I thought I had 10 solid records to list as my favourite this year. My utter favourite has not changed; that was the only one I was 100% sure on. I change my mind a lot, about most things. What I like today, I may dislike tomorrow. Or in 10 minutes. It keeps things interesting to an extent, then it just gets confusing. I don’t like order or structure. Music is my favourite sound. People bragging about how much they drank the night before is my least favourite. If only there was a mute button for conversation.

With it being close to the end of the year, everyone thinks their opinion is better than other people’s when talking about their favourite record, songs, books etc of the year that has passed. My opinion isn’t made for counting or even worth acknowledging. To the one person who’ll read this; I hope you own at least one of the records I mention here. Of course, you don’t have to own it but you yourself something nice. Anyway. This isn’t in order, but the last record I mention is my favourite of the year.

Dirty Beaches- Love Is The Devil/Drifters. Anything Alex does always blows me away. He’s someone who, when you listen to his music, you can tell is truly in an untouchable zone when he makes music. You can sense that nothing distracted him in the process, and when you listen to his music nothing distracts you from that intimate moment you have listening to his music. To an extent music is pretty voyeuristic. We are listening in on other people’s thoughts and feelings. They know someone is listening; they just don’t know who. I’ve read vile criticism of this record from those who wanted Badlands part 2. It’s rally unfair to Alex because he’s one of the most passionate musicians out there; and to assume he’s going to make the same record over and over is just wrong. Same goes for many more, I know. But Alex’s music just stands out. I finally got to see him live this year, and watching him felt like you were witnessing someone unleash every demon that their body posses. It was a truly beautiful show. I interviewed him, and although it was done via email I could easily sense just how much music means to him. He’s not someone who’s had success come easy to him, and that hunger is firmly within him to keep making music. When I heard the song, Love Is The Devil it just broke my heart because it had this raw beauty to it, but pain also. It was overwhelming at times to listen to this record because of the rawness of it. The honesty in this record just makes you proud to be a fan of his music. Alex’s music makes you want to everything behind and fall in love with a gloomy European city that has history of romantic and haunting literature, with locals telling stories in dingy cafes.

Ezra Furman- Day Of The Dog. The hot pink cover did it for me. Ezra is an incredible song-writer; Day Of The Dog showcases this better than before. The songs are full of lust, self-doubt, hate (directed at the self and others) and is done in a way that doesn’t seem like it is self-pitying bullshit. So far from it. The philosophical lyrics with the delightful sax playing just makes this record a pleasure to listen to. For me, Tell ‘Em All To Go To Hell is a brilliant “fuck you” and is the perfect soundtrack to those pissed off moods we are all prone to. Ezra has this way of touching on dark subjects in a way that disguises just how dark the feeling is. It’s the kind of music you speed off into the sunset too, where night-time is all you crave. His song-writing skills are enviable. He’s not afraid to pour his heart out for all to hear; for me that’s what makes this record wonderful.

Deptford Goth- Life After Defo. For the most part, what I listen to is some kind of take on Garage rock. However, sometimes something in music happens and I just fall for it. I have no idea what genre Deptford Goth’s music falls into. I don’t really care. There’s only two kinds of music for me- music I listen to and music I don’t listen to. Why waste your time on pointless sub-genres that feed those pretentious idiots out there. Deptford Goth’s debut record is one I have played constantly on train/tube journeys as everything is dark and the odd flickering street-light is all I see. I’ve walked country roads listening to this when I was living at my mum’s- when the evenings were light. His music fits the night-time perfectly. His gentle voice makes you feel as if you have something like a best friend walking with you to guide you through anything and everything. This is the kind of music that just stays locked in the heart. I’ve tried listening to Life After Defo when it is light out, but when you start to feel tired when on a long journey as the day fades- his music becomes so apt. I advise getting on a train just as it’s getting dark, head into your nearest city and walk around listening to this record. It just makes everything feel alright and secure.

SISU-Blood Tears. Fronted by Dum Dum Girls’ drummer Sandra (she’s also the best drummer I’ve ever seen live) SISU make hypnotic music to lose your mind to. Blood Tears has an eerie feel to it, as if it should be in some insanely fucked up horror film. Th best songs usually have this feel to them don’t they. Yet Sandra’s delicate voice makes you feel at ease. It’s the kind of record you play when the sky is covered in a haunting mist; the sounds will direct you where you want to go. You get lost in the beautiful moments that Blood Tears creates. Blood Tears posses this attitude that makes you think you can pretty much take anything and anyone on. Think, Garbage’s debut record- that kind of powerful. Dominant but not obnoxious in the slightest. It’s a powerful record that pretty much merges everything I love and adore about music.

PINS-Girls Like Us. Debut record of the year; no questions about it. This ferocious and dark debut record from the finest band in Manchester is one I’ve been playing on constant repeat since it came out. Every song is addictive. My love for PINS started last year when I heard the anthemic LuvU4Lyf. If you’ve seen PINS live, you will know just how pleasurable this song is to witness live. It is like a battle cry for hearts that are full of love; all bouts of lust have faded, and it has become something tougher. Speaking of tough, Girls Like Us has a gang-like feel to it. All too often I’ve seen PINS be described as a “girl band.” If only people defined music by what it sounds like rather than the gender of those making it. PINS are pretty much the most exciting band in the UK and I honestly cannot praise this record enough. It is, in my mind, a debut masterpiece. I’m so excited about how their sound is going to grow; I just bloody adore them. You get that, right?!

