Interview – Yes Sir Boss & Joss Stone; The New Single – Mrs #1

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Right to left: Tom First, Joss Stone & Matt Sellors at the video shoot for new single Mrs #1

At the end of last month I got an invite from one of my favorite Bristol based bands, Yes Sir Boss, to be part of making the video for their new single, Mrs #1 in a small pub in Easton. The new track started life as an EP when the Yes Sir Boss boys signed to Joss Stone’s label, Stone’d Records in May last year. After the release party for the EP I wrote an article saying the boys were going to make it big – and was pleased to see that now they are on the road to bigger things, they haven’t lost their original feel, and while the catchy hooks are as they ever were, very present, they still have a sense of fun that makes them playful and interesting.

Yes Sir Boss had previously recorded Mrs #1 for the album with no intention of it becoming a duet.  The idea arose after they arranged to do a gig with Stone in Holland where Joss was to perform one of their songs, and where they agreed to sing a couple of hers. However, the impromptu performance sounded so good, they immediately decided to record it as a single. Another track ‘Not Guilty’ had a  soft release last year, and trumpet player Tom First explained that Mrs #1 intended to be a more mainstream offering.

The band formed eight years ago when at University in Dartington, and bass payer Josh Stopford met Joss when they were kids in Devon. Tom explained that keeping the band together had been a struggle – music being such an unreliable career choice – and spoke about why they made the decision to collaborate with Joss for their first big single release.

The main reason, he told me, was his belief that the UK music industry has become increasingly cynical and susceptible to marketing.

‘Radio producers have become scared, and lack the courage to take a risk. No one takes a chance unless they know it will pay off’.

This was a large part of the band’s decision that after eight years producing music on their own, that they would collaborate with Miss Stone. Stone has been a fan of the band for some time, with her support for their music obvious in her decision to sign them to her label, investing her own money in their success.

BombOnYellowEP1

He also spoke about the fickle nature of the British media, whose current bad reputation makes him wary. ‘The press in the UK can make or break you, or at least make things very difficult. Joss is incredibly popular in Europe and the US, but when she first started out, she was slated by the British papers. She was only about twenty and had been touring in the US and they trashed her for picking up a slight US accent. I think the British attitude can often be negative towards other people’s success, and the industry can be a very cynical place’.

It is this attitude to marketing and the way the industry works drove some of the thinking behind the new release.

‘The new single is meant to be fun. Like any other band, we need to get our name out there and get noticed. We wanted the video to be low key though – we still want to look and sound like us. I love the song, and it was really good fun to make, but it wasn’t intended as anything profound. It’s just fun to dance to!’

This is what I love best about the Bossers – they are unabashedly honest, and it shows in their music. They have just returned from a tour of Germany, and Tom says the tour has injected fresh energy into the band.

‘We played much longer sets on the Germany tour than we do in the UK, which gave us a whole different set up, and more room to be creative. It was brilliant playing where the real focus was just on the music, rather than the marketing. Britain is so saturated with bands – most people here wouldn’t go to a gig unless it was someone they had heard of. People are skint, and they don’t want to spend the cash unless they already know what they’re getting. In Germany the scene is different – the gigs were packed, but it wasn’t people who had heard of us, just people who came because they love music’.

‘We need to reach a wider audience – the live scene is amazing, but you need to get aired and that is what we are hoping to do with this single! Joss has been coming to our gigs for years, so it’s been really great working with her. It’s such an honour to record a track with such a fantastic singer who has performed with some of the greatest musicians of all time such as Solomon Burke, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger and many more’.

That’s the great thing about the Bossers. Despite working with such a big name, there is no hint of arrogance to this band, and there is an honest sense of humour and a self-deprecating nature to them. Tom was quick to admit that the single is their biggest opportunity yet and is very excited about the prospect, but is prepared that it may not mean fame and fortune.

‘If it doesn’t work out as planned that’s fine, we’ll just have to wait and see. Not sure what we’ll all do if we aren’t in the band anymore though, we’ve been doing it for so long now!’

