thanks again! Anything else you’d like to add?

Marjolijn: In your article you mentioned a Noortje in Switzerland. That’s another Noortje. Noortje from Formica is a fashion accessories designer and she lives in Amsterdam.

Michel: We appreciate your research and love for the music.

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Listen
Formica – Johnny & Anita

05
Oct

Now the My Light Shines for You! 7″ is being pressed and it is time to look into what will bring next year for Cloudberry. We want to do another release in our Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series as soon as possible and even though I’ve been talking and discussing with several bands I would love to have your input, maybe you have some great ideas that I could explore!

This week I continued gathering indiepop from all over the place so let’s do a roundup of all those songs and bands!

Firstly I must say I’m very happy that Boring Productions from China will be releasing the Sound and Fury album in the near future. In my previous post I championed the Chengdu band and little did I know they had already been in touch with the Shenzhen label. So that’s good news and we better keep our eyes peeled for the release date which seems to be next month!

Madrid’s Puzzles y Dragones has been a favourite band of mine for a long time. They’ve also been silent for a long time. But suddenly the label Discos de Kirlian has a new song streaming by this lovely band formed by Miguel López, Mark Williams, Begoña Casado, Sergio Alarcón, Alberto Robla and our friend Dani de la Mancha. The lovely “Fuerzas Absurdas” is the new digital single the label and the band are using to promote the album “Vuelven Puzzles y Dragones” that is set to be released this November. So far this is the only song available to listen from the album but in any case, I can’t wait for this record to be released!

Stockholm one-girl band Boys has a new song as well and it is called “Rabbits”. I’ve been following Nora Karlsson’s band for years now and for some reason or another I don’t own any physical copies of her music. Aside from digital EPs I believe the only real record is a cassette titled “Love on Tour” released last year. And you know my not so good relationship with tapes. Well, it seems this will be the first time I actually get my hands on something by Boys because the label PNKSLM is releasing a split 7″ with “Rabbits” and Magic Potion’s “Rest Yr Skull” on October 20th. Sadly I don’t like Magic Potion’s song so in the end the 7″ ends up being a bit pricey for me as $16.00 dollars including shipping for one song is steep these days… but maybe some of you do appreciate Magic Potion? Anyhow, the Boys track is superb as her previous efforts so hopefully soon there is a 7″ or anything just by herself. if PNKSLM can’t offer that, hey, this humble label is happy to offer that.

Then of course the news of The Spook School‘s new video for “Still Alive” might be old news for many of you faithful followers of the Edinburgh four-piece band. What is interesting is that this new video is a promo piece for their new album “Could it be Different?” that is coming out on January 26 on Alcopop Records in the UK and Slumberland in the US. It was a big question to know which European label was going to become home of The Spook School after the demise of Fortuna Pop, and now that has been answered. I don’t know much about Alcopop, don’t know the people behind it. My only experience with them is that they released the last Helen Love CD, and I was very grateful about it even though the pressing had some issues. Anyways, enjoy the new track and let’s wait for their new album!

A Spanish band I discovered recently is Autoescuela. The band is formed by just two guys, David and Santí, and they hail from Asturias, in the north of Spain. They have just put out a tape titled “Recopa” which is a collection of 25 short bedroom pop songs. On top of it, the tape comes with a 32 page fanzine. This whole package has been released by the Barcelona label Snap! Clap! Club and there are only 100 copies so run and get it if you are into fun upbeat lo-fi songs!

And lastly I want to recommend a superb track by Seazoo titled “Shoreline”. The vocals are fantastic here! I have recommended them long time ago, maybe more than a year ago when they uploaded their song “Telephone Jones” which I really liked. But this new one I think I’m enjoying even more! Why is there no album yet by this Welsh band?! It seems I missed their Jumbo EP CD and Im very sad about that… and was there a 7″ for “Teeth / Skulls”? I missed that too. I shouldn’t miss their next one! At this pace I’m going to be broke!

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Pillbox: Pill organizer or pillbox or pill box, a special container for storing scheduled doses of one’s medications.
Pillbox, a flat, cylindrical shaped figure, such as:
Gaussian pillbox, used in calculations for vector fields
Pillbox cavity, a cylindrical microwave cavity
Pillbox hat, a small woman’s hat with a flat crown and straight, upright sides, and no brim

Our indiepop “world tour” continues in October and after featuring a Belgian band it is time to go back to Asia. In this occasion why not go all the way to Taiwan and discover the little known band Dolly’s Pillbox that was around in the mid noughties? It will also be the first time I feature a Taiwanese band on the blog and that is for sure a cool thing!

