Featured Music

The Happy Fits: In Conversation

With a multitude of projects to their name and constant grafting, The Happy Fits have finally landed within their element

Realizing that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity doesn’t stay around forever, the trio took their chance, dropped out of college, and ran away with a journey of highs and lows. From the wonders of their first-ever EP to gracing the stages of the world, The Happy Fits’ latest work, Under the Shade of Green, is a magical testament to their past two years.

Across a 12-track album, listeners have been invited to a typical The Happy Fits style through the blend of serious subject matters, told by the essence of infectious hooks and melodic charm. One could argue that the group has found their spark, and whilst I sit here and tend to agree, there’s a slight disagreement in my head, that The Happy Fits still have some fire left in their belly to let loose in months to come.

After an overwhelming yet exciting couple of months, Chapter Z catches up with lead singer Calvin Langham, about their latest project, Under the Shade of Green, chasing their dreams and being open to trying new things.

Hey hey, how are you? Congratulations on releasing your latest album, Under the Shade of Green – what have the past few months entailed? 

Hello! We’re doing so extremely well, thanks for asking! The past few months have been a whirlwind. We’ve spent a lot of time working on our next two music videos… our 19th & 20th to date! We’ve also been live-streaming quite a bit, playing Jackbox Games, Drawasaurus, and Truth-or-Dare with our fans and giving out tons of merch prizes. Other than that, just been practising a bunch for our upcoming tours, trying to beef up our live set.

Breaking onto the music scene back in 2016 with multiple projects to now teasing a new venture, how would you describe your rise and your journey in music? 

We started gaining our initial fanbase on Spotify thanks to one of our first tracks, “While You Fade Away”, from our EP Awfully Apeelin’, getting placed on the Fresh Finds playlist on Spotify. After the initial hype simmered out, we were on this German dance and disco playlist and that kept us going through the latter half of the first year of us being a band. It wasn’t until our second album, What Could Be Better, that our song “Hold Me Down” started spinning on a massive Alt Rock station in the states called AltNation, and we started seeing fans pop up all over the USA.

Under the Shade of GreenSpeaking of your rise and talking of some of your fond memories of dreams, why did you want to become a trio, and what was the number one key influence? 

We all wanted to be rockstars growing up, but kids around our rural New Jersey area weren’t particularly musically inclined, so it was a pipedream for a long time. Ross and I (Calvin) met in our freshman year of high school, but we didn’t start bonding through music and becoming friends until late Junior year. We started out playing folk covers like Andrew Bird, George Ezra, and Milk Carton Kids, but we quickly lost interest due to our covers being, well, shoddy to say the least.

One day Ross showed me this cool instrumental loop he made on his loop pedal, and I took it back home with me, and wrote words and lyrics over it; what would become our song “Dirty Imbecile”. This was around the Summer before we left for college, and Ross’ mom was adamant we get some of our originals recorded to share with our friends and family. We found Luke our drummer through Ross’ brother Kyle, as Luke and Kyle were close friends. After we recorded the EP together, we released it and went off to college.

But, once that Spotify playlist got us some traction, we all realized the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we had to follow our dreams, so we all dropped out. I wouldn’t say there was one key influence, but the key factor was definitely Ross’ mum Agnes’ support of our original songs, in the beginning, to make us record our EP.

Currently, in one sentence, how would you describe your sound? 

Our music is an eclectic mix of catchy indie, alt, and pop rock with soaring cello riffs and roaring guitar licks.

With this new project now out, what do you hope to achieve from it, and what do you hope listeners take from it? 

Under the Shade of Green is an album trying to emotionally process the climate crisis and the rise of fascism here in America. It’s maddening watching everything unfold the way it has and seeing the systems in place be completely inept at solving our generation’s problems. It’s obvious that the Earth we inherit will be much more violent to us than in the past, but I think to really emotionally process this reality is different than just knowing this dark fact. There is no one good place to start processing every wrong thing in the world, but this album is attempting to start somewhere.

Opening yourself to a new chapter and sharing stories from the past two years, how did the album come together and what was the creative process of the tracks? 

I was living in our old practice space for a lot of this album’s creation during the pandemic. Our old work focused on coming-of-age stories, but as we watched BLM happen and the country rip at the seams, it felt unwarranted to keep writing about ourselves. Music, to me, is all about emotionally connecting with others, and I felt like there weren’t many outlets musically trying to connect with the darkness of the times in which we are.

