KIRSTY HAWKSHAW

photo by Jill Furmenosky

 * How has music inspired you?

music saved me - that could well be an 'inspiration'

 * Your musical inspirations?

people and life are my inspiration. Writing is therapy for me,and the only
one that keeps me sane - and that works...

* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?

Stina Nordenstram - And she closed her eyes
Liz Frazer - Treasure
Judie Tzuke - welcome to the cruise
arvo part - my favourite classical composer
anything by Mozart

these are three important albums to me.

Kirsty first came to public prominence in the early 90's with the number 1 single 'Fine Day' from Opus III. A massive and influential record, this provided Kirsty with a platform to expand her musical vistas and collaborate with a host of pioneers in electronic music including Orbital, Steve Hillage, Youth, Spooky & Rachid Taha. It was her vocal talents that provided Orbital with arguably two of their finest moments - 'Halcyon' & 'Lush'.

Since then she has gone on to work with a who's who of today's leading electronica/dance producers and artists including B.T., Hybrid, Ian Pooley, Judie Tzuke, Way Out West, DJ Tiësto, Warm and Joshua.

This musical prowess is not surprising when one considers Kirsty's background. Her grandmother was a successful opera singer and her father a highly respected composer. Leaving home at 17, Kirsty was initially influenced in her musical direction by seminal indie label 4AD. After two albums, Opus III disbanded and Kirsty retreated to Cornwall to regroup, recharge and develop. It was during this time that she worked on her debut album and began a close working relationship with producer Mark Pritchard, one half of leading dance remix/production outfit Global Communications and The Jedi Knights. "Mark", says Kirsty, "Really & truly knows his shit, and not only that but he is also really humble and ego-less. I had never worked with such intuition and talent before that. I knew he was the one to help me go deep - he was my rock." With the help of Mark's technical expertise, production skills and musical insight, they completed 'On Ultimate Things', a deeply personal, introspective and moving album. The critical success of her album can be attributed to more than just a creative union with a jedi knight. Over the past few years, Kirsty has developed her writing skills and has become not only an in demand vocalist, adding a uniquely idiosyncratic quality to many leading dance hits, but also a highly respected lyricist, providing infectious melodies, memorable hooks, and contrasting vocal shades and tones.

Most recently, Kirsty's lyrics and vocals can be heard on DJ Tiësto's recent chart hit 'Urban Train', new material from Slovo (AKA Faithless collaborator Dave Randall), new Hybrid tracks, forthcoming tracks from Warm on 'It's in the Music' (United Recordings), an EP for The Big Chill produced by Tom Gilleron and new material for End Recordings. As well as all this, Kirsty has still found the energy and time to work on her own forthcoming solo album.

Oh and by the way, Kirsty's is the voice you heard on Cadbury's Flake 30th anniversary advert!
www.kirstyhawkshaw.co.uk/

ANDY CHASE

*Any CD’s or songs which are meaningful to you?

Two Wheels Good by Prefab Sprout. The first album I heard that changed my life - I heard "When Love Breaks Down" and realized I wanted to try to make people feel the way I did just then listening to the music. It was an epiphany. I have never gotten over that record or it's beautiful sonic landscapes.

--Andy Chase (Brookville/Paco/Ivy)

Ivy is:
Adam Schlesinger
Dominique Durand
Andy Chase

Over the course of three full-length albums and a handful of singles and EPs, the members of the New York-based trio Ivy have established themselves as purveyors of smart, elegant, and bittersweet pop music. Fronted by native Parisian Dominique Durand, the group has always blended musical elements from many different times and places, and yet the diverse textures in Ivy’s music have been held together by an overriding emphasis on songwriting, melody and mood. 

It is fitting, then, that Ivy’s new LP, Guestroom, contains ten of the group’s favorite "covers." Picking from several different eras, they reveal some of their sources of inspiration, and also display their ability to reinterpret many different types of songs in their own distinct way. Five of the ten songs on Guestroom were recorded during recent sessions in New York. The remaining five tracks were recorded at different times over the course of Ivy’s career, but have for the most part been difficult to find, having been released only on limited-edition singles, compilations, or soundtracks. On Guestroom, the band moves easily between decades and countries, jumping from 80’s classics like The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” and the House Of Love’s “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” to Steely Dan’s “Only A Fool Would Say That” and then over to Serge Gainsbourg’s “L’Anamour”; from the Ronnettes’ early 60’s classic “Be My Baby” to Papas Fritas’ late 90’s gem “Say Goodbye.”

