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White Lies Talk Touring Mexico, 'FIVE' & Why Friendship Is The Key Ingredient To Band Longevity

White Lies

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White Lies Talk Touring Mexico, 'FIVE' & Why Friendship Is The Key Ingredient To Band Longevity

The Recording Academy catches up with bassist Charles Cave and lead vocalist/guitarist Harry McVeigh ahead of their set at Corona Capital Guadalajara

GRAMMYs/May 12, 2019 - 01:17 am

U.K. trio White Lies may have been making music for a decade, but that doesn't mean they're done growing. Their latest album, Five, has pushed the post-punk band to expand their sound into new territory.

Yet, the band is not afraid to look back. While White Lies continue to tour in support of Five, they're making space to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut, To Lose My Life, playing a special tribute show in Utrecht this fall.

The Recording Academy chatted with the White Lies' bassist Charles Cave and lead vocalist/guitarist Harry McVeigh ahead of their set at Corona Capital Fest in Guadalajara about how much they love to tour Mexico, why FIVE is the best album they've done since their debut and what's kept them playing together for more than a decade.

How has Mexico been treating you so far?

Charles Cave: It's great. We always look forward to coming to Mexico. In some ways the U.S. provides a nice slide into Mexico. Not that we don't enjoy being there but it's kind of hard work, it's pretty difficult for us, for any band, I think, of our level to be in the U.S., but you come to Mexico and in a nice way it feels like Europe. There's the same kind of real passion for the arts and for music and you see an enthusiasm from Mexican people towards British music. I don't know at what point in time Mexico just really latched on to some British music, but I know that Morrissey is a massive hit [here].

The Beatles were huge here.

Cave: Beatles, right, exactly. So if we could tour here all the time we would, we love it.

Harry McVeigh: We come here every time we release an album. I think in the last couple of records our profile has just grown a little bit in Mexico and it's made it really viable for us to be here and to make it work. And as Charles said, we love coming here, the crowds are great, people love music and it's very passionate. So we love being here. We come here as much as we can.

So you're playing Corona Capital today—a festival that really wants to get more international acts in cities other than just Mexico City, which tends to be the main destination for touring acts. How does it feel for you to be able to being your music to Guadalajara?

Cave: It's just great. I think the fact that there are festivals like Corona Capital and other things like that in Mexico that are able to bring international acts over, I just think it's great because there are a lot of countries that we would love to play, and we know we have fans where there aren't so many opportunities like that.

For example, in places in South America, in Brazil and Argentina, it's not yet quite so easy for us to get there. Whereas here in Mexico, as Harry mentioned earlier, our profile has risen quite a bit over the last couple of records. Actually, before we did this trip with the U.S. as well, there was the option for us if we wanted to do it of just basically getting on a plane and coming to Mexico and just doing a tour of Mexico and then going home. 

We added the U.S. in the end, but it's great to know that we can do that and I think that it's wonderful that Corona Capital and other institutions out here are putting on these international events because in this day and age I think nobody wants close-minded festivals that feel like they're only just having local acts and things like that. All the festivals we play in Europe have acts from all over the world as well. 

Tell me about your latest album Five. What or who influenced this album?

McVeigh: It's very hard to say ... It's very hard to pinpoint any specific thing really. We always have a lot of plans as to what we're going to do on the album before we start writing, but they tend to just go out the window as soon as we start working together, Charles and I. And I think that we're influenced by all sorts of different things. Obviously music, but we listen to so much different music and we have very varied music tastes. We spend a couple of hours every day listening to music and trying to find little moments of inspiration. But everything in life could influence how you approach the music and the creative process in general. We read a lot, we watch a lot of movies, we ... I don't know, we go for walks like experience nature.

It sounds quite hippy-dippy to say stuff like that, but it's everything in your life that influences what you make. I suppose it's a representation of where your mind's at and how you're feeling in that particular moment. It's always a very difficult process making music and I think that that's because it's hard to make good music. At the same time, we really enjoy it and we love that creative process for that reason. It really distills your mind at that moment and you can kind of put down how you're feeling and your thoughts into what you're doing and that's really wonderful for us.