The Happy Fits Press Image
The Happy Fits Press Image

I know this is a dreaded question, but what is your favourite track off the album, and why? 

I have to go with “In The Lobby”. It’s a tongue-in-cheek song about how our government is super corrupt with lobbyists. There are so many songs praising fame and fortune, but none really about getting there by being a self-serving lobbyist.

Having already worked with many artists and producers; whom would you love to collaborate with in the future?

I would love to collaborate with Brittany Howard. Everything she creates you can tell comes from an other-worldly place and shimmers, unlike any other music.

On the other hand, if you could bring three music icons to a dinner party, dead or alive, who would you bring?

Brittany Howard, David Byrne, and Bruno Mars

As you endure the highs and lows of the music world, what has been your number one learning perspective of the music industry, and what do you want to share with aspiring artists? 

Get a good lawyer before signing any big deals. For any aspiring artists, understand you’re probably going to have to do more than make music nowadays. The industry is bonkers for TikTok right now and who knows what the next fade will be. Be open to trying new things and working your ass off.

What is your most significant pinch-me moment so far?

We played BottleRock music festival in Napa Valley, California, earlier this year. There were so many people that we couldn’t see to the end of the crowd. That was so awesome.

Continuing to cement yourself within the music scene and ready to take on the world with your tour, what is next for The Happy Fits? 

We’re going to keep on doing what we know best; writing rock music to make you want to dance, cry, laugh, sing, and scream into the endless abyss.


Featured Music

Fossora: Bjork is Back With a Brilliantly Bonkers New Album

Fossora is the Icelandic legend’s 10th album, and it seems like her creative juices are flowing better than ever!

“First you create a universe with sound, then you move into it,” says Bjork to NME, when discussing the creative process for the new album. Fossora, her 10th studio album release, dropped on all major streaming platforms last week. And, it’s an impressive piece of work, which feels like a completely fresh and unique record, but also like a continuation of her otherworldly discography. 

Bjork Fossora artwork
Bjork (Pitchfork)

According to interviews that Bjork has conducted throughout the press release circuit, Fossora was birthed out of lockdown. “I did have a wonderful period for two years, which is the longest I’ve been in Iceland without once having to go to an airport since I was 16,” she says. “That was pretty cool. It was a really good feeling, physically – that sense of just shooting down roots out of my feet and getting grounded.” Whilst many people had a difficult time dealing with the pandemic, Bjork is appreciative to have been surrounded by beautiful nature and fresh air, something which has no doubt influenced the theme of Fossora.

Fossora is Bjorks first album in 5 years. The last album, Utopia, arrived with critical acclaim and was even nominated for the Best Alternative Album at the Grammys. Utopia was produced by Bjork herself, alongside Venezulenan powerhouse producer, Arca. Now 56, Bjork appears to show no sign of slowing down, as she treats her work as a passion project. But, whilst in the twilight of her career, Bjork does acknowledge that its time to do things a little differently, “I’ve said no to a lot of Hollywood shit, where I’ve been really flattered to be asked but it just didn’t feel right,” she said when asked by NME about her unfondness of the glamorous US music scene. “I didn’t know any of those people and it was just weird,” she continues. 

Bjork first burst out onto the music scene in 1993, with her debut album, ironically titled, Debut. Since then, she has released a further 9 bodies of work, all with one-word titles. In between, Bjork has flirted with film and has starred in a number of movies. Probably the most well-known of Bjork’s films was Dancer in the Dark (2000) – an Lars von Trier film, which won Bjork the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. This April, Bjork returned to the big screen, where she played Seeress, in the Viking thriller, The Northman. There is no end to Bjork’s immense talent. 

Bjork Fossora
Bjork (NME)

But for now, Bjork is returning to her safe space, music, which has actually helped Bjork get through a traumatic personal event. “For everybody, to lose a parent is a cornerstone of your life,” she said, discussing the death of her mother. ‘Sorrowful Soil’ was written as she started to get seriously ill, so it’s sadder. ‘Ancestress’ was written after she passed away so it’s more like a celebration of her life. I like when you hear about Mexican and Irish people who want to celebrate someone’s life when they pass away.” 

