Interview: Forest Island + Warren Zevon top 10

Interview: Forest Island + Warren Zevon top 10

February 5, 2020

'So how do you best describe your music?' That's a pretty tough question for any musical artist but, for Forest Island, it gets pretty complicated. They combine effects, guitar, cello, and vocals into a sublime, swirling ambient mix.

But how did it get to this point, what are the inspirations, and what are the hopes for the future? Find out in this short and sweet podcast, capturing all of this and more.

Also in the episode: Warren Zevon top 10 songs

It would have been Warren Zevon's 73rd birthday in January 2020 - not a particularly significant one for most people. For me though, Warren Zevon is one of the absolute greatest singer-songwriters of all time.

Sure, he was a pretty damn horrible guy, with a terrible temper, and a string of violent misdemeanors to his name. They cannot, and should not, be downplayed. Read I'll Sleep When I'm Dead for an in-depth look at the dirty times.

Zevon though was responsible for an enviable body of work, part nonsense, part fun, part sardonic, and part sensitive like nothing else before it.

So to mark the belated birthday of Warren Zevon, I put together my personal top 10 list of Warren Zevon songs.

Whether you're a seasoned Zevon fan, or an absolute newbie, give it a listen and I am sure you'll learn something.

It was pretty damn tough to narrow down the list, but here are some honourable mentions:

  • Don't Let Us Get Sick
  • Gridlock
  • Reconsider Me
  • The French Inhaler
  • Splendid Isolation
  • Dirty Life and Times
  • I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
  • Detox Mansion
  • Accidentally Like a Martyr
  • Frank and Jesse James
  • Disorder in the House
  • Werewolves of London
  • Hasten Down the Wind

On the next episode

Next time, we look at nu-metal, heavy rock band Tidal Wave. Stay tuned for that, and check out Tidal Wave already here on their website.

Interview: David Adams from The Acoustic Guitar Project

Interview: David Adams from The Acoustic Guitar Project

January 22, 2020

One guitar. One week. One song. It's a pretty simple concept, but it's the creative simplicity of The Acoustic Guitar Project which partly owes to its success.

But behind the concept itself is tireless work from the volunteers helping The Acoustic Guitar Project spread across the globe. To date, there are over 700 songs recorded - so that's 700 people, from all walks of life, from all musical backgrounds, who have submitted songs for everyone to hear, for free.

The idea behind the concept came from David Adams, a self-confessed habitual artist who, in his own words, "just wanted to start something cool" in the beginning. And that he has done.

In this episode, recorded between Berlin and New York, we talk about The Acoustic Guitar Project, where it all started, and where it's heading in the future.

To find out more about The Acoustic Guitar Project, click here.

Also this week

There's been the latest edition of The Pulse, which takes a look at new music from Tame Impala, Danko Jones, The Big Moon, and Justin Bieber. Yes, Bieber (it ain't pretty).

On the next episode, we'll journey back to Berlin to catch up with the cool singer-songwriter duo Forest Island. Stay tuned for that.

Episode 30 - Catch up and review on 2019

Episode 30 - Catch up and review on 2019

December 11, 2019

And so, we end 2019. We've had 30 episodes of BPM Pod to date, each one of them telling their own unique story, but it has to come to a close for 2019.

In 2020, we've got loads of new content lined up, including musicians from across the world, not just Berlin. For now though, we catch up with two artists we featured just over a year ago - Chris Weinhardt and Molly's Peck. 

Interview: Ella Fuchs (Ella & Nik)

Interview: Ella Fuchs (Ella & Nik)

November 13, 2019

Softly spoken, sensitive, and soulful - that's not only the way to describe Ella Fuchs as a guest, but also her music too.

Originally from Berlin, Germany, Ella still strolls the streets, spreading her guitar-driven melodies of love and loss. With early beginnings in a somewhat musical family, Ella soon discovered that music is not only a good personal outlet for problems, but a way to connect with people, to have fun, and to tell a story.

One-half of the duo Ella & Nik, Ella and I talk about how to get started in music, the competitiveness of the scene, and who the music (of anyone) is actually for.

Also in the episode

Not much else this time, due to illness (trying to save my voice). But I am playing live on 20 Nov 2019 - tickets available here.

Also, I quickly ran through some of our upcoming episodes with Tidal Wave, Forest Island, and the Acoustic Guitar Project (certainly worth checking out in advance).

Interview: Grizzly Bird

Interview: Grizzly Bird

November 3, 2019

'Grizzly Bird? You sure it's not Grizzly Bear?' That was my initial thought when Hans got in touch to talk about his musical adventure with the band. I mentioned it to him off-air.

"Well at least I don't have to live by the Han Solo pun anymore," says Hans, referencing his previous artist name. But has much changed beyond the name?

"I would not say so, but that is intentional. Grizzly Bird still reflects this kind of folk, rock, pop sentiment, with some experimentation thrown in too."

