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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with The Magic Lantern

The Magic Lantern meld classical, folk, world and jazz sounds to create sumptuous musical scores. And they're coming to a venue near you very soon…. it's time to find out more about this unique new collective.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson.

Still Corners are as elusive as they are beautiful, malady but I managed to track down songwriter and keyboardist Greg Hughes to answer a few finely tuned questions. Delve into the enigmatic Still Corners world…

Who are you?
We’re ghosts, viagra approved but if you close your eyes and listen carefully to the music you’ll find out who we are.
 
still corners by sandra contreras
Still Corners by Sandra Contreras.

You’ve managed to create an impressive amount of hype already… have you intentionally pursued press or has this just come about of it’s own accord? ?
We mostly keep our heads down working as hard as possible. However the press has been fantastic and we all feel very lucky and happy that people are enjoying the music and shows. It’s a wonderful feeling.

?Would you like to stay independent or you would you like to sign to a major label?
We’ve always been a DIY band and we don’t use producers – I record it all and we do all our own artwork. These are things that major labels usually like to have a say about and that probably wouldn’t work very well with our ethos.

You have said “Everything is handmade”  – what does this mean in practice?
That means that all our output is created by our little circle of friends. I have a little studio where I do the recordings, then we rope in friends and like minded artists to take photos and help with the artwork. It’s just that we have a very definite idea of everything, a vibe of how things should be. So it’s just easier to do it ourselves, to take what’s in our heads and make it a reality.

Your stage shows are characterised by a wash of deep colours that hides your faces… how did you decide upon this feel, and how important is the look and ambience of your performance? ?
We’re not actually trying to hide or anything, we just don’t think that what we’re doing on stage is all that critical to observe. We like to use projections because we think they are beautiful to watch and they bring more out of the music. Projections are best seen in the dark so we usually turn the lights down to create an atmosphere, maybe something you don’t always get in your typical smaller venue.

What is it that so appeals to you in the creation of such a woozy atmosphere?
?Whether recording or playing live we want to go off into another world, something we see in our heads and feel in our hearts. We want to make our audience feel something.

YouTube Preview Image

Wish is just beautiful. How was the video made??
Thank you. Lucy Dyson made that video for us – she came up with the idea and filmed it all on 16 mm film which lends a sort of dreamy washed out feeling to the visual quality of it.  We shot it all over 2 days on a nice summer stretch of green in London. 

What inspires the lyrics to your songs??
The English countryside, a sunset, a romance, films of yesteryear, a photograph, a painting, a story, lying in the grass watching the stars, the little moments of life.

What has been your gigging highlight of the year and why?
?We recently played in a castle in Berlin and in the most incredible opera house in Toulon in France. The people, places, and response was amazing – both definitely stand out moments for us.

Are there any other up and coming bands that you recommend that we check out?
A band we think are just magical are Twin Sister, and they are lovely people as well. 

?What are your plans for 2011? Can we expect to see you at any festivals?
We hope to have a single out with Sub Pop early this year and we’re working on a full record for release mid-next year so fingers crossed we’ll find a nice home for it!
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson.

I discovered Still Corners when they supported Our Broken Garden late last year. The band are as elusive as they are beautiful, adiposity but I managed to track down songwriter and keyboardist Greg Hughes to answer a few finely tuned questions. Delve into the enigmatic Still Corners world…

Who are you?
We’re ghosts, visit web but if you close your eyes and listen carefully to the music you’ll find out who we are.
 
still corners by sandra contreras
Still Corners by Sandra Contreras.

You’ve managed to create an impressive amount of hype already… have you intentionally pursued press or has this just come about of it’s own accord? ?
We mostly keep our heads down working as hard as possible. However the press has been fantastic and we all feel very lucky and happy that people are enjoying the music and shows. It’s a wonderful feeling.

?Would you like to stay independent or you would you like to sign to a major label?
We’ve always been a DIY band and we don’t use producers – I record it all and we do all our own artwork. These are things that major labels usually like to have a say about and that probably wouldn’t work very well with our ethos.

Still Corners by Karina Yarv
Still Corners by Karina Yarv.