Ivy formed in 1994 when multi-instrumentalists Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger convinced Durand, who had never before sung in a group, to venture into a New York studio and record a four-song tape with them. One of the first songs they recorded, “Get Enough”, was released as a 7” single and was quickly named “Single Of The Week” in the UK’s Melody Maker. They followed that single with an EP, Lately, and then in 1995 released their debut full-length, Realistic, which – although raw compared to their later work -- hinted at the melodic sophistication and emphasis on production detail that would follow. During this period the group began touring, sharing stages with Oasis, Edwyn Collins, Lloyd Cole, St. Etienne, and many others.

On their second full-length album, 1997’s Apartment Life, Ivy hit its stride, introducing richer arrangements and a wider palette of sounds, while at the same time taking their songcraft to a new level. The album was named one of the year’s best by scores of critics, and the group’s fan base increased exponentially; they toured extensively in support of the new record over the next two years.

Long Distance, their third LP, was released in 2001, and won the group an even wider audience both at home and abroad. By this time, the band had also had found success on both the big and small screens (scoring the Farrelly Brothers’ Shallow Hal, as well as having their songs featured prominently in numerous films and television shows). Chase and Schlesinger had also begun to receive attention for their work outside the band: Chase produced the debut album by French pop group Tahiti 80, which was a hit in many countries and led to subsequent production work with several other groups; Schlesinger’s “other” band, Fountains Of Wayne, released two critically acclaimed records, and he also received an Oscar nomination for his title song to Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do!

The new record, Guestroom, demonstrates Ivy’s continued ability to combine elements from wildly different kinds of music, while all the time still sounding like themselves. For longtime fans of the band, it will be a treat to hear their unique interpretations of such a diverse array of songs; for those just discovering the band, the record should provide a inviting glimpse into Ivy’s rich musical landscape.

www.thebandivy.com

Paco is the creative alchemy between Dominique Durand (Ivy) and Andy Chase (Ivy, Brookville) and friends Gary Maurer (Hem) and songwriter Michael Hampton.

Brookville is Andy Chase’s new Band! The debut record, Wonderfully Nothing, flaunts a sleek Euro-romantic sound that allows Andy to balance his talent for songcraft with his love for rich sonic landscapes & textures.
www.unfilteredrecords.com

CLUB 8

photo by John Rooney photo by John Rooney

* How has music inspired you?

It's makes my days a lot better, changes my mood when
I need to change it and, of course, inspired me to
do music of my own.

* Your musical inspirations?

I started listening to The Smiths when I was 13-14 years
old, then I discovered Felt, Razorcuts, McCarthy and a bunch
of C-86 bands. And I fell in love with just about everything
on Sarah Records. Sarah was a great inspiration, not only the
music, but also in the way I think a label should be like.
I think this music, which I listened very much to between
the age of 14-20 or so, has influenced me more than anything
else. The music I listen to nowadays are less "twee" than
the Sarah and C-86 bands. Still their way of writing melodies
has really stuck to me.

* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?

The Smiths "I know it's over" is the best song
ever, and also one of the songs that have meant
the most for me in different ways. So, if was
to say one song only, that'd be it.
Field Mice "emma's house" is a very important
record too. Not only because it's a very good
one, but because it introduced me to a whole
new world of pop on independent labels.

Club 8 was formed in 1995 by Karolina Komstedt (from the band Poprace) and Johan Angergård (Acid House Kings, Poprace). They immediately signed with the Spanish label Siesta and released a single called "Me too" and an album called "Nouvelle". Their sound at this point could almost be categorised as "anorak pop" with influences ranging from Sarah bands, Jim Ruiz, and The Smiths.

In 1998/1999 their 2nd album - "The friend I once had" - and single - "Missing you" - were released. "Missing you" became a club and radio hit in Spain and a college radio fave in North America. The band started playing live, their first gig was in New York at March Records' 1998 CMJ event. Their sound had developed into a more bossa nova and dance oriented one.

Striving for constant change and improvements, the band once again changed musical direction on their 3rd album in 2001. "Club 8" is a beautifully laidback - almost a chill out - album, though it was often compared to Portishead, Air, and called triphop upon release.


Club 8 did not rest after the release of "Club 8". In the autumn of 2001 the band locked themselves in the famous Summersound Studios; writing songs and experimenting with different sounds and songs. Dub, C-86, triphop, chill out, 80's and bossa nova were mixed-up here, without ever losing focus on those wonderfully Scandinavian and melancholic pop melodies. The album was named "Spring came, rain fell" and was released in 2002.

Later in 2002, Club 8 started working on a follow up for "Spring came, rain fell". This time Club 8 crept closer to the listener with a more focused sound theme. It's warmer, possibly more acoustic, and definitely more sensitive. The result is "Strangely Beautiful" - and yes, it is their best album so far. The album peaked at #18 on the CMJ charts. For the first time since 1999 the band released a single and video from the album. Backed by 5 exclusive tracks, the song "Saturday night engine" was released as a single in the spring of 2003 and the video made it to #16 on the Up North chart on MTV Nordic.

