Hailing from Hexham but residing in the Welsh capital Cardiff, 22 year old Singer-Songwriter, instrumentalist, Poet, Producer (and so much more), Azere has introduced himself into the music scene with his intimate & heart-warming album ‘From Now On…’. Full of emotion & experimentation, the debut album never succumbs to complacency, with each track unique in sound and finesse. Anchored by Azere’s endearing vocals, From Now On is a positive nod to what the artist has to bring to the scene going forward. We had the pleasure of trading words with the man himself! Talking about the album, his inspirations, production process, & lots more…
Azere How are you? So you’ve just released your first full length LP ‘From Now On’ (which is amazing by the way) how has the response been so far?
Hi PoK, Great thanks. Yeah the response has been lovely, I didn’t expect a lot of what came my way after releasing it – people I didn’t expect to even listen have been getting in touch, so it’s been a nice way to reconnect with folks as well.
The album is a very moving piece, the spoken word verses are filled with emotion, did you set out to create something so personal?
I always make things that are this personal because that’s what helps me get through difficult times or answer difficult questions that are occupying me. The only really new thing with this is that I’ve made it so public! It took a while to get to this level of confidence with my voice, eventually I got to a point where I had all these songs with my voice on in my file explorer and it felt like time to give them away. It’s very strange to make music as revealing as this for an audience which, right now, is mostly made up of friends and acquaintances.
Someone told me yesterday that it felt like they shouldn’t be listening to it because I was sharing all my business, which I thought was a funny way of looking at it... that also made perfect sense. Then again there are people who might hear it and learn something valuable to their own life, which would be mint. It just feels really good to let people know how you feel! Even if you don’t get it across perfectly, which you rarely will, it’s so great to have this outlet for your own emotions and thoughts which can pile up from time to time.
When you hear ‘from now on’ in conversation it’s often about some kind of improvement which can be made. A lot of the music is about making memorials for past events and then trying to move forward from them with some kind of lesson learnt. Also I like the idea of dividing the past and future at this EXACT point and saying from now, it’s going to be different. I find that a really empowering thought.
Your music is all internally produced by yourself which is something that often gets overlooked in the music industry today, could you take us through your process of making music?
So I have an external soundcard which I use to record guitar and voice, the rest is all going on in FL Studio where I pitch shift and reverse and add EQ, delays, reverb, all that good stuff. I really enjoy having such a small set up and when I get the time and money I really just want to travel with that little kit and make songs wherever I land. Guitar is a bit of a pain to lug around however. The mixing and mastering process is something I tried to develop a lot for this project, but there is still plenty of work to be done there, and its something I’d consider outsourcing if I can’t make it sound how it needs to for streaming and that.
You have a couple of people featured on the album, how is it working with other artists on your music?
The first feature is actually from my creative writing tutor on my term abroad in Basel. He’s a wicked poet and really helped me develop some writing skills while I was there, which I absolutely hadn’t intended to do, I don’t even study literature/creative writing! But I loved this poem he wrote about the Basel locals swimming in the Rhine and asked him if I could set it to music. The other collaboration with Nathan Warnes was incredible. I asked him to make the noise of a brass band and he recorded it himself with three instruments and sent it over the next day. We re-recorded it in a studio that weekend and I was amazed by how he arranged it all. Props to Nathan, check out his band and solo projects!
Who do you look up to?
I’m inspired by plenty but if I had to narrow it down at the moment it would probably be Jevon. He makes a completely different style of music to me but I adore the confidence and wit of it all. He produces for himself too and is one of those ‘whole package’ artists, which I love. I’d put R.A.P. Ferreira (fka milo) up there too, he’s been my absolute idol since high school. I think if you were to listen to this project you wouldn’t hear much hip-hop or rap influence but it makes up a whole lot of the gigabytes on my mp3 player.
Dream collab would be Brockhampton. I’m properly obsessed with the whole group and it’d be so fun to make a beat for them and hear how every member went in on it.
Your work rate at the minute is incredible; whether its snippets of songs on your socials, putting out tunes, what drives this motivation to keep on putting out content?
