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Onion Talking: James Cook’s Adventures in Ausland Part 2

28 Feb
© James Cook / Media Curve

© James Cook / Media Curve

If you’re a die hard fan of The Mighty Boosh or a lover of alternative music crafted with care for the details, chances are you’ve heard of James Cook. If you haven’t, then perhaps you haven’t been reading TVO properly these last five years.

With his new album out now, Cook has returned to the London music scene in recent months, and sat down to talk to TVO’s editor-in-chief Paul Holmes, about his past, present and future in a revealing two-part interview, ahead of the next round of his club night, Outsiders, on February 26th.

Part One was shared with you in mid February, and you can read the second part of our discussions below…

History tells us that the most famous of men named James Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe, mapping lands from New Zealand to Hawaii to an unprecedented level during his voyages of discovery.  There’s a sense of irony in the way his namesake – cult musician James Cook, formerly of NEMO, has traversed the globe over the past decade.

“The last ten years have been pretty crazy to be honest,” Cook tells TVO, as we continue our first in-depth catch-up since James performed at The Velvet Onion Live night almost three years ago.  “I started touring in 2004,” he continues, “when I was the guitarist in IAMX for about a year. We travelled across Europe, Russia and the USA – a rotating line-up featuring Chris Corner, Noel Fielding, Sue Denim, Dee Plume, Julian Barratt, Julia Davis and myself.  It was an amazing year, and the first time I started earning money from music.  Unfortunately,” he adds, “I couldn’t remain in IAMX because I had to concentrate on NEMO.”

© James Cook

© James Cook

NEMO were the electro-tinged indie darlings who released three albums in four years, concurrently with the televisual run of The Mighty Boosh, with which they were closely linked.  While they never cracked the mainstream in England, the band were particularly successful across Europe, taking James to Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.  However, James decided to disband NEMO in 2008, and move to Berlin.

“I started touring solo,” he recalls, “with just a laptop and electric guitar. This actually enabled me to be even freer with my movements, so I continued my European travels as well as venturing further away to the Americas, visiting Uruguay, Argentina, New York and LA.  I was mostly invited to these places, or I knew people there and sought out gigs and travel. Myspace allowed NEMO to have fans all over the world, so it was a relief and a dream come true to be able to travel through music.”

All of this travel enthused his latest record, Adventures in Auslandnamed after the German word for ‘abroad’. “It can also mean ‘outside’,” Cook notes. “Or ‘otherness’.  Wanderlust is addictive. Once I had a sniff of that lifestyle, I was hooked! There was no question of me not taking every opportunity to escape the comparative confines of London, and the experiences gained from all this travel fed directly into the new album. Songs were written and recorded across several years in LA, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Prague, Berlin, Vienna, Genova and London, now I’m based here again.”

© James Cook

© James Cook

Adventures in Ausland marks James’ second full length solo album, following 2012’s Arts and Sciences and 2013’s covers EP Reverse Engineering.  With three NEMO albums and the full-length record by side-project The Dollhouse behind him, however, the album is technically his sixth complete record, and arguably his best work yet.

“The feedback has been great so far,” Cook states, “which is obviously why you continue releasing new material. The aim is to constantly improve and grow, and hopefully never repeat yourself. I think I am physically unable to repeat myself artistically. I never make the same album twice, and have never even used the same method and techniques twice. I always use new and different musicians and instruments, and the process of recording is as important as the writing stage. It’s basically a series of filters, like distilling alcohol like some sort of electro/chemical process.”

Well, quite. Indeed, the album adds brass elements to Cook’s impressive canon, The usual degree of classy strings and James’ curious ability to sound both impassioned and distant at the same time remain, but this album feels less immediate and more mature than ever before.  James’ natural influences – Lou Reed, David Bowie, Scott Walker – remain at the heart of his work, and as the years have progressed, other artists have crossed James’ path and made an enormous contribution to his style. TVO notes that there appear to be strong traces of Neil Hannon’s work across Cook’s catalogue, and James is quick to own up to an admiration for the songwriter.

© James Cook

© James Cook

“It’s hard to disguise formative influences,” he notes, “and the first two Divine Comedy records were definitely a big influence on me, and it took me a while to shake the influence off! I initially discovered them whilst living in Paris and was blown away by something that seemed to me to come from another universe. I then investigated Scott Walker and Jacques Brel as a result of listening to them, so I owe Mr Hannon quite a debt!

The mention of Brel draws conversation to an intriguing aspect of Adventures in Ausland: Cook’s voice has often been compared to Marc Almond, and the album features a new interpretation of Brel’s magnificent Jacky, which was infamously given a camp disco makeover in the early 90s. James was aware that this could draw closer comparisons to Almond’s work, but his love for the original song overrode any reservations he had. It was time, he suggests, to finally do it justice.

“Brel was one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters,” James explains. “People like Scott Walker brought his amazing songs to an English speaking pop audience in a way he could never have done himself. However, as a university student of politics and French, I became obsessed with how badly his songs are actually translated into English. Most of them totally miss the point, or just simply don’t make much sense, and it is perhaps impossible for anyone who doesn’t speak French to understand that.”

