Friday, 29 August 2014

Barney Interviews The Talks

This article originally appeared on the blog at

At Songeist we have no remit for the genre of emerging artists we promote; from classical to hardcore punk, our ears are open. However, we won't pretend we don't have our personal preferences and, for his sins, ska music is something very near and dear to the heart of Barney Songeist, to the point where 'Can't Remember To Forget You' by Shakira can often be heard emanating from our office when everyone else has gone to lunch. And so, it's his pleasure to be able to catch up with Jody, Pat and Iain from one of the great hopes of UK ska music, The Talks, whose rugged, rough-and-tumble ska and dapper British style has turned heads over the last few years, in both the UK and mainland Europe.

The Talks
B. Hey The Talks. Let’s get the formalities out-of-the-way. Can you give everyone The Talks in a nutshell; your style, where you guys met, what you guys have done up to now. Then we can move on and get into the details!

Jody. In a nutshell... The Talks are 4 lads from Hull that all met from playing in different bands together previously or studying music together. So far we have had one album out in 2011 and an E.P called ‘West Sinister’ which we released early last year and we are currently two singles in to our new album which will be released soon.

B. Cool! Your last two singles ‘Radio’ and ‘Don’t Look Behind You’ are streaming on Songeist now and feature on your forthcoming album ‘Commoners, Peers, Drunks and Thieves’. When did you record the album, who did you record it with and, most importantly, when is it going to drop?

Jody. We started demoing and jamming the album throughout 2013 but didn’t actually properly start tracking the album until early 2014. Luckily myself and Pat (lead singer) run a recording studio in Hull which helps, so this time all the album has been recorded at AOO Studios. Previously with ‘West Sinister’ we tracked the E.P in our studio but sent it out to a producer for mixing which made life easier. But with this album we are doing the lot, as some tracks were written in the recording process. Saying that, it did take a little longer than we'd hoped because at times we did found ourselves a little too close to the project; tracking, producing, arranging, mixing and mastering all takes its toll! So it did become a process of leaving it - to get some head space - before returning back to it, and continuing the session. It's a longer process but a good learning one!

Hopefully all being well, we should have it out in October.

B. One of the things that I love - and find very interesting - about you guys is that you’ve managed a nice balancing act between existing in the UK ska scene and getting mainstream attention from BBC Introducing and others. One reason for this is that you manage to achieve the live energy of the US ska-punk bands like Rancid that the underground circuit demands, but you manage to retain the identity of a UK band like The Specials or The Ordinary Boys that more commercial enterprises can get a handle on. In a scene that has often been stifled by the pop-cultural cul-de-sac of UK bands aping US ones, do you see your Britishness as a factor in the band’s character and consciously attempt to retain it? What do you think of UK ska bands that look and sound exactly like US bands?

Jody. I think it’s a case of knowing who and what you are; we are British and it seems that’s what people like about us and what sets us apart when we go over to play Europe. We are blessed that we have been left with a history of amazing music coming from the UK; The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Specials... and it seems that other country’s artists are also influenced by the UK, so why would we look to be anything else when we've been left with such a legacy? So I suppose with us loving the British sound, it tends to sound more British naturally. But saying that, it's like you say, influence from the States with the energetic style, or anywhere in the world is always huge too. I guess if it's good and inspiring to us, we tend borrow aspects of it.

Any band from the UK that is playing ska music, American, European or British style, we support and good on them. It's all good for a possible re-emergence of the musical genre. We would never denounce a band for playing their own music and putting the work in.

B. It’s not just sounding-American that can hinder the progress of UK ska bands. Stylistically ska music doesn’t have a great representation in the mainstream and has a healthier underground scene in countries like Germany, which you guys tap into. On tracks like ‘Radio’ you have the sound of a fresh and vital band but underneath it all is essentially a ska band that the music industry, ironically radio especially, might perceive as being ‘retro’. Is your game plan to set your stall in the ska scene and hope that your songs, style and talent will bring you to success further afield or do you have an approach to avoid the pitfalls of getting stuck behind the glass ceiling of being labelled a ‘genre band’.

