Braids @ Hidden Agenda – 7 March, 2017

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Wonderful gig from Braids at Hidden Agenda last night, supported by local three piece So It Goes. Although a couple of aggressive Lands Department and FEHD staff tried to spoil everyones enjoyment.
The hour long show featured several new songs and including an interesting one on selfies. You know a gig is good when suddenly the band announce the last song and you wonder where did the time go, we wanted more… Until next time, unless you want to head over to Macau tonight or Shenzhen to catch the current tour.
Click on any photo for the full gallery of images

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Sandy Lam Pranava World Tour @ Cotai Arena – 4 March, 2017

Sandy Lam bought her Pranava World Tour to the Cotai Arena in Macau on the 4 March and entertained her fans with a ‘best of’ repertoire of classic love ballads and upbeat dance tracks.

Braids, Deep in Hong Kong

“In my position I’m the slut/ I’m the bitch/ I’m the whore/ The one that you hate” Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s lyrics on Braids‘ Miniskirt are blunt and to the point, but with strong vocals and some mesmerising beats from friends and fellow band members Austin Tufts and Taylor Smith they hit home.

Ahead of the Montreal based three piece’s much anticipated return to Hong Kong for a gig at Hidden Agenda on the 7 March, bc spoke to Raphaelle Standell-Preston about success and the future.

With the immense impact and success of Miniskirt and Companion, how difficult is it /was it to begin writing again?
I don’t really feel like we have that much outside pressure acting on us so it’s been very easy to begin writing again. It’s our favourite thing to do so it’s what we most look forward to doing! Also we have a DIY label and are self-managed so there is no big shot label or team that we have to impress or provide for. It’s very chill 😉

How is the progress going on a new album? Where will it move musically and lyrically?
It’s been an interesting journey thus far. A lot has happened in the world since starting the record 6 months ago that have impacted all of us deeply. Being next to America we feel their struggle and it highlights here in Canada issues that have been left unattended to like immigration and Aboriginal rights, to name a couple.

We’ve been talking a lot in the studio about our position and what our responsibility is to our community and our planet. Lyrically these conversations have been coming out in little bits and pieces, it’s too early to tell what angle the record will take.

Also with the world feeling so tumultuous right now we’ve been using our music as a way to improve the mood or as a way to scream out or play out some of our frustrations. We’re writing better music than we ever have before, and I’m really excited to see how some of the songs change and grow after this tour in Asia.

Did you find that ‘success’ has created new pressures and expectations for the new album. Have those expectations/ pressures made it harder to create new material?
No pressures felt currently from any outside sources. It’s really just from ourselves and that we want to write better music because we all have it in us to.

Why do so many of your songs last 6 minutes plus (not complaining as I think they’re great, just curious.)
Hmmmm, I think it’s because we like going on musical journeys together. Also we never have a shortage of ideas. I think our difficulty is choosing which ideas to get rid of. We tend to be a little to precious with keeping things. This is something we’re trying to get better at… If it’s just good get rid of it! It needs to feel excellent!

Why do you think your lyrics resonates so well with men and women? Thank you, that’s kind of you to say. I think because I tend to write about the human experience a lot, and I often try to write in a gender neutral way, except for in Miniskirt… I took the angle that I am a woman talking about the female experience.

Do you find the increased options for music Spotify, Bandcamp, Facebook etc make it easier for a band to survive financially?
Absolutely not. Streaming music is the worst thing you can do for the financial survival and really the survival of a band. If you aren’t making money you can’t rent a space or pay for mixing or pay for the costs of putting out a record. It sucks that people think music should be free or $9.99 for ALL THE MUSIC IN THE WORLD. Do you realise how cheap this is!? With Spotify the average musician who isn’t Taylor Swift and can negotiate a higher price, is paid$0.006 and $0.0084.per stream of a track.

Meaning that in order to pay for one record which is $10, someone would have to listen to the tracks 1667 times. Have you ever listened to a track 1667 times!? It’s honestly the worst paying system ever. I can’t believe it’s gotten as big as it has. Yes it increases the bands ability to connect with a larger audience but then you are expected to spend the rest of your life touring as this is the best way to make money as a musician now.

It’s very different for artists like Drake or Rhianna, they make millions off of Spotify and Apple music, but the average band that pulls in 200-1000 people per show isn’t making the bulk of their money from people purchasing their music, it’s from touring their asses off! The best way to support musicians is to purchase their records at the show or to order it from their record label or to head to a local record shop. Also the more we support online streaming the fewer record stores are going to be able to survive, and record perusing is seriously fun and really important for local communities.

Touring globally do you find that audiences like the same songs or do you find different songs popular in different parts of the world?
I find our louder songs go over really well with American audiences. Our music can get very visceral and physical in America. Europeans tend to be superb listeners so we can get away with playing really delicate songs there. That’s really all I’ve noticed !

I read an interview (Consequence of Sound) where you said the songs on Deep In The Iris were written to allow you more freedom when playing them live. Are you enjoying touring Deep In The Iris/Companion more because they allow for more live expression, energy and emotion?
Absolutely! Touring Flourish // Perish was so hard because we wrote these really on the grid electronic songs that were so difficult to feel free when playing. A goal with Deep In The Iris was to be able to be lose and free with it. To be able to push and pull it and be human with it.

We don’t use any click tracks and nothing is on the grid. There are no long samples or loops so though we have a lot of digital gear on stage, all the playing is done in real time. It makes it not feel the same night after night. It’s very liberating.

As you’ve toured have you found that any of the songs have evolved in ways you didn’t expect?
Yes all the songs have grown in big and beautiful ways. I always wish we could rerecord the record after touring them for a 2 years. I guess that is the point of a live record! Something that I hope we do at some point 🙂

Some of my favourite Braids recordings are the live gigs from Knitting Factory, KEXP and CJSW. With the ease of releasing live recordings of gigs, why don’t you release your live shows? Especially as the performances are more likely to be different each show?
I think we will release something we are proud of at some point that is live.

What other artist’s song would you like to cover / record, play live?
I would love to play some Dolly Parton covers. But we’re not much of a cover band. I don’t think we will ever cover a song live. You’re only playing for 45 minutes – 1 hour usually and with our songs being as long as they are sometimes it doesn’t make for much time to spare 😉

Catch Braids live at Hidden Agenda on the 7 March, 2017

Braids
Support: So It Goes
Date: 8pm, 7 March, 2017
Venue: Hidden Agenda
Tickets: $320, $260 (Advance) from Ticketflap

Ex-Croall; McEwen by Antonio Stradivari

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Ahead of it’s auction at Sotheby’s Galleries London in March, the Ex-Croall; McEwen violin crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1684 is being showcased around the world.

One of only about 500 surviving Stradivaris and valued at over $12million local violinist Vincent Chua demonstrated the Stradivari’s beautiful sound by performing God Save the Queen variation by Paganini