POP. 1280-Imps Of Perversion. The only person I know who really loves this band aside from myself is my uncle. We both share a mutual love for all things weird and loud. POP.1280 are one of the best bands on the brilliant Sacred Bones label. You see, Sacred Bones have never released a shit record. Some labels do have questionable moments; but Sacred Bones do take risks, and they do it in a way that means the listener is going to experience some of the best music imaginable. By no means are POP.1280 easy to listen to. This isn’t a record to woo a lover to or to play to your Gran at a family gathering. Oh no. Imps Of Perversion is a collective of perverse songs that you should play in your bedroom as loud as you want to. Feel as free as you want. Let the music fuck you up and over. It’ll go through your bones, smash your skull and leave you wondering why this isn’t played on commercial radio. Let them have your noise; you’ve got your own. Imps Of Perversion is as noisy and as brutal as it gets. This is one record I’d love to have witnessed the recording process for. It is brilliantly weird and wired.

The Long Wives- A Collection Of Demonstrations And Demons. I’ve been writing about Brandy for some time now, and since accidentally finding her music there’s not been a day where I’ve not listened to her haunting voice. Her voice is scary and powerful. Her songs show that she is one of the best song-writers around; the way she tells stories enables you to feel the fury she feels in her songs. This is her debut record, but it’s pretty much a collection of old songs and demos on there. It does have my favourite, Judas Hex on. It’s one of my favourite songs by Brandy, but to pin point what it is that I love about her music would take an eternity; I simply cannot justify my love for her music. If I ever had the money and was okay with being on a plane for 8 hours, I’d fly to LA and hang out with her in a graveyard and discuss life in general with her. She’s like a stripped back version of Zola Jesus; by this I mean her music makes you think. And I mean REALLY think about everything around you. Her music to me, is romantic and can cure the heart of any illness that is surrounding it. Her lyrics are vulnerable and the way she sings is just breathtaking. She’s an inspiration for sure.

Willis Earl Beal- Nobody Knows. From one musical genius to another; Willis is the man who is putting some much-needed soul into music right now. He appeals to the loner in me, which as I get older, becomes more and more obvious. I like my own company more than I used to, which  guess is an adjustment to getting older. I hate being in large groups of people, I just really hate it. Willis’ voice has a lot of soul to it, and his debut record had a lot of pain surrounding it. Read his background story, and you’ll see why. Nobody Knows has bouts of hope and strength in it. His song with the gorgeous Chan Marshall (Cat Power) just makes you feel as if everything is going to be alright again. It also makes you want them to make a full length record together. Followed by a tour is dingy, intimate venues. I can picture it now. Perfectly. Nobody Knows is the perfect middle finger to those who think most fall victim to that “second record” beast. It is obvious for the most part that it is a myth. Willis stamps all over it. His voice is extremely powerful; just look up videos of him singing without any music and you’ll quickly realise that he’s one of the greatest.

Savage Sister-Savage Sister. Savage Sister; with a name like that you’d think they’d be making menacing goth style music. They’re pretty much the opposite of that. They’re as gentle as Youth Lagoon, Beach House and Tamaryn combined. Basically, they are ideal. Their dream-like debut release is just ethereal from start to finish. Of course it is like you are floating amongst the clouds with your eyes shut as everything just passes you by. You don’t need to take notice of anything around you, because with this record, Savage Sister create moments for you that stay lodged in your brain and etched upon your heart forever. This debut release was one I’d been hugely excited for last year, and when I was emailed a copy I was so excited to finally hear it. There is something magical about this band; and they are much more than a sacred listen. Everyone should listen to them because they could possibly be the soundtrack to those memorable moments in your life. Savage Sister make music to float away and dream to. Listen and dream away.

CROCODILES- CRIMES OF PASSION. So this was pretty much an easy one. It was my record of the year before it was released; before I even heard it. I just knew it was going to blow my mind. I heard it a few months before it came out, and I was trembling with excitement as I listened to it. I get the same excitement now when I listen to it. I notice something different about each song with every listen. I initially thought I could pick one song that I loved the most, but I realised this wasn’t going to happen for me. I love She Splits Me Up but I love the lyrics to I Like It In The Dark (“I don’t have the time for a graveyard of the mind that they call shame.”) But I adore the whole romantic feel throughout the record. I was beyond excited to finally meet the band in the summer and to be able to see them live a couple of times; when I interviewed them about this record, I started picking up on different things about it. Songs that influenced by poets such as Baudelaire to Patti Smith. I’ve loved Crocodiles since the start and to hear them go from the likes of Neon Jesus to Marquis De Sade is just amazing. Live they are on a different level. Their fans really feel the music, and know they are part of something unruly and unconventional; that’s why I love them. If I was in a band, I’d want to have the same approach to music as Crocodiles do. There are so many reasons as to why Crimes Of Passion is my record of the year; but for the most part, the meanings are sentimental and close to my heart. VIVA CROCODILES!


DIRTY BEACHES- Workingmen’s Club, Bethnal Green. 13th May 2013.



This was a long time coming. This was much-needed; it was everything. As you know I’m a massive fan of Dirty Beaches. He manages to unleash every feeling you’ve ever had in his symphonic sounds without you even being aware you were feeling that way. There aren’t many who are this powerful but the humbling thing is, Alex doesn’t even know he’s this powerful.

As soon as Alex picks up his guitar you can see just how quickly he is transported into another world on stage. I was lucky enough to be right at the front, to witness this transformation so close was something incredibly special. It was as if he was taking you with him. For this 50 minute set it was just as if the real-world didn’t matter. Why should it ever matter anyway? We have musicians like Alex who have the gift of taking us somewhere else. Somewhere where it’s okay to harbour ugly feelings or carry an inch of self-doubt or the burning desire of lust. Everything seems alright and nothing seems important when  in this world. Live music is sometimes more powerful than the record.

Alex now plays live with Shub Roy and Bernardino Femminielli (who was also support tonight and is hand on heart, on of the most entertaining singers I’ve ever seen. This guy is a character and you need to listen to his music.) I’d never seen Alex play when he was just on his own, this was my first time and it was mind-blowing. The bond between the three musicians is beautiful. Exchanging hugs after every song was just beautiful to watch- they weren’t just three people playing music to us; they are evidently a family unit. Blistering through the new record (double LP!) Drifters/Love Is The Devil, every song played (sadly they don’t play both records in full-but imagine if they did!) something clicks inside of you. You pick up exactly how and more importantly WHY this record was made. I think everything I witnessed at this gig is going to stay with me for as long as I’m alive. Like I said already, Alex has this power that is unaware of but the beautiful thing about him is how humble he is.