Pat. Yeah, it can be a bit of a drawback being labeled by some radio and media as being retro sometimes, but most people listen on and realise it is progressive as well.  Ska is a great style and we love to play it and try to progress it in our own way as much as we can, but there does come a point when it stops being familiar in its feel and then of course it's harder for a lot to identify with. The new digital distribution doesn't allow for crossing genres as much either. The iTunes buttons to identify genre like a nice neat 'Ska' or 'Rock' or 'Indie' or whatever it is. But saying that, no musician or artist wants to be cornered into one style. So we are, and have been, pushing the boundaries when writing. Sometimes it works and sometimes not, or maybe not for now anyways. The hope is once a band is established people are open to hearing what else they have to offer I think. That's certainly how we feel anyway.

The Talks, pushing things forward.

B. On the forthcoming album there’s a track that features Itch (ex-The King Blues) which has a strongly anti-war lyrical bent. How did your collab with Itch come about? Do you feel that it is important for bands to express their political opinions through music and which artists inspire you to do so?

Pat. The track 'Ceasefire' was born of just seeing so much mayhem going on in the world. I guess it's always been one of our things to say what we see and hopefully convey a message. Many of our tracks have that kinda of angle. It was a pretty natural thing to ask Itch to get involved as I feel The King Blues had a similar style in speaking out, as do many of the bands in the punk and ska scene. I've always loved Itch's style and the fact that he loved the track enough to do it was brilliant. We've always enjoyed working with people we admire the style of and hopefully there's gonna be more to come.

B. Across the forthcoming album, and indeed your back catalogue, there are forays into many genres, from new wave pop to dub to tracks with more of an experimental, jungle-influenced sound. I see this as being in the tradition of The Clash, who always attempted to bring other styles into their sound while retaining their own aesthetic. What is your philosophy on bringing other styles into The Talks fold, and how do you retain your own identity while playing music ‘outside’ of your box?

Pat. I absolutely love bands that try diversify their sound and I always felt there is so much greatness in so many musical styles; so much so you feel like a kid in sweet shop when you're jamming out new ideas with the band. I guess it can get a little out of hand and we have to rein it in a bit and keep a sound that doesn't become too unfamiliar. We intend to keep trying new things, there's so much diversity out there, and there are a lot of great bands that have managed it, so that always gives us confidence.

B. How important is the city of Hull to The Talks? The city has had its share of social and economic adversities and yet manages to win City of Culture and have a tremendously close-knit and thriving music scene. Events like the Songeist-sponsored Humber Street Sesh and the work of Warren Records and venues like the Adelphi, Welly and Fruit give the scene a real sense of community, with bands of all different genres associating together. How do you feel this has happened and why do you think live music is so important in Hull? Other than the awesome Counting Coins, who else should we be checking out in Hull?

Iain: Hull is extremely important to us. Like with most bands, their home town is the place where they met, where they took their experiences and moulded them into songs, where they learned how to perform, the place that gave them life, and this is exactly how we feel about Hull. To be granted City of Culture is a great accolade, something to really work towards and show the rest of the world all that we have to offer. Bands don’t really segregate themselves stylistically here, we all appreciate just how hard each other works and are equally supportive of the scene. I think it works this way partly because of the recent social and economic upheavals; it’s a city on the up with everything to gain. We’ve been hit pretty hard in the past and not too much has been expected, so no one’s really living in anybody’s shadows. There are loads of great bands to check out, just to name a few: EndofLevelBaddie, Life, Young Jack and Black Delta Movement.

B. The video for ‘Radio’ takes place in a record shop and has scenes of people digging through the crates for vinyl. You’ve also released vinyl in Germany yourselves. Do you feel an affinity for the physical product and the album format? How do you think that acts can keep the tradition of the LP and record shop alive in a digital, playlist-orientated world?