Every album we've released has marked a moment in time. Like the first album definitely feels very kind of angsty. It was a lot of teenage angst in there. And as we've got older, I think the albums have really been a good representation of where we're at in our lives. Which is nice for us when we listen back to them, they can transport us back to how we were feeling at that time. 

That's a great segue, I was going to ask how you feel like you've grown since your debut 10 years ago.

McVeigh: I think that we've got very good at being self-critical over the years. We really hold ourselves to a much higher standard now then I think we did when we started. Just because perhaps we didn't even really know how to do that when we started. And I think on the first album we were very lucky. People will always say this on your first album: "You have your whole life to write it up until the moment you start recording it, and from then on you only have the time you have in between each album to make the next one." We were very lucky to find really good people to work with, especially [producer] Ed Buller, who's worked on most of our records. He's kind of like a father figure to the band. He really shaped the sound of the band and the music.

But I think since then we've made a few mistakes, especially on our second album, and we've learned from them. I think that we've grown a lot through those mistakes. I really feel that the album we've just made, Five, is the best of all of our albums since the first one. And all of the things that we've learned over the years have really gone into making Five the record that it is. 

Cave: Yeah, well I agree. But I think as well as learning to be self-critical, you develop a more subtle stroke with your brush in a way. Like, you learn how to say and do things musically without necessarily having to be so over the top and bold about it. That's not to say that our music has got kind of subtle, it isn't really, but I think that as Harry mentioned before, you know with the first album being 18 years old certainly lyrically and in some ways musically, perhaps at times it's a little bit ... there's not a lot of nuance there, it's pretty in your face, pretty bombastic. Whereas I think on Five, songs like "Time To Give," we just never ever would have been capable of writing pretty much any other time but now.

I don't think we would've written that song with Friends, I certainly don't think we would've written it back when we were 18. For want of a better term, it feels kind of "adult," and it's a nice place to be at. 

True, and 10 years is a long time to be in a band. How do you find new ways to be creative together?

Cave: I think we were very lucky. I talk about this quite a lot to actually other musicians as well. We were very lucky that we were friends first, basically. And I'm not saying that's the only thing that keeps bands together, but touring especially is quite a strange existence. I'm not saying it's a bad one but it's strange. You don't really have a home or at least your only home is a bus, basically. And I think that if you're doing that with people that you just get along with okay, I think that would be very lonely.

I also think that we don't take ourselves seriously at all. We take our music very seriously, but in terms of each other and ourselves, we've kind of just big kids. And we go out of our way to sort of take the piss as much as possible. I would say that's a pretty crucial part of White Lies really, is the level of just mucking around. 

McVeigh: Yeah, and I will only add one thing to that, which is that I think that we know how to disagree with each other. We know how to have a good conversation about things that perhaps ordinarily other bands might find quite difficult. 

What's next after Corona Capital? What are you up to?

Cave: We're playing a headline show at Monterrey. Then we're going to go play hopefully two sold-out nights at Plaza Condesa in Mexico City. And then we're going to go to Queretaro for the first time and we're going to play PULSDO Festival there. So we've got a nice week in Mexico, basically.

And then we get home and we have five days off at home and then we have a show at a festival in Manchester. Then we have a few more days off and then festivals start and we just play festivals quite a lot on the weekend all summer. And then we go to Russia and Ukraine.

Anything else you'd like to add before you go play?

Cave: Only that we're just so grateful to all our fans and to anyone that supports us out in Mexico. We love coming here. It's just a wonderful country to be in, and it's amazing that we can actually come and play music and not just come on holiday. So please keep coming to shows and we'll keep coming back.