When I was stood at the front, I watched him set up- which is where my photo is from, and it was done with such precision. Even before he started his show, you knew something amazing was going to happen tonight. I’ve been to a lot of gigs, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’ve never been to a gig where the crowd (thankfully) just shuts up and stays silent. The silence is the backbone to the awe everyone feels as they stand looking at Alex. His fist-pumps to the music resemble someone who is passionately possessed by the music. Bernardio thrashes about on keys whilst Shub looks relaxed as he hits the drum machine, alternating with the guitar. All three of them drift off into another place; but you know they are heading there together. All in their own time, but they sure as hell get there.

Live music is a healing process. Not just for those who are on stage unleashing their furies, but those who stare on in amazement. I cannot tell you what I had going on in my mind as I watched this show, mainly because I was just in awe of everything before me. Nothing mattered, maybe nothing matters now. It’s about the specific moments that make everything alright. This was one moment where everything felt alright.

At the end of each song, you could see relief on Alex’s face like every song performed was just a release for him.  Anyone who is a fan of Dirty Beaches will know just how important and possibly gruelling it was for Alex to make this double record. To see it live and to truly see how much it means to him was an absolute honour to watch. This cathartic experience is something I think anyone who was here tonight will treasure for a long time, I know I will. You see, Alex’s music goes beyond just being music to me. I didn’t really feel as if anyone else was around me at the gig. I felt like I was just stood in the doorway watching someone unleash all their pure emotions. They knew I was there, and it was as if they knew I felt exactly the same. The sheer power and devotion in Alex’s voice is insane. He can have the most ferocious voice but can break your heart in a delicate note. This happened at the end of the set where he was encouraged by us all to come on for an encore. Something which he didn’t expect, again reinforcing just how humble he is.

I’d waited years to see Alex live. Things always got in the way and it just wasn’t do-able. Having finally seen someone who I regard ever so highly as a true inspiration and probably the hardest working musician around, this gig at the Workingmen’s Club in Bethnal Green went beyond all expectations. I knew I was going to have my mind blown. I knew it was going to be like nothing else I had ever seen- I just didn’t expect the aftermath to fill me with a strange sense of hope. I like to think it is hope. It is hope of the unknown. You didn’t know what Alex was going to do next, and that is exactly why we need more musicians like this. Musicians to lure us in during their live shows in a way on record you may have missed. When I listen to his records (soundtracks included) my eyes remain closed. But live you have to keep your eyes open. You cannot tear your eyes away from the stage. I didn’t care for what anyone else was doing (although the guy next to me with curly hair was really getting into the music, he really felt it) I was just taking everything in.

I probably learnt more from this show than anything else. Put everything you have into something; that’s all you can ever do. It doesn’t matter if not everyone likes it because there will always be a handful of people who do.

DIRTY BEACHES-Drifters/Love Is The Devil.


I find it quite difficult to write about a band or singer after I’ve interviewed them; especially after I think I’ve exhausted everything I could possibly say about them. Then the sensible part of my brain kicks in and makes me realise I could quite happily go on and on about my favourite music until the end of time.

I think it is fairly obvious how much I love Dirty Beaches. His music has provided a familiar sense of tranquillity and acceptance. The acceptance comes from me; hard work I know. But it has to be done. His music is nothing short of genius. His music is nothing short of sheer perfection. Every note, every word, every little detail is just divine. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. His B-sides have blown my mind and his soundtracks have made me weep. So what on earth has his new two record done to me?

Drifters is the vocal album. Drifters is the one I’ll be playing when I’m wandering around with no concept of home, finding a sense of it in Alex’s music. Love Is The Devil is the one I will play when I cannot sleep. The instrumental album is the one to soothe the soul. The vocal is the one to wake it up. If you really want to shake things up, alternate the songs you listen to. One from Drifters, then one from Love Is The Devil. Or you could just listen to the records one after another to truly see where Alex is coming from.

I’ll mention Love Is The Devil first because I feel this is the one that’s going to stir up some crazy feelings for anyone that listens to it. When I heard the title track I pretty much had the same reaction that everyone else did. Yeah, this sensitive soul right here cried. I cried because you could truly feel pain in the music. Words were not needed. Sometimes words are the worst thing; they can do more harm than good. There aren’t many musicians that can make an instrumental record with so much emotion. So much intensity and a raw delight to it, yet remain so delicate. This is why I believe Alex is from another world, he must be. I know I keep saying he’s a genius but, he truly is. The way he can create so many emotions in just one song and keep it consistent all the way through just leaves you in awe. From this record, my heart firmly belongs to Alone At The Danube River. I shut my eyes as I listened to this one and I was anywhere but here. That’s the best place to be. I get a lot of escapism from Alex’s music, and as someone who cannot stand where they currently live (its okay, I’m moving to London in a few weeks, finally!) music is the truest form of escaping the mundane trials of everyday life here. His music just takes me to another place. I place I suppose I can call home. I’ve wandered around places at night on my own listening to his music, and it always feels like an outer-body experience. Love Is The Devil is more than just an instrumental record; it’s a journey deep into the soul. A journey you will not forget once you are guided through it by Alex.

Now let’s get into Drifters.