You have said “Everything is handmade”  – what does this mean in practice?
That means that all our output is created by our little circle of friends. I have a little studio where I do the recordings, then we rope in friends and like minded artists to take photos and help with the artwork. It’s just that we have a very definite idea of everything, a vibe of how things should be. So it’s just easier to do it ourselves, to take what’s in our heads and make it a reality.

Still Corners by Alison Day
Still Corners by Alison Day.

Your stage shows are characterised by a wash of deep colours that hides your faces… how did you decide upon this feel, and how important is the look and ambience of your performance? ?
We’re not actually trying to hide or anything, we just don’t think that what we’re doing on stage is all that critical to observe. We like to use projections because we think they are beautiful to watch and they bring more out of the music. Projections are best seen in the dark so we usually turn the lights down to create an atmosphere, maybe something you don’t always get in your typical smaller venue.

What is it that so appeals to you in the creation of such a woozy atmosphere?
?Whether recording or playing live we want to go off into another world, something we see in our heads and feel in our hearts. We want to make our audience feel something.

YouTube Preview Image

Wish is just beautiful. How was the video made??
Thank you. Lucy Dyson made that video for us – she came up with the idea and filmed it all on 16 mm film which lends a sort of dreamy washed out feeling to the visual quality of it.  We shot it all over 2 days on a nice summer stretch of green in London. 

What inspires the lyrics to your songs??
The English countryside, a sunset, a romance, films of yesteryear, a photograph, a painting, a story, lying in the grass watching the stars, the little moments of life.

Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson.

What has been your gigging highlight of the year and why?
?We recently played in a castle in Berlin and in the most incredible opera house in Toulon in France. The people, places, and response was amazing – both definitely stand out moments for us.

Are there any other up and coming bands that you recommend that we check out?
A band we think are just magical are Twin Sister, and they are lovely people as well. 

?What are your plans for 2011? Can we expect to see you at any festivals?
We hope to have a single out with Sub Pop early this year and we’re working on a full record for release mid-next year so fingers crossed we’ll find a nice home for it!
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson.

I discovered Still Corners when they supported Our Broken Garden late last year. The band are as elusive as they are beautiful, what is ed but I managed to track down songwriter and keyboardist Greg Hughes to answer a few finely tuned questions. Delve into the enigmatic Still Corners world…

Who are you?
We’re ghosts, patient but if you close your eyes and listen carefully to the music you’ll find out who we are.
 
still corners by sandra contreras
Still Corners by Sandra Contreras.

You’ve managed to create an impressive amount of hype already… have you intentionally pursued press or has this just come about of it’s own accord? ?
We mostly keep our heads down working as hard as possible. However the press has been fantastic and we all feel very lucky and happy that people are enjoying the music and shows. It’s a wonderful feeling.

?Would you like to stay independent or you would you like to sign to a major label?
We’ve always been a DIY band and we don’t use producers – I record it all and we do all our own artwork. These are things that major labels usually like to have a say about and that probably wouldn’t work very well with our ethos.

Still Corners by Karina Yarv
Still Corners by Karina Yarv.

You have said “Everything is handmade”  – what does this mean in practice?
That means that all our output is created by our little circle of friends. I have a little studio where I do the recordings, page then we rope in friends and like minded artists to take photos and help with the artwork. It’s just that we have a very definite idea of everything, a vibe of how things should be. So it’s just easier to do it ourselves, to take what’s in our heads and make it a reality.

Still Corners by Alison Day
Still Corners by Alison Day.

Your stage shows are characterised by a wash of deep colours that hides your faces… how did you decide upon this feel, and how important is the look and ambience of your performance? ?
We’re not actually trying to hide or anything, we just don’t think that what we’re doing on stage is all that critical to observe. We like to use projections because we think they are beautiful to watch and they bring more out of the music. Projections are best seen in the dark so we usually turn the lights down to create an atmosphere, maybe something you don’t always get in your typical smaller venue.

What is it that so appeals to you in the creation of such a woozy atmosphere?
?Whether recording or playing live we want to go off into another world, something we see in our heads and feel in our hearts. We want to make our audience feel something.