Bjork is notorious for her ability to shock the listener into an overwhelming array of bizarre sounds. However, Fossora is a deeply personal and grounded album, and for that reason alone, it’s a tad more accessible and relatable. But don’t get too complacent, as Fossora is far from radio-friendly. Bjork is on her own wavelength, and we wouldn’t have her any other way. 

Featured Music

Arctic Monkeys Are Preparing A Huge Comeback 

The Arctic Monkeys are back, and they want to remind you they’re one of Britain’s biggest rock bands

The Arctic Monkeys are one of Britain’s biggest musical exports. They were one of the defining bands of British indie rock/pop in the naughties, and since then, their music has aged liked fine wine. After finding international success with the 2013 album release, AM, Arctic Monkeys are returning back to the spotlight.

Arctic Monkeys
The band (Pitchfork)

The album, titled, The Car, arrives on streaming platforms and in stores on October 21st. The artwork has also been released, which is a simple shot of a car in a solemn-looking car park. So far, we don’t know much about the type of music on the record, but some fans are hoping for a continuation of the psychedelic and space-pop sound of the latest project, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. 

The band’s frontman, Alex Turner recently revealed to the Big Issue that the LP was recorded with James Ford – a regular collaborator for the band – in Suffolk, of all places. He continued to share how the tracks were born in a beautiful converted monastery called Butley Priory. “There’s a bunch of Led Zeppelin and Stones records where they were in this house in the country and then they went and sorted it all out and overdubbed it elsewhere,” said Turner. 

“On this record, sci-fi is off the table. We are back to earth,” shared Turner, referring to the band’s previous release. “I think we’ve got closer to a better version of a more dynamic overall sound with this record.” He continued: “the strings on this record come in and out of focus and that was a deliberate move and hopefully everything has its own space. There’s time the band comes to the front and then the strings come to the front.”

Arctic Monkeys were formed in Sheffield in 2002 and their debut album, Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not, was released in 2006, with strong critical acclaim. Their follow-up album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, came just a year later, taking advantage of the momentum. The album sold over 227,000 copies in its first week in the UK alone and even debuted at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart – a feat rarely achieved in the Brit Pop and Rock era. Since then, the band has released a further 4 records that sonically shifts from indie to a more mature rock sound. 

Arctic Monkeys The Car
Album Artwork and Tracklist (Official Twitter)

Just this week, Arctic Monkeys teased fans at a gig in Zurich Switzerland with a snippet of a new song, titled, I Aint Quite Where I Think I am. The track is one of 10 on the album. The Arctic Monkeys will continue their festival tour of the Americas into the autumn, before heading back to the UK in time for the promotional commitments. 

Featured Music

Marcus Mumford: Mumford and Sons Star Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Abuse

An inspiringly brave Marcus Mumford uses music to share his truth

Opening up and revealing a deeply personal trauma to the world takes immense courage and Marcus Mumford has done just that. The lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning band, Mumford and Sons, has decided to share his story with the world through songwriting. He hopes that the sharing of his abuse will inspire other people to work on their own traumas. 

Marcus Mumford
Marcus Mumford (Metro)

“I was sexually abused as a child,” says Marcus Mumford candidly in a statement. He continues to share that his brand new solo single, Cannibal, talks about the “first of unhealthy sexual experiences” that Mumford experienced at an early age. Cannibal, is a brutally honest recollection and interpretation of his abuse, with hard-hitting lyrics such as, “I can still taste you in my mouth and I hate it. That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it.”

Mumford decided also to share his story with GQ Magazine, a brave and important choice of publication considering its mostly male demographic – who are also least likely to seek help regarding childhood sexual abuse. “Like lots of people – and I’m learning more and more about this as we go and as I play it to people – I was sexually abused as a child,” he said. “Not by family and not in the church, which might be some people’s assumption. But I hadn’t told anyone about it for 30 years.”

After sitting with the abuse for decades, Mumford finally decided to seek help from a therapist, who specialised in trauma. In the very first session, Mumford had to mentally revisit the trauma, and in doing so, immediately threw up. “Apparently, it’s very common,” Mumford recalled, “once you basically unhook the denial and start the process of removing some suppression, then it’s very natural for that stuff to come out. I’d had problems breathing all my life. Not asthma but just, like, catching my breath.”

