A melodic transfusion: an interview with Roxanne de Bastion

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From playing and writing songs at a tender age, relocating to a new country, and immersing in a full experience of playing varied venues and cities across the country to share her music, singer songwriter Roxanne de Bastion is at the point where wide awareness is just an inviting one big step away. Following on from her successful single Red & White Blood Cells, Roxanne is counting the eager days to the release of her debut album The Real Thing. Wanting to find out more about the artists and release before its unveiling we had the pleasure of talking to Roxanne about her early life, music, and forthcoming album.

Hi Roxanne and welcome to The Ringmaster Review

For those yet to meet you musically tell us about yourself and your history to date.

Hi everybody! My name’s Roxanne de Bastion and I write songs and perform them, usually on my guitar. I was born in Berlin to a German mother and an English father – we moved back and forth a bit when was a child. When I finished school I was finally able to pursue music (which is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember) and moved to England with my guitar a bunch of songs and a suitcase. Last year I got the chance to record my first album, which I’m releasing on Nomad Songs on April 18th.

Was music a constant in your informative years whether from personal or family interest?

Yeah – it’s still my only constant. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Some people have a very distinct concept of ‘home’, their family house, the town they grew up in… I just feel at home in music.

When did the passion for music take over leading you to make it your career?

Hmm… that’s quite tricky. It was kind of a seamless transition. I’ve been gigging and writing songs since my early teenage years, so when school was over it was more a matter of “how am I going to do this?” as opposed to “what am I going to do now?”
This is super nerdy, but I just looked up the definition of “career” and the free dictionary calls it “a chosen pursuit”, which I can totally live with and, in that case, I guess it was always a career.

What were the predominant sounds and bands which caught the imagination of a young girl in Berlin?

The predominant sound was that of the Beatles! I fell in love with their music when I was about four years old and I am still just as enamoured with it as I was then. It was John Lennon’s songwriting in particular that got me hooked. Bob Dylan, the Kinks and The Who were all close seconds. Years later the next thing that really grabbed me was Alanis Morissette and No Doubt…spent hours singing their songs in my room as a teenager.

You came to the UK in2007 I believe, was this an investigation or with intentions to stay and perform as long as you have to date?Roxanne de Bastion

It’s still an investigation! I guess the thought of moving away from Berlin was so scary that I just made myself believe that I’d just be “checking it out”… and here I am! It’s a lot less scary now.

How did you find things on arrival and how have things musically progressed for you since arriving here?

It was weird, man! It really was… I was culture shocked…which sounds strange, but everything was so different overnight, especially as my very first months were spent in the West Midlands and not in London: So I moved from laid back city life in Berlin, living with my parents and going to school, to working in a pub in, what seemed to me to be the middle of a field (which at least did remind of Pepperland, so that was cool), serving drinks I’d never heard of, having rent to pay and a whole new life to come to terms with. It was one big adventure. I got to meet a lot of great people that inspired me. Musically things have come a long way – the best way I can describe it is starting off in a completely dark room, feeling your way around and bumping into furniture, now my eyes have gotten a little more used to the dark or maybe someone’s opened the door a little.

It must have been daunting at first, how did you cope with or stand strong against the things which naturally would have sprung up, loneliness, lack of contacts etc.?

Music’s great for that. You find out where all the open mics are in your area and automatically you stumble upon a group of friendly musicians. It was daunting, but it always will be – as it is for everybody! That’s just part of going out and living your life.

You have and do perform across the UK not just in London where you are based. How easy was it to find venues welcoming a complete newcomer to play around the country?

Well that’s the good thing about being a bit of a Nomad. There are some places like Liverpool and Coventry outside of London where I gigged often enough for it to become a kind of a base. Judging by its suggestions, Twitter still thinks I live in Liverpool… not that I would mind!

Although it’s not always easy, I am infinitely thankful to be able to practice what fulfils me most, to make and perform music, and for all of you who have found enjoyment in my songs and journey. Thank you so much for coming to my shows, listening to my words and for your support!

1010354224-11You have just released your single Red and White Blood Cells, which people can grab as a free download. How would you describe its unique sounds for those new to you?

Oh, how about “Riot Grrl Folk”? I got to play electric guitar for this one, which was super fun! The song itself is a little silly, inspired by listening to a lot of Regina Spektor and constantly catching colds in London.

Is the single a good representation for what your forthcoming self-released debut album The Real Thing will offer?

