Musical Discovery: ‘Kill the Lights’ by Alex Newell, Jess Glynne & DJ Cassidy (with Nile Rodgers) [Audien Remix]

With so many people contributing towards a single track, you can tell that Kill the Lights will be great even before listening to it. In this case, it’s great to see Nile Rodgers return to another dance track, Jess Glynne try something a bit more funky (rather than her usual R&B and pop) and Alex Newell offer her uplifting and cheerful soul. But now, American DJ Audien has built upon the original single – turning it into an electronic-funk floor-filler.

As with any remix which catches my attention, I often go back to the original. In this case, I couldn’t help but feel like the main version of Kill the Lights was too ‘busy’ – particularly towards the end of the song. Whilst I love the underlying guitar and 60’s funk vibe, I couldn’t help but feel like the drums, vocals and guitar all became too loud in the chorus. Thankfully, Audien’s remix keeps hold of this groovy style whilst stripping away all of this unnecessary ‘white noise’.

To start with, Audien nods to the original by beginning with the main guitar riff which runs throughout DJ Cassidy’s version. The track then develops from just vocals and a creative, deep house synth to include colourful piano chords and a driving drum beat. If the original song was made as a retro track for discos, then Audien’s remix is the refreshing version for nightclub playlists.

What do you think of Audien’s remix of Kill the Lights? Is it better than the original? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Give Me Your Love’ by Sigala feat. John Newman and Nile Rodgers

After Say You Do (feat. Imani & DJ Fresh) was more DJ Fresh’s brand of drum and bass than Sigala’s brand of dance music, it’s great to see a new collaboration which sees the DJ return to basics. Give Me Your Love is another single filled with vibrant piano stabs, but this time it’s also with funky guitar strums and catchy vocals from John Newman.

We’ve already seen John Newman’s unique soul work wonders on both electronic and drum and bass tracks. Rudimental’s Feel the Love and Not Giving In were huge hits when they were released – as was Newman’s collaboration with Calvin Harris on a more hardcore dance track, Blame. Now, the Love Me Again singer is lending his vocals to a more funky style of house and with Nile Rodgers chipping in too, you can tell this song is going to be huge when it’s released in June.

On the whole, Give Me Your Love is a move in a positive direction for Sigala. The DJ is back to uplifting piano stabs which made me love his style of music in the first place, and in terms of his videos which accompany the singles, it’s great to see more dancing. As mentioned above, Say You Do felt out-of-place in terms of it being a bizarre mix of tropical house and drum and bass. The lack of dancing in the song’s music video also made his previous release fall flat in my opinion. Now, it’s great to see Sigala’s got his unique style back.

What do you think of Give Me Your Love? Did you like Say You Do? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘This Is What You Came For’ by Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

For a long time, Calvin Harris’s style of dance music has always involved a build-up to a euphoric beat drop filled with hazy electronic ‘white noise’. In a time where most dance fans are leaning towards tropical house and its many variants, Harris finally stripped down his tracks to offer more laid-back and chilled melodies. The shift worked well when it came to How Deep is Your Love (feat. Disciples) and now This Is What You Came For shows the Scottish DJ tapping in to the latest tropical house trend.

 

The last time Harris released a more chilled track was Thinking About You (feat. Ayah Marar), with more staccato, exotic synth. However, this time the main melody is wonderfully simplistic. There are pretty much no vocals and a consistent drum beat, but this focusses the listener’s attention on the instrumental aspect of the song at this point. Meanwhile, during the verses, the instrumental parts are quietened, which allows us to hear Rihanna’s vocals which are very different to her sound on We Found Love.

On the whole, it seems to be a positive change for Rihanna’s vocal style and Calvin Harris’ style of music. This Is What You Came For (feat. Rihanna) builds on the latest dance trend, showing how easy it is for the DJ to slightly change his music and to tap into today’s pop music culture. If this is a single to come from his new album, I do hope this exploration of more laid-back and relaxed dance music continues.