Marcus Mumford
Mumford has also announced a live tour (Uproxx)

Mumford and Sons are one of Britain’s best-selling bands of the 21st century. Their album, Babel, became one of the year’s best-selling records. Their folky, old-English sound added to a heightened British patriotism that was prevalent around the 2012 London Olympic Games. Babel earned the band the prestigious Album of the Year at the 2012 Grammy Awards – a feat that few British artists have achieved. But, after the pinnacle of success, Mumford has little more that he needs to prove. Now it’s time to work on the childhood traumas that a successful career has no doubt helped shelve. 

“I started sort of apologising for it, in my head,” says Mumford, talking about the lead single, Canibal. “I felt like it [Cannibal] had to go first.” Mumford’s self-titled album is due out next month. 

Featured Music

ShyGirl: The South London Rapper Carving Out An Experimentalist Niche

Is ShyGirl posied to be Britain’s next musical export?

For 6 years now, hip-hop experimentalist ShyGirl has been drip-feeding us banger after banger, building up hype for the release of upcoming album, ‘Nymph’. As the record drop approaches, ShyGirl is edging into a more electronic, industrial and hyper-pop sound. But who is ShyGirl, and why is she one to watch this Autumn?

ShyGirl Press image
ShyGirl (DJ Mag)

Born in Blackheath, London, ShyGirl discovered her passion for music whilst studying at the University of Bristol. While a student, she would frequently travel back to London to attend wild underground parties, which has no doubt influenced her boundary-pushing sound. Recent singles, like BDE featuring SlowThai, had clear sexual themes. And, in a recent interview with the Guardian, ShyGirl elaborates on their reasoning for the filthy lyricism: “I love it when art makes me uncomfortable because I have to question where that’s from.” She continues: “How can something affect my equilibrium like that? I want to affect other people’s equilibrium.” And the hyper-pop elements certainly help achieve this effect, as the industrial sounds stun the listener. The inconsistencies shock and keep you guessing as to what’s coming next. In order to appreciate and enjoy, you need to surrender to the track, and let ShyGirl take you by the hand to a raunchy 3 minutes of escapism. 

“I’m talking about frustration,” says ShyGirl, whilst discussing the sexual dynamics in their lyrics. “A lot of stuff is me turning situations around and putting myself in the position of the aggressor or the user when actually it was me that was being used. I’m reclaiming something that I could not claim in the moment, saying: by hook or by crook, I’m gonna get what I want.” ShyGirl’s confidence in herself and her art is part of the huge appeal of the music. Although sex positivity is a good thing, it’s currently being exploited by the music industry for commercial value. ShyGirl moves beyond the ‘it’s okay to be beautiful no matter your size’ approach and is getting into the nitty gritty of what sex positivity is. And, ShyGirl wants you to know that it’s more than just your body image, rather it’s a feeling, a power dynamic, psychology. 

ShyGirl press image
ShyGirl (Standard)

ShyGirl is part of a growing collection of experimental artists carving out their own progressive version of popular music. Hyerpop, which is synonymous with an artistically minded queer community, is often associated with the likes of producer, Sophie, Charli XCX, 100 Gecs and AG Cook – all of which have worked with ShyGirl at some point over her career. But ShyGirl is hesitant to label herself as hyper pop, and so, aims to distance herself from having this label. “I don’t really see it as a genre, to be honest,” She says in an interview with Rolling Stones Magazine. “I feel like it’s not specific enough, and music just isn’t [genre-bound] anymore. I just think of it more as a playlist. The genre is less so about the music and more about image and the way you fit in socially and with your fanbase. [My music] crosses genres so much, but for the algorithm, it’s definitely easier to say Hyperpop.”

ShyGirl’s debut album, ‘Nymph’ arrives next month on all streaming platforms. Hip-hop and hyper-pop artists/friends, Sega Bodega and Arca are also featured on the project. ShyGirl is one to watch. Check out one of the lead singles ‘Come For Me’ on Spotify now.


Featured Music

Beyoncé to Re-Record Ableist Renaissance lyric in HEATED

The song new Beyoncé song HEATED has a lyric saying: “Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass.”

‘Renaissance’, the new album by Beyoncé released on July 31, has been near-universally acclaimed. The joyous, hedonistic lyrics and energy put into the album remind us of disco and house music from decades past, reimagined with Afrofuturistic tunes and melodies.

However, one track on the album featured the lyric “Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass,” which many people understandably found offensive.