Only in the sense that all songs were recorded live – just a couple of full takes with no major post-production. Style wise I think the songs are all very different.

How do you write songs generally and what seeds them more often than not?

Very undisciplined…I find I can’t force it…either songs come or they don’t. I’ll pick up the guitar and coast around chords or melodies I find interesting, sometimes I start by playing somebody else’s song that I’m currently listening to, but usually, when a song comes, it comes pretty much complete, as if it were there all along – tis a strange thing!

What are your major influences and how have they impacted on your unique sound and style?

The move to England and newly found shoebox-life in London influenced me a lot…people I meet and new music I hear. I think growing up with two different languages and cultures, where you only really feel at home in a combination of both of them probably plays a big part.

In our review of your single we said your voice was ‘angelic and devilish at the same time’, a fair description? …and which singers if any have inspired the standout delivery you have?

Why thank you! Regina Spektor has been a huge musical influence over the last couple of years. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Judee Sill, so completely different style again…

The single and album was produced by Gordon Raphael (The Strokes / Regina Spektor) I believe. How did the link up with him come about and what impact has he made on how you looked at and recorded your songs in the studio?

Well, I looked at the back of my “Soviet Kitsch” CD and saw his name, typed it into Google and emailed him with a couple of my demos. The bizarre thing was that, although he’s from Seattle, Gordon is actually living in Berlin at the moment. So we met up over Christmas last year and decided to record the album pretty much then and there.

I loved working with Gordon – lots of fun and just what I wanted for my songs. He does everything very organically and always has time for whacky suggestions. Plus, he has a really cool collection of instruments like the Hammond organ and the Gibson guitar we got to use on the record.

Can you give us some hints and background to what will be on the album?28343_10150168457630707_2459924_n

Not much more than I’ve already given you!

When will it be released and what is planned around it for yourself and the rest of 2013 in general?

I’m going on tour again in the UK and in Germany towards the end of April and throughout May. Hopefully I’ll get to play some fun Festivals in the summer and I think there’s another Germany tour in the autumn. Other than that, not sure yet and really can’t wait to see what’s going to happen!

A big thank you for taking time to talk with us… Any last thoughts you would like to share?

Thank you! I hope you keep in touch and perhaps see you at a show soon!

And finally as you travel the country by train etc. what is your personal musical soundtrack to while away the hours between venues?

I neeeed to invest in an MP3 player…! During the last two tours I’ve been using my laptop as an overly large jukebox, which has oddly consisted of the soundtrack to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Sky Captains of Industry (my friends’ amazingly fun band in NYC), Anais Mitchell’s “Hadestown” as well as a few stray Regina and Bob Dylan Songs.

Read the Red and White Blood Cells @ 

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/roxanne-de-bastion-red-white-blood-cells/

The RingMaster Review 06/03/2013

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This Wicked Tongue: Provinces EP + Mick Hucknall’s Hair

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    From Worcester in the UK, This Wicked Tongue is one of those bands which once heard or is that bitten they stay around with a lustful lingering. Brewing up storms of rock n roll pulsating with essences of progressive rock, grunge, and alternative rock, the band creates a thrilling fiery sound which is rife with a deviously seductive persuasion and mischief. Their Provinces EP which came out in the latter part of last year is a release which fully deserves a belated look whilst their new single Mick Hucknall’s Hair, due for release in May, is a song which defies any patience in sharing its stunning quality.

Formed in 2011 and taking influences such as Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana, Audioslave, and Soundgarden into their creative design, the quartet of Tina V (vocalist/guitarist/ keyboards), Haydn (vocalist/guitarist), Rob (bass, and Ben (drums) has emerged with a sound which equally offers the passion of Skunk Anansie and the melodic lures of Throwing Muses. This Wicked Tongue on the evidence of these two releases and their previous self-titled EP, openly do not lack invention or imagination with the band able to craft stirring infectious and tempting songs which are veined by sculpted hooks, explosive energy, and instinctive passion.

The Provinces EP is made up of six tracks which capture the imagination with ease, their varied and compelling sounds a lingering and hungry presence in the ear. Opening song House first places a blistered sonic hand on the listener before unveiling a rich flame of stoner groove and a passion baiting funk bassline. Turning into an eager to please stroll with bass and guitar making their individual lures of invention, the vocals of Tina stroke the ear with restraint within the reserved gait of the song. Soon though the song ignites a feisty feast of impressive energy and open emotions to leave an ever tastier flavour which gains additional potency as the track writhes and twists with further craft and enterprise before it departs to lift the satisfaction levels up greater levels.