I don’t know much about Taiwan to be honest. Never been there, though I would love to in the future. I did go once to eat Taiwanese food in Flushing, NY. I remember having at the Gu-Shine Restaurant some unknown dishes to me like jellyfish in scallion sauce or baby fish with hot peppers and aside there been a Taiwanese girl in my school class for a year who I didn’t interact much sadly (the poor girl didn’t know a thing of Spanish or English so she had such a hard time and didn’t come back to school the next year), those were the moments I’ve been closer to Taiwan.

But around 2005 or 2006, when everyone of us were learning the ropes of social networks on Myspace, I found out about Taipei’s Dolly’s Pillbox there. I am pretty sure I exchanged messages with their vocalist, Cathy Tang, but can’t recall what about. I recall having either her or the band on my Myspace “top ten” (remember that?) for some time. I liked the songs and their uber-twee look and style. It is true, those were my twee-est years, when I was so much into cutesy bands like The Maybellines or All Girl Summer Fun Band.

In 2006 the band was to release their one and only record, a CD EP titled “How are You Today?” on the label Silent Agreement (catalog SAIP014). Back then it was quite impossible to find their record. You had to buy it directly from the band and Paypal wasn’t available all over the world. I never got around to get it. Only today while writing these lines I found a copy on Discogs and ordered it. Hopefully it arrives safe and sound. I didn’t even know the label Silent Agreement then but now I see they put out a My Little Airport single in 2015 too.

The EP has seven songs: “Sugar Boy”, “In Our Stillness”, “Blah Blah Blah”, “Road Movie”, “Rainy Day Playground”, “Summer Blows the Breeze Warm” and “Bedtime Plus”. All of them are sweet tunes. The band was formed by Cathy Tang on harmonica and vocals, Jubow Kao on bass, Bambi Jiang on guitar and Meimei Ju on drums and percussion. Cathy also wrote all the lyrics. The record was mixed and recorded by Luxia Wu and mastered by Rick Hu.

I found a small review of the EP on the website Pacifiction Records who used to sell the record int he US it seems: “Sometimes fun and bouncy, sometimes sad and rainy, but always cute, Dolly’s Pillbox rented a studio to take rockstar pictures… but ended up forming a band and recording this delightful EP of fun songs. Despite hand claps and upbeat bass lines, their songs are bittersweet moments as seen in “Blah, Blah, Blah,” which tells a story about a girl who is getting over someone who “is not so precious anymore.” If you’ve had a bad day, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind having Dolly’s Pillbox handy to make things a little better.”

The band also seems to have appeared on at least one compilation. They contributed the song “Light Blue Car” to the CD compilation “All the Girls I’ve Ever Loved (Now Love Other Boys)” that was released by the Pop Song Romance fanzine in 2009. I kind of remember this compilation in my blurry memory, I believe the person responsible of the zine and this compilation was a Californian called Claude Cardenas who used to post on the indiepop-list. Now that I see the tracklist I kind of feel ashamed of missing it, it is a pretty strong album with Cloudberry related bands like Very Truly Yours, Komon, Bonnie & Clyde or The Jealous Sea among others!

Looking if they appeared on any other compilations I find that they contributed the song “Bedtime Plus” to the double CD compilation “Lobo III” released by White Wabit Records in 2003 (catalog TW026). They also had “Sugar Boy” on the CD compilation “Grass Festival 2006” released by White Wabit in 2003 (catalog TW033).

I keep looking for more information about them, especially would like to know what did they do after Dolly’s Pillbox was no more. I find the blog Jenny is in a Bad Mood and there it is, a Youtube video where the band covers Japanese band Advantage Lucy’s “杏花的季節“.

I keep searching and find a quote taken from the website they used to have, this corroborates the story from Pacifiction Records: “In Starbucks, while eating breakfast, Cathy and Jubow were joking around about renting a practice band room where they could take pictures of cool, fake rockers together for fun. but unaccountably, the rumor of forming the band was let out and Jubow and Cathy earnestly started looking for band members….” So with this we know that in the beginning there were only two members. I also notice that Cathy is (or was then) a graphic artist and she did all the art for the band. Thanks to that I check on Google Images some graphics she did for each of the band members, kind of like a small little bio. For Cathy it says she is a Sagittarius, a model daughter, a little animal’s savior, everlasting busy & sleepy, a child at heart and single. For Jubow, she is a Taurus, a CD Shop bride, that she has cute dimples and rosy cheeks, that she measures 1.64 m, and that she is single no more. For Bambi, he is a Virgo, a history major, a Fender Telecaster lover, mommy’s boy, and single. Lastly, Meimei is a Pisces (like me!), a CD Shop darling, a petite pocket girl, sweet, smart and fun fun!, and single.

Why not check their old Myspace, maybe there is some info there. I giddily see the fantastic Chicago band Fireflies in their top 8. Then I notice a song that wasn’t listed in their CD, “Bambi Rocks”. I could find a live performance of this song and it sounds GREAT! Check it out on Youtube. I would love to listen the studio version sometime.