“They’re very satirical songs,” he continues. “Very personal, very dark and very funny, so doing a proper translation is really no mean feat. I had always dreamt of doing my own modern translations of his song. Scott Walker’s version of Jacky was my main reference, but so was Momus 1986 version, Nicky.”

“People have been saying I sound like Marc Almond for years,” he sighs. “I’ve never really been a fan. I think that first Soft Cell record is great, but I think it’s more that we had a similar music and cultural upbringing. We definitely share similar tastes and influences in our music, so that’s probably where it comes from. But Marc Almond’s version of Jacky is pretty crap and pointless really, so I decided to pluck up the guts to go for my own version. It’s a very personal song, so you have to make it about yourself – which is why my version is called Jamie, after my childhood name. Then you have to have the appropriate cultural references, and requisite irony, correctly translated and updated. When I sing it live, I update the words to fit current situations. That’s how it should be done.”

© James Cook

© James Cook

We’re suddenly touching on ground that has come up in the Cook’s work previously: a sense of frustration about the abandonment of art and discovery, hand in hand with the rise of technology and the era of disposability. It is something TVO is only too acutely aware of, and James shares our frustration and apprehension about the way society is headed.

“Without sounding too depressing,” he explains, “I genuinely feel we are in some sort of cultural nadir right now. Technology should be allowing us to create more and more insanely mindblowing art, but all we seem to be doing as a collective community is tweeting nonsense, and posting up pics of ourselves, our food and our pets. The idea that we have all the information known to man inside our pockets, is something that would have been inconceivable even fifteen years ago.  Somehow that potential access has frozen us in fear, mediocrity and narcisism.”

“Music has been devalued to virtually nothing,” Cook continues. “Disposable, vacuous art permeates popular culture. Narrative creativity seems to be anachronistic. Attention spans are at an all time low. Our technology is controlling us right now, rather than the other way round. Let’s hope we snap out of this dystopian Orwellian nightmare and take control of our lives and collective destiny!”

TVO proposes that one way independent artists are trying to do exactly that, is by abandoning traditional release structures, and turning to pledge culture to release their work via fundraisers and special releases. Could the future for James involve making albums through this method?

“I am open to it,” he suggests, considering the angles. “I’ll try anything and everything I can with my future releases. I’m currently working on three new albums, and must find new ways for people to experience them. Unfortunately, I have a small fanbase, and am not really very good at self-promotion or asking for money when it comes to my own music. Those Kickstarter type situations seem unappealing to me, somehow, but I’m looking into them.”

There’s an interesting honesty about Cook. He is perhaps, his own worst critic, yet acts also as his own personal champion. Proud of his achievements, but keen to downplay his abilities, there’s a sense of an artist who still has so much left to give and an awful lot more to say. As conversation moves briefly onto science fiction, and Cook and TVO share a mutual moment of Doctor Who admiration, he teases about a treatment he is working on for an animated time-travel detective spy thriller. There’s a sense that he has so much more to give, and TVO could listen to him talk about his plans for hours. Sadly, it is time for James to disappear into the early dusk of a Winter’s day. Before he goes, however, TVO suggests that, in an ideal world, Cook would be utilising his delicious string arrangements, cryptic lyrics and silky smooth vocals on the next James Bond theme. “Oh, god, yeah! That would be another dream come true,” he beams. “But I guess I’ll have to join the queue for that one!”

James Cook returns with Outsiders on 26th March. His new album, Adventures in Ausland is available now via Bandcamp

Onion Talking: James Cook’s Adventures in Ausland Part 1

18 Feb
© James Cook / Media Curve

© James Cook / Media Curve

If you’re a die hard fan of The Mighty Boosh or a lover of alternative music crafted with care for the details, chances are you’ve heard of James Cook. If you haven’t, then perhaps you haven’t been reading TVO properly these last five years.

With his new album out now, Cook has returned to the London music scene in recent months, and sat down to talk to TVO’s editor-in-chief Paul Holmes, about his past, present and future in a revealing two-part interview, ahead of the next round of his club night, Outsiders, on February 26th. The initial results are below…

The story of any cultural movement that shaped the course of an entire industry is always fascinating to hear.  Some stories, however, have yet to be told in any real detail, such as the birth and subsequent explosion of the new wave of alternative comedy and music that existed in tandem at the turn of the millennium, focused primarily in the heart of North London.

One major player in all of this was James Cook – former frontman of cult favourites NEMO, collaborator of Chris Corner and regular guest star with The Mighty Boosh.  For the last six years, Berlin has been Cook’s base, and thanks to large amount of travel, he knows his ‘way around’ LA, Montevideo and Prague, too. But London will always be his real home. 

