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Written by Sam Borrett (Editor) Tuesday, 05 April 2011 18:49
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Newton Faulkner has received critical acclaim for his unusual style and sound, with his first album reaching number one back in 2007. He has since undergone reconstructive surgery on his hand after an accident and subsequently released his second album Rebuilt By Humans last year that marked another top ten album for the young dreadlocked lad from Surrey. Newton was kind enough to spend a few minutes with us before his set at the Big Chill this year.

For those that don’t know your musical style how would you describe it?

I don’t really know anymore I confuse myself these days. Its kind of acoustic based stuff that kind of spans a lot of genres and I play in quite a strange way. I do the percussive ‘tappy’ stuff that’s really fun. Just songs and stuff!

You have a very unusual technique, especially how you tap and slap the guitar, could you tell us how you developed it?

That’s been around well before I was. Michael Hedges was doing it, and has its roots in flamenco and a lot of that going further back. Also when I was at ACM, (Academy of Contemporary Music) Eric Roche, head of guitar was there, and Thomas Lee were both doing similar things and I just really got into it. Especially because I was gigging on my own at that point it just made sense to try and see how much I could push it, and every time I brought things in I got the same thing, ‘it’s really good but I prefer it on its own.’ And I figured out that the only thing that worked is a string quartet I got in and that worked really well and properly classy and it felt very grown up!

How did you deal with the news of Eric Roche’s passing?

Yes it was horrible we were really good friends and had kept in touch. It was hard. I’ve got one of his guitars that I play with every now and then; it’s a lot of responsibility playing one.

Has that relationship had any influence in terms of your song writing?

Oh definitely, I have written about it, so much is completely about Eric’s influence on my playing.

There’s been quite a lot of success with your first album.

Yes but there was four years work that went into that album before it came out so it didn’t feel unnatural, it did what it did. The setup to the first record was really carefully planned. The second one we had to rush a little bit and chuck it out really fast, a bit mental!

You’ve recorded a great cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, what made you choose that song?

A; its an amazing piece of music, B; its made of predominantly four parts which at that time was the most parts I could do at one time. I could do a drum beat, a baseline, a melody and a vocal. I was just listening to it and thinking that should be doable and I had three days to piece it all together before I played it on the radio and I didn’t sleep for three days, three days with the metronome going constantly.

Have you got any plans to cover anything else?

I’m always messing around with stuff, I’m really enjoying ‘No Diggity’ by Blackstreet, that’s worked pretty well and I’m working on Regulate by Snoop Dog and Warren G. (Newton impresses us with a quick rendition on request!). I’m doing Bohemian Rhapsody at the moment and I’m wanting to do something in the same kind of area as that. But I will take requests obviously! F

inally, with many rumours about having names such as Deuteronomy and Battenberg can you clarify the situation for our readers?

Yea that was on Wikipedia for a little while, not for very long but long enough for everybody to write it down! My full name is Sam Newton Battenberg Faulkner; Battenberg is my mother’s maiden name.

Written by Sam Borrett (Editor) Tuesday, 05 April 2011 18:39
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Take one part UK doodler and one part German art anarchist, give them a keyboard and a ukulele and sit back in wonderment at the music of Anxieteam.

This was the second time we were meeting up with Nottingham-based illustrator Jon Burgerman but the first time under the pretext of discussing his new venture, a band with pARTner in crime Jim Avignon, an artist and musician that believes in free art for everyone; we knew it would be entertaining.

We had an insight into Jon’s work last year when he designed our cover artwork with what is still the most popular cover to date and it was a pleasure to find out about his musical talents and to get to know Jim, a German-born New Yorker who has form in both the art world and the music industry.

Jim’s unorthodox approach to the art market has seen him giveaway 800 pieces of his art in a lottery at a museum that was covered in his paintings.  He even gatecrashed Germany’s Documenta exhibition and spent three weeks outside the building painting three meter canvasses before jumping through them, getting motorcycles to drive through them and otherwise destroying the art.  It was, as Jim puts it, ‘focussing on how the art market and the art world are connected, how the price of artwork creates the importance of the work.’  His aim was to create the art, let people take photos for posterity and then take away the value of the piece by its destruction.