Jody. Absolutely, with the vinyl its like it's a real, real product... a real piece of art and that's what I love about vinyl. Also I think by releasing a record it shows that you are investing in your band - as they are not cheap to manufacture - but people who collect vinyl know that and that's why they're still a bit special to this day. The download code does help towards this... but ultimately bands need to release more vinyl and inspire people to hear how it sounds rather than some hacked MP3 that has had the tits compressed out of it through some extra fake bass-boosting earphones that they picked because they were cheaper and more colourful, physically and sonically. Ssshhhh...

But what I think is paramount to a bands growth, is keeping the album format alive, whether that's digitally or physically. It seems that most bands release single after single to maintain momentum which is fine, but with an album it's more personal, taking the listeners on a journey through your music and the way you agonise over which way to take them through the album and where to break it up with a slight change in style or feel. This, I think, is always gonna bring your crowd closer to you because they have had that journey with you. They know the album tracks that everyone who bought just the singles doesn't, and that can't be a bad thing. Of course this is just our thoughts on the process and I guess time will tell once we have had 'Commoners, Peers, Drunks & Thieves' out for a while.

B. You’ve been playing a great deal of festivals this summer and getting The Talks sound out there across a lot of different countries. How have you found the reaction of fans in Europe? Do they need more time to get engaged than a UK crowd or are they even more up for it?

Iain. The European reaction to the band has been wicked. We’re lucky enough to have entered a lot of territories with good billing on some big festivals, which has really helped boost things. The audiences in Germany, Belgium, Holland and France are equally as up for it as those in the UK, if not at times moreso. They seem to engage instantly and latch on to the vibe. They really seem to get the vibe of the band live. In Germany for instance live music seems to have a heightened level of importance and going to a gig is a real event, not just going to the pub for a pint and as a by-product there’s a band on. Live gigs seem less saturated so they are better organised, promoted and more of an anticipated happening.

B. Finally, let us know what you guys have coming up and where we can keep in touch with you guys?

We're just finishing up with the festivals and then we release the album in November. We hit the road straight after, with three weeks in Europe and then a few weeks in the UK in November touring to promote the album. After that we will probably hate each other for a while, ha ha.

Give us a like on our Facebook or Twitter and you can keep up to date with us that way.

You can stream tracks by The Talks on Songeist HERE.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Music Guidance. Thinking About... Who You Are

This article originally appeared on the blog at

In this special weekly guidance series we're going to be exploring three key aspects of your band's existence and encouraging you to consider these elements of your act with as much thought and deliberation as you write your songs. Simply expecting the inertia of creativity to steer your ship into the right direction is rarely enough; your band's command of who you are, what you do and how you come across are all hugely important to consider. Across the series, Barney will use some real-world examples to illustrate how important these factors are and help you to apply these concepts to your own band.



Within four months in my current band, we managed to make more headway then we had in four years in our previous band. Within a year we were firmly established in our scene, being regularly played on BBC Radio 1, taken on a package tour with our heroes and signed to one of the biggest independent punk-related labels in the UK.

While playing the same songs we'd played in our old band.

I’ll be honest. We didn’t do this by suddenly being the best band around or by having the best songs and the best singing voices. Learning to write good songs and play great live shows and all those other things arguably(!) came later and, like all bands, we’re still learning. In fact, all we did was disband one band and start another with a small shuffle of members six months later. But this time we had a clear, defined, and mutually understood philosophy of who we were, what we did and how we looked.

 Even Kurt Cobain had to think about these things.

By considering the factors that I will discuss in these blogs and tweaking your approach accordingly, you too may be able to go from languishing local band to being an established part of the national gigging circuit with no considerable musical change. If my last series From The Garage To The Stage was about thinking about everything that happens on stage other than the music, this series is about everything that defines a band other than the music. And these factors are actually just as important as the songs you write.

These blogs will be most beneficial if used as a jump-off point for discussion between you and your band members. The whole idea is that you, as an emerging band, get on the same page about who you are, what you do and how you look. If you have a unified vision, it's half the battle. Organise a band meeting, hash these things out and I guarantee you'll be making a positive and productive step for your band.