I enjoy putting out videos and snippets a lot! It helps to try and gauge feedback on what I’m making. Probably about a quarter of the stuff I make ever reaches the internet, so it’s fun to give out little snippets and teasers of those otherwise lost projects on my Instagram story. The promotional content is mostly a useful vessel to get my music out, which is the stuff that I’m most proud of making. I’d really love to work with more visual artists or directors to make my next project a little more expansive and fleshed out in that regard.
You also co-run a podcast called a(r)twork, could you tell us a bit about that?
So the a(r)twork podcast is all about exploring and demystifying creativity and self expression. I think about it now as like the other half of my creative activity – so if one half is making music as ‘Azere’ then the other is thinking about and dissecting the process of making anything with a(r)twork. It’s been incredibly informative in helping me refine my own way of making things, so I’m super grateful to anyone that contributes and my co-host Luisa for encouraging it along too.
What’s next for Azere? Do you see yourself playing live gigs or touring?
Live gigs are the next thing for me to figure out! I’m very excited to get stuck in with that over the next few months. The next project I’m thinking about will maybe be in a story like format, similar to Kate tempest’s albums or A grand doesn't come for Free by The Streets. That’s a format I really love and I think would be a good challenge for me right now.
Something that we ask to all of our interviewees, whats your Animal Hybrid? Personality of one & body of another…
Ummmm I’m gonna say the personality of some deep sea fish, like an anglerfish (I had to google that), because they’ve been around for yonks and I reckon they’d be super clever, and then the body of a magpie because who doesn’t want to fly?? and you’d get saluted by everyone.
Thank you very much, keep smashing it! One last thing… when are we getting physical copies?
Thanks to you! Physical copies!.... wait and see...
Listen to Azere’s ‘From Now On…’
Spotify - https://tinyurl.com/yyfv6mnj
Soundcloud - https://tinyurl.com/y4hk32pe
Bandcamp - https://tinyurl.com/yxm5tmta
Instagram - https://tinyurl.com/y46hlcz7
A(r)twork Podcast - https://tinyurl.com/y5jql2qz
Features on the Album:
Andrew Shields - https://tinyurl.com/y5mmxs7y
Nathan Warnes - https://tinyurl.com/yxw3ecl3
Words by Joe Ronan
The build up to a night out is, some say, the best bit. Personally, I believe it depends on the night. If the excitement is building, if there is anticipation, if there is a headline draw, then the hours before are inevitably charged with a little more energy.
So, it was on Friday, as my friends and I sat around running through a selection of Alec Falconer's productions on Youtube (‘New Junk City’ is a standout) in our living room. Based in France, although originally from Britain, Falconer's music and selection drifts between genres, drawing from 2-Step, garage heroes like Anthill Mob, breaks, techno, electro, house and everything undefinable in between. In the main, though, they are up-tempo and uplifting - music to dance to. Music, it should also be noted, that he was mixing on vinyl, in an enviously deft and skilful manner.
This sonic positivity was reflected by the atmosphere at the venue itself. Blueberry Hill Studios is set back from Kirkstall Road, in a warehouse opposite Pirate Studios. Drinks were accessibly priced (for once), and revellers were greeted by friendly faces upon entry. Couple this to the music, and the night had a genuinely relaxed, open feel.
Perhaps too relaxed and open. As an individual whose personal preference is for dark, subterranean club spaces with minimal lighting, spaces that let the sound system, and the music, do the talking (like the Leeds institution Wire) Blueberry Hill felt a little roomy, a little bright, a little open, a little quiet.
This was undoubtedly eventuated by the fact the event did not sell out, and was, as a result, comfortably bustling rather than rammed.
Nevertheless, if the slight absence of numbers speaks to anything, it is the continually competitive nature of nights in Leeds, the relatively underrated status of Alec falconer as DJ, and, it could be said, the utter lack of taste of those electing to attend Fruity instead.
Fundamentally, the basis of any good night is high quality music. In that regard, Roundabout delivered the goods. A word must go to James Trigwell, a Roundabout resident, and Joe Stevenson of Dance Disease, who set the tone on the decks perfectly early doors, unperturbed by complications with the sound system.