© James Cook / Media Curve

© James Cook / Media Curve

“This year has definitely felt like some sort of homecoming,” he tells TVO as he strolls the cold streets of a capital knee-deep into Winter. “It feels like home, really. I was born and grew up in Luton and Dunstable, but London was somehow embedded in my subconscious. It was the teenage dream for a musician and songwriter, to head into the Big Smoke!”

Now following a period of several years spent living abroad, Cook has returned to London to make it his permanent home once more, and has already begun finding his feet again with a new regular live night in the works.

Indeed, as TVO caught up with Cook, he was filled with enthusiasm for the opening night of Outsiders – his alternative pop cabaret at Aces & 8’s in Tufnell Park. “The room was completely full,” James exclaims, full of joy. “The audience was great and the night was fun and exciting – for the band as well as the crowd. It was a lovely way to begin the live side of things again.”

Outsiders features Cook hosting a night of, in his terms: “music and nonsense, with a bit of classic pop dj-ing from yours truly”. It’s also an opportunity to see his ever expanding live band, plus special guests every month. Fifteen years after NEMO began their career as part of legendary club night, The System, there’s a sense that his journey has come full circle.

© James Cook

© James Cook

A whole decade has passed since those heady days, when NEMO ran The System as an electro/indie club night of their own.  “It was unheard of back then,” James states.  “The scene blossomed. Robots in Disguise, Chris Corner and Sneaker Pimps… who later became IAMX, The Mighty Boosh, Imogen Heap, Graham Coxon… they were all regulars.”

“We all used to hang out together as friends,” he continues.  “We’d go to each others events, get drunk together, perform, collaborate, and guest in each other’s shows. I remember once performing a song onstage at the Hen & Chickens with The Mighty Boosh, and Julian Barratt pretending to ‘fancy’ me after seeing me perform. He tried to snog me!” He bursts out laughing, and adds: “Much to Noel’s annoyance!”

Cook subsequently shared a flat in Angel with Barratt and violinist Anne Marie Kirby, with whom he still works to this day. “That was between 2003 and 2007,” explains James.  “So it coincided with my touring with IAMX, NEMO’s rise to infamy, and the writing and filming of all three series of The Mighty Boosh.  They kept calling me in for some weird and wonderful cameo…” He adopts an impression: “James Nemo? Are you available to come to shooting 8am tomorrow morning with the Boosh? Today you will be a blue alien nomad. Can you play this Oud?”

Indeed, Cook’s cameos on the show are numerous. He was one of the Ape of Death’s bodyguard mandrills, a Mod Wolf, a mutant postman, magical shaman, dying hipster, a blue tennis player (The Blue McEnroe, no less), and perhaps most delightfully, Kevin Rowland, searching for the New Sound.  His biggest role in the show, came as a blue-faced nomadic minstrel, slave to Rich Fulcher’s Blue King Alan, who is composes a song about Vince Noir being ‘The Chosen One’.

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

“We seriously wrote that song together five minutes before we shot that scene,” James reveals.  “Shooting the Boosh was a bit like that. There was always room for people to put themselves into the role, add lines and improvise. That was the reason for so much laughter and hilarity on set. They were truly magical times.”

It is perhaps hard to believe that it’s now over seven years since the third series aired, and almost eight since the Boosh team were making new episodes – a fact that Cook is all too acutely aware of.  “It still feels very recent,” he tells TVO, “but everyone involved has been so creative and busy that it also feels like forever.  So much amazing material has gone out into the world from that little scene of comedians and musicians.”

“I was so glad when TVO came along,” he adds passionately, “to help join the dots for people. In the early days I felt like I was the one constantly talking about the collective hive mind we had. That family feel. We used to go on holiday together, make short films…” He trails off as a near-forgotten memory rises to the surface.  “We made a legendary silent horror film which we shot in France.  It was called ‘La Rose D’Envie’, and featured Julian Barratt, Chris Corner, Sue Denim and myself. Never even released!”

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

The creative family has widened, remoulded and become increasingly fluid in recent years, yet at its core will always be two inter-connected groups – that of Ealing Live (a comedy troupe featuring Alice Lowe, Richard Glover, Oram & Meeten, Katy Brand, Simon Farnaby and many, many others), and the Boosh/IAMX collective across the city.

“When you started to write about it in TVO,” James enthuses, “I was relieved that someone else had noticed the connections and references. It means it has been initially documented and recognised, but the full story can and should be fleshed out properly one day.”

“There was so much creative overlap,” he continues, “between the comedy shows, music nights, albums and tv programmes. The energy was bursting out of North London at the time. A lot of it is captured within the art, but there are so many little notes and stories…” He pauses for a moment, then adds with determination: “I would love to write some sort of memoir about it one day!”

James Cook returns with Outsiders on 26th February. His new album, Adventures in Ausland is available now via Bandcamp. Part Two of this interview will follow next week.

Wake Up (And Bid)!

22 Jul

© Dee Plume

Robots In Disguise fans may be pleased to know they stand a chance of owning a really special slice of memorabilia… in the form of a Robot Lipstick costume!