What's that coming over the hill? It's a band that know WHO THEY ARE.

First things first. Who are you? What are you giving to people that they can't already get? They're questions, whether consciously or not, that every successful band can answer. The first, and most important, thing to do is to define yourself. What are you giving to music? Where do you fit into what is going on? In terms of members, each band is as unique as a fingerprint. The make-up of no two bands is exactly the same and the music can reflect the various influences, personalities and talents of the people who make it up. Of course, that doesn’t mean switching genres every single song to account for your different tastes. It means that you figure out what unique sounds this distinct combination of musicians can create together and can slot into what is happening in music now. And then focus on that.

Sounds obvious right? Well, you'd be surprised how many bands get together based on liking similar music and 'jam' to 'find their sound'. All well and good, but then they forget to sit down and identify what it is. Just one aspect of your act that's unique is enough make you memorable. Even now, speak to anyone about Welsh indie-rockers The Automatic and they'll probably say 'is that the indie band with the screaming guy on keyboards?' Of course, what sets you apart doesn't have to be something as visceral as a screaming keyboard player. It can be anything that makes you a band that are doing something distinctive among the other bands out there that aren't. What is distinctive could be anything from your vocal accent to using a certain instrument or just a new twist on an old idea.

I can feel some of the purists out there raising their eyebrows... perhaps this feels contrived and gimmicky? Maybe this seems contrary to the creative process? But why is it a gimmick to identify something that came naturally to your group of musicians and set out to explore it in the hope of creating something truly original? The simplest way to look at it is that if you’ve invented yourself, even if people don’t like you, they remember you. You'll always be that band that did that thing. And that thing will work in your advantage as long as there are other bands out there to give a context to what you do.

Radiohead. Blowing Genres To Smithereens Since Kid A.

'Inventing yourself' doesn’t mean that you need to concoct a new genre of music from the ground up; as long as you can creatively frame what originality you have with other contemporary music and it makes sense - be it one step more extreme or one step towards a different style - then you are a unique snowflake in the musical sky. Very few artists are as pioneering as say, The Streets, who appeared, apparently cut from whole cloth, with a truly unique sound. But even The Streets' influences rang so loud from every song on ‘Original Pirate Material’ that the context of where he fitted into the pantheon of British dance and pop between The Specials, The Prodigy and everything else was obvious to all. Conceptually, you, me and the majority of bands out there are actually just steps away from another.

Think about those old Rock Family Tree diagrams. Now, instead of the act's line-ups and histories, think of those Rock Family Trees in terms of genres. Most successful acts in any genre are really only small steps away from each other in style and tone. Consider Muse's chart-friendly pomp-rock distillation of Radiohead's prog excess and back to Imagine Dragons' latter-day facelift of early Muse. Like it or not, pop and rock music exists in a place and time and the zeitgeist is a crucial element of commercial music. Attempts to ignore these road-signs, or even kick down the traffic cones, are ill-advised for an emerging band. Sure, Radiohead now straddle entire genres of music, but it's important to remember that didn't happen overnight. For years they were a British guitar band navigating their way through the alternative rock landscape before blowing everything to smithereens with Kid A. I see emerging bands out there attempting to make their premature version of Kid A, expelling all their influences, talent and passion without a vision or context to hold it all in place.

Enter Shikari. Master of Context.


With bands like Klaxons, Friendly Fires and Enter Shikari actively blurring the lines between what it is to be a guitar act and a dance act, popular music has never been so stylistically open. But while it seems like those acts are just throwing together their record collections and making music, it's crucial to understand that the mechanics of those band's genre-crossovers are deceptively sophisticated. They expertly blend a prescribed mix of styles that make sense for their audience and fit within the lineage of the bands that have come before them and the scene they're in. Even though they flirt with dance music and DJ culture, they utilise these ideas as rock acts that understand their crowd's distinct tastes and frames of reference. If you know, like these bands, that your audience can contextualise, and enjoy, the specific mix of genres that you can uniquely provide, then hey... there's your context. But remember that, by design, these guys make it look easy and one man's record collection is another man's jumble sale.