YouTube Preview Image

Wish is just beautiful. How was the video made??
Thank you. Lucy Dyson made that video for us – she came up with the idea and filmed it all on 16 mm film which lends a sort of dreamy washed out feeling to the visual quality of it.  We shot it all over 2 days on a nice summer stretch of green in London. 

What inspires the lyrics to your songs??
The English countryside, a sunset, a romance, films of yesteryear, a photograph, a painting, a story, lying in the grass watching the stars, the little moments of life.

Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson
Still Corners by Nicholas Stevenson.

What has been your gigging highlight of the year and why?
?We recently played in a castle in Berlin and in the most incredible opera house in Toulon in France. The people, places, and response was amazing – both definitely stand out moments for us.

Are there any other up and coming bands that you recommend that we check out?
A band we think are just magical are Twin Sister, and they are lovely people as well. 

?What are your plans for 2011? Can we expect to see you at any festivals?
We hope to have a single out with Sub Pop early this year and we’re working on a full record for release mid-next year so fingers crossed we’ll find a nice home for it!
The Magic Lantern by Darren Fletcher
The Magic Lantern by Darren Fletcher.

When Jamie Doe of The Magic Lantern contacted me about reviewing latest single Cut From Stone it was a no brainer to ask for an interview. The Magic Lantern are friends of Gabby Young and Other Animals, sildenafil but they’ve been busy forging a sound that is uniquely their own, so it’s time to get the low down…

Aside from having a great name, what else is special about The Magic Lantern?
The Magic Lantern: I’m glad you like the name for starters! Well, I guess what’s makes us special is the combination of different music that we meld into a sort of chamber music sound. Our other less musical claim to specialness is our group capacity to demolish chocolate during rehearsals – it’s scary!

Who are you all? And what are your other lives outside the band?
The Magic Lantern: Well there are five of us; Jamie Doe on vocals, Fred Thomas on percussion, Lucy Railton on cello, Dave Shulman on clarinets and Phil Stevenson on guitar. We all do quite different things outside of the band. Apart from Jamie everyone else works as professional musicians in different capacities. Lucy’s been playing a lot on tour with contemporary dancer Akram Khan. Fred plays in a number of bands from blues in Sister Mary and the Choir Boys to world music with Ladino singer Mor Kabasi. Dave plays a lot of klezmer music and in a great band called The Gadjo Club. Phil plays jazz and lots of Brazilian music and funk. Apart from music we’re all really into David Attenborough documentaries so they’ll always be on the tour bus or put on after a late rehearsal.

Magic Lantern by Andrea Peterson
The Magic Lantern by Andrea Peterson.

How did you get together and come up with your sound?
Jamie: Fred and I went to school together in Birmingham then Fred went to study music in London and I went to Bristol. I started writing songs in Bristol and when I finished studying I decided to move to London and try and put a band together. I hooked up with Fred who was playing a lot of jazz and he seemed to know all these super cool musicians so we just started hanging out and I moved into this house full of musos from different backgrounds and the band slowly took shape above a north london post office.
Phil: Musically a lot of us came from different backgrounds. Jamie’s a singer songwriter but listens to a lot of jazz. Dave plays a lot of klezmer and gypsy music so he’s got a really interesting clarinet sound. Both Fred and Lucy are really into contemporary classical music and chamber music and iIthink that’s been a huge influence on how the songs develop from simple folk songs into chamber group meets jazz improvisation sound. Myself, I’m really into funk and african music and I think I’ve brought that kind of groove to some of the tunes. So it’s a real melting pot and I think we just keep on getting better at making a really unique sound around these great tunes that Jamie writes.

YouTube Preview Image

What are the limited edition hand made copies of the single Cut From Stone like?
Jamie: Well when we decided to release the single ourselves, it gave us a lot more scope to think about exactly how we wanted the single to look and feel. We knew that for the hard copies would mainly be for fans who came to gigs so we wanted to make them something special. Also, now that everyone downloads music from the internet, iIthink it’s kind of important to fetishise the product, you know, get back to craft, to something that people want to hold in their hands and that they can see the work that’s obviously gone into it. For that reason we didn’t just want to go to a printer and get them done. Instead we decided to work with some friends of ours, Ollie Hamick and Nicky Peart, who designed some stamps and stencils.
Lucy: Each CD then had three individual stamps and a hand painted stencil along with a hand printed and folded insert. We only made 150 and we’ve only got 8 left so I think people liked them – but it took about a week to make them all! I don’t know what we’ll do for the album yet – I can’t bear to think of it right now… But it’s going to be fun.

