Interview: The Volts

54-42 caught up with the Volts literally during the lead guitarists lunch break. The Widnes 4 piece have been making waves with their impressive tunes and energetic live performances. We talked live sets, influences and the challenges facing new bands in the modern music industry..

 

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Can you introduce us to the band…

Well, we are The Volts. We’re Rory (Vocals), Chris (Guitar), Ric (Bass) and Jay (Drums).

How did you meet?

Jay and Chris met first. Jay used to run a music shop in their local town and was Chris’ go to man for guitar strings, so we have Ernie Ball to thank for helping their relationship to blossom. They decided to set up a purely original band since they were both in covers bands at the time and wanted to have a bash at writing their own stuff. Then they recruited Ric and Rory from www.joinmyband.co.uk which is a kind of dating service for musicians, ‘drummer and guitarist seek talented male vocalist and bass player for long walks on the beach and picnics’. The rest is history.

 

For those who haven’t heard your tunes before – how can you sum up ‘The Volt’s experience’..?

If you’ve not seen or heard us live, it’s an energetic, spine tingling, foot tapping musical extravaganza, but don’t take our word for it, come on down to a gig and let us convince you!

 

Describe your musical journey to where you are now.

We started out about 12 months ago and without Rory as it took us a bit of a while to find the right singer so we (Jay, Ric & Chris) were meeting up a couple of times a week and jamming some original ideas and by the time we found Rory we had our first song ready to go (musically that is). He came straight in, stuck a melody and lyrics to it and bang, Red Light our first song was born. Still one of our best songs in our opinion, it has a real funky INXS feel to it and it always seems to get a good response from the crowd. Since then we have progressed in much the same way using the same formula to produce the songs that we have written since.

 

Who are your biggest influences?

 Our mums and dads (joke). To be honest it’s a real mixed bag in terms of which bands we all listen to and take inspiration from; Rory has THE most varied taste in music of anyone on the planet, he can listen to some guy called Drake? right through to Killswitch Engage. Jay is similar, he likes pop music, disco music, classic rock music so your talking Britney Spears, Nile Rogers, & Queen (Britney Spears being his most favourite). Ric likes rock music as does Chris; Queens of the Stone Age, Stereophonics, Royal Blood, classic stuff like Foreigner, Whitesnake, AC/DC etc, and we all weave in and out of each-others likes as well.

 

Current EP/Album Plans on the Horizon?

Very much so! We are going into the studio to record our debut EP imminently. We have the songs all ready to go it’s just a case of getting into the studio and getting the tracks down and produced. We will be releasing the EP early in the new year and we can’t wait!

 

What sort of themes do your songs cover?

They cover quite an array actually, anything from being in a band and the stresses of the opposite sex to social networking and the effect it has had on the world and even one about suicide.. We take inspiration from things that have happened or are happening to us in our lives as well as things that are going on in the world, whether on the news or in the paper that strike a chord with us. Or we can take a simple idea and write a story about it, for example, Rory found himself in an old disused WW2 airbase local to us recently and there was a noose hanging from the rafters that got us thinking what was that about, who put it there etc and we wrote a fictional story about it which became a song; Random we know.

 

Are you currently facing any difficulties as a band?

 Not really, were pretty new on the scene and were just happily beavering away constantly writing and doing as many gigs as we can. If anything were in a really exciting and promising place. We have made some great contacts just this past week and we have played some fantastic gigs with more to look forward to and most pleasing of all is the reaction from impartial audiences that we have been receiving. Our music seems to be going down really well and we have had some lovely feedback from various people which is really nice and also really encouraging for us.

 

What are the main challenges facing the modern band?