Corona Capital Is Bringing English-Speaking Artists To More Mexican Cities

Quarantine Diaries: Teenear Is Reading, Doing Cardio & Making Acai Bowls

Teenear

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Quarantine Diaries: Teenear Is Reading, Doing Cardio & Making Acai Bowls

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, GRAMMY.com reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Aug 19, 2020 - 08:10 pm

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, GRAMMY.com reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, Miami-based pop/R&B upstart Teenear shares her Quarantine Diary. Teenear's latest single "Free" is available to hear now.

[6:30 a.m.] First thing that I do when I wake up is brush my teeth so I can get to the gym on time without my trainer yelling at me! 


[9:00 a.m.] As soon as I get back home, I hop on the treadmill to get my cardio out of the way. I've really been trying to make sure I stay active during this time of having to be stuck in the house! 

 
[12:00 p.m.] By this time, I'm hopping out of the shower, my adrenaline has finally gone down, and I'm able to make myself and Acai bowl and write in my journal. I also take this time to hit up my team and figure out what I have to get done for the day. 
 
[2:00 p.m.] I start reading the books that I read daily. One of the books I started reading recently is The 365 Bible, which gives you specific versus on each day, and it reads in chronological order of how all the stories actually went. Another book I’m into is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. This is one amazing book and I’m so happy my mom blessed me with this read! The last book I’m reading right now is A Singer's Compass that is actually written by my vocal coach Cassandra Claude. 

 
[4:00 p.m.] I’m getting dressed to go outside and shoot some content. Creating content from home has definitely become a huge daily task but I'm grateful for it because now I’m able to find new ways to be creative and showcase my personality to my fans.

 
[7:00 p.m.] I try to take this time meditate. Throughout this whole pandemic I’ve been trying to get into new things and meditation has played a big role in me figuring out a little bit more about myself and my surroundings. No, I’m not a yoga person yet! I have tried countless classes and it's not for me just yet, but one day I’ll get into it! 

 
[9:00 p.m.] Usually around this time, if I’m not sitting in a corner somewhere in the house singing, I’m most likely in my bathroom trying a new beauty product I just ordered online. The ads have gotten a little too good during this quarantine!

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.

King Bach On His Comedy Album 'Medicine,' Loving Ludacris & Trying Not To Throw Up

King Bach

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King Bach On His Comedy Album 'Medicine,' Loving Ludacris & Trying Not To Throw Up

The YouTube and former Vine star opens up to the Recording Academy about creating his first comedy album, who he listened to growing up and why laughter has been a cure-all in his life

GRAMMYs/Oct 4, 2019 - 11:54 pm

Andrew Bachelor, otherwise known as rising comedy titan King Bach, is definitely on his way to achieving royalty. 

Starting out producing comedy sketches on YouTube, Bachelor eventually switched to the now-defunct short-form outpost Vine, where he'd go on to amass more than 15 million subscribers and more than five billion views. Nowadays, the funnyman is dipping his toes into the TV and music world, where he currently stars in IFC's variety sketch series "Sherman's Showcase," among other things.

Meanwhile, Medicine, which dropped in mid-August, is his debut comedy album, and is filled with 15 true-to-life tracks—with music videos—that skewer everything from his weak stomach ("Bulimic") to the lies people tell each other when they first meet ("Secrets"). 

Below, Bachelor opens up to the Recording Academy about why laughter is truly the best Medicine, who he listened to growing up and the different ways he utilizes social-media platforms to reach new audiences. 

What sparked the idea to make a comedy album?

I've always loved music, ever since I was younger. And when I started making the comedy skits, I actually thought of making a parody music video, and I just love putting together music that people just like to listen to and have fun with listening to it and having a laugh at the same time.

So I figured why not make original music that I own and, I could just share with everyone and not feel any type of way of me taking someone else's style. This is my style, my unique style. So yeah and then I figured it's a comedy album and they're saying laughter is the best medicine, so I named the album Medicine, because every track they're laughing at.

Who did you listen to growing up?