As well as the context of the musical landscape, it's vital to think just as deliberately about your cultural context. Successful music generally relays an authentic truth about the culture of the people in the band and the place they're from. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a strong cultural context as tattooed, perma-tanned funk-rockers from Hollywood. It's hard to imagine a band from Grimsby, tattooed and perma-tanned or not, having the same success with the same songs. The cultural context of a band is a part of its strength. Think about bands like Oasis and Pulp and how the identities and cultural context of Manchester and Sheffield are indivisible from their music. Ask yourself, does your music say something about who you are and where you are from?


Thanks for reading. Next week, in 'Thinking About... What You Do' I'll put across my argument about why success for emerging bands doesn't start by aiming for the stars at all... but by aiming for the roots. For now, don't forget to let me know what you think of the blog and please share it!
Playmobil shot courtesy Xurxo Martínez‘s Flickr used under Creative Commons License.
The Automatic shot courtesy beana_cheese‘s Flickr used under Creative Commons License.
Radiohead shot courtesy Taras Khimchak‘s Flickr used under Creative Commons License.
Enter Shikari shot courtesy Natalie Aja's Flickr used under Creative Commons License.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Barney Interviews Echotape

This article originally appeared on the blog at

Next Tuesday, September 2nd at the Sebright Arms in London we have three of the best emerging bands in the UK taking the stage; Echotape, Lion Bark and FARO music. Headliners Echotape play a distinctive, impassioned brand of indie-rock that's been electrifying crowds, and online music listeners, over the last year. With the guys dropping new single 'Whiskey Bar' this week, Barney caught up with Mike from the band to fill us in on what's been going on with Echotape and their thoughts and philosophies on their ascent.

Echotape Echotape

B. Let’s get the basics out of the way. Give us a potted history of Echotape; previous bands, where you’re from and what you guys have done so far.

M. Well, we’ve all know each other since school and college days and been in bands around the area (yes, they all had dodgy band names, Donny Whistle was one of Dan’s old bands). Marc and I are brothers so we have known each other a bit longer! We all live together in our band flat in the depths of Hampshire. Echotape formed a few years ago and decided we’d just enjoy it and have fun. A couple of highlights have been playing in places like The Viper Room in Hollywood on a US tour, and Moscow Stadium in front of 8,000 people. It’s definitely fun!

B. ‘We Should Feel Like We Are In Love’ has been an emerging artist success story in terms of its online popularity and has really got a lot of eyes onto Echotape. In order to kick some knowledge down to other Songeist users, was there anything unique about your approach to publicising the track that you think helped with its success or do you feel that it was simply good tune and video = good response?

M. It’s all been completely organic. Obviously we’ve tried to promote it by setting a release and starting a promotion campaign with a tour around the single release but there’s no special technique we’ve used. We knew it was a great song but have been overwhelmed by the support it’s had. It’s easy to pick up the lyrics and relate to so I think that’s definitely helped.

B. The song also signifies a crystallisation of Echotape’s sound, with you guys bringing a passionate, heart-on-your-sleeve style of indie-rock that’s really unique. Having heard older songs by you guys that were clearly steps on the road to the quintessential Echotape sound, can you speak of this stylistic journey? How did you decide to take your sound the way it went? Was it something completely natural and unspoken or was it something you guys planned and discussed?

M. Thanks for the kind words; glad it comes across that way as that’s what we hoped. It was definitely planned, but it was a natural progression to get there. You have to have a certain sound so people can hear a track for the first time anywhere and be like ‘oh that sounds like Echotape’. Once we found the sound we all knew that was it. 'We Should Feel Like We Are In Love' has become our signature sound and with the success it had its sort of become a yardstick. When we’re writing new songs, if it’s not up to that standard it doesn’t progress. So yeah, it was all planned with how we wanted it to sound! The new single 'Whiskey Bar' is in the same vein as 'We Should Feel Like We Are In Love' so I think we definitely do have a signature sound.