Drifters opens with the killer Night Walk. This is a song you will strut along the streets late at night to. It has this insanely 80s beat to it mixed with something sinister. Like a vengeful menace on the prowl. Something is lurking and is coming for you. A menacing vibe to sift in and out during Drifters, and for the most part you can really see why Alex has made soundtracks. Drifters feels like it would be perfectly placed in a horror or thriller film. The 10 minute Mirage Hall is my favourite from Drifters. You see, I have a huge weakness for songs that last over 5 minutes. I love music that just seems to go on forever yet still manages to fill you with excitement as you are taken on a journey through the singer/band’s mind. The last track, Landscapes In The Mist is full of ethereal moments that make you pause before you listen to Love Is The Devil. Part of you thinks, “Maybe I should play Drifters one more time.” You know you must carry on, but then you find yourself at the end of Love Is The Devil going back to Drifters and playing both records on a constant loop. This is how you know you are listening to something truly spectacular.

A lot of new music has come out this year so far, but none have offered what Alex has. He’s created a soundtrack to daily life with these two records. He’s easily made the best two records you will hear this year, you cannot deny him of that. Listening to both records, I’ve developed more respect and admiration for what Alex does. This is a person who truly has music in their blood; that they just HAVE to make music. And it is his sheer passion for music that makes you fall so easily for his music. I cannot favour one record over the other because both are so different yet equally perfect. Both records conjure up different emotions yet provide the same source of comfort. I hope a lot is written about both of these records because they are something that just cannot be ignored. What stands out in both records is the labour that has gone into making them. Anyone who is a fan of Alex knows exactly how hard he works and how much he puts into his music. I think this is something that plays a massive part in being a fan of his music. He’s constantly putting music out, but not in an overbearing way. He leaves you wanting more, and with a back catalogue that is more impressive than most- he can easily add these two records as his best work to date, as clichéd as it sounds. I hope someone who isn’t familiar with his music stumbles across Drifters/Love Is The Devil and develops a lasting obsession. I hope they listen to it and find the pieces of themselves that have been missing for some time.

Whilst most are set on creating a summer-vibe record, Alex keeps you in comforting darkness of the harshest of winters. The loneliness that may enrage you is slowly disappearing, because you realise that someone else gets it. Someone else is unleashing all you feel- with and without words. That is why these two records are not only extremely important but also incredible.

An Interview with DIRTY BEACHES.


To write this with the care and respect it deserves may take me some time. I have the time, too much time. I’ll try my best. I’ve wanted to speak with Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beaches) for some time now. Many times I’ve read his blog and just thought “Email him..don’t be such a coward.” A month ago I stopped being a coward and emailed him asking if he would answer some questions. I always expect the worst. But, it is obvious that Alex is a good person who loves making music. I sent him some questions and now I am going to try type this up in a way I want it. As a fan; not as a Music Journalist/Writer. Even though I am one, I don’t really like them. They write in a way I don’t like. I’m not afraid to be a fan, so I might as well write like one.

All of Alex’s work is on his bandcamp page ( and for any emotion you are carrying around; there is a song there that will sum it up perfectly. More than likely it will be just instrumental. Sometimes words just don’t cut it. I was really intrigued as to how he manages to convey feelings of loneliness and desolation without using lyrics; how can you put across something so frail without using your voice, can it even be done? Of course it can.


“For better or worse, I’ve developed this way of making music as the only way I know how to make music.  Instrumentals or not, it doesn’t really matter because it’s just a way of expressing how you feel.  Like picking what type of brushes to use on canvas, for example.  I am learning more techniques as we speak, and have developed some as well over the years.”


This is why it is so easy to love Alex’s music, because you know it comes from a treasured place. A place that is sacred, that not many can get into; the soul. The soul is deeper than the heart. It is easy to have a piece of music touch your heart, but when it really gets to your soul that’s it. The connection is firmly there. Irreplaceable and perfect.

Alex’s music has always sounded to me as if it was destined to be in a film. His music makes you feel as if you are on the run; escaping what has held you captive for so long. Last week I picked up a copy of the Water Park soundtrack. I’m not sure if I’ll ever take it out of the wrapper because it just looks so beautiful untouched and unopened. Or maybe I’ll just cave and listen to it later. I’ve heard the film scores he has done before, and have been left in awe of his talent. As I’ve listened to them, I was always curious as to how he went about it because music in films is all about capturing certain moments to reinforce specific things happening. I thoroughly recommend you listen to his music scores because they’re on a different level.


“I’m working with the directors research material and for me, first and foremost is to deliver the music that the director wants.  I have my instincts too, but it’s usually over a lot of detailed conversations with the director to develop the pacing, rhythm, and mood of each scene where music is required.  Sometimes they just background music, so I can write very simple non intrusive music that can be interrupted by dialogue any time.  Kind of like furniture music.  But every movie, every director is different, and it’s interesting to work with different people that intrigues you.”


His music is powerful, regardless of if it’s on his own record or if it is a soundtrack. It just touches you in a beautiful way. You can sense a lot of struggle in his music, that this is a pure way to release frustrations. Nothing ever comes easy, and you can tell Alex is one of the hardest working musicians around just by looking at his discography. We all have to struggle to get what we want, and if everything just happened instantly surely we’d never treasure certain moments or we’d just take everything for granted. Everything can be made up of false starts at times, it doesn’t work out. You stop to only start again. Usually it is the second time around that can make it all fall into the place the way it should. There is a beautiful sense of urgency in Alex’s music that makes you really believe in what he has created. You know it is everything to him, and I wanted to know what made him feel that he just HAD to make music, that nothing else would do:


“I quit music once in 2005, and worked in real estate.  After 1 year, I quit my job and moved to Montreal and started all over.  I think from that point on it was pretty serious.  I quit a proper job to go work in minimum wage shit jobs just so I could pursue this dream.  I got lucky.  But I did work really hard for 7 years.  Working countless dead end jobs, writing and playing on my spare time, playing to 5 people at some moody basement.  This is the life of a lot of musicians in North America.  I feel very blessed.  Real glad to be here.”