The quirky outfit in Tatty Devine blue was designed to promote the band’s Wake Up! single back in 2010, and was also used on stage during live performances.  It is now the latest bit of RiD costumery and the like to be auctioned off by Dee Plume via e-bay, so if you fancy getting something a little different in your living room, this could be it!

You can bid over yonder, and revisit the brilliant Wake Up via it’s music video below.

Hollow Released!

11 Mar

© Emil Bendixen

The new single by Sue Denim is out to buy now!

Hollow is the second single from her charming solo debut Sue And The Unicorn.  Paired with an exclusive b-side, After The Rain, the single is available digitally now, exclusively via Sue’s Bandcamp page for just £1.50. DOWNLOAD IT NOW! 

You can see the video for the single below, and there’s a couple of rare chances to see Sue live this month, with a one-off gig at Camden Barfly on March 23rd followed by a gig at Maesgeirchen Social Club in Bangor on March 29th.

You can also pick up the full length album from a number of sources – including The Velvet Onion Amazon UK and Amazon US Stores.  

However, we have to admit, we’d probably prefer it if you bought it directly from Sue, as she’ll get more cash for it that way!

A digital version of the album is available for £7 via Bandcamp, and as a physical cd (optionally signed) at her official site for just a tenner!

Hollow Denim

25 Feb

The wonderful Sue Denim has unleashed her new music video, Hollow, which you can see below.

The second single from her charming solo debut Sue And The Unicorn – it will be released as a single with an exclusive b-side, After The Rain, on March 11th, ahead of Denim’s one-off gig at Camden Barfly on March 23rd.

We’ll be bringing you download links for the single as soon as possible, but in the meantime you can pick up the full length album from a number of sources – including The Velvet Onion Amazon UK and Amazon US Stores.  However, we have to admit, we’d probably prefer it if you bought it directly from Sue, as she’ll get more cash for it that way!

A digital version of the album is available for £7 via Bandcamp, and as a physical cd (optionally signed) at her official site for just a tenner!  If you’re still unsure, you can hear two preview tracks, courtesy of Sue, via our very own Soundcloud page below.

Camden Denim

6 Feb

© Emil Bendixen

Sue Denim will be performing at Camden Barfly next month.

The singer songwriter will be bringing her summer vibes to London audiences for the first time this year on Saturday March 23rd.  Tickets are available now via ents24 for just £6, so there’s never been a better excuse for capital-dwellers to check out Sue’s solo show.  For tickets, click on the word bicycle.

Don’t forget Sue’s debut solo album, as well as much of the Robots In Disguise back catalogue, is available in The Velvet Onion Amazon UK and Amazon US stores, and Sue’s own website has all the merchandise you could possibly need, so check ’em out now!

2012: A Year In Interviews

2 Jan

In 2012 we were lucky enough to get the chance to chat to a few of the artists that we write about on these pages. So here’s a look back at some of the year’s interviews – and the fascinating, colourful and revealing comments that were shared. A big thank you to everyone who gave us their time and permitted us to poke cameras and dictaphones in their faces – we couldn’t do this without you! 

© Dave Brown

“You kind of get sick of photographers going: ‘What about this? Let’s try a look. Gimme a look! thumbs up, relax that jaw, big smile, oooh, Cheeky! Whuhey!’ All that kind of crap. Whereas with this, it was the opposite and I think they enjoyed the novelty. I think there’s a certain power to looking moody.”
Dave Brown talks about the un-comedy portraits in his photography exhibition ‘Tough Crowd’

“You do sort of wonder how many more good dresses you can pull out of your wardrobe. I might just turn up to the next one looking like Tina and go: ‘Hi, everyone. I’m not actually a film star. I don’t have the wardrobe for this.’”
Alice Lowe discusses dressing for the multiple Sightseers premiers

“They keep going on! The London Film Festival was the gala screening, and I went to Cannes for the premiere there, which was very exciting. They had one last Thursday, which I couldn’t go to, and then this one tonight, which is being called the UK Premiere. I’m not sure what the difference is anymore, but it will be fun. I get to wear my suit again.”
Richard Glover’s take on dressing for the multiple Sightseers premiers

© Examiner

“That is completely Noel’s fault. I kept saying ‘Can’t I be called something like Jana or another German name?’ and he said ‘No, Dolly is better’ and he and Nigel Coan were absolutely certain that I was going to be called Dolly. I got really self-conscious about it, and in the early days of filming Tom Meeten enjoyed putting my name in every single sentence because I was so embarrassed about it.”
Dolly Wells squirms about playing a character called ‘Dolly’ on Luxury Comedy

“Before Boosh, I was the shyest person in the world. I was scared of my own shadow, I wouldn’t talk to anyone that I didn’t know. Boosh has made me who I am now. It’s given me an animated, childish confidence. People say that when you’re thirty, you can’t be stupid like that anymore, but who says? There’s no rules!”
Mike Fielding in introspective mood

“We thought we knew what we were doing – we didn’t – and suddenly we found ourselves on stage with all these people like Simon Farnaby. They assumed we must be good, so we had to come up with something. It was all an accident, no actual decisions were made.”
John ‘Willie’ Hopkins talks about his appearances at Ealing Live with Richard Glover.