The music of Grizzly Bird is hard to pin down (so much so that the latest press writer declared it 'multi-genre', which is either genius or lazy from the professional writer). But despite its genre blending, it is not hard to access, thanks to smooth storytelling, angelic vocals, and a wonderfully, wide sound combining drums with violins, horns, guitars, and more. 

In this episode, Hans and I talk about musical ambitions, the difficulty of promoting music today, and how animals can teach us a thing or two about the world. 

Also in this episode

I've been consuming music at a rather alarming rate recently (no, toilet listening is not on the agenda) so have so many recommendations. 

Jim James' new album was different, and alright, but in this episode I focus on two recent stunners: You Deserve Love by White Reaper, and Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten. (Yes, I know I am late to the party on the latter.)

Interview: Heavy Heavy

Interview: Heavy Heavy

October 20, 2019

Heavy heavy - has there been a better band name on the podcast? It's clear, short, memorable, and a bit of a laugh. "We were thinking of a name, and our music is heavy, but not black metal heavy, but heavy kind of heavy. So the name Heavy Heavy just stuck," explains Chance Blair, lead singer and bassist.

And that was the first thing that struck me about the band: their complete non-bullshit approach. Chance, Linus and Val formed Heavy Heavy simply to play, to experiment, and to have fun.

"Sure, some kind of fame with it is great, but I just want to get out there and play," says Chance. "It's about spreading our music and having a great time."

Seeing the band live, you can tell they're all in it for the thrill. They're tight, composed, yet loose and chilled. It's a fine balance for some fine music.

How to describe Heavy Heavy's music? Well if you're into King Buffalo, All Them Witches, Queens of the Stone Age and such, you're certainly in the right vein - see, it's heavy, even heavy heavy, but not 'holy shit, what the fuck is this crap?' heavy.

A brilliant bunch, with a fantastic setup, and a killer acoustic recording at the end to boot, there is nothing more I can say about Heavy Heavy which they can't tell you themselves. So head west towards home, and let the episode play.


Relatiiv interview + BPM Pod album release

Relatiiv interview + BPM Pod album release

September 22, 2019

One year. Doesn’t seem possible, right? But that is how long BPM Pod has been running – just me, my guests, and this crappy 300-euro Packard Bell laptop pumping out episodes every two weeks. I did not think we would last a year. Yet here we are.

And while I am certainly content with the limited success of BPM Pod so far, the fact I have proved to myself that I can do this only gives me more drive for the future. There will certainly be more promotional stuff from BPM Pod in the next year, as I aim to get to at least 1,000 listeners per episode, up from the average 100 listeners today.

This week, we have a special episode then as we release the first BPM Pod Acoustic Album (called ‘Stripped Sessions’; more on this in a minute), and we talk to some of the most aware, self-reflective and honest guests we have heard on BPM Pod.

Relatiiv: A journey to vulnerability

This balance between contentment and ambition is a feeling shared by my guests this week – the wonderful Laura and Markus from the hip-hop funk-electronic duo, Relatiiv.

In all professions, there are people with some kind of act. We all act at times. But real power lies in breaking down your act, removing the mask, and being yourself. It’s this openness and transparency that Laura and Markus really have nailed. And being content and open does not mean a lack of drive.

“The fact that we are content does not mean that we do not have goals. In fact, because you are detached from your ego, you approach music with a much more free mindset,” says Laura. “It is about keeping your mind in balance and enjoying the moment and what you do.”

Drawing inspiration from artists including Tom Misch, Mahalia, FKJ and Jordan Rakei – all the way through to Fredrik Chopin, no less – Laura and Markus have developed a downtempo beat common ground with love, laughter and longing at its core. It’s pretty mesmerizing stuff all in all from Relatiiv, and it’s doubtlessly one of the best episodes of BPM Pod. A great way to mark the one-year anniversary indeed.

To find out more about Relatiiv, go to SoundCloud, Spotify or Facebook.

BPM Pod: Stripped Sessions release

Most episodes end with an acoustic version of an original song from the artist in that episode – it’s become pretty standard stuff here on BPM Pod.

But what if all of those songs were recorded and released in one package?

Well that’s exactly what I’ve done with BPM Pod: Stripped Sessions. Free to download from Bandcamp, I’ve compiled some of your favourite tracks from across the episodes.

Sure, the sound is not always amazing (I am recording live with two mics only) but you get at least a taste of the magic I experience first-hand at the end of each episode.

So go to Bandcamp and check it out and, as always, do spread the love far and wide.

Full track listing:

  • Manono – I Want You
  • Chris Winhardt – Spookghetti Western
  • Ben Osborn – The Only Thing
  • Promis – Will I Get A Chance To Sing My Songs One Day (Before I’m Dead)
  • Otari – Escapade
  • Maria Mørk – Let Me Float
  • Blake Farha – For All The Good It’s Done Me
  • Adamore – Dreamer, Believer
  • Molly’s Peck – You Should Know
  • Lisa Akuah – Bubbles
  • Iadora Johnson – Improv jam session
  • SCARS – Scars of Life
  • Ohad Leev Roage – I Got It All
  • Ella Fuchs – Berlin
  • Heavy Heavy – High Rise Vultures

Listen to the album by clicking here, or by going through the player below.