I listen to a lot of Ludacris, Ludacris is my favorite rapper since I was little. Just his style, his energy, I like songs that have a lot of energy behind them. Now music has changed though we realize, that energy has kind of tapered down a little bit. So most artists, it's a lot of mumbling going on, it's more like vibes and feeling it out as opposed to the lyrics. So I'm doing a mixture of both.

Yeah, we've been hearing a lot of "genre labels don't matter anymore" nowadays.

Yeah the whole thing is, what I realized in doing comedies, why it's so good, when you're laughing about a joke or anything, you forget all your problems. You forget about the bad day you had, you forget about your breakup, you forget about somebody who's passing. You just forget about everything and you're literally focused on that joke that that made you laugh in that moment. So that's the mood that I want people to feel like when they listen to the album, they can just forget about everything else and just enjoy the music and just stay present.

Have you personally used comedy as a coping mechanism?

Yeah, with everything, it kind of puts me in a better mood and lets me forget. The way I look at is, I'm being myself, I am being unique. Some people may find it funny but I'm being me, like these are my point of views. Every song on the album is a situation that happened in my life. So it's a situation that happened in my life and I took it and I found the comedy in it.

There's a song on there called "Bulimic." I have a very weak stomach and throughout the days I'm constantly trying to stop myself from throwing up. And it's just been something I've dealt with since I've been seven years old. So I tried to find the light of that and I made a song called "what you going to do if I throw up on you?"

Are any other themes that have come up repeatedly in your comedy that you've touched on with Medicine?

Yeah, there's a song on there called "Secrets," and it's about everyone letting out the secrets and being honest. And the way I directed in film, that music video was pretty much like a YouTube skit. The concept of the video was the speed dating situation, and everyone thinks that speed dating is going regular, but then the speed dating announcer, he announces that she puts truth serum in the guys drink. And it forces them to let out their deepest and darkest secrets. So these guys are confessing their secrets against their will. So that's how I kind of shoot my skits as well, I come up with a concept and I just shoot it around that.

You became pretty famous from using Vine, which sadly doesn’t exist any longer. Have you embraced the similar-minded Tik Tok to create the same short-form comedy? 

Yeah, listen, I'm a creator at the end of the day and I am on the social media application. So I'm on Tik Tok, I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I'm on everything. And I'll just take one video and I'll just post it everywhere. So if someone only has Tik Tok, they're getting it on Tik Tok. If they only have Facebook, they're getting on Facebook, so I use them all. You name the app, I got it.

So what's your strategy when deciding how to best utilize different apps?

I kind of see how the platform is being used and I kind of adapt to that. So Tik Tok is more music-based, so if I have an idea and it's music based and it's a fun, bubbly, energetic vibe that'll go on Tik Tok. So yeah definitely got to think about, it's like you got to know your audience.

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John Prine Talks 'My Kentucky Home, Goodnight' & Why He Wants To Benefit Coal Miners

John Prine

Photo by Danny Clinch

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John Prine Talks 'My Kentucky Home, Goodnight' & Why He Wants To Benefit Coal Miners

The GRAMMY-winning Americana figure opens up about his brand-new 7", how mining affected Muhlenberg County and why the Bluegrass State runs in his blood

GRAMMYs/May 14, 2019 - 10:28 pm

GRAMMY-winning country/folk hero John Prine is widely known for his 1970 song, "Paradise," a wistful ode to a now-extinct Kentucky town that was ravaged by the strip mining industry. Almost 50 years later, he’s revived the song to benefit the very same coal miners and their families in Appalachia.

This version of "Paradise" rounds out Prine’s new 7" single My Kentucky Home, Goodnight, which arrived on May 11. The A-side is a cover of Stephen Foster's Civil War-era classic, on the reverse, a new version of "Paradise” with folk/bluegrass artist Tyler Childers. Sales will benefit the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center, which provides legal representation to miners and their families.