 Tough one! It’s certainly an uphill struggle if your goal is to become signed and make it to the big time as it always has been but these days it seems labels don’t take the risks that they used to, not many people get a three album deal anymore, it seems to be you get a deal for a single and if that single doesn’t go top ten, your down the road. It’s a shame really there doesn’t seem to be much investment in bands by a label with some time allowed to develop. Our philosophy is a simple one, keep doing what we’re doing, which is writing and performing our songs to as many people as possible at as many venues around the country as we can , enjoying the shit out of it along the way and if we do make it to where we would love to be, then it’s a bonus! If not, our gigs give us plenty of excuses for a drinking session (not that we need one).

 

Your thoughts on the rise of social media & websites to spread – do you think this has made it easier to get exposure – or has the market been saturated?

 May we refer you to a song we wrote called Digital Coma. This song was inspired by how Chris feels about social media in general which is that it’s completely anti-social. Whether you’re in the pub with your friends, at a bus stop waiting for the number 14, in a queue at the post office, have you noticed how 99% of everyone in that situation is on their smart phone ‘social networking’ rather than talking to strangers and making conversation, the opposite seems to happen and this is what inspired that song. (Purely the opinion of Chris by the way but an example of how one of our songs comes about).

 

To answer your question though, social networking in our opinion is a complete necessity nowadays if you’re going to get your music known. It’s also an indicator to management and record labels, we think, of how much of a following you have as a band, based on how many people are following you online and it also provides  a networking platform for bands to help each-other out by sharing the pages of bands you have supported etc. This is irrelevant to some bands though, we have come across some that shut themselves off in a kind of ‘we are awesome and everyone else is crap so we won’t like or share them and we won’t have them gigging with us’ kind of way (ironically the bands that have been like this are not usually very good in our limited experience) and to us that doesn’t do you any favours because other bands see that and just won’t help you out if they get the chance to. It’s all about getting out gigging, meeting new people, making contacts and making friends. You all share a mutual love at the end of the day so why be bitter against the success or pleased with the failures of the other guys doing the same thing as you. But the only way to get it done is to constantly be in the public eye, therefore we ensure that we post as often as possible. 


If you had to make a 3 track tape to impress a lover… what tracks would you pick?

Surely Barry White would have to be in there somewhere so ‘Can’t get enough of your love babe’. Follow that up with some good old Foreigner ‘I wanna know what love is’ and then to really reinforce the tender and sincere message your trying to portray to the special lady ‘Wutang Clan – Gravel Pit’. What girl could resist such a combination?

How would you define success for The Volts?

Every single genuine fan that we pick up from a live gig is a success to us but ultimately the aim is to make it to the top and write and play our music for a living. Not many people can say they genuinely love what they do and to be in the position one day where we could say that would be brilliant and that’s where we want to get to. 

 

What do you think about the current scene? How are you finding it?

 We’re enjoying it, we have been getting about a lot playing in Manchester, Liverpool even as far as South Wales and we have gigs pencilled in that take us on the road again next year when we hit Birmingham. So yeah we are really enjoying getting out and about and taking our music on the road, it’s the best way to get exposure, social media alone isn’t enough because your only telling half the story, especially in our case as we are a live band and that’s when we are at our best, it’s pretty hard to replicate that in a studio. Collectively have met some great bands as well, lots of top lads that we’ve had a ball with!

You can find us on our main website: www.thevoltsofficial.co.uk.

or alternatively you can also find The Volts on our other social media sites:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thevoltsofficial

Twitter: www.twitter.com/thevoltsmusic

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/thevoltsofficial

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thevoltsofficial/videos 

Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/thevoltsofficial

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Feature – Medial Cortex

Albeit a bit out of 54-46’s usual catchment area for artists….

We got in touch with  Chris Santos A.K.A: Medial Cortex from way over in Portland, Oregon.

You can catch his excellent EP Brainstem Here: https://medialcortex.bandcamp.com/releases

A mix of cerebral lyricism, inventive rhymes and wit – Don’t Miss it.

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Interview below…….

 

 

Tell us about your journey in music.. 

Well I started out writing poetry as a younger kid and then I was huge into metal and punk for most my life. I still listen to it daily but one day I put my poetry to a beat and realized that I had some natural talent, so I ran with that and now I am talking to you!