The video was filmed at The Plough in Easton, Bristol – a typically low key venue on a Tuesday night. The extras, myself included, were treated to a free shot on the door, and the whole atmosphere of the shoot was just a bunch of fans having a few drinks and watching an intimate gig. There was no sense of enforced fun for the cameras. No one was told to stand or do anything in particular, and there was no proper rehersal Just a warm up set including a few songs by Yes Sir Boss, (including a wicked cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’) and some beautiful singing from Joss Stone, whose live vocals were truly striking. There was also a quick run through of how the video would be shot, mainly to prepare the crowd for front man Matt Sellors’ crowd surfing in a very small space, so he didn’t fall on his ass during the final take.

By the time the shoot began, everyone was suitably hyped up and in the kind of good mood you get when you go to see any great band, and the performance was great. Joss Stone and Matt Sellors goal collaboration sounded great, and despite her and Matt owning the stage for the performance the band and backing were flawless and full of energy as ever.

There’s a tongue in cheek mischief to Yes Sir Boss – a sense of being irritatilgy catchy but knowing it, combined with a genuine talent and passion for the music and the fun of it that make them something unique. It’s an honest sense of fun that is so lacking in main stream music. Accessible to all, but independently and intriguingly rough edged, combined with that typically Bristol sound – ska trumpets and a nod to gypsy – that shows their roots. The new single is full of that same style, offset by Joss’s soulful voice and makes this track one that is bound to attract attention on release.

I urge you to check the rest of the album out. Although the label, and the collaboration with Miss Stone is bound to earn this track publicity, the band has staying power. I’ve always thought so, and this first dip into the mainstream has not changed my mind. They are what they have always been. And that is bloody good fun.

The single is out on April 15th, and Yes Sir Boss will be playing at Thekla on April 27th.

mrs #1

Natalie

Found Footage Festival Review – Bristol Watershed

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Found Footage Festival Official poster

 

Weird, surreal, disturbing and lots of fun, the latest offering from The Found Footage Festival needs to be seen to be believed. Read my review in Strawberry Line Times and book yourselves tickets for the next show!

Natalie

Too Much Knowledge Porridge

‘Stuart Pearson’ from Armando Iannucci’s The Thick Of It

Last weekend something awful happened. Someone hacked my website and deleted everything I have even written. I logged in to add a post, and there it wasn’t. What was there was a completely different site, full of links to computer games and a whole different theme, layout, everything.

After trying and failing to retrieve, well, anything, my poor long suffering sister had to put up with me sitting on her sofa for an hour crying into my beer. At least I bought the beer.

If any fellow writers have had the same experience, I really feel for you. More so because it is very difficult to explain to anyone else the extent of your upset over the situation. Which got me thinking about what it was that had so deeply upset me about the loss of my work.

Obviously, the complete thoughtlessness of deleting it, and the speed at which it had disappeared had made my very, very angry. In addition, I have always used my site as a sort of portfolio, a place that proves that I have had work published, in different styles and for different purposes that I can show to employers.

But it wasn’t this that had upset me most when I really thought about it. It was the other work, the posts that served no purpose and that hardly anyone ever bothered to read that had really got to me. I have been writing for the last five years (much longer if you include things I have never published anywhere but my own numerous note books) and I used to write about things that I genuinely felt passionate about.

When a colleague died, when I got angry about politics, when I felt work situations were unjustified and simply when something ridiculous or irritating happened in my life – they were the things for which I found writing the only outlet that was fitting.

And it was those things that I missed. Not the ‘corporate’ copywriting I do so much of these days, which is obviously backed up elsewhere. And that is what I have been thinking about.

As is the case for so many writers, I have ended up working in a job where I can utilise my skill, which is a wonderful privilege in many ways, however, in the main, I write marketing, and that is not what I initially set out to do.

The thing is, with the way that the world of marketing works, it has become increasingly difficult to separate writing for pleasure from writing for a business and career purpose. I had briefly toyed with the idea of starting a separate, anonymous blog, but I didn’t quite think that would work either.