I remember when I first heard Dirty Beaches. I honestly had no idea what I was listening to. I didn’t know if it was one person or a full band. I didn’t know, part of me at the time didn’t want to know because I created an image in my mind of what it was. I think part of me knew it was one person. I have a thing for duos and solo artists that have a “do or die” feel about their music. You just know that they work harder than most (that’s not a knock to bands at all.) It is like they have something more to prove. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But when it is just one of you on stage, you are a lot more vulnerable because you have no back up if it goes wrong. Same goes with duos, if one slips- you both fall. Yet you still carry each other. Anyone who knows me knows that The Kills are my favourite duo, and if they added more members it just wouldn’t sound or look right. It is quite voyeuristic in a way because the chemistry they have is just so rare. The same goes with powerful solo artists like Alex. He is pouring it all out, and we just take it all in. So why did he decide to go it alone?


“I moved to Montreal and posted “bass player, drummer wanted” ads for months, went to numerous meet ups with strangers and nothing ever came out of it.  Out of frustration, I did everything on my own.  My background is playing bass or guitar in the back of numerous bands, metal, noise, improv, indie rock what have you.  I always like being in the back of the band just playing a guitar.  But I didn’t find anyone that I connected with.” 


You cannot force a connection, and life is too short to make compromises. A strong DIY work ethic may take longer to achieve what you want, but the end result is always worth more because you know you worked yourself to the ground to get it. The more you see and the more you expose yourself to; it just causes you to gain inspiration and to grow. When you listen to Alex’s work, you really get a sense of this. He has travelled and has lived everywhere from Montreal to his current location, Berlin. At the start of this year he toured Australia and Asia for the first time. Cultural diversity makes the world a better place. Although I love books, seeing things with your own eyes is a lot more powerful than reading about it. To experience it all for yourself can do so much for a person, only a fool would turn their nose up at us all being different and making our own contributions to society. No matter how big or small.  As I read Alex’s answers to my questions, this was the one that really meant a lot. I’m trying to figure out why, but I suppose if I keep going over it the answer will just miss me. I asked him what stand-out moments there were on this tour:


“It’s mostly non music related, like swimming in the pacific ocean again was a huge thing for me as I was raised near the ocean in Honolulu.  It made me realize how much I miss swimming in ocean water.  Other things were food, predominantly food, and bizarre adventures like going to hang out with lady boys in Bangkok.  That was rad.  They were super cool.  People in Thailand taught me a lot of things, as they are very peaceful culturally, and there’s no bullshit stereotypes of masculinity or femininity.  The body and the mind seems to be separate over there.  Trans gender people and homosexuality is not a taboo at all over there.  It was cool to see and experience that.”


If we lived in a world where we all accepted each other, it’d make life a lot easier for most of us. But alas, that won’t happen. Not in my lifetime. I live in hope but you know. To be in such a peaceful environment like Thailand and to swim in the ocean- these are moments that will stay with a person forever. You have to travel around to find a place that you belong in. I remember a few weeks ago I was wandering around Oxford Street in London on my own. I think at one point I took a wrong turn and got lost. So I went in the first bookshop I found and spent an hour in there. No one knew who I was and no one wanted anything from me. I was just another person. It’s alright to spend time on your own to just be. To just be at peace and to just do what you want. It is important for people to spend time alone and to not talk. Silence is beautiful. Getting lost in a place is wonderful. You turn corners and you have no idea what is there; going into the unknown can be scary but it is also one of the best things you can do. Alex has lived everywhere. Places where he knows no one, places where he knows someone. Is it hard for him to find a place to settle? Does he want to? Why should any of us settle somewhere? I’ve never called a place “home.” I don’t know if I ever will. Some places you feel a connection to, other places can be quite soulless. You create your own state of mind and what it is to “belong.”


“Everyone has their own unique path, there’s definitely some places that made it harder for me to adjust to based on the language/culture barrier, but after a while, you get used to everything.  I’m pretty open to new things.  New food, new culture, new clothes, I don’t really care.  I prefer to blend in with the crowd.” 

I learnt a lot more about Alex just by asking him the questions I wanted to ask. Interviews can be boring and you can ask the same thing over and over. I love music, and I just wanted to know more about how he makes music and the places he has been to. There are some musicians that you can instantly tell are so passionate about what they do, and that is what draws you to them. When I look at the music that I own, every band/singer is someone who is truly passionate about what they do. That’s how it should be. If you’re not going to give it your all and do it with heart; then don’t bother. The last thing I asked Alex was about how he writes lyrics. Writing words down..the words that you feel at that moment are extremely personal and there comes a time where they are no longer private (this is why I never show anyone my lyrics/poems ha!) but if your livelihood is making music, you have to cast that fear aside and just expose yourself. I could quite happily listen to Alex make an album filled with his voice as I could just sit and listen to his instrumental compositions. Both are equally as beautiful, and filled with pure and raw emotion. You can just tell he has worked insanely hard to get it right. I love his lyrics because they are not filled with pretentious imagery or what have you. You don’t ever need to go over the top to make your point.


“I actually really loathe writing lyrics.  Partly because I suck.  Partly is also because it’s not really pure.  I think music is pure in a way that it kind of just comes out of you.  But the process of writing lyrics is a chore to me.  I go with simple rhythms and try to stick to the impression of the mood of the music when it was first conceived, then try to find the words that match the music.  I’m not a poet so it doesn’t come naturally to me.  A lot of it is me sitting there for hours working my brain to death just to squeeze a few words out of it.  Kind of like constipation, I guess.”


He doesn’t suck at writing lyrics, far from it. But like I said above, whether its instrumental or he uses words- he still manages to convey so much emotion. Alex was actually one of the very few musicians I heard that I loved based on just hearing an instrumental. I love words, but sometimes a piece of music can sum it all up much better. A key change can cover you in goose bumps more than a catchy hook.