After having released 3 albums and 2 EPs in two years, Club 8 is now slowing down the tempo. This means you will probably have to wait until 2004, or even early 2005, before the next album is released. . .
www.club-8.org/

JENAE

What are my music inspirations?

  Well growing up, ever since I was two I was singing.  My mom and dad had many tapes recorded during that time.  As I got older I started singing and performing in front of friends and family.  At the time, music was a big thing, our family would sing together every weekend. My father at the time played in a band.  So music was a big thing for me growing up.  When I turned 12 I was taking voice lessons.  I learned all the tricks to breathing.  My voice was starting to mature.  My mom always told me never stop believing in your voice, your to good not to make it, just keep trying and someone will take notice.  Well I have been in rock bands, pop bands, r&b groups, solo projects, karaoke host, and music is still all I have around me.  My mom is what inspired me to keep singing and trying my hardest, and now I own a recording studio here in Edmonton Alberta and I have written over 100 songs.  Just need to get signed now.

   Most likened to singers like Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette, Jenae's musical influences are very diverse. She began professional singing lessons at two and has enjoyed her career as an entertainer
merging a Candian-pop feel with her American roots and now, for the first time, she has put her undivided attention into a studio project featuring her own original music.

Her voice is transcendent and she puts all of her emotions into singing as well as writing.

Her songs reflect her deep passion for music as well as provide a strong outlet for her feelings. She is a beautifuL young intelligent woman who possesses an incredible voice and natural musical aptitude.

Currently Jenae is unsigned and is working on her 130th song with Owensound Studios producer Corey Johnson.
www.jenaeonline.net/
 

THE FIXX

* How has music inspired you?

Adam - "Pardon?"

* Your musical inspirations?

Adam - "Breath Deep. Did you say 'aspirations?'"

 *Any CDs/songs which are meaningful to you?

Adam - "Suspicious Minds."

The Fixx bio written by Andrew Lee Hunn/November 2000

Perusing the shelves of record stores is a little like counting the rings of a tree, or strolling through a mausoleum, viewing the countless fallen artists and bands, dead due to anything from a rock 'n roll lifestyle to a change in musical fads. Those artists who had the ingenuity and perseverance to survive whatever "movement" first brought them attention have borne fruit, adding ring after ring in their tree trunk. Those that died young are forever embalmed, R.I.P. The Fixx, happily, are still adding rings to their already sturdy trunk.

The Fixx, originally based in London, were first introduced to a mass audience in 1982, with their debut album, Shuttered Room. A collection of their best work to that point, it stood in stark contrast to most of the other New Wave albums of the time, with its tight musicianship and dark political overtones. Though the band held to some tenets of the New Wave, such as short songs devoid of solos and no fear of synthesizers and cavernous soundscapes, their cohesiveness as a rock band was made credible by their live performances. Despite the album not receiving a full marketing push in the U.S., the videos for "Stand or Fall" and "Red Skies" were played heavily by MTV (then in its infancy) and became anthems for yet another generation fed up with the cold war. Later in the year The Fixx performed on Long Island for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. The concert, recently made available on cd, served as a showcase for their special brand of dynamic minimalism.

Not long after, in 1983, Reach the Beach was released and immediately took off in the U.S., led by its catchy single, "One Thing Leads to Another," and later "Saved by Zero." No sophomore slump, the album was a logical growth from their first effort, showcasing singer Cy Curnin's unorthodox vocals and Jamie West-Oram's rhythm-driven guitar against the tight rhythm section of Adam Woods (drums) and Alfie Agius (bass; would later be replaced by Dan K. Brown,) all complemented by the synthesizer stylings of Rupert Greenall. The album cemented their style, taking the tired art-rock credo of dark theatrical soundscapes and filtering it through their own unique sensibilities. Generous airplay and a full U.S. tour garnered the band a large following.

Phantoms was released in 1984, and still seems to be the favorite of the band and many of its fans. Packed with twelve songs from sessions that also spawned several fan favorite out-takes and the single "Deeper and Deeper" from the Streets of Fire soundtrack, this album found the band in an especially productive mode, carrying them across a wider range of styles than on their previous albums. Still undeniably Fixx, the songs on this album seem a little less angry, more tempered with maturity and diverse in its style. Melody takes more prominence on this record, and several songs, particularly "I Will" and "Wish," are downright soulful. "Are We Ourselves" and "Sunshine in the Shade" were released as singles, and while the album's sales were by all means respectable, the band's label, MCA, had set unrealistic expectations for sales after the phenomenal success of their previous effort. Thus began troubles with record labels.