I wanted to find a way that the two can co-exist together, as I enjoy both in different ways. However, in this age and industry, your online ‘brand’ is such an important consideration, it is difficult not to limit the scope of what you choose to portray outside it. And the line between your genuine self and the self you put forward is so difficult to define.

The thing that has been bothering me is that I started this blog as I wanted a place where I could be honest.

That is what I wrote on my home page, and lately, I have been so unsure about how to do that, that, well, basically, I haven’t. There are so many elements of the marketing world that I find amusing and ridiculous, and that don’t fit with my personal values that I would love to write about, but how do you do that in the same space as the space you publish industry articles?

The answer is, you can’t.

I am about to write a document outlining the procedures staff at work need to follow regarding their social media output. And, honestly, I’m unsure where to start. With your LinkedIn profile so inextricably linked to the company you work for, your twitter account often the same, and to a lesser degree, things like Facebook a potential source of embarrassment for your employer and trouble for you, it is hard to know where personal ends and work begins.

However, what I do know is that I don’t want to lose sight of why I wanted to write in the first place. And now, thanks to my very wonderful friend Craig (don’t know how he did it, but I love him for it!) I have everything back . So I think it is time to get back to the point.

The point being that there is no point.

Sometimes things in the world are wrong, and marketing is sometimes dishonest, and I often find things in that world are ridiculous and hilarious, and it seems unfair to not give other people an honest opportunity to laugh at it.

So the blog is back, for anyone who cares to read it.

As spin doctor Stuart Pearson told Malcom Tucker in The Thick Of It, most of the time, Knowledge is Porridge. Which is why it is important to see through and mock the meaningless buzz words from time to time and just be honest.

Which is what I intend to do.

Natalie

Man Up, Jonny Fluffypunk – Theatre Review

Dole dossing self titled ‘armchair revolutionary’ and poet Jonny Fluffypunk meanders his way through the difficulty of growing up and being the father he knows he should be in this performance in development for Bristol Old Vic Ferment. He’s a character you will no doubt recognise – Bristol is full of Fluffypunks! You can read my review in Strawberry Line Time here. 

Natalie

Just Because I have a Launderette in my Thigh, Doesn’t mean I’m Milkshake Wednesday

Byron Vincent’s hilarious and disturbing play about mental illness and the tricky business of living with it is brilliant. Read my review in Strawberry Line Times here.

Showing as part of Bristol Old Vic Ferment, it was a work in progress – I urge you to go and see the finished performance and meet Byron and his lamb chop called Allen for yourself.

Natalie

Theatre Review – ‘For Their Own Good’ – Bristol Old Vic Ferment Fortnight

On Saturday I went to watch a very interesting play about confronting death, loss and our own mortality. A work in progress staged at Bristol Old Vic the production was unique, thoughtful and I really enjoyed it. You can read my review in Strawberry Line Times Here, and  I really would recommend going to see it if you get the chance.

 

Natalie

Bristol Art Review – The Skeleton Frame by Katy-Jane Riches

 

Yesterday I went to the Philadelphia Street Gallery in Cabot Circus for the final day of up and coming Bristol photographer Katy-Jane Riches exhibition ‘The Skeleton Frame’.

The gallery was quiet, with more people thinking about January Sales shopping than buying Katy’s wonderful prints.

“I picked a bad time of year to exhibit I wanted to make any money!” admitted Katy, with an honest and cheerful optimism, despite clearly looking forward to a week off after a hectic couple of month touring Bristol with her beautifully shot portraits.

I had seen Katy’s work before, but until now had only seen her landscapes, which greatly appealed to me because of her wonderful ability to take raw industrial ugliness and juxtapose it with nature – the result made beautiful by her ability to shoot in a way that captures the scenes in vivid natural colours, giving the often broken down features of the compositions a whole new appeal, life and hew.

I had previously bought a print of an industrial plant outside Nottingham, pumping out billowing smoke over a motorway, which Katy had managed to catch in such a way that a passing lorry reflected the bright pink sunset as the smoke blended into to the cloud over head on the reflective, rain soaked tarmac.