Another blog that featured them was the fantastic Japan Live blog. I’ve discovered a few bands thanks to it, and here Ken M tells the story when he saw Dolly’s Pillbox at the Formoz Festival when he visited Taipei in 2006. Another place that has some information is Last.fm, there it mentions that Bambi joined the band in the summer of 2004 and Meimei in the autumn of 2005.

But then I reach a wall. I don’t know what happened to the band members. Perhaps Cathy continued her career as a graphic designer and Bambi now teaches history at university. Who knows really. Would be nice to know they continued making music. For me they were the first band I ever listened from Taiwan making proper indiepop, with the right influences and all. I wonder if anyone else remembers them? Maybe you saw them play at a gig? Maybe you saw them at a festival? Did they have any more songs? Would be nice to know what are they up to now, maybe do an interview too.

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Listen
Dolly’s Pillbox – Sugar Boy

04
Oct

Thanks so much to Paschalis Plissis for the interview!! I wrote a few weeks back about The Jaywalkers on the blog and thanks to Ian Skiadas I was able to get in touch with Paschalis, founding members of one of the most legendary bands from Greece!! There has always been little information about the band, and their one and only record is very rare (I’m still looking for a copy!), so there was no better chance to learn the story behind this classic band! Hope you enjoy it!

++ Thanks so much Paschalis for getting in touch! Very happy to know the story of The Jaywalkers. But how are you today? Are you still involved in music?
The Jaywalkers today are George Mouchtaridis who is the manager of radio ”Pepper”96.6 a.k.a.”sergeant Pepper” having a morning show Greek time 10-12 you can listen on line, has already curated 4 ”The bright side of the road” compilations and is preparing another one. So he is very much immersed in music.

Yiannis Divolis works and works some more but still has occasional gigs as a folk-”laikos dimotikos” musician playing and also singing and used to manage night clubs with Greek folk music.
His younger brother Vassilis has a permanent job as a percussionist in the Athens municipal band the ”Filarmoniki” and has collaborated over the years with various artists i.e.Kristi Stasinopoulou, Avaton et al.
As for myself I’ve been a professional oboe player for nearly 30 years playing in various orchestras and I now hold the first chair in the Greek national radiotelevision’s Contemporary orchestra.

Unfortunately the youngest member of The Jaywalkers Giorgos Manos is sadly gone many years ago and is always fondly remembered through his bass playing. A great talent.

++ Whereabouts in Greece did you grow up? Did you have any bands prior to The Jaywalkers? I know you were in Migraine, right?

We all grew up in the greater Athens area. Gio Mou and I were friends from school and the same neighborhood and I went to Athens conservatory with Yiannis Divolis who introduced us to his brother and Giorgos Manos so The Jaywalkers were formed from the ashes of our first group Migraine.

++ What sort of music were you into while growing up?  What was your first guitar do you remember? How did you get it?

As we grew up we listened to various types of music. Gio’s older brother Paschalis (same name!) was our musical mentor making us tapes of artists like Van Morrison, Bowie, Springsteen, Peter Hammil, and of course we listened to all the sixties big names.In 1977 I went to England and returned with a bi-polar musical taste for classical and punk-new wave which I sort of inflicted to the gang through parties and communal vinyl auditions.Great days indeed!

First guitar I still have was a Yamaha G55 classical which my late father bought me cause my grades were good I guess. I used to throw a mic in her belly and feedback for hours till I got my first electric a secondhand hardtail 74 Fender Strat for which I worked for 2 months to be able to afford. It was and still is The Jaywalkers guitar.

++ And how did your music evolve from a punk band like Migraine to a jingle jangly guitar pop band like The Jaywalkers?

The evolution of our style from Migraine to Jaywalkers wasn’t all that big, considering we always aimed to be eclectic in both our use of influences and choice of musical directions.Those years in the first half of the eighties were one of the most exciting in music and we felt a part of it all with overflowing creativity and joy of life in all aspects.Of course one can argue that this is often the case with what one does in the younger years but in retrospect it was objectively a great era. Migraine was named after a Gang of Four lyric(this heaven gives me migraine off Natural’sNot In It from Entertainment LP.So Migraine was not a punk band per se more of New Wave and when we introduced a sax in the rock format we got to sounding like James Chance and the Contortions, while we even covered songs by the Zounds or The Sound.We sort of carried all the spectrum to The Jaywalkers with the addition of our new found kinship with the paisley underground and of course with the gigantic R.E.M.We got to play live with a host of bands that we liked and they liked us right back! What glorious moments!Dream Syndicate,Green on Red, Fleshtones, The Chills from NZ,The Triffids from Australia and Watermelon Men from Sweden.So a whole tapestry of great groups popped(sic) up in our sound which of course was firmly based on the Beatles legacy.Hence the name Jaywalkers as we felt we were Jaywalking in music’s avenues jumping from lane to lane of sonic variety.