While "Paradise" is full of warnings about the ruinous effects of mining on small-town America, Prine remains sympathetic to the miners themselves. Not only did they put their bodies on the line, but many have fallen into financial hardship as the coal industry increasingly turns to dust.

"Those miners were the hardest-working people," he tells The Recording Academy. "I'll always respect what they did to provide for their families." These two modest recordings connect Prine meaningfully with his past — and help extend a hand to a struggling American region.

Read on for an interview with Prine about the new 7", how mining affected Muhlenberg County and why the Bluegrass State runs in his blood.

On "Paradise," you evoked youthful summers in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. What made you want to evoke the state again with "My Kentucky Home, Goodnight"?

I love this Stephen Foster song and I love Kentucky. I guess it runs in my blood. My dad had a great affection for his home state and passed that love to me and my brothers. I still have a lot of family there and try to get to the annual family reunion as often as I can.

"My Kentucky Home, Goodnight" traditionally kicks off the Kentucky Derby. Do you have memories of attending the Derby as a kid?

We never attended the Derby. I’m not sure if my family could have afforded to take everyone. My cousin Jackie always had a famous Derby party, but I was always on the road. One of these days, I definitely want to go. I always make a small bet with my brothers on Derby day just for the fun of it.

Your father, Bill, actually grew up in Paradise. Can you talk about him a little bit?

He was a larger-than-life character. He worked hard to provide for us and enjoyed his beer and country music. I think he might have believed that one day he would take us back to live in Kentucky. He would take us there on vacation every year and those car trips are still some of my best memories of growing up.

Proceeds from the single benefit Appalachian coal miners and their families. What makes you connect with their plight?

When you grow up knowing that your parents' home place no longer exists because of mining, it’s a hard reality to shake. A lot of families are affected by the declining industry now and others are left with black lung. Those miners were the hardest-working people and I’ll always respect what they did to provide for their families.

A brand-new version of "Paradise" rounds out Side B. Why do you think folks connect with that song so strongly?

It’s one of my songs that I really didn’t think would make it to the 21st century, like "Flag Decal." I guess the world really has not changed all that much. People are connected to wherever they call home and where their parents were born, and we still have environmental issues and industries that no longer provide good jobs for working-class people.

Why did you connect with Tyler Childers for this version of "Paradise"?

Tyler has opened a bunch of shows for us and we traveled together to New Zealand and Australia earlier this year. I think he is one of the finest young writers out there and he is a great fella to hang out with. He gets what country music is all about. Writing about the people and places you know best and the feelings that come from growing up in rural America.

You've got a lot on your plate these days — this new single, an international tour. What keeps you so busy and motivated?

I love that my audience has expanded. My fans from the 1970s are still with me and now they bring their kids and grandchildren. It gives me new energy to play my songs for a new audience. When we traveled to Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of the year, I got to play for fans that had waited 25 years to see me live. That was an amazing experience and has really given me motivation to write new songs and keep performing.

Kiefer Sutherland Talks New Album 'Reckless & Me' & Contending With The Actor-Turned-Musician Stigma

Exclusive: The Joy Formidable To Celebrate 10th Anniversary Of Debut EP With Welsh Version

The Joy Formidable 

Courtesy of Corona Capital

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Exclusive: The Joy Formidable To Celebrate 10th Anniversary Of Debut EP With Welsh Version

The Welsh trio sit down with the Recording Academy in Mexico to talk 10th anniversary of 'A Balloon Called Moaning' and more

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2019 - 03:46 am

It's been 10 years since Welsh alt-rock band The Joy Formidable released their first EP A Balloon Called Moaning. No small feat, the band is celebrating with a project unlike any other they've done before.

"Instead of re-releasing [the album,] we recorded it in Welsh," Vocalist/guitarist Ritzy Bryan told the Recording Academy.  "We're excited, it sounds beautiful and it brings back a lot of memories."

The band, whose latest album is Aaarth, says their love of music and frienship is what has kept them strong this long.