Spaz comes from ‘spastic’, a medical term used to describe a disability that causes a person to lose control of their muscles. Singer Lizzo also had to remove the same word from her song “Grrrls” after suffering a similar online backlash.

Hannah Diviney from the Guardian tweeted, “So @Beyonce used the word ‘spaz’ in her new song Heated. Feels like a slap in the face to me, the disabled community & the progress we tried to make with Lizzo.  Guess I’ll just keep telling the whole industry to ‘do better’ until ableist slurs disappear from music.”

Both Lizzo and Beyoncé were practically labeled hypocrites who preach inclusivity and should do better than that. 

Beyonce Renaissance Album
Beyonce Renaissance Album © Parkwood Entertainment

The debate reached out to the disabled community, as some users tweeted that they aren’t offended and that the term spaz wasn’t used as a slur and instead within the context of the Black community. 

These users defended both Lizzo and Beyoncé on Twitter, recognizing how spazz is an ableist slur but is a word that has been in the Black community for years, communities both Lizzo & Beyoncé are part of, and just not it happens to be so offensive that they must remove them from their lyrics. Spazz is an African American slang that means wilding out or reacting enthusiastically about something. 

Beyoncé herself told Insider that she didn’t use it intentionally in a harmful way. It’s good to know that she has acted swiftly to rectify the lyrics, though that didn’t stop a heated debate, no pun intended, from sparking on Twitter due to the backlash directed at the singer.

Her spokesperson confirmed that she would remove the ableist slur from Heated. 

It’s certain that Beyoncé did not use the word as a derogative for people with cerebral palsy, but the fact that it happened so soon after another famous singer used the same word and also caused a controversy raises some eyebrows.

Ableism is discrimination in favor of non-disabled people, and includes using slurs against disabled people, or making assumptions about what a disabled person can or cannot do, whether it is for positive or negative reasons.


Featured Music

Rae Morris Is Back With New Music and a New Record Label

The first album since 2018, Rae Morris has given birth to a new album and a baby!

With the latest album, Rae Morris is turning a corner. The previous albums, Unguarded and Someone Out There were released under record label giant, Atlantic. But, this time around, Rae Morris had to adapt to a new label, having been let go of her contract. The result, however, is an experimental new sound, which takes advantage of Rae’s expanded artistic freedom.

Rae Morris
Rae Morris (From BBC)

Rae’s latest album is the unusually titled, Rachel@Fairyland. The name hints at the Mary Poppins-esque theme, which spills into the music video and album artwork. The album is an otherworldly step into a more conceptual era, in comparison to her usual stripped-back aesthetic. The album was released last week with mixed reviews from critics, but a roaringly positive response from fans.

The lead single, ‘No Woman is an Island’ is a play on the quote by English poet, John Donne, who infamously said, “no man is an island.” The ballad was inspired by the sexism that Rae faced in the music industry, after signing a huge record deal at the impressionable age of 19. In an interview with BBC, Rae talks about the inspiration for the leading track, “someone at my old label described me as ‘an island’, because I didn’t give enough of myself to people at parties and events,” she explains. “He said ‘You’ve got such a great smile, Rae. You need to go out more and let people experience that’. I took that as a deep misunderstanding of who I was. It really bothered me for a long time,” said Rae.

Rae rose to fame shortly after the release of the acclaimed debut album, Unguarded. Since then, she has enjoyed steady success in the alternative-pop genre and has been often compared to a “80’s era Kate Bush” (the Independent). Despite making waves in the UK pop music scene, Rae is yet to break through on the charts, which ultimately led to her being dropped from Atlantic Records. “I’m not afraid of the ‘dropped’ word,” said the singer, to BBC. “A lot of people avoid it and say things like, ‘I was let go’ or ‘we parted ways’. I was definitely, fully dropped.”

Rae Morris
Rae Morris on Blackpool beach (Red Light Management)

Now a mother, Rae has a different outlook on life and has different priorities. To Rae, motherhood was a period of enlightenment, which banished “a tendency to stress about things that didn’t warrant it.” In an interview with the Guardian, Rae jokes about the unbearable likelihood that her child will have a posh southern accent, “I think she’ll sound like she’s from Primrose Hill, and I’ll just have to deal with it,” said the Blackpool based singer.