 

 

Which artists inspire you?

Wow, so many to list but Eyedea is where it all started I admired his flow and vocabulary and message so much. Aesop rock got me with his complex word play and atmosphere’s heart in slugs words really drove me, I studied music appreciation for 3 years back in school and learned loads of history about most genres so ive taken quite a bit from the history of hiphop to throw into my own jams.

 

Outside of music, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am a chair lift operator at a ski resort so i ride year round and I feel my inspiration comes from the free feeling of skiing and boarding on the hill, skating and biking as well, they are sports I learned that you had to have the drive yourself to improve. I use that concept in my music every song I write I want to one- up myself to prove that I can always do better. It’s the competitive side of me that takes over sometimes.

 

Any future releases in the pipeline?

Yes sir, I have a few secret releases that ill be releasing on my facebook! So follow me to be sure to catch those, but I also have a few music videos, collaborations, and my 2015 album Mind over Matter

www.facebook.com/vocalizedthemc

 

How would you best describe your music?

I describe it as a breath of fresh air in hip hop, I have an extremely unique flow that keeps you wanting to hear more, I take simple concept songs and can create them with superb lyrical content yet keeping it relatable to the everyday listener, you will not hear anyone like me, I strive to stand out from the pack.

 

 

You recently released an E.P. The Brainstem, How was the process of making it? 

It was my first E.P ive ever came out with and I cant lie it was a struggle to get it all organized, I had only been into rapping for about a year so most would consider me novice in the game, but my lyrics speak leagues of depth that most love. I received great feedback on how I could improve and my new work definitely defines that I feel I have become a completely different mc with my finesse and precision on the mic. The ep was an adventure to produce I had a great time doing it and it was a good learning process. Now i’m breaking into the professionalism of music.

 

 

Your top 5 all time records… 

I would have to say daylight/nightlight by Aesop rock, The entire Eyedea discography, atmospheres overcast album, nas ny state of mind, and loads of deltron 3030.

 

 

Favourite bands of 2014?

2014 had some great artists come out! Id have to say Dem atlas has been killing it, Locksmith is getting up there as well, and tons of underground folks that I network with.

 

 

What is the best gig you have done so far?

I have actually yet to play! I am now ready to start performing though so any venues in the northwest get at me! Im ready to play.

 

Any plans to tour?

I had been offered to get on a couple tours across the u.s. and London with Pledge empire, and g.a.s.h. records but was not completely established as an artist and felt I would of not had a good set list established I look forward to getting out there though!

 

Favourite lyricist?

Michael eyedea Larson hands down his music spoke fathoms to me! He is one of the main reasons I started writing music to help others in need.

 

 

 

Interview: Hijinkx

 

21 year old DJ James Stanley, Aka Hijinkx hits Clwb Ifor Bach on the 7th of November, bringing his own unique brand of house music to the capital… 54-46 caught up with him as he made his way down from Leeds.

 

 

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Describe your act to people who may not be aware of what you do.

 

I produce and perform electronic music ranging between 120 and 140bpm, generally conforming to house music ideals, emphasising groove and emotion.

 

 

 

How did you get into Dj’ing?

 

When you make music, there comes a point where you want to start performing it and along with playing music from other artists that you love, DJing is the ideal performance tool. Around the age of 16, I picked up a cheap controller and taught myself how to use it. As an introduction, it was a perfect learning platform and translated very well when I started using a professional club set up. I started taking things more seriously when I got to University; I sent promo mixes to reputable club nights around Leeds and finally started to acquire gig opportunities as I became acquainted with various promoters around the city. Till I was about 21, I used a laptop whilst DJing, but now I use USBs and enjoy it much more as it encourages me to feel and listen to what I’m playing as opposed to seeing it. I’d love at some point to perform my music entirely live, but at the moment, I love DJing and want to carry on doing this for the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

Tell us about your musical journey thus far. 