The following If This is Me teases with a heavier impacting energy and once again a blaze of sonic colour from the guitars, their bluesy swagger bold and confident without indulging in any over blown grandeur. Though the song lacks the addictive hold of its predecessor it is a heated slice of accomplished songwriting and even greater impacting realisation. With its heart bleeding emotion in every note and a delicious harmonic tease in its final few breathes, the track sets up the senses for the equally emotive and inviting Cape Pelorem. It is a vibrant rain of sizzling melodies and elegant hooks all coated with heated rock tenacity, an intenseness which compliments rather than smothers the mellower light of the track. It is a song which triggers an inflammation of the passions before passing on the next step to their rapture to next up Discontent.

The track is stunning, a riveting encounter of taunting hooks and hearty bass sounds wrapped in vocal harmonies boisterously expanding the walls of the song. Loud whispers which can be seeded in the likes of Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction hold irresistible sway over the passions throughout though the song and band never settles for leaving things unstirred, a melodic aside with near siren properties sending thoughts escalating in to greater ardour. With a parting sonic scorching the song is the highest pinnacle of the release.

The EP is completed by the riotous energy of Your Hands, swiftly followed by a brief piano reprise of the same song. The main track sees both Tina and Haydn vocally guiding the powerful sounds to expose further evidence that the band can issue sinews of metal and rock with the same ease, power, and invention as they can their melodic flames and entrancing sonic shards. The song is another outstanding inferno of imaginative conception and leaves a lasting burn upon the heart.

As mentioned Mick Hucknall’s Hair has its physical release in May but we cannot wait to share its towering sound and invention. Immediately the song gnaws at the ear with ravenous riffs from guitar and bass whilst the drums bring an extra bite to their swiping punches than seen on the previous EP. The song offers strong indications that the band has evolved their sound and direction many steps on since the Provinces, the track having a richer growl and harder intensity to its rigid prowl. The band has not left their melodic beauty in the past though, the song weaving in virulent progressive radiance for the deepest fascination and invention from the band yet. Everything about the song is a marked evolution from the already impressive EP and it is hard to see the band not finding a far reaching recognition and stature in the years ahead.

http://www.thiswickedtongue.com

Provinces EP 8/10 + Mick Hucknall’s Hair 9/10

RingMaster 06/03/2013

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Tactical Module: World Through My Sight

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    Tactical Module is a band which holds no fears in challenging and imposing its confrontation upon the listener musically and the world lyrically, but rewards its sonic intrusion with an aggressive symphony of electro enterprise, punk attitude, and industrial intensity. New album World Through My Sight is a brawl of ideas and sounds which with magnetic and compelling abrasion leaves no doubt that there is a formidable force dawning within UK dark electro/ rock.

Founded in the summer of 2010, Tactical Module is the solo project of Poole college student Michael Davis, the venture seeded by his need to find a vehicle and freedom for his creative imagination. Fusing industrial metal, EBM, digital hardcore and harsh electro, Davis has built a steadily growing reputation with his uncompromising and startling sounds. Using influences such as Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, KMFDM, Godflesh, Gary Numan, Skinny Puppy, Killing Joke, and Depeche Mode to name a few, to sculpt his invention Davis has released numerous EPs and remixes as well as being involved with some impressive collaborations each marking his territory of provocative sounds. It was with the 2012 release of the Dead Zone EP though, which featured the intimidating vocals of Osmar Diaz from Mexican industrial act Acrophilic Project that a new fire of attention turned his way and strong anticipation brewed for this release. The latter part of the year also saw Davis sign with US dark electro/industrial label Engraved Ritual and release the track Where Angels Rise from his impending album, a song which lit up the ears and appetite of new and old fans alike.

The brief awakening of sound in opener The Lining of Sights is really an intro to the feast of sound and intent ahead but in its brief presence is the irresistible first step into album and its startling title track. An immediate resonating probe upon the senses, the track opens up its stance with great punk rap vocals from Davis heading a controlled charge of intimidating rhythms and intensive sonic rubs. Melodic warmth is grown and employed in the following infectious chorus and the ever present caressing ambience, though even that has a threat which is not to be ignored. At times the track reminds of a mesh of Killing Joke around the time of their Turn To Red EP and also Conformist with a certain punk simplicity at its heart.