++ How were those early days of the band? Where did you practice? Where in Athens did you usually hang out? Were there any good bands at the time that you followed?

Early to last days of both Migraine and The Jaywalkers were happening rehearsal like in a derelict two-room pre world war  2 house in Byron municipal district of Athens. We shared this dumb with two great bands of the times Yell-o-Yell and the Headleaders. Our greatest fear was not to have our equipment stolen an unfortunate event that thankfully didn’t happen.Creativity and rock n’roll spirit was dripping all over the walls as the place’s sole window never opened not once in the near six years we spent there.To be young and sweaty…and breathless!
Well the Greek scene of the early eighties was full of interesting groups with most of them we have played together and were friends. Cpt. Nefos and their follow up Low noise ,Villa21,Yell-o-Yell South of no North, the punk veterans MagicDeSpell, the garage kings Last Drive the passionate Anti Troppau Council the northern psychedelics The Mushrooms, the greek singing top group  from Thessaloniki Treepes (holes),Blue Light, and more.We used to move around the live night spots of Athens either performing or jamming or supporting one another.Quite wonderful times!

++ And how did the creative process work for the band? Who wrote the songs?

The songs were written by George Mou and myself in the very loud solitude of our rooms as far as the music was concerned and just about anywhere as far as lyrics would go.We would introduce the new babies to the rest of the band and either be ridiculed on the spot or proceed to birth and grooming to be introduced to the live set or potential material for recording in the future as not every song was deemed ”live”material.Everyone had a lot of input and ideas flew all over the room as it was obvious that we were all very opinionated music-wise due to conservatorial backgrounds and strong personalities.The end result was to everybody’s satisfaction though.

++ Did you ever consider writing songs in Greek?

Writing songs in Greek always seemed awkward as it seemed anytime a greek lyric would turn up something very un rock ‘n roll melodically would surface basically diametrically opposite from our core repertoire! So we carried on with international intentions! Ha ha ha!

++ How did you end up signing to a big label, to Virgin?

We knew the guys from Virgin Hellas which by that time was run by the guru Yiannis Petridis and we had them listen to our demo tape.They found it quite good and the rest is history.

++ The songs were recorded at Recording Studios by Manolis Vlachos. How was that experience? Was it your first time at a proper studio?

Working with Manolis Vlachos was for us a once in a lifetime experience.He was extremely kind with us greenies was enthusiastic with our songs, softspoken good-humored and he used to work in the U.S. which guaranteed another level of production.We seldom had a chance to record in a proper professional studio so it was not a surprise when some of us declared they wanted to move there!

++ Who is the boy on the cover photo of the record?

Our sadly deceased friend Sotiris Terzidis was working as a teacher in the esteemed Panagiotopoulos school.He used to take photos of the kids during the intervals while they were playing and mocking about .We happened to look at some of these photos at his place and were immediately smitten with the particular one that became the cover of our mini-l.p.Turns out it was the son of the Mikis Theodorakis’ famous singer Petros Pandis called, as I found years later, Dimitris.

++ I’ve played and danced many times to “(You Can’t Be) Happy all the Time”. I have to ask, how did this song come to be? What’s the story behind such a hit?

“You can’t be…” What a song. Always makes me feel goosebumps yet i’m quite conscious of having written it and proud of the result of the band’s collaboration and all out enthusiastic disposition which carried this song so well through all these years.The story goes like this;Our friends started a promotion company and we all participated one way or other and the first group to be invited for a concert was the Watermelon Men from Sweden.We hang out with them, became good friends appreciated their songs and bittersweet approach to life showed them around even played beach soccer with them.There was definite feedback and the result I suppose was this also bittersweet song that talks about lost friends lost innocence and has a quirkiness about it that belies the world weariness of the lyrics. And to conclude I confess I was trying to sing in the style of Eric Illes their singer a Swedish brother to me. To the day I remember singing the song with my acoustic guitar on my then country house-now permanent residence-balcony to a group of friends and I’d like to believe that their enthusiastic first listen to ”You can’t be (Happy all the time) led to their helping us in financing the recording of our demo tape that led to the making of our mini L.P.

++ On the 12″ there’s a cover of The Beatles. Who made that choice? Were they a big influence on you? Is “Tomorrow Never Knows” your favourite song by theirs?

All of us absolutely adore the Beatles.We’ve played some of their songs in various concert situations but for  an official recording it had to be something special.In my opinion A Day In The Life and Tomorrow Never Knows are the most ambitious songs they ever recorded and present a real challenge for anyone to try and cover them.So we figured lets take our chance since we aimed for a result representing our possibilities as a group away from the typical rock format employing as it were the Divolis’ bros  experience with Greek folk music.Hopefully we managed to re-invent a masterpiece while staying true to its spirit.Really proud of the result actually!