© Amelia’s Magazine

“I’m not sure I have much of an opinion on mainstream music – I just don’t really listen to it! I imagine if I did listen too much I might not be too complimentary about it, so best not to get involved! Or maybe that’s where I’m going wrong. I think I’ll go and check out the charts RIGHT NOW!”
Sue Denim’s views on mainstream music

“You do get to see why it’s a bad idea to go and kill people, in a really cathartic way.”
Alice Lowe notes that Sightseers has a strong moral code 

“Maybe he doesn’t like the idea of being moody for me…the offer’s there, Paul, whenever you’re ready, stop body swerving me and get on your frown for Brown!”
Dave Brown courting Paul Foot for ‘Tough Crowd’

“Yeah. It’s not like I’m gonna go: ‘Well, actually, it’s funny you should say that. I’ve got a little pot of spunk in my pocket.‘”
Mike Fielding’s reaction to fans screaming at him that they want to have his babies

“My brother never stops talking. Usually about sweets.”
Noel Fielding’s analysis of bother Mike

“I’ve secretly always wanted to be in the S.A.S. A friend of mine used to say I could have been in the S.A.S. but on reception.”
Richard Glover talks about his alternative career path

“I’ve got my balls out on telly, they’re horrible things…I’ve got really dangly balls.”
Tom Meeten discusses his award-winning appendages

“Keep the faith! And let’s get The Boosh to make a film before they get too old and grey!”
Oly Ralfe’s message from NY to TVO readers

“Writing with Alice is like writing with your wife. It really is just like being with your wife, and arguing on holiday, whilst sightseeing, then writing it down.
Steve Oram’s take on writing Sightseers with Alice Lowe

© Big Talk Pictures

“I tend to write the first draft of stuff, then Amy totally rewrites it! She changes everything, and I’ve learnt over our twenty-odd year relationship to understand how that works for the greater good.”
Director Ben Wheatley’s approach to working with his long-term partner, Amy Jump

“We’ve got the power to take people on a journey – if we want to go to the moon, then let’s go to the moon for 10 minutes!”
Joey Page on the power of stand-up

© Marjorie Keak

“If a drama show goes out on TV and it’s not that good no one kicks up a fuss, no one goes ‘Whoever commissioned this should be shot. I want my license fee back!’ I could easily say that a drama that doesn’t engage me in the first five minutes is the same as a comedy that doesn’t make me laugh, but people just don’t mind as much – they just accept that it’s not their cup of tea. But rarely do people accept that about comedy!”
Dan Clark takes on the harsh critics of comedy

“There’s no limits with him, whereas when you meet an actor for the first time it can be a bit awkward to pull their trousers down or something. With Richard, you can punch him in the face, rape him, and he’ll still come back for more.”
Steve Oram shows his love for working with Richard Glover on Sightseers

“I’ve been looking at Noel’s face constantly for three years, and even I watch him and say ‘There’s NY Cop’. I don’t say ’There’s Noel doing NY Cop’. You’re not looking at Noel, you’re looking at the character. It’s pretty incredible because he’s got such a pointy, distinctive face.”
Nigel Coan, director of Luxury Comedy, talks about Noel’s character performances

“I can’t believe they didn’t have Minstrels!”
Mike Fielding

© Secret Peter / Channel 4

The Velvet Onion Calendar 2013

31 Dec

The Velvet Onion is pleased to continue its tradition of a yearly Calendar, available for free download!

calendarpics

Once again we’ve been working with a number of our friends both in front of the camera and behind it, to bring you twelve great months to print out and stick up on your wall between January 1st and December 31st.

With yet another new design from Velveteer Lauren “Lozzy” Taylor, based on our fresh looking website layout, we really hope you like the results – which are available for a free download now.

GET YOUR FREE 2013 CALENDAR BY CLICKING HERE NOW!

Thank you to everyone involved, and to all of you – our dearest Peelers – for a truly fantastic 2012… Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to a glorious 2013 for all!

EXCLUSIVE: In Holoserica Cepa – A Gift From The Velvet Onion

25 Dec

© The Velvet Onion

Yes, it’s Christmas time, and as another year draws to a close, The Velvet Onion has not one, but two presents for you.

Our annual TVO Calendar has sadly been delayed a little, but will be here for your perusal before 2012 runs out of gas.  We’ve been working round the clock the last few days to ensure it’s up to scratch, and reaches you before the end of the month, and we think you’ll love what we’ve come up with, so stay peeled over the festive season for that!

The other present… well that’s arguably more special.  We’ve called upon some of our more musical friends in the realm of the Onion, to provide a very special eight-track EP you can download completely free!

