This week Station Sessions have got together with City Showcase, a not-for-profit year-round festival of new music, responsible for breaking some of the best names into the industry (including Amy Winehouse, Gabriella Cilmi & Keane). City Showcase introduces new artists to new audiences, providing unique platforms for their industry development. This week (3-10 May) sees the annual City Showcase: Spotlight London event taking place at venues across the West End. As part of this festival of music, City Showcase have curated tonight's (Thursday May 5) Station Sessions, presenting two fresh artists: Juliyaa and the Special K's.
M caught up with both acts to find out a little bit more about them.
Half Ghanaian, half Welsh singer-songwriter Juliyaa was born and raised in North London to a Ghanaian mother and a Welsh father. Juliyaa’s song writing grapples not only with social issues and relationships but gives a twist to the way in which we usually view the world. Juliyya's singing style has been described as sultry with a pop edge. In her own words, 'Singing helps me to express everything that’s going on in my head and in my world… It’s the personal realisations that I want to share through my music and voice.'
Juliyaa has been showcasing her talents in the Roundhouse Camden, The Regal Rooms, City Showcase, Troy Bar, and at the Southbank Centre. www.facebook.com/juliyaamusic
The Special K's are a five-piece electro pop outfit who produce their own edgy and intelligent brand of synth-driven pop. The lads are currently in the final stages of production of their debut album and are preparing to embark on their second UK tour.
Band members Howard Kaye (vocals), Darren Watts (keys), Mat Griffiths (guitar), Tom Gandolfo (bass) and Ryan Holt (drums), met through chance encounters after moving to Brighton from all over the UK in 2008. The band’s music bridges the gap between chart-topping pop and clever live technology which has gained them a legion of fans through their high energy live shows.
Mentored at the time by the team behind The Kooks, The Special Ks embarked on a nationwide college tour, and were loved for their individual style and memorable tunes. Soon after, the band beat 3000 other acts to be crowned winners of the Breakout Festival. The final showcase held at London’s former Carling Academy; the band went on to play at the Breakout Music Festival main event in the Maldives broadcast on MTV and Yahoo. www.facebook.com/juliyaamusic
What inspires you to write songs and how do you go about creating them?
Juliyaa: Most of my inspiration in writing is from the relationships I have with people and the underlying conversations that go on in my head. I also take alot of inspiration from people much older than me, I kind of realised they've lived ,seen and heard mostly everything in life so there great sources of knowledge for music. The way I go about writing really is varied, there is no structure of formula, I would describe it like waiting for the bus sometimes it comes quick, other times it's a long wait!
Special Ks: We all enjoy getting together and writing as a 5 piece. Some of the songs have started from riffs written on iPhone apps, others have been written on piano - we don't really have a set way of writing, we just bring together whatever we have and go with it!
What are your favourite-ever songs and have they influenced your sound?
Juliyaa: Probably I'd start with traditional gospel hymns like amazing grace then I'd add in some traditional Ghanaian high-life music like Mary Ghansah, all the rhythm and chord progression in my music have major influences here. Now with current popular music I'd say songs like That Thing by Lauryn Hill from her first album had that real doo-wop swing and fun element to it and Alicia Keys with the song Lesson Learned because I love lyrics that are so poignant in life like that song.
Special Ks: Pheonix - 1901; Friendly Fires - Kiss of Life; MGMT - Electric Feel; Foals - French Open; Vampire Weekend - Taxi Cab. It's fair to say all these songs have had a helping hand in shaping our sound. Not just by individual influences, but as a general attitude to writing songs.
Who would you like to cover one of your songs?
Juliyaa: I'd love Alicia Keys to cover a song that I have written that would be a huge compliment to what I do.
Special Ks: London Philharmonic Orchestra - It's very far removed from what we do, so would be interesting to hear an orchestral arrangement especially after the taster we had when a string trio performed on our album BOA.
The Station Sessions are presented in partnership with Bose, Gibson Guitars and High Speed 1.