++ Which other bands would you say were big influences to The Jaywalkers? Any Greek bands?

Influences?Too many actually.As stated before that era was boiling with great music freshly made to top an already huge heritage of the past three decades. Gio Mou and I were at the time working as journalists and record critics in prestigious magazines therefore being exposed to the best new music that was released at the time, discovering kindred artists from the U.S. and U.K. that were off the radar for the general public.Boy we were lucky!But I won’t shy away from naming some; Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, always obvious suspects,also Beach Boys Byrds and of course Dylan.Forward to The Jam,The Clash, The CureThe Ramones Talking Heads also The Smiths ,R.E.M.,Dream Syndicate Long Ryders Green on Red and less obvious choices like Gun Club,Robyn Hitchcock, Elvis Costello  Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.The Greek bands of the time were friends and colleagues more than influences but of course there was feedback and healthy antagonism with the likes of The Last Drive, Anti Troppau Council The Mushrooms,Blue Light or Low Noise.

++ And if you were to record another cover, what would be your top choices?

To record another cover it would have to be something special again as we aim to add some of our own views on the matter.I maintain that a cover should be a tip of the hat to the original and also to shed a new light on a song we obviously love and got inspiration from.Having said that there just so many choices to pick from and pointless to name some but in the course of our live shows we covered songs by Elvis,R.E.M.,The Sound,The Beatles The Box Tops or Bobby Darin so the diversity shows  what we might choose.

++ I read that The Jaywalkers 12″ was a commercial failure. Is that story true? What happened?

Commercial failure could take  its toll on the very existence of groups ,but it is a reality one must face at some point as an unfortunate but unavoidable possibility.Well the”market” for groups and english singing at that-in Greece is very limited and that’s understating it.Virgin Greece went out on a limp releasing the record so the  commercial failure didn’t sit comfortably with any future plans to make a follow up so no follow up was produced.

++ The only compilation appearance I know that The Jaywalkers had was on the tape “Straight to Hellas” where you contributed the song “Pale Blue Eyes”. It sounds much different to the 12″. Was this an earlier song perhaps? How did you end up in this compilation?

The inclusion of Pale blue eyes in that compilation was our last-and not that good I must admit-hurrah.We sort of faded after that amidst obligations with the army, families formatting, and job obligations.We remained close but not so much in the music playing way.Life happens and in George’s Manos case an untimely death happened most unfortunately.

++ Are there any other compilation appearances from back in the day?

To my knowledge we had no other compilation appearances apart from possible live bootlegs but I think it’s most unlikely.

++ Are there any other recordings, unreleased songs, by the band?

Songs over the live years and after have accumulated waiting for their hopeful outing and some of them are recorded not in a fully professional manner mind but as a future plan they could turn up.

++ And from the whole Jaywalkers repertoire, what would you say was your favourite song and why?

Favourite songs vary depending on mood  snd season but the ones included in the mini-l.p. are always topping.Having said that there are also other favourites like the obvious live stalwarts River and The sun’s not gonna wake me tomorrow.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? What were the good venues back then? And are there any particular gigs you remember fondly?

There were some clubs that every group gigged in as the were part of the scene.In the Migraine days there was the legendary ”Pegasus” home of the new wave, Kyttaro club, Hima (were even Nick Cave &the Bad Seeds performed, the former Mad club renamed Cat’s Meow and the largest of all the Club 22 where acts like Green on Red,Nick Cave, The Wipers or Nico appeared alongside supports from local groups like The Jaywalkers.The most legendary and successful club of course was ”Rodon live ”where every artist of note performed and I’m proud to say that The Jaywalkers were the first group to perform there as a support to the Triffids, a fact unfortunately not stated in the book about ”Rodon” that was published after the club’s termination and eventual change into a-alas-super market.
We remember fondly the gigs we played support to great artists like Green on Red in club 22 ,the aforementioned Rodon gig with the Triffids and a summer festival in Veakeion theater in Peiraius where the headliners were The Dream Syndicate. Having said that gigs were scarce therefore every time we got the chance to play live we relished the moment as you can understand!

++ Aside from Athens, did you play any other cities?

We played in a club in Patras and that final gig in a summer festival in Preveza where ”Pale Blue Eyes” was recorded for that compilation, and that was about it.It was just unfortunate that we didn’t play in Thessaloniki-a rock city with a big music scene.