Just visit our Soundcloud page to get all eight tracks, featuring the likes of James Cook, Sue Denim, Antony Elvin, Stephen Evans, Suzy Evelyn-Hall, Rich Fulcher, Richard Glover, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Holly Jane Shears, Waen Shepherd, William Summers, Gareth Tunley, Michael Tyack and Tony Way.

But hurry, because the files will only be available until SUNDAY JANUARY 6th, before being taken down forever.  For a full tracklisting, and a flashy swanky player loaded with all eight songs, see below.

TVO would like to thank everyone involved with the making of these tracks, and the compiling of this collection.  You all know who you are, and to you, and everyone out there reading this – a most merry of holiday seasons to you all. We love ya.

TRACKS1

01. Secret Wolf – GARY LE STRANGE

Taken from the long deleted third Gary Le Strange album, Beef Scarecrow, this song has only previously been made available at Waen Shepherd’s live shows many moons ago.  Stay tuned for the full reissue of his GLS albums over the next twelve months, with the first, Polaroid Suitcase available now.

02. Stingo – PRINCES IN THE TOWER

Originally a spin-off from folk legends Circulus, the magnificent Princes In The Tower have become an almighty Tudor force in their own right.  This track is taken from the forthcoming debut album, A Golden Hour With Princes In The Tower, which will be available soon…

03. Midnight, The Stars And You – RICHARD GLOVER & STEPHEN EVANS

Described by Evans as a ‘short and daft’ version of the 1930s classic (forever immortalised in The Shining), this is a previously unreleased recording from the Splendid duo…

04. The Self Machine – JAMES COOK

Taken from James’ wonderful debut solo album, Arts And Sciences, this track sees the former Nemo frontman on typically fine form.  The album is available now.

TRACKS2

05.  Song Of A Wayfarer – WILLIAM SUMMERS

Recorded live at St John the Divine Church in Richmond upon Thames back in July, this is an exclusive, haunting live recording from the multi-instrumentalist.

06. Unicorn – DEADDOGINBLACKBAG

The first new DeadDogInBlackBag song for a long, long time, this is a complete and utter exclusive from the electropop duo.

07. Another Rainy Day – SUE DENIM

A 60s influenced b-side from Sue’s recent Bicycle single, this track acts a taster for her delightfully summery debut solo album, Sue And The Unicorn, which is available now.

08. This Christmastime [2012 Mix] – ANTONY ELVIN, ALICE LOWE & FRIENDS

Originally recorded for Alice LoweJacqueline Wright‘s Jackal Film of the same name back in 2010, this fresh mix from its producer and co-writer Antony Elvin features a host of TVO stars – Gareth Tunley, Shelley Longworth, Waen Shepherd, Tony Way and Rich Fulcher – spreading an important message for the festive season.

More From Denim

29 Sep

Fans of Sue Denim and her new album And the Unicorn, can feed their fandom with a new filmed interview with Sue.

In the two-minute film clip he talks about her music, why she didn’t go down the ‘fan funding’ approach to producing her new album, and her cameo appearances on The Mighty Boosh. Take a look at it by clicking on the image below:

 

The bike-loving songstress has also promised more live dates in November (so look out for those), including a London date on 16th November. Take a look at this review and video of one of her recent shows – and then make sure you snap up a ticket next time!

Don’t forget that you can pick up some rather lovely Sue And the Unicorn merchandise via Sue’s website. What’s more, if you tweet Sue a photo of yourself with said merch, she’ll share it with her twitter followers. Infamy!

More Sue For You

14 Sep

© Amelia’s Magazine

The warm afterglow of Sue Denim‘s awesome (we have it on good authority!) London show provides us with the perfect opportunity to tell you about a new interview with the songstress.

This week Sue chatted to Amelia’s Magazine, about her new album And The Unicorn, moving to Wales and falling in love. Of her new record’s departure from the familiar electronica Robots in Disguise sound, Sue says, “I wanted it to sound very different from RiD, wanted it to be simple and warm in terms of sound. Then I found producer David Wrench, warm simplicity in recording being one of his trademarks!”

Sue also talks about how solo writing differs from working with Dee Plume saying, “Biggest difference – I was able to express myself fully without any compromise and get songs finished quickly! Less arguments! But also, less laughing. Good and bad points to working alone.”

To read more about Sue’s new album (and to find out why she’s no longer bored in Wales!) click here to read the interview in full.

The Review And The Unicorn

14 Sep

This evening (Friday 14th September) Sue Denim will be performing in London; the last date on her UK tour off the back of her debut album And The Unicorn.
If you didn’t get the chance to see her perform her tunes in your town, then you still have the chance tonight to get lost in Sue’s world.

To remind you of why you shouldn’t miss this great chance this evening, Aggie & Paulyne have taken it upon themselves to jot down every thought that comes to mind when playing And The Unicorn. So why not have a read with the album playing in the background, or order yours now to see what you’ve been missing!