However, ‘The Skeleton Frame’ was something different entirely.

Katy said she worked on the concept behind the exhibition for three months before putting lens to subject. The main subject being vintage beauty that takes us on a classically rose tinted journey through what Katy describes as the ‘Skeleton Frame of life on which we build, adding necessary tasks that make up every-day life”.

The pictures exhibited are all limited editions, (Katy made just five of each) shot in black and white, and split into two parts, ‘The Skeleton Frame’ and ‘The Meaning’.

The first part looks at the necessities that we require in order to exist before we add anything to the life we live. The interesting thing about this exhibition is that rather than concentrate on the absence of these things, the portraits bask in the beauty of having – or enjoying these simple necessities in a style that is both retrospective and softly beautiful.

They show the enjoyment of the subject in the smallest of pleasures, from shots entitled ‘Drink –because water sustains all life’ to ‘Age – The inevitable process that faces us all’.

It would have been easy to focus on the melancholy side these two themes, on the absence of, or the restrictions that, these things can place on our lives. And in a post-modern world, focusing on these absences is a popular thing to do.

However, having met Katy, what shines through in both her work and her personality is her uniquely optimistic take on the subjects she portrays. In the skeleton frame, the meanings  and themes she builds upon are viewed positively, and focus on the happiness and pleasant nostalgia life has to offer, however fleeting.

She explains this saying “I have chosen a vintage theme for most of the images within my work, this is to show the timeless nature of the skeleton frame and the relevance of it through generations”.

She was also very deliberate in her choice of model and subject. As well as enjoyment, the pictures portray the mundane nature of everyday existence, and using the fifties inspired vintage theme, Katy also aims to comment on traditional ideas of femininity. Pieces like ‘Housework 1’ and ‘Housework 2’ inspire the feeling of a fifties billboard advertisement, yet the look on the subjects face belies a disinterest, and a determination. Katy says through these pictures she aimed to ‘draw a contrast between the mundane nature of routine and the beauty of a woman empowered’.

Her title piece, ‘The Skeleton Frame’ was shot in an empty swimming pool in Bishopsworth, Bristol. The artist said “The shot portrays the idea of an empty space that needs to be filled to enable purpose”.

And that, overall is the theme of the exhibition. A beautiful look at the life we are given, with Part Two, ‘The Meaning’, looking at the small but equally important things we do in order to build on that frame of necessity – little things that culminate to build a fulfilling life.

One of the most moving pieces ‘Lasting Love’ is a simple shot of two aged hands resting on one another. Katy took this shot of her grandparents shortly before her grandfather died. The caption below simply reads ‘Since the age of 12 and 13, my grandparents shared their lives and love with each other; true love that lasts a lifetime’.

It is this simplicity, made beautiful by honesty and a touch of the kind of glamour we unintentionally add through memory and fondly looking back that makes Riches work so unique, and so uncomplicatedly striking.

You can find Katy on Facebook, or visit her website for more information on upcoming exhibitions.

Natalie

Here we go again… 2013!

So here we are…with the usual drunken fanfare and the inevitable hangover having subsided, slap bang in 2013.

Once again, the usual deluded resolutions are wearing thin (yes, I’m drinking a glass of wine and smoking as I type, even though it’s a week night – oops) and the glance-back nostalgia is wearing off, leaving the realisation that, as has ever, another year has dropped off the calendar.

I’m feeling pretty positive.

Now the difference this year is that the positivity isn’t sprung from a hope, it’s born out of a resignation. A happy resignation that, wherever I try to be, I will always be myself. And I don’t mean that in a happy hippie, bullshit sort of way.

I just mean that at 16 I thought I should be doing something ‘better’, and at 20 I felt out of my depth doing the ‘better’ thing I aimed for, and at 25 I had big plan for a fancy career in this or that (hadn’t quite decided) and… I just mean that now I’m quite happy being a bit of  juxtaposition between what I was and still am, and what I thought I wanted to be.

