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RAINY MILO

After Giles Peterson hyped her demo track ‘Bout You’, seventeen-year-old Rainy Milo became inundated with offers from record labels, but she took time to figure everything out. “I just wanted to do it properly, on my own terms,” she tells Notion.

The result was Limey, released last October. “It’s pretty scattered, I suppose,” she explains. “The material’s broad, I wrote a lot of it a year ago but some of it was older. It covered a lot of different feelings.”

Limey is remarkably mature, held together by pensive, window-gazing lyrics; ‘I always forget the bad stuff that he does, all too easily/I just hope he don’t regret me‘ she sighs, on ‘Don’t Regret Me’. Elsewhere, Rainy sings with a straight-up sass befit of Lily Allen, ‘betting all my heart on this shitty guy‘ on ‘The Other Way’ and praising a guy wearing a killer pair of Nikes.

Rainy draws inspiration from the sombre storytelling of Amy Winehouse and Corrine Bailey-Rae; “They bare it all, and it’s beautiful,” but she also loves Willow Smith. “I was listening to Willow and I just thought Oh My God… she’s just amazing, isn’t she?”

Her heartbreaking tracks are tied together with old jazz beats, but Rainy is no old soul; her Tumblr features street style, GIFs, dip-dyes and cats. She recently posted a shot of her squatting next to this year’s Lovebox poster, pointing at her name (she’s playing on The Fly Presents… stage as well as Ghostpoet, Big Deal and Splashh).

“I keep seeing it! It’s an amazing feeling,” she says. “I love the festival and to be a part of it is so cool. I had to share it. And why not? Tumblr makes me feel like a real person, with my feet on the ground. And I want it to stay like that.”

Coves

The raw sounds of dreamy shoe-gaze band Coves take over Battersea power station

Battersea’s iconic power station is going through a bit of an identity crisis. Once a coal-powered station sitting comfortably on the south bank of the River Thames, later this year it’s going to be turned into a luxury hotel.

Until then, the huge, four-chimneyed building – pock-marked with shattered window panes, the inside raw and exposed – houses a sleek, shiny glass structure, where tonight Superdry are celebrating their 10th anniversary. Contrast doesn’t even come close.

That contrast resonates with Coves, who perform their dreamy, shoe-gazey indie in lieu of a DJ tonight, as toned catwalk models sweep across the stage. “If I had to describe the night I suppose I’d say… well, Super is a bit obvious,” says singer Beck Wood. “Energetic is good. There’s a lot of energy tonight. We’ve been here for a few hours and I haven’t got bored once. There’s loads going on. “It’s like organized chaos,” says instrumentalist John Ridgard thoughtfully.

Fashion and music aren’t total strangers, nor are Coves to the idea of fashion and style; Beck studied fashion at university, even having her work featured at London Graduate Fashion Week – but grew tired of the industry and dropped out to pursue music photography instead.

“Then me and John were out drinking and we decided to be in a band,” she says. “It was one of the best decisions we made.”

“It’s a continuing theme; we haven’t recorded any of the songs on the album without at least a bottle of wine. We’ve kept the drunk theme going,” John says proudly.

Coves’ signature sound – a kind of lethargic-chic that turns savage and sweet in tight turns – should feel out of place in the glassy castle within Battersea’s ruins, but taking to the stage in the brand’s latest premium collaboration with contemporary British tailor, Timothy Everest’s moddish, tailored jackets and brogue-boots gives the band a kind of sophistication that takes them beyond their two years together.

In much the same vein music and fashion sit comfy, so does music to Battersea; the station has been featured (and popularized) by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and, er, Take That, who rowed past it in their video for The Flood.

“I was reading up on it the other day,” John said. “Battersea Power Station has one of the best Wikipedia pages ever. The first thing I said when we got here was ‘Did you know this is the biggest red brick building in Europe?’ and [Beck] said ‘No, it’s the biggest brick building in Europe. Full. Stop.”

Superdry founder James Holder calls the band ‘raw and exciting’ earlier in the evening. “They’re a rare talent, they’re doing a great job representing British music at the moment and we’re thrilled to have them with us tonight.”

And for Coves, the venue has stood out as one of the most iconic venues they’ve taken their music. But where will they go from here.

“Maybe the top of the shard,” Becky says wistfully.

“Or failing that, we could play some tunes on the District Line,” John says, before the band button up their blazers and take to the stage.

“Everything I do is a contrast,” says Scandi-pop star-in-training MØ. “I like the solitary nature of being on my own but then I really like working in the studio with people too.’

The girl formerly known as Karen Marie Ørsted is Skyping us from her childhood bedroom, where she’s recording the vocals for her debut album.

A soundproof vocal booth has been constructed by taping bedsheets up against the ceiling, teepee-style. It’s a fitting environment for the 25-year-old’s icy tales of adolescence, heartache, love and self-identity to crystallise within.