Following them the music was mainly 2step garage, progressing towards a more techno and house direction (although one is always wary of labelling anything tech-house, for fear it is associated with the bait, repetitive and unimaginative mainstream of that sub-genre).
All in all, it was a night of unpolished potential, not without its hiccups but enjoyable, nonetheless. For Roundabout, this was a positive entry into the Leeds scene, an evening of good vibes to the soundtrack of good music – who could complain about that?
Photo credit http://www.spiritpgh.com/
22 year old MC, Producer and Multi-instrumentalist Blind Mic has been stirring up the north west waves since breaking through in 2017. Born and bred in Manchester, Blind Mic is here to demonstrate the best of Jazz-Hop and Trap-Soul, with the vision to navigate his hometown estuary’s and touch the mainstream.
His latest project ‘Love & Retribution’ is an atmospheric, introspective and lyrically inspiring piece, showcasing the finest of Manchester’s recording talent and his own creative drive, it also SLAPS.
We met up at his studio to find out more,
Blinds studio space, a stone’s throw from Strangeways prison, is a prime slice of what Manchester has become known for being able to offer young creatives and musicians in 2019, a large former warehouse in the North of the City, shared with other local honcho P1Caps. The building catalyses creativity and networking among hustlers and grinders of all creeds and ambitions. His room, filled with drums, couches, a piano and various other instruments is used to produce, rehearse and generally knock about, and makes the ideal setting to best understand the place where both he and his music are coming from.
Blind Mic hit the scene in 2017 after dropping his Codeine Bluez EP, and has gone on to surf his own wave with performances at Gottwood and Boomtown.
How old were you when you started making music?
“About 9? No lie, I had never picked up an instrument when I knew I wanted to be a musician. I watched School of Rock and I think I got a guitar the Christmas that year. I didn’t start MC’ing until I got to High School, so around 11 or 12, which consisted mostly of just clashing and terroring kids in the playground with wordplay. People knew I could rap, but I never had any plans to take it too seriously until I got out of school and started chilling with some friends in the Free Wize Men crew (also check them out).
I always had quite a good ear for music, so with keys and bass I was able to teach myself, which nowadays helps me quite a lot with writing and coming up with ideas.
What was your first setup?
Haha, the guitar? To be honest most of the stuff I have now, same soundcard same monitor and that, I’ve updated software etc as I’ve moved on in production through house to the beats I make now, but more-or-less the same setup. My studio space has always been more of a place to come up with ideas instead of working. I like having the separation between where I’m creative and where I go to record.
Is there any point at which you’ll feel content with where you are in the industry?
Ah bro, I’ll be making music long after anyone’s listening to me. Thing is you can set yourself boxes that you wanna tick but as soon as you reach them you just keep making new ones. As soon as I playat Glastonbury that’s me done, and now everything I do is just to be able to take care of meself, get a scran, maybe a bag of weed now and then, couple of holidays a year? I just love the process and doing it man. I think there’s definitely a time where you should stop pursuing it as a dream maybe, like you don’t wanna be 35 and trying to be a rapper bro, like if you’re doing it cool but there’s a time where you should stop trying to push it in peoples faces.
If you had to combine two animals, and the personality of a third what would be your creation?
Pelican Shark. Shark body Pelican face. Personality wise? Not sure, what animals like safe? A grizzly bear. Yeah Pelican Shark with a Grizzly bear attitude.
It’s clear throughout our time in the studio how invested in Manchester Blind Mic is, its easy to see why. Love and Retribution, his latest release was produced with Zed Bias, and features local hardhitters IAMDDB and July7, and some of the finest recording musicians we’ve ever heard on a UK project, all of whom are based in the city. Love and Retribution is as much a testament to the ear and knack for catchy yet musically hard-hitting arrangements and hooks that Blind Mic has, as it is a snapshot of the future UK underground sound combining jazz/trap/hip-hop and grime based in the north-west.
This album, long in the works, is the perfect self-advertisement for the brain behind it, and the city which it calls home. Expect to see a lot more of Blind Mic in the near future.