B. The video for ‘We Should Feel Like We Are In Love’ is remarkable for its incorporation of live audio at the start and the way it viscerally presents the band’s live show. It gives off the DIY spirit and personality of the band the way in which a biography or review never could. Was it your idea to have the live show the theme of the video, or did you simply get the right director, at the right time?

M. We try and keep everything as real and honest as possible so decided just to throw a party, invite all our friends round and just film it. We knew we wanted to showcase the live onstage energy we have, and show everyone having a great time, without it looking staged of course. The best way for that was to just have a party. We had our friend Chris Warsop film it for us, who’s helped out with other projects we’ve done and Dan edited it. We noticed it sounded cool with the live audio at the start so tried to blend that in with the recorded audio. I think the vibe of the party comes across and it makes you want to be a part of it. Which people are more than welcome to be!

B. You guys have covered a whole smorgasbord of classic rock; Springsteen, The Small Faces, George Harrison, Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie songs all make appearances. In these days of Live Lounge cover culture - where bands scramble to cover the latest pop tracks in order to get online hits and, the more cynical may say, appear hip - was it a conscious decision on your part to reject this or are you simply rocking the tunes you love? How do you compare classic bands of the 60s, 70s and 80s to current bands?

M. There are a lot of acts on YouTube that cover recent songs, but it seems they do that as it’s the thing to do as it will get them more attention, so I agree totally with what you’re saying. We just wanted to have a bit of fun with it, so picked songs that we think are good and would enjoy playing.

I think it’s hard to compare bands from certain eras as it’s all subjective. There are so many great bands throughout the years that are all completely unique. Hopefully we can help fly the flag for the new generation of bands coming through.

B. Sky News did a feature on you guys, focussing on the DIY aspect of Echotape. Is the DIY culture of jump-in-a-van-and-do-it an important part of Echotape’s ethos? With stories of you guys jamming with Carl Barat, one wonders how bands like The Libertines, and the homespun London indie scene of the early noughties, influenced Echotape?

M. We’re always working and trying to do something to help promote the band. There’s so many bands out there to swim up against and if you’re not working hard you’ll just sink. It was nice for Sky News to pick up on the stuff we’re doing ourselves. There’s still a way to go but we know as long as we keep working at it we’ll get there!

It was a surreal moment playing with Carl. He had a chat to us after and was really complimentary. He’s from Whitchurch which is the town just down the road from us so we had a local connection. He wants to try and help us out too if he can so it’s great to have someone like that on your side. The Libertines are definitely an influence on us. Their shows are always like one big party, which is a vibe we try to create too.

B. You’ve got a new single ‘Whiskey Bar’ dropping this October, streaming on Songeist HERE. Can you let us know a little about the new single and your progress in terms of a full-length album? Do you have a producer on board?

M. It was all recorded in our studio here where we live. We have our friend Undy who lives here too and is our resident producer. He’s pretty much the fifth member of the band. He does the sound for all the live acoustic videos we do too. The single is out on 13th October and have been getting some great responses so far from only having it online a few days. At the time of writing it’s currently top of the indie rock chart on SoundCloud and has been trending with thousands of plays flooding in. We’re hopeful it will do well as it’s another feel-good song.

We’re currently recording and writing our new album with an expected release date early next year so look out for that. We were recording drums last week in a huge wooden shed, which was great fun!

B. What can we expect from you guys at our Songeist Showcase on September 2nd? Any naked stage invasions planned?

That invasion wasn’t planned but everyone attending is welcome to! It’s our singer Marc’s birthday that night too so we’re making it a big celebration night. We’re planning to perform a brand new track in the set too that we’re all excited about. It will definitely be a great show.

B. Did you ever find out what happens to moths when it rains?

M. Yes! We got told they have really strong wings and can deal with the rain easily. For anyone reading this, we asked the question at the start of one of the acoustic videos we did! Thanks for taking the time out to ask us some questions Songeist!