++ Did you get much attention from the music press or radio?
The radio at the time was not that friendly for english speaking Greek groups although we got played by certain indie shows  that aired in those early days of non-state radio.
As for the press there existed an awkward situation as I mention earlier G. Mouctarides and I were journalist for the esteemed ”Sound and hi-fi” magazine therefore we were considered to be ”parts of the system”.That led to negative reviews or lack of reviews altogether ignoring good moments of the band, maybe it was jealousy or some kind of complex ,but it sure held the progress of the group media-wise.Years after it was confessed that the true value of The Jaywalkers was unjustly overlooked but of course as the saying goes the damage was done. Oh well water under the bridge…

++ And was there an important fanzine culture in Greece at the time? Did you get featured in them?

The fanzine culture of the times consisted mainly of one-off editions which sometimes were the vehicle for releasing some tapes of live shows.The notable exception was the ”Rollin Under” fanzine.To be honest I am not aware of any feature of The Jaywalkers but that could have eluded us as the circulation of these fanzines was very limited.

++ Then what happened to the band? When and why did you split? Did you continue making music afterwards?

he festival in Preveza in the summer 1988 was as I mentioned earlier the last live moment of the group. After that there were a few rehearsals but no more gigs due to army obligations and new families changing the whole picture. After that we certainly never gave up on music both as a job or a hobby. You might want to check out a group myself and some local friends set up called The Mercy Run.Had some gigs but no proper releases  exist only some studio recordings of songs I wrote with our singer Bob Crossley.

++ I think a lot of people, me included, were introduced to your music thanks to the compilation “Try a Little Sunshine”. This compilation became very important as it gave a new light to Greek guitar pop. What would you say are your favourite Greek indiepop bands?

There was a lot of potential in the early 80’s greek indie rock scene and talents sprung out all over.Some of our favourite bands were Cpt Nefos, Blue Light, The Mushrooms, Yell-oYell, Femmes Fatales, Anti-Troppau Council and Last Drive.

++ Also in the last decade or so you have played some reunion gigs. Is there any more gigs planned for the near future? And is there a chance for new Jaywalkers songs some day?

These last years in Greece haven’t being particularly good for indie groups due to the financial crisis.Although clubs like s.i.x. d.o.g.g.s. and fuzz are making a name for the ”underground” scene in Athens it is quite difficult for groups to be consistent in their live performances.As for reunion gigs we really enjoyed the ones we had and we certainly keep our hopes up for new material to be recorded and released but the difficulties seem at times unbeatable.Songs do exist though and they will eventually surface!

++ This year I see you will also participate in a new compilation named “A Sparkle From the Past” that will be released by Make Me Happy. Care telling me a bit about this new record?

This latest compilation will apparently include various Greek groups of the 80’s and early 90’s which didn’t quite fall in the general public’s radar and The Jaywalkers will participate with the -in my opinion-superb demo version of ”Good Day Sunshine”. From what I know this compilation is being released by a group of that era’s fans very keen on making a party of it all as it involves a live event for this release.

++ And today, what are you up to? Do you still make songs? Any other hobbies that you have?

As for songwriting it happens sparingly but with the aid of the current technology it is easier to record and keep in the archives for future use. As you’ve already seen I try to find some creative comfort in sketching and drawing and even-ambitiously enough-plan to participate in the Inktober challenge! Wish me luck.My true hobbies though is driving my two adolescent daughters around to various lessons and activities.Interestingly enough Gio Mou invited me to play guitar for his younger daughter’s recording of her song “Thieving Star” which will appear in the next ”Bright Side Of The Road” compilation, so you could say there is a continuation of the group through our children!

++ One last question, if one was to visit Athens, where should one go check out bands? And aside from the Acropolis what should one visit?

Well it’s been a marathon nine days Interview but a lot of fun nonetheless as it was a big trip down memory lane and a huge privilege to be able to share all these moments and thoughts with people across the globe! I’ll be very happy to show you around Athens sights and spots and invite you to taste some of the wonderful dishes my wife Dinah cooks. So till we meet in person it’s been an honour answering your questions  and thank you Roque for everything!

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Listen
The Jaywalkers – (You Can’t Be) Happy all the Time

02
Oct

Moved. Settles. But not unpacked. Little by little I’ll have to organize my record collection and the Cloudberry stock. But now things are a bit more organized and I can send to press the My Light Shines for You 7″ at last! Damn! It got delayed and delayed, but now finally, after I finish writing this post, I’ll fill the paperwork for the pressing plant.

And then focus on the next Cloudberry releases of course. That is a good plan I think. But now it is time to review some new indiepop I’ve found on the web!

Definitely one of the most exciting discoveries as of late is Okama Flannel Boy from Mexico City. What a sound!! If you like Orange Juice you are going to cry of happiness, because this is very good. Fernando Torres is behind this one-man band who have two songs on their Bandcamp, the fantastic “Carolina St.” and a cover of Biff Rose’s “Fill Your Heart”. Jangly, chiming, upbeat, catchy, what is not to like about these songs? Top stuff!!