It was art that brought Jim and Jon together in a Brooklyn exhibition that Jon was originally scheduled to do as a solo project.  However, after emailing Jim they agreed to do the exhibition together despite having never actually met previously.  “It could have gone terribly badly, we decided that it wouldn’t be a joint exhibition where one wall would be Jims work and the other wall would be my work, that we would paint on each others paintings; a proper collaboration.  It was a really fun week, we worked really hard but it was a pleasure to do so, who wouldn’t love to do that for a week, paint and draw and talk about things and listen to music, it was a real fun time.”

While Jon admits he hasn’t gone to ‘some of the extreme lengths that Jim has done’ when it comes to art anarchy, he does like to keep his work accessible – something our cover artwork is testament to.  Jim is of a like mind and explained, “In my opinion art should be made for everybody; everybody should be able to afford it.”  This was no more so in evidence than in 2009 where Jim drew portraits of people at a Hamburg exhibition from his home in Brooklyn via Skype.  “I could see people sitting in a booth. I did a drawing, a three minute portrait, and scanned it and sent it and they printed it out and took it home for free.”

Art collaborations developed into music collaborations when Jim pitched the idea of forming a band to Jon who, after some deliberation, recorded the vocals in Nottingham, sent them to Jim in Brooklyn who put a song together and played it at a New York gallery’s closing event. Jon tells us, “people seemed to like it and it went down quite well, so the next time I went to New York, I met up with Jim again and we just started doing stuff.”

Although Jon insisted explaining their sound was a difficult question, he immediately gave us a pretty comprehensive description. “It’s sort of low-fi electronic noises with erm, a smattering of ukulele, but we’re very crafted, simple with catchy melodies underpinning it all.  We try and keep things simple but er, very melodic and colourful in its music.  I think we listen to lots of different genres of music and rather than taking something sonically from those as inspiration. I would say we get inspired by bands that leave you in a good feeling or that have a nice sort of quality to them rather than like ooh, try and make it sound like this or that.  I mean, I’m not a super proficient, technical musician at all so I don’t analyse music in a way that I try and replicate a certain technical element of it. I’d rather have a song that is memorable and you hum it to yourself or you enjoy listening to it, and it gives you a pleasant kind of experience for the short while you’re listening.”

With songs about eating Soya and being a cat combined with unusual musical arrangements, we asked if there were similarities between Jon’s art and the music. Was the music an ‘audio doodle’?  “Yea, definitely, stylistically, it’s like a sonic representation of the way that I would work in a drawn manner, but it’s a little different whereas I might do a drawing and it might take a minute, songs just by their nature, composing something and having a structure, it’d be misleading to call it a doodle. It’s not like something’s just plonked out and there it is, it might have a light feel to it but it’s actually very meticulously planned and honed and polished and you know, made to work, which you don’t necessarily have to do with an illustration, you can do a drawing quite quickly and it might magically just work.  We definitely want the music to have a nice effortless quality, we don’t want it to sound laboured, but actually behind the scenes they’re very much honed.”

We knew the time was coming we’d have to ask the inevitable questions of choosing between music and art.  “I get asked that a lot”,  Jim explained, “the art is the one thing I’m kind of guaranteed to make a living from, but the music is the one that has my soul inside so er, sometimes people ask me if I’d prefer to be blind or deaf…”  Jon interrupts by suggesting being poked in one eye and blocking up an ear as some kind of compromise which helped lighten the severity of Jim’s revelation. 

“Personally I would lose more if I couldn’t do the music,” he went on to clarify,  “doing the art is more like doing some kind of work, doing the big works is more like, I have to work now.  So it’s like, get up early, do the work.  But with music it never feels like work, I always enjoy it.  It’s like you’re looking for something, you don’t know what it is and it’s that moment you find it.  It could be a tune, some weird arrangement idea, I really enjoy that process of finding it.”