 

I come from a family of music lovers, so before I ever touched an instrument, I was surrounded by sounds. With my mum being a fan of folk and rock, it was tape cassettes of Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin that I’d here in the back of the old VW beetle strapped up in my car seat! Around the age of 9, I was randomly selected from a big primary school class (just because I think I stuck my hand up) to learn to play Viola, and this pretty much shaped my teenage years and opened many doors playing for Orchestras and string ensembles / quartets. Like most greasy haired teenagers, I also picked up guitar and played with various bands and groups. It was around A levels where I became so interested in composition, I went on to college to study music tech for a year and then took these taught skills to University where I specialised in electro-acoustic composition. With Leeds having such a localised, quality electronic music scene, I was able to form friendships with like-minded individuals and build my profile as an artist. Today, I’m still pursuing everything Hijinkx and would love to take it full time – I’m also composing music freelance.

 

 

Who would you site as your biggest musical influences to date? 

There are so many. But if I had to pin point one composer that completely encapsulates emotion in music and reminds me why music is the most expressive art form, it would be Frédéric Chopin.

 

 

 

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Vinyl or MP3?

 

This old chestnut again! I perform digitally, but prefer listening to vinyl. Performing using digital makes my life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to organisation. I can form genre, key and bpm playlists, tag and cue my tunes, prepare my sets efficiently and have access to music that is simply not available on vinyl. Unfortunately, a great amount of music nowadays, doesn’t get pressed to vinyl, so you either have to spend a fortune cutting records yourself, or going down the digital route. I like to take a few records along to gigs now and again though, nice to change things up. I’ve never really been an advocate of the whole digital vs. vinyl sound argument though, I think it’s all subjective and I don’t like it when people try to push their views and claim they that they are right. I do however think that vinyl culture is a lot more exiting and personal than digital. The experience of hunting and buying vinyl with the artwork that comes packaged with it is amazing, having a tune pressed to white label and actually being able to feel something that you’ve made is also really special.

 

 

 

 

Can you name your top 5 albums of all genres?

 

Tough.. no particular order!

 

Blue – Joni Mitchell

You Make Me Real – Brandt Brauer Frick

Spaces – Nils Frahm

Burial – Burial

Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin

(Lullabies to Paralyse – Queens of the Stone Age)

 

 

 

 

How has your music developed since you started out as a 18 year old?

 

Life is all about learning. I’ve learnt new technical skills sure, but also a lot about myself. Emotion is my main influence and drives my lust to create.

 

 

 

 

Talk us through the effect of social media and how an online presence has affected your ability to reach new audiences across the globe

 

Most would agree that it’s important as an artist today to sustain some sort of online social media presence. The ability to network music and keep those interested up-to-date with current projects is great for personal promotional. It’s not the be all and end all though, there still needs to be substance in the actual product advertised. Unfortunately, because there is no body to regulate the internet, there is a quantity over quality crisis today and too much rubbish floating around. The best way to conduct social media activity is to be humble and informative.

 

 

 

Best Gig you’ve played?

 

I’ve got many favourites, but I always refer back to one I did at some venue called Hollback Underground Ballroom. It was one of my first in Leeds, it was in a rough trading estate, it had four brick walls and a huge soundsystem. It lost its licence not long after the event.

 

 

 

If Simon Cowell offered you a million squid, would you pack it in and become the sixth member of One Direction?

 

No haha.

 

 

 

Outside of music, what makes you tick?

 

I love food, football and a bit of cricket in the summer! Friends, family, animals, clichés…….

 

 

 

 

 

Wish you all the best of luck mate with your upcoming dates. 

 

TB

 

 

 

 

Hijinkx’s bio: A 21 year old musician studying at University of Leeds. His eclectic taste and passion for electronic music is evident by his song selection when performing live and his pallet of production styles. Having now gathered a following and with one release under his belt, Hijinkx is going from strength to strength with forthcoming releases imminent on reputable record labels.

 

 

Hijinkx’s Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/hijinkx_uk

Hijinkx’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hijinkxdJc3hDVo