In just three albums, Rae Morris has seen incredible creative growth. Despite having a fluctuating relationship with record labels, and stagnant sales for a pop star, Rae has managed to stay around due to her heartfelt songwriting, and bright character. Rae has found her lane and is now content within it.

Featured Music

The 1975 Are Back With Folky New Single: Part of the Band

Matt is back with a new sound, new image, and new hairdo!

The 1975 is one of those bands that keeps you guessing. With every release, comes a brand-new concept. And, with the release of the new single, Part of the Band, it seems that the Matt Healy-fronted band has a lot more creative juice left in the tank.

The 1975 new single artwork
Promotional postcards (from Townsquare Media)

Part of the Band is the first single from the forthcoming album, titled, Being Funny in a Foreign Language – the 5th album in the band’s discography. The track is completely different from their previous material (of course) and is actually different from anything else in the charts at the moment. Upon first listen, its sombreness stands out. The lyrics are deep and personal to Matt, who has recently opened up about his mental health struggles. “Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke? Or I am just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke calling his ego imagination?” Matty sings, accompanied by an eerie sax sound.

Matt recently re-joined Reddit, where he discussed the creative process for the new track. Matt posted, “I love the song and it didn’t have a bridge. So when I opened up for Phoebe I kinda wanted to do that old school Greenwich Village folk scene thing where people used to just play songs that were knocking around by other artists.” He continued, dropping hints about more new music: “The bridge was written by me. And then became ‘Part of the Band’. ‘New York’ will be finished eventually, but is not a song of The 1975.” Healy is known to have a close relationship with his fans; therefore, using Reddit as a direct method of communication.

The new album will be released via Dirty Hit – an independent record label behind some of the best alternative musical talent. The album was reportedly recorded at Real World Studios in Wiltshire England, and also Electric Lady Studios in New York. 11 songs will feature on the new record, which is due to be released on the 14th of October 2022.

Matty from The 1975
Promotional postcards (From Dork Magazine)

Over the past couple of years, Matt has been spending a lot of time working on his mental health. In the previous records, Matt has been open about his struggles with addiction, which soon became a “problem,” after finding fame in the band. “I loved going out on stage and talking to 12,000 people. I didn’t like going back to my hotel room and sitting on my own for another three hours and then being expected to go to bed when I wanted to, I don’t know, change culture or something ridiculously grandiose,” he said, referring to the feelings that led to a stint at a rehab centre in Barbados. “I knew that I wasn’t going to detox myself, so I went away and I got clean. I wasn’t going there to get straight edge, I didn’t have a drinking problem or anything else, I was just chemically dependent on a substance and I didn’t wanna make a record as a fucking junkie. Who wants to hear that?” Healy told DIY Magazine in a candid interview.

The 1975 press image
The 1975 Promotional Photos (Read Dork)

After a few much-needed years away from the spotlight, a refreshed The 1975 are back, and ready to take on the world. “Love you see you really soon,” he teases, on Reddit, referring to the band’s few shows in August, as part of Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival. Despite the time away, their devoted fans have grown larger in number, suggesting that a worldwide tour is likely. Watch this space.

Featured Music

Tom Aspaul: The Black Country Popstar Back With a New Banger

Has Tom Aspaul managed to top his debut album?

Tom Aspaul has been thriving on the fringes of pop for some time now. The British singer songwriter proudly hails from Wolverhampton and is behind some huge hits from the likes of Celeste, AlunaGeorge, Snakeships, Little Mix and Kylie Minogue. Now, he is back with his second studio album, Life in Plastic – a personal project with an upbeat aesthetic.

Tom Aspaul
Tom Aspaul from Gay Times

Life in Plastic was written mostly in lockdown, which is likely responsible for the deeper lyricism that flows in each and every track. In an interview with Pink News, Tom recalls the creative process, “It is a cliché, but a lot of gay men, if they don’t have children, they seem to have a lot of time to look after themselves and have these really lavish lifestyles, and that’s a topic that interests me. I wanted to explore why that happens, which I guess is where the Life in Plastic name comes from.” Tom has a big and loyal following in the London queer scene, where he once lived.

It is no secret that Tom is a grounded individual, who values his roots. “I present myself to the world as this pop star, but the reality is that I do live at home with my parents and I do everything myself, even though it doesn’t look like I do,” he says to Pink News. This humble and down to earth personality pours into his music, adding a sense of relatability for queer kids who often find that they need to leave the safety blanket of home for the big city lights.