I have realised that you can be six of one and half a dozen of the other. I have realised that the fancy city stuff I wanted to leave the country to do will always be something I lovingly mock myself for, because a lot of it is ridiculous (fucking about on Twitter all day? With a wrist rest?* – Seriously). But the operative word is lovingly. And that’s new. Additionally, whatever that part of me thinks, I really enjoy my job, and I enjoy doing it well.

Basically, I could descend into a self- indulgent over analysis, and being in marketing now, I could even make it sound fittingly meaningful, but this is my blog, so I’m not going to.

Rather than explain myself in a wordy, well put together heart-string pulling, emotion inducing justification, I will sum up my 2013 revelation, moment of clarity, whatever you want to call it, in a small and short anecdote. I shall entitle this blandly as; ‘My lovely Saturday with Dave’.

We built a rabbit run. And a new door for the hutch. (If you have read this blog before, you will know I have a pet rabbit called Mischief, and once again, yes, I am a grown up).

I have forever wanted to have a ‘proper’ job. And now I do. I get to write, which I love. I get to work sensible hours. I get my opinions asked in earnest. There’s no innuendo. People don’t expect me to flirt with them or clean toilets. I get to wear nice clothes without getting them covered in ale when changing barrels while some racist arse demands to know “Are Muslims are allowed to work behind a bar”. (I am not Muslim, I am half Caribbean, but if you’re serving casually racist drunks, this doesn’t really factor in – foreign is foreign after all).

However, last Saturday, I put on a football shirt (for comfort, nothing else) bought a crate of Stella, and went to Bishopston Hardware (who I would very much recommend if you are doing DIY – very friendly and reasonably priced. N.B., this link is to their postal address, it’s one of those old school shops with no website) to buy wood and chicken wire to make Mischief a run for the spring – and a new door as the crafty little bugger had eaten through the wood, and managed to escape into next doors veg patch.

They were less than impressed.

Me and Dave spent the day sawing, drilling, making smutty and inappropriate jokes and getting quite tipsy (whilst wielding power tools and shooting at each other with a staple gun – health and safety!!) and I realised I missed it.

As much as I wanted a city job, (and as I said, I now have one I love) and as much as I hated the bar work, and living in the country, I realised you can’t just swap one for the other.

You are always you.

I’ve grown up working with men and being a little crass. And I love that now I don’t have to. But that doesn’t mean that on occasion, I don’t want to.

I love and get irritated by both sides of the coin in equal measure.

And – shock horror – I think that’s all right. It’s so easy in your twenties to mistake having a career goal with actually and irrevocably putting yourself in a box.

So chill the fuck out you marketing wannabes in the wonderful outfits. That’s the kind of thinking that leads to a mid-life crisis, too many gins, an affair and a divorce/breakdown by 40.

You are who you always were. And that isn’t at all bad.

So in conclusion, the rabbit run looks ace. I’m very impressed with mine and Dave’s efforts. I enjoyed it because it was a break from the norm, and a nod to what I am familiar with. But you need the knowledge of, and the comparison between each experience to make either enjoyable. And so to 2013. Realise who you actually are, then think about what you actually want.

I don’t mean the you in your head with the immaculate hair and amazing outfits. We both know come February the ten minutes in bed will seem much more appealing than super straight hair. And no one notices that your earrings match your skirt anyway.

And if they do I would advise you speak to someone else immediately.  Those people are clearly wankers.

Happy New Year!

*I need the wrist rest. RSI is a real thing. It hurts!

Lovely picture courtesy of The Gatehouse.

 

Natalie

Theatre Review – ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’

Read my Review of Darkstuff Production’s performance of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ at Bierkellar Theatre Bristol in Guide2Bristol. A really interesting and unique venue for theatre productions – check them out if you haven’t already!

Natalie

Theatre Review – Misery at Bierkeller Theatre

Read my review of Oliver Hume’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror classic ‘Misery’ in Guide2Bristol. Play performed at Bierkeller Theatre, Bristol.

Natalie