Jon’s response was less surprising given what we know about him, “I love listening to music but playing it live and creating new songs with someone is fairly new to me.” Given just how unfamiliar it was to be a musician and lead singer in a signed band, we asked just how scary it is to play live to people. “It is scary, I’m not a performer, I’m not a singer or a dancer or anything so to do that is very scary, but that’s exciting.  It’s nice actually to do both, to have a period of time doing music and enjoy that and get excited about that and then you forget about some of the work of painting, you forget about some of that hard drudgery, and so when you go back to it it’s fun again for a bit. So it’s been good this year doing a little bit of each.

“I like the real time aspect of it, I’ve done a lot of live painting and I guess it’s a similar kind of thing where you’re creating something in front of people and that’s exciting because every time it’s a bit different and their reactions will influence how it goes, and that’s nice to have that feedback, to see people’s reaction to your work immediately, you don’t get that so much when you have a painting on the wall… unless you stay in the gallery all day watching people’s faces…”

“I think if you sing and stand on stage you learn something new about yourself,” added Jim. “I think that’s also a reason why a lot of artists started in music as well. It’s a different way of expressing what’s going on with you or what you want to say. 

Before we let the guys get ready for their gig we asked them to tell us how they came up with the name for the band.
Jim begins the story. “Before we became a band we did an exhibition together in Brooklyn, and for that exhibition he suggested the name Anxiety Room because Jon is a very anxious person, he sees dangers everywhere, and he thought from knowing my art I would be the same, but it turns out I am blind to any possible dangers (both laugh) so we did that exhibition about anxieties and it turned out to be not a very scary exhibition, it rather turned into a funny thing.”  Jon explained it was due to their view that a lot of anxieties are ridiculous when you anlayse them and the anxiety theme was making fun of himself, and of modern day anxieties. 

“When we came up with the idea to have a band we thought we’d stay with that theme and we played around with words and we liked the combination of anxiety and team like to present us as Jon’s the Mr Anxiety and I’m the Mr Team, or like er, staying together and fighting anxieties, I don’t know, it sounded good, we liked it, we took it.”


Written by Sam Borrett (Editor) Friday, 28 January 2011 22:25
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Bringing you the best of back issues of Freeq magazine our Re:wind feature looks at the interview with Rich Hall. from the winter 2009 issue.

Comedian, actor, author, playwright and quite possibly the lovechild of Tommy Lee Jones and the Simpson’s Moe Szyslak, American funny man Rich Hall is an all round ‘stand up’ guy. Fresh from regular performances on our best telly shows in the UK, he’s embarked on a mammoth live tour and we caught up with him in Nottingham four dates in.

You had the responsibility for opening the new Glee club recently...
I didn’t really think about it that much. The expectations are that it’s going to be a good show regardless of whether it’s a new club or not. I’ve got to come out and be the best Rich Hall that I can. Everything seemed to go fine.

You interact a lot with the crowd – how much of the show is pre written and how much is off the cuff?
A lot of it is written, at some point it got written down and worked out. It’s kind of a safety net. It’s always there and eventually you get round to it but because I have that, I have a tremendous amount of confidence to go off and people are there thinking, ‘oh is he making this up?’ well then, some of it’s not made up, it’s kind of a mixture of both.
Even a song that apparently sounds improvised has some structure to it otherwise you wouldn’t know what to play. So, I know where I’m going. But I think it creates an element of originality, It’s more fun for me if I try and wing it a bit.

And of course, you have several hundred dates to do.
Yea, and they’re not all going to be as glamorous as Nottingham, there’s Yeovil, er, some real shit holes. Nottingham is one of the more classy gigs.

As a US comedian, you’ve done a lot of stuff in the UK, how do you find the difference over here to the US?
It’s not a lot different, I don’t really change, I haven’t developed some different persona for the British audience, this is what I do. I work in the UK and I work in the US as well and obviously there’s things I can talk about here that Brits can relate to and if I talked about in America they wouldn’t be interested and vice versa. But in America it’s still my sense of humour, I still do what I think is funny. Americans are actually used to people staying on the script. American comedians are a bit slicker and a bit more polished and a bit more ‘this is what I’ve written, this is what I’m going to do’ and so when you kinda come out of that and actually talk to them, they really sometimes go ‘ahh, woah!’ I think they’re probably more impressed than Brits about that. Brits want you to talk to them, they kind of want you to break the barrier and acknowledge where you are. I want to entertain myself as well and the only way to do that on stage is to keep it interactive.