We have already recommended Glass Arcades on the blog but it is no crime to do it again. The Cardiff band has three new songs available to stream on their Bandcamp, “Nothingism”, “Lune” and “Second Violins” and they have the trademark sound of Anton Salmine who has been creating dreamy pop for some time now!

Our friends from Boring Productions, the fantastic Chinese indiepop label based in Shenzhen, have a new release out by Butterbeer. It is an album and it is coming in tape, CD and vinyl LP format! The album is available to order now and it is titled “Obliviate”. It has 8 songs and I’ve seen already many friends on Facebook sharing the song “Listening to Another Sunny Day Makes Me Forget You”. Butterbeer is an indiepop duo formed by Jovi (from Atta Girl) and Rye (from Chestnut Bakery) and this album was actually recorded two years ago and only now it is being released. Well, I need to get in touch with Jovi and see if I can get the new record!!

It came to my attention that one of my favourite bands to ever come from the US, I mean the band Holiday, has uploaded a gig to Matt Snow’s SoundCloud account. This is an important gig, from when they played live at The Fez in New York City on January 17, 1997. This was Holiday’s final show and it was part of the New York City Popfest, 1997 edition. I wish I had been there! Also if you check Calvin Chin’s SoundCloud account there are live recordings from an unknown Chicago gig.

Another fantastic find is that of Jakarta’s Secret Meadow. They have just uploaded a new song called “I Am You” and I’m liking it a lot. I don’t think I was aware of this band prior though I notice they have a few more songs on their Bandcamp. See, it is not true as many of you say that I’m on top of things. That’s impossible. Secreat Meadow formed in early 2016 and is formed by Ricardo Taufano on guitars, vocals and synth, Jaro Petang on guitar and synth, Arief Wijaya on bass and Mulyana Viqry on drums.

And my last recommendation for this week is not a new one, it dates from May 2016, but I discovered the band Sound and Fury from Chengdu, China, only this week. There is no Facebook or any link on their Bandcamp so I don’t know much about their background but from the photo that is uploaded I assume it is a four-piece with a girl vocalist. There are 6 superb sweet dreampop/shoegaze sounding songs on their page and I’m really impressed by them! First time I hear and like a band from Chengdu!

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Continuing with this revision of indiepop bands from the most prominent countries around the world it is time to feature a Belgian band. It is definitely it won’t be the first time a band from Belgium will be showcased, I remember having at least written about Peter and the Lions before, but it is going to be interesting as I have to be honest, I couldn’t remember Mosaic Eyes were Belgian. For some reason I always thought they hailed from the UK!

In genetics, a mosaic (or mosaicism) means the presence of two different genotypes in an individual which developed from a single fertilized egg. As a result, the individual has two or more genetically different cell lines derived from a single zygote. This is easiest to see with eye colours. When eye colours vary between the two eyes, or within one or both eyes, the condition is called heterochromia iridis (= ‘different coloured iris’). It can have many different causes, both genetic and accidental. For example, David Bowie had the appearance of different eye colours due to an injury that caused one pupil to be permanently dilated.

I’m assuming then that their name comes from this sort of mosaic and not from the art/images creating by assembling small pieces of glass, stones or whatever. I do know I own one of their records, their 7″ that was released in 1992 on Sunday Records titled “Europe Not So Far… EP”. But did they release anything else? I don’t know. But it is time to do our investigation, find out any details about the band.

On Discogs I see 3 releases, including the 7″ I own. I do notice that the band hailed from Nivelles in Belgium.
Nivelles is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. The Nivelles municipality includes the old communes of Baulers, Bornival, Thines, and Monstreux. The Nivelles district includes all the municipalities in Walloon Brabant. The Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude has been classified as a heritage site of Wallonia.

So I check out the “Europe Not So Far… EP”. It was released in 1992 on the US label Sunday Records (catalog Sunday 019). A very fine label if you ask me. There were three songs in it, “There is No End To This” and “Vicious Games” on the A side and “Moody Morning” on the B side.

The other release listed dating from 1992 was a CD EP titled “A Sunday Dress Till Monday” that came out on the Distorsion label (catalog DISTO 001). Distorsion was a French label that I’m not familiar with, other bands they released were Prohibition and Colm. On the CD there were four songs, “Let’s Party”, “Moody Morning”, “Mother” and “Sweet Cuddle”. All songs were recorded at Flight Case Studio, which happened to be in Brussels. Here I find that the band was formed by Ener on vocals, David and Miguel on guitar, Laurant on bass and Valentine on drums. The design for the artwork is credited to Laurent, Sophie and Debil’mac.