The strong opening is continued through Where Angels Rise, the song a blistered acidic kiss upon the senses with scarring vocals and treacherous whispers as well as an equally caustic caress to the predatory pulse and hunger of the stark melodic breath. The song is pop at its darkest and most malicious, a seductive scourge with the darkest siren shadows matched in blackness by Dead Zone featuring the insidious rabid tones of Acrophilic Project. The track is a nasty devour of the emotions, its bestial ravage coated in bewitching sonics and melodic lime which mesmerises whilst corroding the senses.

After the stunning instrumental Skyline, its soundscape an irresistible merger of flaming melodics and ravenous guitar conjured energy combined to forge an encounter which seduces and gnaws away at the listener with impressive craft and invention, the album gradually evolves into a harsher and darker proposition. As Erase the Defect soon shows, the warmth which penetrated the earlier intrusive confrontations begins its slow dissipation song by song, this track an excellent defiance with unreserved aggression. Melodically the tracks still offer a balance and melodic whisper but it is a colder and less giving embrace which changes and enhances the album further.

Fragility is a low point on the release due to the clean vocals Davis brings to its compelling sounds and striking stature. Initially the song with its Spizz Energi reminding sonic tease and soon joining predatory bass sounds, hits the passions with unerring accuracy but once Davis sings it is all lost. As the song goes on to show he can growl, snarl and rap with impressive style and strength but sing sadly not, the song title ironically apt unless that is inspiring the display, and for personal tastes it ruins a deeply promising track. It is a passing issue though as further songs like the incendiary and evocative Cypher and the invidious Zeroed whip the fervour back to its earlier heights.

The album also includes remixes of album tracks from the likes of Project Rotten and Nahtaivel, with the two by Cease2Xist and Enfermo 666 especially dramatically impressive. World Through My Sight is an excellent album which arguably is not one of the more immediately engaging releases but certainly one of the most rewarding within its genre.

https://www.facebook.com/TacticalModule

8/10

RingMaster 06/03/2013

 

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Excalibur: Dusha

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     Emerging from the Russian underground scene, symphonic metal band Excalibur and their excellent new album Dusha make the most agreeable and powerful persuasion as to why they deserve a much wider and heavier recognition. The release is an inventive, dramatic, and beautiful sounding album which without opening up new avenues for the genre captures the imagination with craft, grace, and melodic temptation.

From the city of Oryol, Excalibur incorporates the rich essences of bands like Nightwish, Epica, and Within Temptation within their own warm enveloping voice. Formed in 2009, the quintet of vocalist Valerya Nikiforova, guitarist Vitaly Okoneshnikov, bassist Svyatoslav Bykovsky, drummer Andrey Nazarov, and Ksenya Aranchey on keys, has made a strong mark within the metal underground of their homeland through the In the Fate Hand’s EP and their debut self-titled album, both in 2011. Now with the release of Dusha, translated as Soul, the band is looking to push the envelope of awareness around them further afield, something the accomplished sounds and open grandeur of the release should find as no obstacle.

With each song sung in their native song it is hard to fully absorb the full strength and depth of songs, the lyrical inspiration we are6FHedJ4CvEk led to believe coming from inner feelings and experiences for a personal passion, but the emotive strength and descriptive quality of the music goes a long way in inspiring imagery and thoughts in the listener, their relation to the songs unimportant but wholly connected to the melodic warmth and stirring passion created by the band. The opening track Kadans Vremeni is a prime example, the portentous brewing whispers of the instrumental a haunting and striking sense of foreboding and suggested bedlam to leave emotions startled, unsure, and enthralled. There is a deep sinister breath to its presence which intimidates yet seduces as it makes way for the following Zhazhda Zhit’, a song with a core of sinewy riffs and testing rhythms wrapped in a heated and bewitching melodic expanse driven by the outstanding voice of Nikiforova, her tones as mesmeric and golden as the sounds surrounding her. With the keys adding their own distinct enchantment the song is a vibrant and captivating pleasure matched impressively across the whole release.