In the show you talked about President Obama, do you think the time has come when it’s OK to ‘diss’ him? Do you really think he’s doing a bad job?
Er, I had higher expectations. He seems to be doing lots of things for his self accomplishment, like pushing through a health care programme, that’s great but it seems more like ‘look what I did and what the last president didn’t do.’ But that doesn’t really affect me and it’s a bureaucratic mess. I don’t know, I think by nature I’m going to be sceptical of anyone and I was very celebratory about when he got elected and I was very much for him, and I’m still for him, but it’s been two years now and there’s a lot of unrest in America and a lot of money just being wasted. Britain has a sort of slash and burn kind of approach to being in recession, Britain’s going to cut and cut and cut and you’re going to have to sit back and take it. And America’s trying to pretend that nothing’s wrong, and it’s not working, there’s a lot of f**king unemployment and a lot of stuff going under you know. I’m from a small town so I see it really manifest itself very specifically, there’s a bar that was open two weeks ago and now it’s closed. I don’t know, it’s two different approaches. Americans are blind or something, Obama’s such an eloquent speaker I think he’s convinced people to do stuff but I think he’s convinced them to do the wrong thing.

Maybe it’s a sign that the president doesn’t run the country but the people behind him do?
Well there’s a lot of bitterness between parties. I don’t give a f**k whether you’re Democrat or Republican, it drives me nuts. Americans are like ‘oh I’m a Democrat because my dad was a Democrat’ so you follow the party line when in fact you might have some really conservative ideas about certain things. I refuse to tow either party line. I think there should be some real conservative stuff done in America so people say ‘oh you sound like a Republican’ well, no I’m not but I think this needs to be done it’s pretty austere and maybe it’s right wing but it depends on the issue.
Electing Obama was such a big moment in America, it’s an achievement, it kind of overshadows so much other stuff you know. If Obama wasn’t a black president, he’d just be a kind of good president, like Clinton, to be honest I think at this point in his tenure, Clinton had accomplished a lot more.

So he’s in danger of being a token gesture?
No, it’s not token because it’s very significant gesture. But if the greatest achievement happened before he set foot in office, because he went in there a black president, then it would be sad. If I could predict it now, I’d say Hilary Clinton is gonna be the next president of the United States.

Setting new ground?
Yea, and Obama would have paved the way for it. Then he’d be like ‘oh great, I’m the black guy that made a woman president’ but I kinda think Hilary would be a better administrator, it’s hard to say.
I’m as impatient as anybody, I just want the economy to get better you know, turn Detroit around, get the f**k out of Afghanistan get out of Iraq, stop wasting money on something you can’t win and start making cars that run on grass, do something!

It’s clear that it can be turned around really quickly if you’re someone who’s not led by huge global corporations…
Or greed, greed is worse, you say corporations but I actually say greed and greed isn’t a corporate thing, there’s so much f**king greed. And there was so much money that was made and things had so much value, overvalued to a point where, lets say you have a house that’s worth a million dollars and now a real estate agent comes along and says it’s only worth 700,000 and you’re thinking ‘but it was worth a million so I’m not going to sell it for 700,000 because it was worth a million’, but it’s not now! People have a hard time letting go of that, and there’s a certain amount of greed in that. Think about cars and all that, you can go back to the 60s and 70s when they paid people to design f**king kick ass cars and that’s true all over the world. The minute someone designs a really good looking car no-one will give a f**k what it runs on. ‘Oh I gotta have that, what does it run on?’ Canolo oil? Ok, then put canolo oil long as it looks cool.

Written by Sam Borrett (Editor) Saturday, 21 August 2010 08:43
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tamara-dreweTamara Drewe (Arterton), once a shy, ugly teenager, has reinvented herself as a smouldering femme fatale. Now a successful columnist in London, she returns to her old village in the English countryside to sell her childhood home. Barely recognisable to the locals, and to her old flame Andy (Evans) t…

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