© Emli Bendixen / Sue Denim

1. Bicycle
The first song (and first single) of the album is as the title suggests a song about bicycles. One might even call it a love song! Evokes vivid imagery as you imagine Sue riding her bike through the woods, up the mountains, at the beach and all the way back again. Whether you’re an avid biker or stuck on a bus, you will feel the wind in your hair. Also beware, Bicycle will make you hum “nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah something something something dreaming…” all day long as you start making up your own “nah nah nah nah something something’s”. Believe us, we’re currently something something something writing.

One word to describe the song: Uplifting
If this song would be an animal, it would be a: Stork

2. Brewster McCloud
If you shut your eyes, you may see a campfire, people swaying, some relaxing under a starry sky. Brewster McCloud is the ultimate chill-out song. A true festival number when the sun’s about to set. The first half making you feel lighter than air then the crescendo propelling you through to the light at the end of a tunnel. The song may reference the 1970’s feature film but I relate it to the timeless classic Peter Pan.

One word: Dreamy
Animal: Half dove half half Highland Terrier puppy Continue reading

Art, Science, Cook…

13 Sep

There is excitement in the air for James Cook fans after the official video for his album-titled single, Arts & Sciences goes live!

Keeping his loved 80’s nostalgia style in this video and collaborating with Chris Corner in the edit-suit to knock the eccentric-levels up to 11, you can still see something great in what some of our favourite, understated musicians can create.

Also directed by Graham McGuire, a director who knows the Musical Booshdom well after working with Robots In Disguise in the past plus Sue Denim on her debut solo single.

Take a look at the video below and head over here to order your very own James Cook back-catalogue!

Riding To A Town Near You!

3 Aug

© Sue & The Unicorn

Sue Denim will be taking her guitar and unicorn around the UK later this year!

As we mentioned previously, the shows have had a slow start in ticket sales but we’re delighted to hear that the shows will go on!

Bar Bristol, which has unfortunately been cancelled, you can see Sue in Newcastle upon Tyne, Birmingham, Liverpool and London at each of their O2 Academy venues.  She will also be popping to Cardiff to perform at 10 Feet Tall.

To pinch your tickets for any of the 02 Academy dates, you can head over to here.  For you Cardiff fans, tickets are available right here.

Remember to have a peel of our interview with Sue earlier this year and to check out the first video accompanying her debut single Bicycle, which can also be found on her album And the Unicorn, to be released on 13th August!

Onion Talking: Behind The Unicorn, Sue Denim

24 Jul

© Owen Richards

Earlier this year we spoke to comic Joey Page, about his years of trying to break the comedy circuit and bring the audiences to him, rather than waiting for the head-honchos to give him the nod. This time we  turn to the world of the music industry, and find out from Sue Denim what it’s been like for her to release her album off her own back.

The musical stars of the Booshdom have been known for producing their own projects, even from right at the beginning with Sneaker Pimps. Yet, the struggle continues and many of these talents are still yet to break into the mainstream. But is that really a bad thing?

Today is the official release of Bicycle – the first single to come from Sue Denim.  Sue  has been spreading her musical wings and is now releasing her debut solo album, And the Unicorn, to be released on 13th August.  The album comes to us off the back of Denim’s fully independent label, Superhealthy, and we for one are fully supportive of anyone out there who believes in making a living in any medium independently. Velveteer Paulyne asks her the questions that can put any aspiring musicians out there at ease.

Sue & The Unicorn was originally in the public eye in 2009. Since then Sue has used the power of the internet (myspace, twitter and even The Velvet Onion) to promote and release her experimental, unplugged songs.  Her raw, to- the-bone tunes and homemade videos have made each project feel like a personal gift; like a secret just between Sue, you and the Unicorn.

How have  you found developing such a different musical style with people that know and support you through Robots In Disguise?

The connections I’ve made during over 10 years working in the musicbBiz have definitely helped, but ultimately whoever I’m dealing with has had to love my new music too. Happily for me it’s been an amazing and very encouraging response!

Continue reading

See Sue’s Show!

16 Jul

© Angel Ceballos

Sue Denim is hoping to undertake her first full blown solo tour in September, with dates across the UK, which currently face the threat of cancellation unless sadly flagging ticket sales improve.

The Robots In Disguise singer songwriter has been steadily working on her acoustic tinged debut album, Sue And The Unicorn, which will be sweetening the sound of our summers from August 13th.  It’s available for pre-order for just £8.99 for The Velvet Onion Amazon Store now!

The album will be proceeded by single Bicycle on July 23rd, and we’ll be bringing you an exclusive chat with Denim that day to celebrate.  In the meantime, you can see it’s video below.

Lovely stuff, we’re sure you will agree – not just for fans of Robots In Disguise, but a well honed, happy go lucky vibe which should no doubt appeal to fans of great female songsmiths from Siouxie Sioux to Paloma Faith.

The album and single are also being released entirely independently, and as such, the accompanying tour is getting little fanfare or attention – threatening some shows with cancellation.  Something this good deserves to be heard, especially live, so we hope all of our UK peelers who can find the time to pop over to a show near them pre-order tickets now!