You can stream and purchase tracks by Echotape on Songeist HERE.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Barney Interviews Felix Pallas

This article originally appeared on the blog at

More often than not on Songeist, we'll hear the name of our featured acts on the UK live circuit before we ever see their profile on the site. Other times, we'll simply be perusing the list of new, unfamiliar acts that have recently joined and be blown away by the sound that comes out of the speakers. This was the case with Felix Pallas's 'Too Sad For Tea', a massive track that recalls the epic indie-rock of Coldplay and Keane. We found out that this Belgian band have been working on their debut album with renowned producer James Sanger (Keane, Dido) in the Normandy countryside so we caught up with bass-player PJ who gave us the low down.

Felix Pallas

B. It’s tradition on my Songeist interviews to start with the obvious question. Who are Felix Pallas? Please give us a bit of background on the history of the band, how you met and what you’ve done over the past year and a half?

PJ. There's a little bit of history behind Felix Pallas. Basically, at the core of the band there is Simon and I. We are brothers and have been making music together at home with a piano and an acoustic guitar, for a very long time. Simon wanted to start a band at the end of high school and found it necessary to put his 'team' together because he entered a music competition starting the next week. That's where Xavier (Guitarist) and I came in. We called ourselves Breathe The Sound and composed three songs. We quickly learned our voices blended together smoothly and our musical compositions could mean something. A month later we won the competition and had to play in Sweden. After a couple of years of moulding our own sound, we decided to add a drummer, Ziggy, to the band. The configuration of the band still hasn't altered, however we changed the name of the band. That's where the story of Felix Pallas started at the beginning of 2013.

We decided to take our music to a higher level and looked for a producer, Belgian or foreign, it didn't matter, who'd shape our music into a more polished sound. We found the brilliant James Sanger and stayed at his Vibey Studio's for three months. Located in the beautiful countryside of Normandy, this was a place where nobody could distract us from doing the one thing we were there for; creating music, day in, day out. After our French adventure we tried to find a way to perform our songs live. That took us a long time, but it gained the interest of our fans in the meantime. We started off live with a UK tour in different pubs and clubs in London, Brighton, Manchester, Worthing and more.

Right now we're finishing the last bits of an upcoming EP, which we'll be releasing in September.

B. At the moment, you’ve only got a few - admittedly amazing sounding - songs out there including ‘Break The Silence’ and ‘Too Sad For Tea’ on Songeist. How has the reaction been to the material so far?

PJ. It's different for the both songs you mentioned. 'Break The Silence' is a song full of energy and happiness, therefore widely appreciated by many fans. But with Too Sad For Tea, frequently written as 2S4T, there was an instant impact on earlier fans and close friends. While writing it in Normandy, with every step the song evolved, we knew this was a new sound and atmosphere we were really liking. 2S4T, therefore, is a perfect example of what we want our songs to be: mysterious yet melodious, dark yet sweet.

The great part of sharing the new songs with people is not only putting them online, but performing them live. People clearly like the way we sound live, especially because they didn't expect us to play the new songs that way - loyal to the original, yet with more guts.

B. While retaining your own Belgian identity, your sound recalls the indie rock of UK bands such as The Verve and Coldplay. Are you influenced by bands from the UK and if so, which ones? How do you manage to maintain your Belgian individuality while taking influence from bands from different parts of the globe?

PJ. We believe most pop or indie music nowadays doesn't have to be limited by where it comes from. Everybody's making music and in every country there are great bands, singers and instrumentalists. Western music is getting so polished - that's also what we wanted to sound like - and is influenced by so many pioneers of different styles of music, that music is breaking the boundaries of countries and styles. It makes it more difficult to stand out, but the bands who do are 'hot' and 'authentic'.

If our music recalls the great British indie rock, we can only be grateful, because you've really got many talented musicians. I think it's because James Sanger warned us about sounding too American, when it comes to singing. We really tried to sound distinct, whereas other bands who aren't native English speakers all sound similar. That's one way of trying to stand out. At least you've noticed!