What do you think of This Is What You Came For? Comment below!

Liam

Thoughts on My First Year at University

Aside from one final exam in the middle of May, this week saw me complete my last set of lectures for my first year at university. With that in mind, I decided it would only be right for me to write a sentimental and reflective blog post about the past year I’ve spent at the University of Lincoln.

Before starting university, I suppose everyone asks if it’s right for them in terms of their career and life in general. For me, I knew it was the course I wanted and – of course – had to do to get a career in journalism. However, it was the university culture which worried me: the search for friends during freshers, being that one guy who doesn’t like clubbing and someone who attends 9am workshops religiously (yep, that’s me). It’s fair to say that I wasn’t the typical student, and that worried me.

Thankfully, there were options available which meant I could make friends before I started. The university had a scheme which allowed you to find potential course mates, which helped. I was then added to a huge Facebook group chat where I made even more friends, and it was the same when it came to finding out who I would live with.

As well as this, I have to thank Kimberley from The Colour Chronicles for kickstarting what was an amazing set of opportunities. She introduced me to her friend who currently studies at Lincoln, and since then I’ve worked with them on the local community radio station, which led to me having my own radio show myself! What a small world.

It’s this sort of ‘snowball’ effect which has constantly led to me having new opportunities come up almost every day. By hosting my own radio show on Siren FM, I was then able to interview Public Service Broadcasting – a band I admire and who have played for the BBC and at Glastonbury.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time now, you’ll know that I used to do a ‘Liam Interviews’ series, where I managed to interview a couple of bloggers and authors. Whilst doing this, I couldn’t help but feel like starting an email with: “I’m a lifestyle blogger” or “I’m an aspiring journalist” would lead to an interview request being declined. Now, I have the opportunity to say I volunteer for Siren FM, or am a student journalist, and that tends to open so many more doors. Basically, having the ‘university stamp’ has allowed me to achieve so much more.

For example, two recent opportunities which have taken me by surprise have been when an article for the university’s student newspaper – The Linc – then went on to appear in an article on The Independent. As well as that, I was thrilled to go to my first media awards ceremony, where a blog post of mine was ‘Highly Commended’.

What I’ve loved about university is how it offers new skills and opportunities. I’ve mentioned some of the opportunities above, but in terms of skills, I like to think that I’ve changed as a person. It’d be unfair for me to say that university hasn’t had its ups and downs, but it’s those tough experiences which act as the perfect training ground for the world of work and later life. On another note, I’m one of those weird student journalists who loves shorthand – it’s strange to see how I’ve gone from knowing nothing to taking my 80wpm exam last month!

Now, as I look ahead to my second year at university, I’ll hopefully get to branch out into radio and online journalism. It’s funny, because when I first started the course, my main aspirations were to write for the Guardian or to be a court reporter. However, being a presenter on Siren FM has really opened my eye to the world of radio journalism – which I love just as much as print journalism. But, that being said, doing online journalism should be good, as I’m slowly starting to admit that the print industry is continuing to decline. Newspapers and magazines won’t decline completely as there’ll still be the big brands, but some will soon cease production and move online, which is a shame.

Now I have a nice long summer break to look forward to, which is filled with work experience opportunities and a couple of festivals. Roll on summer and the next year of university!

How was your week? What did you get up to? Comment below!

Liam

The EU Referendum: Why a vote to remain will protect our human rights | The Friday Article

Earlier this week, the House of Commons debated our involvement with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) following Theresa May’s comments about Britain leaving the convention.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post detailing my decision to vote for us to remain in the European Union. Since publishing that article, I’ll admit that I do agree with what some of the ‘leave’ campaigners had to say in the comments, but I have yet to have someone explain how a vote to leave would benefit human rights. It is both this and this week’s debate which has prompted me to ask: even if all the reasons to stay in the EU are flawed, should we remain in the European Union to protect our human rights?