The tour kicks off in Newcastle, and travels to York, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol (sadly no Manchester date this time around, so the hardcore RiD fans will have to traverse elsewhere), before rounding off in London a week later.  For the full list of dates, and ticket links, see below.

Sat 8th Sept – O2 Academy, Newcastle – BUY TICKETS
Sun 9th Sept – Fibbers, York – BUY TICKETS
Mon 10th Sept – O2 Academy, Birmingham – BUY TICKETS
Tue 11th Sept – O2 Academy, Liverpool – BUY TICKETS
Wed 12th Sept – 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff – BUY TICKETS
Thur 13th Sept – O2 Academy, Bristol – BUY TICKETS
Fri 14th Sept – O2 Academy, Islington – BUY TICKETS

If you’re still not convinced, here are two exclusive tracks which Sue shared with TVO in the Winter.  Enjoy.

Forgotten Favourites: The Anniversary Of Booshfest!

6 Jul

Four years ago yesterday, The Mighty Boosh teamed up with Mean Fiddler’s Vince Power to create Booshfest – a whole day of music, comedy, costumes and more at Hop Farm in Kent.

In our recurring Forgotten Favourites strand, Velveteers Mog & Paulyne reminisce about this memorable moment from the peak of Booshmania.

© unknown

It became a significant event for thousands of fans. Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt picked up the phone to their extensive and impressive line-up of talented mates, and managed to bag Gary Numan, Har Mar Superstar and of course a bit of Jazz from Polar Bear (who were a perfect kick-start to the day). Then there was The Charlatans, Robots in Disguise, The Kills, Peaches, plus a DJ set from Jarvis Cocker!

Along with the music, a festival organised by comedians wouldn’t be complete without some comedy, and this was catered to by the popular and over-populated Velvet Onion tent – sadly before TVO itself took the name and ran with it.  Featuring on this bill were TVO favourites Matt Berry, Matthew Holness, Arnab Chanda and Paul Foot, amongst others.

The merchandise and food stands even stuck with the theme; selling ‘Loud Hats’, ponchos, soup, pie & mash and even Eels! It seemed no rock had been left unturned and it certainly gave off the feeling of stepping into a literal Boosh world.  We’re sure if they could have used Euros as currency they would have!

As well as planning the day, we also got to see the Boosh simultaneously promote it all over TV, radio and print. They appeared on the front cover of NME (one of many covers in this period), as well as a slot on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, which also teased at their then forthcoming live tour, Future Sailors.

With The Boosh taking an unexpected turn in their careers with this event, the press were not always going to be complementary.  Of course, the event sparked reviews stating “Punters failed to get a handle on the odd line-up” and “The atmosphere was lacking from the off.” We’re not sure which festival they were at, but from what we saw there wasn’t a fan on Hop Farm that wasn’t glowing with the Boosh spirit!

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The Velvet Onion may have only existed as a comedy tent back at the time of Booshfest, but Velveteers were there in mind, body and spirit. Indeed, Mog’s over-excited review of the day made it into Cheekbone, the Boosh fanzine of the day. Much to her embarrassment we’ve dusted it off in celebration of that glorious day four years ago.

Continue reading

Sue Take Me Up The Hill!

4 Jul

Sue Denim has released her first solo music video to accompany her debut album And the Unicorn!

Following up from the last few dates we were able to give you of Sue’s blossoming folk-pop career, Bicycle is the first single to come from the album which will be released on the 23rd July and shows Denim out and about in Londontown on her bike, but of course if full Sue style.

Have a look at her shiny new video below to keep you occupied until the tour kicks off on 8th September!

The Unicorn Is Released!

11 Jun

© Naka Nickie Photography

There have been whispers for a while now about Sue Denim releasing her debut solo album, and now we have come across some dates that put these rumours to rest!

‘And The Unicorn’ will be released on 13th August – just in time for your 2012 summer playlist.

Along with the album there will of course be a single to accompany it. Bicycle will be the first single to come from her album and it will be available to download from 23rd July!

Naturally, Sue will be touring later this year too, all dates announced so far can be found right here!
So take a look to see if she’s popping to your town, plus stay peeled for more additions as we find them!

If these dates are looming oh-too slowly, then take a look back at when Sue was lovely enough to give us an exclusive peek at one of the tracks from her album!

Books And Unicorns

4 Feb
© CUT Magazine

Did you know that today, 4th February, is National Libraries Day? It’s a day dedicated to raising the profile of the humble library, via a series of celebratory events. To find out what’s been going on in your local area visit the National Libraries Day website.

Under the guise of Sue & The Unicorn, Sue Denim has written and recorded a song about books to mark this special day. What’s more, she’s very kindly sent to us to share with you.

To listen to Sue’s special track. taken from her upcoming album And The Unicorn, click here

So go on, while it’s chilly outside curl up with a good book in honour of National Libraries Day while you listen to a beautifully melodic song about them!

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