The fragmented, glitchy audio of her singles “Pilgrim” and “Waste of Time” gives her a fragile and precious songs a defiant toughness.

“With Waste Of Time, I heard the beat and remember thinking it was this combination of aggressive and energetic, then something cold and silent,” she explains. “Like two poles, or two forces, so I wanted the vocals to be the same. Very soft, but very aggressive.”

The song’s video splices a series of images together by an ominous theme: a chainsaw ripping through wood, a chair bursting into flames, a grass snake rearing its head, ready to strike.

The dream world also plays a pivotal role in her song-writing process. “I just wrote a song that’s about a break-up, and there’s a house. Inside the house is all the chaos, and outside, in the garden, lies the calmness.” She pauses, catching her breath. “Then things get mixed up, and the chaos comes inside, infecting the calmness. And that reflects the relationship between the two people inside.”

MØ’s debut album will be released later in the year. She promises it will be a snapshot of love and the journey to become and find oneself.

“As a teenager, you're as close to being a psychopath as you'll ever be. Focused on yourself, on your own emotions. Even when you get older you’re always searching for something more; we’re made that way. Always looking for validation towards what we’re feeling.”

 

Intoxica

As CD sales continue to decline, vinyl has seen something of a revival. Leave iTunes to the side for a moment – there’s nothing quite like going to a record store and spending an hour having a good rummage around. In London, there are loads of places you can pick up some new records, and here are some of our favourites.

Though Portobello Road might seem like the kind of area where residents buy vinyl just to hang on their walls, there are some good shops worth checking out. Intoxica! (the exclamation mark is mandatory) is no dusty old store; there’s huge tribal masks and bamboo everywhere. They have a really diverse collection of records, so it’s not a bad place to start if you’re new to buying vinyl or are just starting your collection.

Just down the road is Honest Jon’s, who specialise more in jazz, soul and reggae music. Founded in 1974, it’s gone on to spawn Honest Jon’s Records, a record label run in conjunction with Damon Albarn (his side-project The Good, The Bad & The Queen was released through them).

Not far from there in Notting Hill is the original Rough Trade. Originally specialising in US and Jamaican imports, they soon established themselves as a leading outfit during London’s punk scene. This store still has amazing artwork and posters from when it traded in the 80’s, and even if you don’t end up buying any records, it’s worth the trip here just to take in the atmosphere. In 2007, they opened a 5000 sq ft flagship store in the ultra-trendy Brick Lane, which has become renowned for its book collection and incredible coffee almost as much as it has for its music.

Soho is not to be overlooked either, with some of the best record stores in the capital located within a few minutes’ walk of each other. Phonicaon Poland Street and Reckless Records and Sister Ray, both on Berwick Street, are well worth your time.

Finally, in Islington, and Crouch Hill, there’s Flashback Records, with helpful staff and a great stock, ranging from new releases to classics of the 50s. Why not clear the afternoon and visit them all?

This article first appeared in The Telegraph on August 11th.


This review first appeared in The Fly on 29/11

It’s maybe too early to predict just how far Alt-J are going to be catapulted into the stratosphere following their Mercury win but tonight, performing to a packed-out Ballroom, they feel like a sensible victor.

When frontman Joe Newman murmurs through geometric love-song ‘Tesselate’, the utterance ‘three points, where two lines meet’ feels like a fitting metaphor for a band who don’t so much embrace different sounds as Pritt-stick them together into a beautifully sculptured lump. The foreboding piano and a cryptic loop reminiscent of The XX‘s beautifully isolated ‘Islands’ is gripping, as lyrics both sensual and sadistic mesh together: ‘Yes they’ll nosh the love away, but it’s fair to say/You will still haunt me.’

During their quiet, introspective moments Alt-J share cosy a capella harmonies not unlike Fleet Foxes or Local Natives – a well-worn path to pleasing critics, perhaps. But, on tracks like ‘Fitzpleasure’, they take the formula and send an electric current right through it, with Newman’s lyrics bursting out his throat with the ferocity of a man at an exorcism.

It’s their reluctance to be pigeonholed which remains Alt-J‘s greatest weapon. While ‘Interlude I’ and ‘Bloodflood’ lack the resonance of the band’s bigger songs, they are blissful and intimate in a small venue like this, though that could get lost in bigger, loftier spaces. Elsewhere, ‘Breezeblocks’ is a bawdy sing-a-long cloaking sinister undertones.

Strangely, when the band choose to cover Kylie Minogue‘s ‘Slow’, there’s a moment of clarity unlike any other tonight. Maybe it’s because the lyrics aren’t dissimilar to those in ‘Tesselate’ – it doesn’t feel like foreign territory. Or maybe there’s something in how comfortable Alt-J are with sounding like a pop act, something much of this year’s shortlist tried so hard to avoid.