The other release that is listed is a cassette. It has no date so I couldn’t say when it was released. It is titled “There Is No End To This” and included six songs. On the A side there’s “Mother”, “Happy World” and “Vicious Games”, while on the B side there’s “There is No End to This”, “Klaus’ Eyes” and “Exctasy”. Here we see that Ener is the vocalist, Valentine is drumming and David playing guitar. The bass though has a different name, Arthur. The art for the tape was created by someone named Véronique.

There are many compilation appearances too. In 1992 they were to appear on a label across the southern border. On the tape compilation “Garden Party” on the French label Aliénor Records they had the song “Klaus’ Eyes”. This seems to have been a very fine compilation with bands like The Bedflowers, Bulldozer Crash and The Spinning Wheels among others. This was the first release on the label, and has the catalog ALIEN α [Alpha].

In 1993 they had the song “Exactas” on the cassette compilation “Polythene Star” released by Flaming Katy (FK001). We’ve mentioned this label before in this indiepop tour when we featured the Welsh band Southville.

“Klaus’ Eyes” was to appear on another compilation. This time it was on the “Try Another Flavour” CD released by the German label Heaven Sent Records (catalog HS004). This compilation also had a bunch of fantastic bands like The Suncharms, 14 Iced Bears and Jane Pow to name a few!

It seems 1993 was the band’s year, they had “Vicious Games” on the CD compilation “The Noise and The Melodies – The Pearl Compilation” (PERLE 1) that came along the Pearl Fanzine. This was a Germany fanzine and the compilation had a bunch of classic bands like Acid House Kings, Eva Luna or Red Letter Day. The compilation included a booklet. Did it had any details about Mosaic Eyes?

The song “There is No End to This” was to appear in that same year, 1993, on the tape comp “Astral Plane” that was released by Glidge Records (Glidge 002). This was a UK label that released a couple of indiepop cassette compilations. On this, their second comp, there were bands from many countries. I could see La Sintesis from Spain, All About Chad from the US, The Cat’s Miaow from Australia, clearly the compiler knew already in 1993 how international indiepop is!

The Belgian label Contrast was to include them on a compilation 7″ that included three bands in 1993 as well. It was part of their Split Single Club and this was their first release (CT 001). The other bands that shared the 7″ were Antiseptic Beauty and Les Autres. Mosaic Eyes contributed the song “Silver Flower”

In 1996 the band was to appear on the revisionist compilation that Sunday Records put out tracking their history as a label. The songs “Vicious Game” and “There’s No End to This” appeared on the classic “Songs About Our Past (Part 1) ‘The Other Side of Sunday'” (catalog SUNDAY 800).

There is another compilation appearance listed but has no date. The song “Klaus’ Eyes” appeared on yet another Pearl fanzine compilation: “Nachtsonne – The Noise and the Melodies”. A bunch of fantastic bands appear on this compilation too like The Cudgels, The Ammonites, The Waiting List and more.

Time to explore the seas of Google, see what there’s to find about Mosaic Eyes. My first stop is a post from 2014 on the PyrolyseBred blog. Here he mentions the story about Nivelles that appears on the liner notes of the classic Sarah compilation”There and Back Again Lane”. The story is about a poorly organized Heavenly gig in this town: “December 28th 1991. We’re in Brussels, or what we were promised would be Brussels but is actually this nameless and drab little dormitory town a few miles outside the ring-road and of course no-one’s done any publicity. We’re given meals in the pizza restaurant a few doors down the road, Heavenly at one table, the TVPs  at the next… we eat, drink, play to an empty room and then spend the night on a cold hard floor fifteen miles south in Nivelles (…)”

I find on ISSUU the whole issue number 7 of the French fanzine Hyacinth. This fanzine was around from 1989 to 1994 and was based in Paris. I believe it might be scanned because there’s an exclusive Nirvana interview. But there is a mention of Mosaic Eyes. There’s a review of a gig they played alongside Purple Hands, Earwig, Sunflowers and Gallon Drunk at the V.K. in Brussells on September 20th, 1991. They are compared to Spacemen 3.

On a Geocities page I found that Mosaic Eyes supported My Bloody Valentine on April 30th, 1992, at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels.

I could find that David, one of the guitarists, was involved in a band called The Album around 2008-2010. As far as I know there was an EP released. I could find an old Myspace with the songs, “Go Ahead Cry”, “Vicious Eyes”, “Surrender”, “Wash My Hands” and “Never Felt So Good”.

There’s not much more on the web about them. Can’t find if the band members were involved in any other bands and I still need to get their CD EP. I wonder what happened to them. Why didn’t they get to release an album? If they left unreleased songs? Why did they split? What other gigs did they play and which other indiepop bands did they support? Many questions, little answers, but some very good songs they left behind.

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Listen
Mosaic Eyes – Sweetless Cuddle