European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights. Photo: barnyz on Flickr.

This question comes down to the fact that all EU member countries must sign up to the ECHR. If we vote to leave the European Union in June, we sever ties with all aspects of the union including the European Convention on Human Rights. In turn, this paves the way for our government to work on a British Bill of Rights – which is something a single government shouldn’t be allowed to deal with.

I mean, each political party is biased towards different social classes, social topics and so forth. With that in mind, could any government or party come up with a British Bill of Rights which is fair for everyone? At the moment, the outcry towards changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) could lead some to believe that the Conservatives may not be the best people to trust with our human rights – myself included.

Of course, our country does have separated powers, which mean the judiciary and judges are separate from the executive (government) and legislature (parliament). However, even if these new British rights were to be created by lawyers (like the convention was after WW2), what’s not to say that there won’t be any government influence over these new rights?

Whilst ‘leave’ voters are right to argue that the EU taking some of our sovereignty impacts our independence, it also adds more accountability to our governments. In her speech this week, Theresa May said the ECHR “binds the hands of parliament” – but isn’t that down to the accountabilty the ECHR (and indeed the ECJ) provides? If we don’t like what a government is doing, or if we need another level to appeal to in law, then both the ECJ and ECHR can help UK citizens. Why should these be removed? Does this imply that the Tories dislike accountability?

Despite this, I do appreciate the difficulty the UK had with the ECHR over the deportation of radical preachers, but that is a matter for reform, not withdrawal from the convention – reform and a possible withdrawal being something the Attorney General touched on in this week’s debate on the matter.

Very much like the EU, the ECHR has a lot of close ties with Britain that would simply cause problems if these are cut. For example, Joanna Cherry from the SNP said that because the Scotland Act is strongly bound to the ECHR, leaving the convention would cause a constitutional crisis – something all governments should avoid.

But as well as the ties to Scotland, an excellent and hilarious comedy sketch from the Guardian points out some of the flaws in the argument for us to leave the ECHR, and what the convention has done for us:

Lastly, a vote to remain would secure our ties to the ECHR. If we stay in the EU but choose to leave the convention, it’s unlikely the European Union would allow us to withdraw. It would be problematic in terms of the British Bill of Rights, but good news for those who think the government shouldn’t have control over our rights.

What do you think? How will you be voting in June’s EU referendum? Do you think we should leave the ECHR or seek reform? Comment below!

Liam

Top hacks to survive this summer’s music festivals | Sponsored Post

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of music festivals. I went to Glastonbury last year and have been to V Festival for the past two years as well. It’s fair to say that I love my music and my festivals, so when Maximise contacted me about writing a post sharing my top festival tips, I had to get involved. So, without further ado, here are my top tips for surviving a music festival.

Festival
Photo source: Richard Turner on Flickr.

1. Ponchos can not only protect you from rain, but also from mysterious brown liquids…  

We all hope for sun and blue skies when we go to festivals, but we all know that there’s always rain at Glastonbury at least. Therefore, a poncho is always useful to protect us from the rain, but also from those at the front that like to throw their drink – or urine – up in the air. Always keep a poncho to hand if you can, otherwise, invest in a good quality hat. In my case, a straw hat helps shield me from water and the sun, whilst also making me look like a Paolo Nutini wannabe.

2. Invest in a one-pole tent and expedition rucksack

Basically, imagine that you’re an ambitious student about to climb Ben Nevis for their Duke of Edinburgh expedition. In my case, I’ve kept on to my one-pole tent and expedition rucksack, and it’s amazing how convenient they both are. Of course, it may just be a five-day festival, but still…

3. Cling film, trolleys and wheelbarrows

This is something I learnt after being to a few festivals, and that is to bring clingfilm and either a trolley or a wheelbarrow. The last thing you want on a hot day, when you’re dashing to bag a place to pitch your tent, is to have to dash back to your car to grab more stuff.