The likes of sonic temptress Doch ‘Vampira and the magnetic title track lead the senses and thoughts to the same dawning rapture instigated by the previous tracks whilst Zakroy Glaza and the excellent EVOE give and reap even greater rewards. The first of the pair has a fiery surface and intent to its almost operatic stance with the vocals for once adding a darker shade to the melodic flames whilst the second is a powerful instrumental which ignites a furnace of satisfaction. From an opening emotive piano touch the piece erupts into a reign of dramatic aural narrative sculpted by a hungry intensity, highly charged riffs, and colourful keys. The song is a canvas for weaves of imagery and emotions and with each immersion into its stunning richness inspires a new journey of thought each and every time.

Further highlights emerge in song such as the commanding Simfoniya Zabveniya and the slightly bruising muscular Labirint as well as a final triumph Kto Logo with a delicious snarling bass chewing at the senses to bring a darker edge to the sonic fire. There is no real weakness on the album though, each track a rewarding and thrilling companion to which returning is as easy as walking.

Whether Excalibur will have to embrace the English language to fulfil their already flourishing potential time will tell but with Dusha you sense the band will at some point find a much larger enthusiastic awareness.

8/10

RingMaster 06/03/2013

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Neaera: Ours Is the Storm

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    Fired with a tempest of sonic abrasion, the new and sixth album from German metallers Neaera is a furnace of aggression and intensity which has been stoked up into a confrontation which is as punishing as it is compelling. Whether Ours Is the Storm is the band at its most aggressively creative and destructive yet can be discussed in length as they have unleashed numerous onslaughts of impressively violent creativity, but certainly the new album shows they have not lost one ounce of invention, malevolence, and sonic spite.

Since forming in 2003 under the name The Ninth Gate, the band from Münster, Westphalia has triggered constant attention with their distinct maul of death metal with thrash veining, the quintet within a year being signed to Metal Blade Records. Changing their name to Neaera, after a character in Greek mythology, the band released their debut album The Rising Tide Of Oblivion in 2005 to a tide of strong positive reviews. The following years saw four more enthusiastically received albums all garnering strong acclaim in varying degrees and the band igniting stages in shows, tours, and festivals around Europe alongside the likes of Kataklysm, Caliban, Rammstein, Earth Crisis, Sworn Enemy, All That Remains, Soilwork , Bleed From Within, Callejon and many more. With their new album again released via Metal Blade, the band has continued to hone and evolve their sound into a full brutal expanse of imagination, energy, and passion. The release is a carnal devour of the senses which leaves you breathless, sore, and blissfully satisfied.

Opening track The Deafening is a inciting intro to the ferociousness to follow, its brewing corruption and blistered ambience a Neaera - Ours Is the Stormshort breath of oppressiveness before the title track runs with the in place intent to unleash a primal rage upon the ear. With rhythms slapping the senses with muscular persistence and riffs gnawing with rabid hunger whilst sonic spirals of intrigue and enterprise ignite the air further, the song consumes and ravishes person and emotions. It is a stirring bruising encounter which ignites the passions with ease, the varied growls and insidious squalls from Benjamin Hilleke a magnificent cry and scour as impacting and voracious as the sounds colouring the air black and blue around him.

Decolonize the Mind and Through Treacherous Flames both concentrate on the already deep sores ripped open by the first track, the guitars of Stefan Keller and Tobias Buck flattening defences with merciless riffs and branding with sonic flames whilst the skilled drums of Sebastian Heldt make no attempt to hide their hostility and malice. Between the songs and across the album there is arguably a similarity to the corrosive surface which threatens at times to overwhelm the continually challenging imagination and diversity within songs though it is never enough to deflect their intrigue and power, whilst looking each storm directly in the eye and searching its core reveals the depth of invention at work and

Deeper into its heart the album unveils a hunger driven by serpentine maliciousness locked in thrash savagery within Ascend to Chaos and a volatile grooved invidiousness in the outstanding Walk with Fire, a track which tears and violates with contagion and irrepressible craft. The song is one of the major highlights along with the title track though both are challenged seriously by the melodic fire of My Night of Starless and the thundering predator Black Tomb where bassist Benjamin Donath reveals his deepest grudging menace on the album.

Ours Is the Storm continues to deliver impressive storms of scorning anger and sonic antagonism with the likes of Slaying the Wolf Within and Back to the Soul igniting further strong pleasure. It is a release which is hard to say is inventing anything new or startling but at the same time it is a consistently invigorating and inciting fury which is impossible not relish with greed. Neaera shows no sign of losing their potency or vitriol for which we can be very thankful.

http://www.neaera.com

8/10

RingMaster 06/03/2013

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