For a while, Tom lived in London, but following a breakup, he returned to his hometown in the West Midlands. “I live away from London and all these big cities, so I don’t really have a community where I live. I don’t have any friends that live nearby so I really do depend on these long-distance relationships — I travel to London or Manchester or Birmingham every other weekend,” he said.

Tom’s first album, Black Country Disco was a huge success, which is named after the industrial region of the Midlands. The Black Country is a peculiar place, which often feels like it stands still in time. On weekends, the majority of locals flock to their nearest social clubs or pubs, to enjoy a dance and a disco —reminiscing a lost era of music. In an interview with the Guardian, Tom recalls his inspiration for the debut album, “Sonically, I listened to a whole raft of disco from the mid-70s to the mid-80s; music I’d imagine my mom dancing to at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton when she was young.”

Tom Aspaul Press Shot
Tom Aspaul from Retro Pop Magazine

Tom has decided to pursue his career in reverse. When many artists catch a break and increase in popularity, they tend to crave London, LA or New York. But, for Tom, the appeal isn’t all there. Tom prefers to position himself where he feels comfortable and where he can absorb inspiration from what’s meaningful to him: his roots. For this reason alone, he has managed to create another great pop record, with a heart.

Featured Music

Florence + the Machine is Back with Dance-Inspired Album

Florence + the Machine: Album 5 takes a different turn

Unbelievably, it’s been 4 years since Florence Welsh released her last album, ‘High as Hope’. Florence’s latest work, titled ‘Dance Fever’, was due to drop before lockdown but was postponed. Because of this last-minute ditch, Florence decided to fine-tune her work but instead embarked on a lengthy process of adding deeper layers. The result is a beautifully strange project that’s completely different to her back catalogue.

Florence + the Machine
Florence from the Rolling Stone

In an interview with the French radio station, NPR, Florence reflected, “I had said at the end of [2018’s] High as Hope, I’m going to stop, I’m going to settle down. I need to stay still because touring is hard and putting yourself out there, even in records, is hard and it doesn’t get any easier. You’d think you’d get used to it, but the more you give and the harder it kind of gets. I was like, I need to take a really big break.” Thankfully, Florence didn’t take a break and instead dove into the abundance of creativity still yet to be explored.

One of the most prominent themes of the album is motherhood. Florence consistently explains how being a mother forces an endpoint to her creative era. “I feel like to have a child and to let that amount of love in.… I’ve spent my life trying to run away from these big feelings,” she told Vogue. What’s clear from Dance Fever is that Florence is in a transitional period of her life. Perhaps art is meaningless now that her children have become a priority. “I am no mother/I am no bride/I am king,” she cries, on Jack Antonoff-produced track, ‘King’.

Florence is notorious for finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places. Despite being Florence’s fifth album in her discography, she still hasn’t fallen short. The up-tempo track, Choreomania, Florence sings about “dancing to imaginary music,” which refers to the eerie phenomenon in the Middle Ages where people danced wildly to the point of exhaustion, collapse and even death – hence the album title, Dance Fever. Florence became obsessed with these stories that she read in lockdown about the “dancing plague,” which helped add her signature dark twist to an otherwise up-tempo piece.

Dance Fever has enjoyed a huge critical and commercial success in its first week. According to the UK Official Charts company, Florence and her band are on course for a number one record – despite having strong competition from Kendrick Lamar’s colossal release, ‘Mr Morale & the Big Steppers.’ Ironically, Florence is credited on Kendrick’s new album, on a track called, We Cry Together, as it samples Florence’s ‘June.’

Florence + the Machine
Florence + the Machine headlining Glastonbury from DIY Magazine

Since forming in 2007, Florence + the Machine have been one of Britain’s biggest musical exports. Many argue that the band’s peak came in 2015, when they headlined Glastonbury Festival, replacing the Foo Fighters. But, ‘Dance Fever’ is full of fresh ideas and some of her most powerful music to date.

In an interview with NPR, Florence talked about flirting with the idea of retiring from the industry and scrapping ‘Dance Fever’ for a more solitary life away from the public eye. “But. I’m going to do it anyway because it feels so good in the moment,” she said, giving in to the temptation of releasing new art into the world. It’s clear Florence has plenty more in the tank.