So grab a wheelbarrow or trolley, dump all your bags, drinks and tents in it, secure them with cling film and then carry it to where you intend to stay. It’s much better than carrying it all on your back, that’s for sure.

4. How to get rid of those annoying wristbands

We’ve all been there – by trying to yank the annoying wristbands off our arms they turn into sandpaper and start scratching at our wrists? So how do we get the blasted things off our wrists without having to reach for the scissors? Well, there is a way for you to remove them whilst also keeping them intact as a souvenir.

However, it depends on whether you can adjust your wristband in the first place. If a member of staff has to place them on you, then you’re in a spot of bother. The best way to do it is to adjust it so that there’s enough space for you to fit your thumb in-between the wristband if you wanted to.

It’s a lot of work, but you then have you shuffle the wristband up to the bottom of your hand, and tuck your thumb in. At that point, your hand should become a ‘runway’ for you to slide the wristband off. Then, voila – both your hand and wristband are intact and you can keep it as another free souvenir.

5. Apps are where it’s at!

If it’s not the messaging apps which you can use to ask your mate for a burger, then it’s the official festival apps, which have really upped their game over the past few years. Whilst it’s a shame that V Festival’s app no longer exists, Glastonbury’s official app comes with a map and planner – so you can plan which acts to see way in advance!

6. If all else fails, return to your tent or get help from staff

It’s highly unlikely that your battery pack will run out and your phone will die suddenly, but if you can’t make that last-minute emergency call or text to your friends or family (and let’s be honest, the reception in the middle of the countryside isn’t the best), then just continue to rock out.

When my phone died at V Festival in 2014, going to the predetermined meeting point worked. If not that, the perfect ‘meeting point’ is your tent. If not that, then an obvious choice is to contact a member of staff.

 

So these are just a selection of my top festival tips, but if you have any, Maximise want to hear from you! Tweet your hacks with the hashtag, #UltimateFestHacks to get involved and share your festival survival advice.

What festivals have you been to? Comment below!

Liam

P.S. Thanks to Maximise for sponsoring this post. Whilst this post is sponsored, the opinions expressed here are solely mine.

Musical Discovery: ‘I’m in Love’ by Kygo feat. James Vincent McMorrow

It’s not long now before tropical house DJ Kygo releases his debut album, Cloud Nine, on May 13. However, before that fans have been treated to three singles taken from the upcoming album. First it was Fragile, then it was Raging, and now I’m in Love is this week’s Musical Discovery.

The main thing I’ve grasped from these three single releases is that Cloud Nine seems to be an album where Kygo can demonstrate his various talents within his genre before assigning himself to something more concrete. For instance, Fragile was the tropical house ballad and Raging challenged the usual slow-tempo format of his previous hits. In terms of I’m in Love, this is a track which allows to Kygo to explore his talents with vocal distortion.

In my opinion, Kygo succeeded on that front – turning James Vincent McMorrow’s vocals into a more high-pitched feminine tone worked throughout most of the song. However, one thing that didn’t quite work was the whining ‘I’m in love’ which is repeated at the start of the song. It’s not the greatest introduction to a tropical house single, where the listener can only hear the vocals without any backing instruments. The opening is simplistic and bland, which is disappointing and dampens the track in some respects.

Despite this, the chorus is where I’m in Love really succeeds – a complex, off-beat drum rhythm combines with traditional, bouncy synth to make what would otherwise be a rather mellow song more colourful.

I must admit that I’m not a fan of this diversity in the album, but I’m still intrigued to hear Cloud Nine in full. In fact, I first said that I wasn’t a fan of Raging, however it is now growing on me. Plus, with Shazam revealing that Kygo has collaborated with Tom Odell, Jason Derulo, John Legend and Foxes and many more on his debut album, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

What do you think of I’m in Love? Is it better than the last two singles? Are you looking forward to Cloud Nine? Comment below!

Liam