In a few weeks Alex is releasing two records via Zoo Music. Drifters/Love Is The Devil. One is instrumental, the other is vocal. In January, the song Love Is The Devil was uploaded. I remember sitting and playing it over and over. Just through headphones. Nothing else could hold my attention. I just had to listen to it and over and over. I heard sadness and I heard hope in the music. It’s a song that will leave you with a lump in your throat because of how gorgeous it is. Without words we can say so much. When I listened to it (and it still has the same grip over me) I knew that these two records Alex is about to put out would be something truly special. I’ve listened to his music when I’ve been at a bad place and when I’ve been content. I wandered through a city and I’ve stared out to the sea as I’ve listened to his music. I’ve rested my head against the windows of a train as I’m transported from one place to another. I’ve said I’ve never felt at home anywhere, truth is..I found my home in music. In his music and a select few. We all have our own battles and fears to conquer, but music like this makes you feel less alone.

I just want to thank Alex for taking the time out to answer my questions. You’re a rare talent, and I honestly cannot thank you enough for this xx

“Forgive them, even if they are not sorry.”

Yesterday I saw something that made me yet again realise that strangers are sometimes a lot more friendlier and much more kind than those we know. Sometimes we find it easier to tell someone we do not know that they aren’t alone or are more inclined to make them feel less alone compared to someone we know, or are close to. I’ve tried to work this out, and I have no answer. I have no answer to anything, just my own views. Which may or may not be right; but it should NEVER be about being right because when that becomes the only thing in life that you strive for, or that gives you satisfaction then maybe you need to reevaluate your way of living. Hard to say you’re living if you do that, you’re just existing. It’s a chore, not a pleasure.

This act of kindness I witnessed was something that I wish I took a photo of. It was a beautiful thing to see, mainly because it showed that strangers have a bigger heart than those we know at times. I was walking into Tesco (other supermarkets available, so please use for Sainsburys, that’s a good one. Orange plastic bags and a good vegetarian section.) Outside the shop were two homeless men. I immediately wanted to buy them something to eat and drink. I always give money or food to the homeless. You just have to, you cannot ignore them. You should always help in any way you can. Last year at Pride (London..outside the same Tesco) it was late in the evening, so I went in and bought something to eat. It was the only vegetarian thing they had. Some excuse for pasta, no idea. I was looking around and I saw this man in the doorway, it was raining too. I left my friends for a few seconds and walked up to him and gave him the food I bought. I didn’t touch what I ate, I just gave him it. He tried to refuse, but I told him he had to take it because it was raining. I saw many people ignore him and I wanted him to know that someone was thinking of him. I think of this a lot, mainly because I hope he’s okay and safe.

The two men I saw yesterday were sat outside, and as I got nearer I saw they were both huddled under a leopard print blanket someone must have given them and they were also sharing a pizza that someone had bought for them. Strangers can offer more than we know. We are always told “don’t speak to strangers.” But why? Sometimes those that are the closest to us are the ones that do the most damage, and those who know nothing about us are the ones that can sometimes give us what we need; kindness and hope. I can contradict myself here with two things. I once helped someone who was (and still is) my best friend. We’ve known each other since we were 4 and have fallen out once. Anyway, I was at someone’s house and she was a horrible creature. She bullied everyone, and eventually picked on me because she was a fool. Anyway, she lived right near my best friend and she was being beyond horrible to her. She was riding round on her bike, and I had enough of her being horrible to my friend so (she was wearing a helmet and landed on a lot of grass) I pushed her off her bike when she came back around. My best friend and I ran to her house. I hid, and she told her mum what I did. She was fine with it and we ate pizza. I stuck up for my best friend because that’s what you do. Once, a stranger punched me in the face and nearly ripped my nose ring out. So I guess there are always exceptions. I didn’t retaliate. My hitting someone in a fight would be a comedy moment. I’d lose my balance and just punch myself in the face.

People always say, when you tell them what’s wrong, that someone else always has it worse. I think that does more harm than good. It just makes the person who feels bad, feel more shit than they already do. We need to be more compassionate and less judgemental. Not every homeless person is a junkie. Not every junkie is a bad person. Bad people are everywhere, as are good. It’s just we are exposed to negativity because sad-cases thrive off it. It’s a terrible way to be. Maybe I need to stop seeing the good in everyone, but we all deserve a chance. That’s basically what the point of this is, maybe you took something else from it. I have no idea. Just next time you see someone sleeping rough on the street, it wouldn’t hurt you to buy them a drink or give them some change. The kindness in strangers is needed; kindness in general is. If it was you, you’d want someone to help you in some way right?

DIRTY BEACHES-Love Is The Devil.


Anyone who has listened to Dirty Beaches knows just how much of a genius this man is. He has the ability to send you way back in time and show you a taste of the future with his music. His music is like poetry for the soul. A form of escapism whilst still being in the midst of a dark reality. In short, he makes you feel part of something no one else dares to take you.

He’s just put a track from his new record up on YouTube. It’s instrumental and it will break your heart. I’ve not had my heart-broken in a long long time, but listening to the sheer sadness in this song; I feel as if I just have. He’s proven that you do not need words to convey one of the worst feelings anyone can ever feel. With heartbreak comes loneliness. With loneliness comes regret, followed by whatever you feel you can handle. This gorgeously vulnerable track has made me even more excited for his new record (he’s got two coming out on Zoo Music so it’s obvious they’re going to be the best records you’ll hear this year.)

Love Is The Devil is for those looking for hope and it is for those who need an equal balance of good/bad feelings in their lives. The sadness immediately hits you. This song would be perfect for a black and white silent film. Alex aka Dirty Beaches is one of the few musicians I hope one day I get to meet and interview because the way his mind works, and the music he makes just leaves me in awe. Complete awe. This Christmas just gone, my uncle and I had an in-depth discussion about Alex’s music, and we both agreed this has never been done before. I doubt it ever will. I struggle to accept that anyone couldn’t hear the beauty in his work. It’s gentle and passionate; especially Love Is The Devil. Everyone should know that Lord Knows Best is one of the greatest love songs of our time. True Blue is a woeful ode to love. Badlands is a record you need in your life. As are his upcoming releases, and previous.

But for now, shut your eyes. Think of something or someone you miss, and take in this beautiful track.