The band's next effort, Walkabout, arrived in 1986. Perhaps the most spiritual of Fixx albums, this work saw more of Curnin's soulful melody, and West-Oram's guitar took on a less frenetic and more droning, hypnotic quality, shared by Greenall's relaxed keyboards. The downshift in tempo led to a more introspective, contemplative mode of listening, particularly for "Treasure It," and "Camphor." "Secret Separation," unique in that the lyrics were not written by Curnin but by Jeannette Obstoj, a friend of the band, is an unabashed love song, unusual for the band, but its poetic lyrics keep it from degenerating into the trite kind of love song the band has steadfastly avoided. Throughout the album, the band's usual stark warnings were unusually well balanced with a new optimism, a sense of hope. This was most evident to the lucky listeners who happened to buy one of the compact disc versions that had a hidden track at the end, the heartfelt plea "Do What You Can." While "Secret Separation" received a good deal of airplay and the album sold well, as with Phantoms, MCA was unhappy with its modest sales.

React, released in 1987, was the band's last effort for MCA. Consisting of three new songs--each a solid effort--and a collection of live versions of their best-known singles, this album came off as a last-ditch effort to settle contractual obligations before moving on to a new label.

RCA signed The Fixx in short order, and the result was Calm Animals in 1988. This album found the band picking up the tempo again, with West-Oram's guitar more prominent in the mix and Woods and Brown taking a more aggressive, driving, and perhaps dance-influenced approach overall. "Driven Out" received a good deal of airplay, and "Precious Stone" (with lyrics by Woods, a.k.a. Madman) was also released. The band's songwriting and arrangements were as accomplished as ever, but in retrospect the album seems a little strained, as though some of its songs were force-fitted into a rough, edgy style not quite suited to them. Apparently, RCA also refused to take a realistic approach to marketing the band, as this was The Fixx's only effort for the label.

Their next album would not come until 1991, after signing with Impact, an imprint of MCA. It was the subversively titled Ink, featuring portraits of the band done up in corporate attire. The album was a schizophrenic product, as a result of the label pairing up the band with songwriters for the first (and last) time. Some of the songs were highly effective extensions of unfettered Fixx, such as "Shut it Out," "Yesterday, Today," and "One Jungle." Others succumbed to the influence of outside songwriters, such as "Falling in Love.," and "Crucified." And while these may be entirely listenable, to the die-hard fans these were sticks in the spokes, corporate attempts at pimping The Fixx to the pop charts. Not surprisingly, the band seems to have retained a bad taste from the Ink sessions to this day. "How Much is Enough" garnered some airplay. This was their only effort for Impact.

Why no record label realized The Fixx had made a niche for themselves as a rock band with a steady following is beyond reckoning. Instead of coming up with an adequate marketing plan in the vein of bands like Rush, executives kept trying to push The Fixx as a mega-selling arena pop band, clearly a misguided idea. It would be several years on hiatus before the members of the band ultimately decided their hearts had been in the right place after all. But this time, they were determined to make their music on their own terms.

After spending some time writing and recording new music, the band released a limited issue demo cd in 1997, Happy Landings, most of the songs on which eventually appeared on the album Elemental in 1998, from CMC International. The band had always carried a progressive attitude into the recording of each album, growing a little each time, and their time off before the recording of this album apparently meant more growth than usual. Not quite like any other Fixx recording, Elemental finds them older, wiser, but with more power and incisiveness than ever before. The band stripped down in some ways, utilizing more acoustical equipment and less echo than usual, bringing the band in from their usual sonic distance and placing them in your living room, by turns more intimate and more threatening. "Going Without" and "Happy Landings" speak as an estranged friend welcomed back from exile, while "Fatal Shore" and "We Once Held Hands" whisper as a societal subconscious come to remind of the menacing undercurrents that still flow. For The Fixx, maturity hasn't meant a staleness or nostalgia as it has for so many other artists. Instead, maturity has bestowed a mastery of all the best elements of their work, and allowed them to expand and grow further. Indeed, the best may be yet to come.

A fine companion piece was released in 1999, the two-cd set 1011 Woodland, named for the studio in which it was recorded. A re-recording of many of the band's favorite songs, at first glance it would appear to be a quick cash-in. However, The Fixx put forth an earnest effort in re-working the songs in an even more stripped down, intimate style than was used on Elemental. Each of the songs is cast in a new light, in some cases making the songs finally come together, as in "Precious Stone" and "Still Around," both of which make their previous versions pale in comparison. "Driven Out" is given more of a gritty folk-rock feel, "I Will" takes on a jaded and lazy lounge feel, and even their very first single, "Lost Planes," appears in a new and more subtle form. At the end of second cd are three concert recordings made on the Elemental tour, and though none are of the highest sonic quality, all three are infectious in their enthusiasm and are sparkling examples of the energy and commitment still felt by the band.

www.thefixx.com/
www.thefixxstore.com/

Special thanks to Ed at thefixx.com

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