Lauren Piper (Vowels) interview + song battles discussion

Lauren Piper (Vowels) interview + song battles discussion

August 26, 2019

Way back when, I critiqued music (I still do, I guess). I cannot recall the name of this one band I gave a negative review of, but I remember what I said: 'This is so depressing that I slit my wrists and am now bleeding out all over my desk. Seek help.'

Look, I am not proud of that line at all. It's not witty or clever, and I can see that it is not a helpful criticism. But I am pretty sure I did not deserve the hatred I received in an online forum after the review was published. Someone said they would kill me, someone said my family were going to die, someone told me to actually slit my wrists for real. It was pretty brutal.

Yet despite this, being a music critic taught me a lot of things. One: it improved my writing. Two: it is easy to become a music snob.

These are two lessons Lauren Piper learned too. Trawling through releases from amateur bands, all the way through to Lily Allen, and the brilliant 'Honky Tonk Bedonkadonk', Lauren soon developed a good musical bullshit meter.

Yet despite the tsunami of mediocrity coming her way, Lauren never lost faith. Now, with influences from The Pixies, Velvet Underground and more, Lauren fronts the musical project AEIOU (which is actually pronounced 'Vowels').

AEIOU - it's pronounced Vowels
For Lauren, the term 'musical project' is probably the most accurate, given that the lineup of Vowels changes all the time. But there is one constant to Vowels - the power of Lauren's vulnerable, stripped-back songs.

Armed with a range of pedals and effects, Lauren/Vowels put on some powerful, hard-hitting performances of songs that run a fine line between artsy and plain weird. It's wonderful.

On this episode, we talk about moving from Washington DC, to New York, and now to Berlin; how you can easily become a music snob; and the musical ambitions for Vowels going forward (including a bunch of collaborations).

To find out more about Lauren and the music of Vowels (AEIOU), go to Facebook or Bandcamp.

Also on the episode: song battles, good or bad?

There are a bunch of good musicians out there. So how do we find out who is best? FIGHT!

Or is that wrong? Should musicians compete in such a way? Should the idea of song battles be re-thought?

To see what musicians today think of song battles, I went back and spoke with some of the previous guests of BPM Pod: Moves Johnson, Lisa Akuah, Iadora Johnson, and Tara C Taylor.

Their answers certainly differ, and that's totally fine, as the issue of whether song battles are good or bad is a pretty complex one. But what do you think? Let me know!

About this episode:

  • We talk about the superb Sharon Van Etten, who I completely recommend you listen to. And I mentioned a black and white album which I loved - and mistakenly placed as being released in 2010 - called 'Are We There'. The best song from the album is this dreamy folk tune, 'Afraid of Nothing'. Go listen and cry. Seriously.

  • We also look at a song called 'Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.' It is dreadful but, if you want to ruin your day, then give it a go, purely for some of the best lyrics ever penned:

    She got it going on like Donkey Kong,
    Ooh wee, shut my mouth,
    Slap your grandma

  • Other mentions of artists in this episode include The Pixies, Velvet Underground, and someone I had never heard of called Mirah. Well I took a listen to Mirah, and I quite liked it. Here is the song that Lauren also did a cover version of, called 'Archipelago'.
  • As heard in the intro vox pop, there are a bunch of artists who has been on the podcast before. Check out Moves Johnson, Lisa Akuah, Iadora Johnson and Tara C Taylor. Thanks for your help.
  • Big thanks to Moves Johnson too for allowing me to use his song 'Skin Complexion' under the vox pop.
  • Completely unpaid promo, but thanks to Blue microphones for the new Blue Yeti Studio Pro. Brilliant service. Check out their range here.
  • And finally, we mentioned the band name AEIOU and how it reminded me of a song by Jim James (My Morning Jacket) called 'State of the Art (AEIOU)'. The studio version is solid, but the live My Morning Jacket version of AEIOU is better. Saw this live in New York in 2017 with my wife, and this blew us away. Here is the actual performance from that night. Good quality audio too.
Ohad Leev Roage

Ohad Leev Roage

August 13, 2019

Another week, another podcast. This time, we take a diverse musical journey from Jerusalem to Berlin, with singer-songwriter and guitarist, Ohad.

Also, a bunch of tracks that I have fallen in love with this week (either for the first time, or again) including Haim, The Black Keys, Angel Olson, Kacey Musgraves, and Derek and the Dominoes.

Playthrough: ‘Mythos’ by Vizard

Playthrough: ‘Mythos’ by Vizard

July 31, 2019

We have a full playthrough of the new EP 'Mythos' from the electronic music duo, Vizard. Also, we review 'Let's Rock' from The Black Keys.