“Waiting for the stars to align, there is a restless rain cloud in my mind. Heavy eyes fixed in the middle of the room.”

Many have frequently stated that you must suffer for your art. I’m unsure how true this is, or if I even believe it. Surely if you are a good writer or painter, you can place yourself in various positions without having to hit rock bottom. You can empathise with those who are in a dark place rather than torturing yourself on a daily basis.

I write songs/poems. I personally think they are bloody awful. I don’t show them because I don’t want anyone to see how shit they are. However, I do have some stupid dream of having them published in a book one day. I haven’t done anything about it because the fear of rejection plagues me more than I want it to not because I am lazy. Some of what I have written is quite dark, but not because I feel so utterly hopeless and depressed. I know what depression. I’ve seen what it does to people, and I’ve never felt like that. People who say they are depressed but can still go out and function aren’t depressed. You cannot move, you cannot do a thing; that’s depression. My gran had it before I was born, and a bit when I was younger. Friends have battled with it, and there is nothing you can do but watch helplessly hoping one day it leaves them alone so they can go back to being the person they once were. You don’t need to be in love to write about love. Feelings of love and joy can fill you by watching a certain film, listening to a certain song or gazing at a piece of art. It is everywhere. Everything and nothing can be inspiring.

Being able to put yourself in the mind-set of others teaches you to be a more accepting and gentle person. I’ll happily be the first to admit that I am far too sensitive. I know I need to toughen up, but it just will not ever happen. I cannot be cruel to get something I want. I cannot harm someone on purpose; I’d rather just hug everyone instead. I’d like to think one day that being a gentle soul will go in my favour. Until then, I wait. Or just accept it. Same thing I suppose.

I’m drawn to the darker things. Dark songs, creepy literature. It is all fascinating. I’m not religious at all (I believe there’s a spiritual being above us all, but not in a powerful sense) but anything that questions God or whatever in songs really gets my attention. That’s why I love bands like Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles and The Long Wives. There are religious references, but not in a “I BELIEVE IN GOD AND YOU MUST TOO” kind of way; far from it. I am all for people questioning each other in a non-threatening manner. I’m not religious but that doesn’t mean I’m going to belittle someone who does. We all have our own things to believe in; nobody should ever try to shy someone away from what they believe in. Unless it means promoting hatred and intolerance, then I’ve got an issue with it.

I honestly had no point in writing this. I never do. It’s a cheap outlet I suppose, as always. I just thin we need to stop thinking we must feel low and hopeless in order to achieve something great. You can function being a happy person. But it seems, when you are happy people have an issue with it. Yet when you feel like shit, people may deem you as being draining. You cannot win, so forget them. Yet I know it is hard. You do not need to suffer in order to do something of worth. You justify your own worth, not the objects and people that surround you.

That’ll do for now.

“Release your mind, through your hands and your feet. A sigh digs you out when you’re getting too deep.”

Fools judge, so spit the cold words back at them. Ever look at something and think, “Fuck I can’t be here.” So you try your hardest to transport all your thoughts elsewhere? This happened to me today. Sure it happens most of the time to be honest. But today it was more vivid than usual. You don’t want to have these thoughts whilst on a treadmill, it can cause accidents. I was fine. I’m steady. I’m quite clumsy at times though. My attention is easily diverted. I’m writing this and doing about 3 other things because this isn’t enough to hold my attention. I’m going somewhere better than just typing words on a screen.

The only thing that can truly hold my attention is music. Okay a couple of people do too..but music is a solid. I think it is the only secure thing in my life. That said; I really dislike organisation and being told what to do. I hate being rushed. Hate it. Nothing in life needs to be rushed. Move at the pace of a sloth..well, maybe a bit quicker but you know what I mean. You gather up your thoughts and place them in boxes in your mind. I don’t do that. Everything is pushed back. In a heap. This for me, isn’t a bad thing. I’m more likely to have a song playing round my head than anything else.

The escapism is still there; always. I always want to leave where I am. Always. I probably came out of the womb wishing I was born elsewhere. They teach you to do what you want, but when you do some fuck says you’re wrong. But you aren’t wrong. They’re wrong.

Something will always take over you. Something will make you snap. I long for the day where I can leave and never come back. It’ll be a moment I look back on and feel I’ve finally done something right. Sometimes you want to tear your eyes out in the hopes a new pair grow back and you see things differently. Just because you can see things differently doesn’t mean your heart feels any different.

Kicking and screaming. Dragging and wailing. Get out. Find a sound and let it take you over. Get out. Just get out.

But I am incapable of taking my own advice, and I hate the way I write.


Dirty Beaches-Lone Runner.

One of the best artists this year, one of the best albums of the year for sure. Dirty Beaches has that wonderful dark and tormented sound that is found in artists such as Townes Van Zandt and Tom Waits.

Dirty Beaches (or Alex if you prefer) really pulls at your heartstrings and gets to the very core of your emotions. There is such pain and vulnerabilty in his voice, and music. These traits make him easy to relate to, you cling onto every word; you believe in every single word. For me, that’s what makes an artist highly exceptional. His music is instantly timeless. If you want something that is going to make you feel something you never thought you could feel, then get his album.

The video to Lone Runner isn’t exactly uplifting- but why should it be? Music should be frightening. Music should give off dark and menacing vibes- Dirty Beaches does eaxctly that. Yet, when you listen to songs such as Lord Knows Best; it fills you with hope and love. Alex is a fascinating musician, you can’t deny that.

Albums Of 2011-Part 4.

I’m starting to think I’ve stupidly create more work for myself, but then again- I’ve got sod all else to do but write so I’ll stop whinging and carry on. This year, a lot of dark, menacing records have come out. I’m going to mention a few of my favourites in this next piece. As much I love music that makes me feel like I’ve collapsed into some kind of trance like state; I adore anything that is dark, bold, cruel and brutal. Maybe it makes up for the fact that I’m stupidly laid back and a semi decent person (I don’t want to say I’m a good/gentle person because I’ll sound like an egotistical twerp.) Right, pointless introduction out of the way.