Sounding Belgian isn't a real label, I guess. We're just sounding the way we do, because every individual of the band has a different background, varying ideas and distinct tastes. We just didn't want to 'sound' Belgian, because then we'd be limited.

B. In the video for ‘Break The Silence’ you’re seen playing live in London and you’ve also completed a UK tour and been back several times. You guys sing in English and are getting support from Amazing Radio among others. Do you see the UK as a big potential market for Felix Pallas? How was the reaction at the Islington 02 Academy show you played?

PJ. The UK scene was a real eye-opener for us. We've never anything like that before. You guys are spoiled when it comes to venues and opportunities fornew bands to play. Also the vibe in those venues, pubs and clubs is very positive as if everybody in London, for instance, is looking for new talent and enjoying live music. It's different than in Belgium. So yes, the UK obviously is a big potential market. But we don't think it's any easier for the fact that there are more opportunities. However, it keeps the good vibes up.

The show in the O2 Academy was booked slightly after our first UK tour. We had a blast. We came over from Belgium in the afternoon, so we didn't have to find a sleeping spot the night before. Xavier and I drove together, but we were delayed. It was a race against time: we just parked our car somewhere outdoors, rushed in, tuned our gear and started the set exactly on time, without sound-checking. Luckily the rest of the band and had set up all our gear and instruments. It was an amazing evening and we established some good local contacts.

B. In the same video, you’re heard doing a stunning live acoustic take of the track. You also mix acoustic sets in with full-band sets across your live outings. Do you feel that playing stripped-down is a good proving ground for the quality of musicians and vocalists, especially in these days of backing tracks and pop miming?

PJ. Generally, we love playing with a backing track. Not because it's safe and keeps you in time - which is an advantage for sure - but because the sound we want to deliver to the audience has to be the full sound that we believe the songs should consist of. Otherwise it's like playing a Brian May solo on a glockenspiel. Then again, we loved busking on the streets of Notting Hill and Guildford. We just want to play our songs to as many people as possible. We want to be heard. I think that's the best possible answer to your question.

B. How has the port city of Antwerp shaped the sound and ethos of Felix Pallas? Does the city’s melting pot of Dutch, Belgian and French influences make its way into the sound of the band?

PJ. As mentioned above, we don't think the location nor the melting pot of languages has a direct influence on the music we make. Of course, we can't deny that living in the beautiful city of Antwerp - with it's typical habits, language, food, people, industries, atmosphere etc. - must have had some underlying affect on the music we create. We really like to see ourselves as a band from Antwerp. We all live and create here and went to school in the suburbs. Antwerpians tend to have a really close bond with the city. If there's one city we would make a song about, it would be Antwerp, definitely.

But more than Antwerp, Normandy's countryside and it’s wet and ice-cold winter days, has given us the atmosphere in which the songs are drenched.

B. We’ve heard about a forthcoming EP from Felix Pallas. Who have you recorded it with, how is it sounding and when is it coming out?

PJ. It's coming out very soon. We recorded it at James Sanger's Vibey Studios, apart from for some extra stems we did at home. Colm Ennis, who was an assistant in Normandy, and thus lived with us for three months, did the final mixes. We are mastering it at Metropolis Studios, where we know Alex Robinson, another assistant who worked for three months with us in Normandy. We felt that they understood how we wanted the music to sound.

B. Are there any other great Belgian or mainland European bands we’re missing out on in the UK that you think are worth us checking out?

PJ. I think the biggest revelation this year must be Stromae, the bilingual producer / artist / dancer from Brussels. He is probably the most authentic musician we've seen growing in Belgium and beyond and is a sort of a modern version of Jacques Brel. We are also liking Balthazar and Netsky.

B. What’s coming up over the next year for Felix Pallas?

PJ. Only time will tell. We hope that we can convince many people of our sound and songs. Hopefully Songeist will give the first kick-start. We are grateful to anyone who's putting in effort - no matter how small it might be - to believe in our music. Thank you so much for featuring us!

You can stream and purchase tracks by Felix Pallas on Songeist HERE.