"It's actual friendship, and caring about each other and also the music, absolutely the music," bassist/vocalist Rhydian Davies said. "I think when we get on stage and we're playing what we're playing, we forget about everything and enjoy the moment and it's not because of business."

The Recording Academy talked with the charming trio after their set at Corona Capital Guadalajara in Mexico about more details of their Welsh release, how important personal songwriting is to them, what's next for them and more. 

Tell me, how does it feel to be in Mexico?

Rhydian: Hot.

Ritzy: It's been a little while. I think we were here in 2012. It's been seven years and we had a really lovely time last time that we visited. So I think we've been just excited to come back and hoping and kind of, I feel a little bit torn, I wish we'd been back more but, no point in having regrets. Hopefully we can come back more regularly from now on.

Rhydian: There are so many things that get in the way unfortunately, you know? We'd like to go everywhere on every album cycle but, certain things come in the way; logistics or whatever it is, personal circumstances, but, It's just nice to be here we've not been to Guadalajara before.

You're celebrating 10 years together this year. What is the glue that keeps you together?

Ritzy: I think a lot of respect for each other, good communication and, I think, all of us have got quite different personalities, and just over time you learn how to I suppose just build, inspire each other, how to still have a sense of humor, how to still be really good friends but, we're all quite different people. Over time we've just created this dynamic that feels very intuitive and very, I don't want to say easy, 'cause we fight as well you know.

Rhydian: It's friendship and love isn't it?

Ritzy: Yeah.

Rhydian: Friendship, love and respect comes from that because you spend 24/7 with someone, you're bound to have some arguments and how'd you get over that? It's love isn't it? It's actual friendship, and caring about each other and also the music, absolutely the music. I think when we get on stage and we're playing what we're playing, we forget about everything and enjoy the moment and it's not because of business. We are not doing it just because we want to be famous or it's like I'm getting paid at the end of this so those are pretty major things I think. Don't do music if you doing it for those reasons, that's my opinion. 

Matt: Rhydian Davies with his opinions (all laugh)

Where do you get your inspiration from? I mean you have made music for so long, where does it come from constantly?

Ritzy: It comes from the smallest little thing that happens, maybe. Just you see something that triggers or it makes you feel something and it can go from there, something as simple as nature or just a moment in time watching something through the window, walking down the street to something much more expansive, where you just feel like you need to get something out, you have a story to tell, or you feel like you need to share something that has happened to you good or bad. I think it could be—

Matt: Could be anything—

Rhydian: It could be very personal.

Ritzy: Yeah very.

Rhydian: Because it's been something cathartic for us as well, trying to get over things. You know, there's been things, traumas and fear and into sometimes, what would you call it, mental problems, mental issues, which is obviously something that affects so many people, and we don't like to talk about it but, I think whatever you talk about, you can't help but put your personal element on it because it is obviously how you see the world, isn't it? The personal is always, I think, a really big part of this band. It's not like trying to fit in lyrics to go "DA DA DA" so it sounds nice at the end. "In the air, we're gonna fly, I feel so high," and that's fine. There's a place for everything isn't it? But, I do feel like it's also been a benefit for us to also talk about something that actually means something personal you know?

Matt: We've also got a song about a cactus.

Corona Capital's mission is to bring more international music to Mexico, what does it feel, for you, to play in a new city? To get your music in a new place?

Ritzy: I don't think we ever get in a place all weary. It's not like we wake up in the morning and we're like, "Uh, Where are we? It's fucking ground hog day". That isn't what drives our band or us as individuals, we still are hungry to play music, we are still excited to wake up in a new city but—

Rhydian: You know, we love to play anywhere. New city, old city, we are always excited to go back.

Matt: The key thing is your message is in there, you ask about lyrics and I don't think it's just the lyrics as well as what your message [is], I think.

White Lies Talk Touring Mexico, 'FIVE' & Why Friendship Is The Key Ingredient To Band Longevity