Anna Calvi-Anna Calvi: I’ve been a fan of Anna Calvi since 2009, so I’ve been waiting for this debut record for a long time. When I first heard her voice, I immediately felt exactly how I felt when I first heard Florence in 2007. That massive dark, grand sound with such a powerful voice just shattered my soul and caused a riot. I had to find anything and everything to do with Anna’s music. Her cover of Jezebel is mind-blowing. The drums at the start followed by the echoes of JEZEBEL!!! It’s so haunting. What I cherish the most about Anna Calvi’s music is how it makes you feel like you are in some warped kind of film. It fucks with your mind and rules your body. Think David Lynch but with a more romantic feel to it. Her music is like being chased through a dark forest, stumbling over scattered twigs and stones. You run and run, but sooner or later whatever is chasing you will probably get you. It’s okay. Her music is so bold and atmospheric. This is music to take a walk in the dark as the fog rules the night sky and you cannot see where you are going. Walking into the unknown whilst listening to something so beautiful yet sinister at the same time. It’s so spooky and eerie. Her voice, when whispered into your ear, causes your body to just shake. You tremble and just turn to mush. Then her huge powerful voice kicks in and your jaw drops. Her guitar playing, oh shit. She is a beast on the guitar. Her music makes you feel like you are on a film set, lurking in the shadows- standing where you shouldn’t be. Seeing things you shouldn’t be seeing. It’s an incredible record and as far as debut records go- Anna really did raise the bar at the start of the year with this one.

CocknBullKid-Adulthood: Another debut album I had been waiting so long for. Worth the wait? Of course. I’ve been a huge fan of Anita’s work for years. I remember first hearing On My Own and just being in awe of her. She was offering something that was so badly needed in the music industry. She cites Morrissey as one of her influences, and it is so clear in her music. She has these wonderful dark lyrics that are cleverly hidden over a cheery beat. I adore Adulthood so much. It touches on the angst and fury of growing up. They say being a teenager is hard- they don’t tell you that being an adult is even harder. This album lets you embrace all the mistakes you may have made in your life. It allows you to be a mess and in a vulnerable state. All of these things are totally okay to feel. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you HAVE to be secure or stable. People’s high expectations can cause tremendously low self esteem. It’s probably the reason why we sometimes do the things that we do. Hold Onto Your Misery has some gorgeous lyrics, a particular favourite of mine is: “A little cynicism will do you good.”  I had the pleasure of interviewing her last Halloween, it was one of the best interviews I’ve done- she’s just a fantastic person who is so charming, smart and passionate about what is doing. Oh and she’s a fan of Seinfeld, that itself makes her amazing. I remember when Anita was starting out and stupid publications (also ignorant too) were calling her a Grime artist just because of the colour of her skin. The same happened with Santigold when she started out, people were quick to assume she was a rapper just because she’s black. Skin colour doesn’t play a part in the music an artist creates. Fuck, your skin colour isn’t important at all. What I love about Anita is that her lyrics are honest and vulnerable. She doesn’t used pretentious vocabulary in order to make you feel what she is saying. As it comes from the heart, you feel it in yours.

Kurt Vile-Smoke Ring For My Halo: Sticking with dark albums, Kurt Vile put out an exquisite and haunting album this year. Smoke Ring For My Halo has got to be one of the most underrated albums of the year. It just oozes a fuck load of fragilty. The lyrics shoot right into your heart and just make you fall over through sheer pain of feeling every word he sings to you. Baby’s Arms is one of the most gorgeous love songs. It isn’t your traditional love songs though. It’s basically Kurt saying he can’t stand anything or anyone- but the person he loves. We’ve all felt that way. You just feel so disappointed in the world and you want to turn your back on it. Then you fall into the arms and eyes of the one that you adore, and nothing else matters. To some it sounds a bit too much and sickly, but the way Kurt does it is almost in a Tom Waits kind of way. Kurt has this distinctive deep tone that reminds you of artists such as Lou Reeds. He has a bluesy and traditional rock & roll feel to his music. It’s an album that will make you want to throw some clothes and books in the back of car, and make you just drive off somewhere. Pretty much how Blood Pressures by The Kills should make you feel. Just drive on a dusty, desolate road and off into the unknown. Who knows where you’ll end up, the journey will change your life. Kurt Vile is an astounding artist who just tugs and tugs at your heartstrings with his music, but it doesn’t feel forced. It’s a natural thing, and that is why it is easy to embrace this record. It’s exceptional.

Dirty Beaches-Badlands: CANADA! If you were a woman, I would kiss you. Canada, this year you’ve given us some treats. The Weeknd, Feist’s new album and of course- Dirty Beaches. Badlands is a gritty, creepy, passionate record. Lord Knows Best was one of the songs at the start of the year to have truly gripped my heart and kept a secure place there throughout the year. Everything about Badlands is everything I want in a record. Take the track Horses, it sounds like a 60s garage rock track. It’s so amazing. I love this record because it does something to your brain. A lot of records I have loved this year are ones that you play by yourself with no interruptions; Badlands is one of them. I find listening to music a private thing. I wouldn’t ask a bunch of people to come round and listen to the new record by..I don’t know with me. Mainly because everyone I know hates the stuff I listen to. I’m fine with it to be honest. Badlands sends you off into a different place entirely. You feel like you are in the 60s, then you feel you’re back in 2011. It fucks your brain up, seriously but you love it. It is done in a good way- trust me, that can happen. It has a lo-fi feel to it mixed with hints of garage rock. It just merges everything I love into one. This record just makes you want to drink some Whiskey (I’ve never tried Whiskey) and listen to this album whilst sat in a huge, comfy chair. First listen I fell in love with this record- many more listens later, I’m still in love. A solid record that you should probably open your heart and ears to.