How did you hook up with jazz vocalist Emilia? What was the process of working with her like?
Fred: Emilia’s a really good friend of ours from the jazz scene, and she’s an amazing singer. When we went into the studio we realised that there were a number of backing vocal parts that would be great to get a female voice on and we couldn’t really think of anyone better than Emilia. Working with her was a breeze, she’s a great musician and was able to come in and knock out an album’s worth of pitch perfect backing parts in a day.
Jamie: Around the corner from the studio we recorded in is this amazing Italian restaurant called Corelli’s – we took her for lunch there as a thank you!

Magic Lantern by Andrea Peterson
The Magic Lantern by Andrea Peterson.

What is the F-IRE Collective? can you tell us a bit more about it?
Dave: We joined the F-IRE collective last year through Fred our percussionist, who was invited to become a member. In essence, it’s a really diverse community of musicians from all sorts of different backgrounds from circus to electronica, free-improv to classical composition. The uniting factor is probably a real interest in rhythmic expression and in supporting creative music. It’s a pretty loose collective but everyone’s very supportive of each other.
Jamie: We’re also members of The Hectic Eclectic which is a group of musicians and songwriters who all met at one time or another in Birmingham. Now spread around the country we still get together and collaborate on different projects whenever we can. One of the main members, Triple Rosie, have just opened a cafe called Railroad in Hackney, which is awesome and where we’ve started putting some nights on.

Why has it taken so long to release your next single? What have you been up to?
Jamie: Well I guess it has taken a while. The thing is we recorded our album over the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 and then we had a bit an issue getting it mixed because we wanted our friend Leo Abrahams to do it but he’s pretty busy and wasn’t able to finish it all off until these last few months.
Phil: We took the decision that it was worth getting it done really properly and waiting and then releasing things when they were finished rather than rushing stuff out. It also worked out as Lucy was travelling quite a lot through the year playing with Akram Khan so we obviously wanted to wait until she was here before the release. The waiting has been really good though because we’ve had longer to work on our sound, write some new material, go on tour, play in Sweden with Little Dragon – all these things have really strengthened what we’re doing and how we do it. So I’m happy with where we are and all the exciting things that 2011 holds.

the magic lantern by karolina burdon
The Magic Lantern by Karolina Burdon.

What instruments do you play and how do you manage the swapping around when you are on stage?
The Magic Lantern
: Normally Jamie sings and sometimes plays acoustic guitar, Phil plays electric guitar and cavaco which is like a little Brazilian ukelele. Lucy plays cello, Dave plays a bass clarinet as well as a normal B flat clarinet and Fred normally plays a sort of percussion drum kit. The swapping kind of happens as a result of which songs need which vibes. Fred sometimes plays the guitar or cavaco and Phil is forever changing to different guitars and then having to change the tunings between them which takes quite a long time on stage. We’ve got a few songs where Dave has to change between clarinets and he’s pretty protective of them so that’s not always seamless. I guess the stages we normally play on aren’t exactly Wembley sized so we always seem impossibly squashed in and when we have to swap or change instruments between songs it can get pretty hairy. We haven’t had too many disasters yet but it certainly feels like a matter of time….

Plans for next year? Festivals, tours etc? where can we see you?
Fred: We’re pretty excited about next year. The album’s going to be coming out, probably in May followed by a UK tour. Maybe one day we’ll also get to do a soundtrack to a David Attenborough documentary!
Lucy: We’re doing a residency at the Green Note in Camden (ticket info here) through out January, February and March which is going to be great. We played there a few times last year and the atmosphere was amazing. It’s tiny, but when everyone’s crammed and listening its a special feeling.
Jamie: We’re also really excited to be playing at the Southbank Centre (more info here, it’s FREE) in February. I think we’ll probably play a few festivals in the summer; there’s nothing confirmed yet but probably Secret Garden Party, Green Man and a few others, we’ll have to wait and see!

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