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Interviews

Charli XCX interview

Posted on by Mikey Moscow in Blog, Interviews, Music | Leave a comment

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There are artists you’re just meant to interview and Charli XCX was always on my list. So I started my Moscow chat with the I Love It/Fancy/Boom Clap hitmaker Charli XCX in December 2014 with the excited ‘It’s so nice to finally meet you‘. I mean, I’ve been hearing great things about Charli from her musician friends like Maya von Doll for years now. We only had about 5 minutes before her (rather random) gig at the opening of the ice rink at Moscow’s Gorky Park, so I did my best to prove that I’m no sucker. So can we please go crash some prom next time we meet, Charli?

The Russian version of the interview was published at Cosmopolitan Russia website and the original chat is below.

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What’s the weirdest way people have misspelled your stage name?

People always put an ‘e’ at the end of my name. Sometimes people call me Charli CXC, which is also kinda strange.

You represent the new generation of popstars. What do you think the popstar of the 21st century should look like? If you say ‘Like me’, it’s a good answer, just so you know…

Haha, well, yeah, like me. But just not boring, I’d say. Have their own personal style. I don’t believe in following fashion. I think people should follow their own sense of style.

Your new album is called ‘Sucker’. Do you think that nowadays the popstars should be the ultimate suckers? That ‘revenge of the nerds’ thing? As opposed to the bubblegum divas from 10-15 years ago?

I love the bubblegum teendream divas as much as the next person. But I’m myself is definitely a bit clumsy and messy and I don’t really think what people think of me. And that’s always nice to have someone who’s real and doesn’t really give a fuck. That’s nice, too.

You’ve written quite a few amazing choruses in your career. What’s the secret to that?

Thank you. But I really don’t know! I’m a very spontaneous writer. I try not to do the same thing twice and I think as long as I keep doing it, I’ll keep making interesting music.

Both of us are 90s bitches. Is ‘Jawbreaker’ your favorite movie?

Ha, nice! ‘Jawbreaker’ is definitely one of them! I also love ‘Clueless’ and ‘The Craft’.

I’ll tell it to ‘Jawbreaker’s director Darren Stein and he’ll be thrilled!

Oh, great, thank you!

You’re here for the ice rink opening. Do you ice skate?

I love ice skating! I haven’t actually been outside today but everyone told me it’s so cold. I really wanna go ice skating later though.

What’s the fanciest thing you’ve done?
Probably took a private jet, that was petty fancy. I didn’t pay for it though.

And you didn’t pilot it?

No. I was just on it. But that was definitely a pretty fancy moment.

In the past you’ve been one of the editors of the ‘Shut Your Pretty Mouth’ magazine and you also DJed. What other secret talents do you possess?

Well, I like to think that I’m quite good at ten-pin bowling. I’m also actually quite a good ice skater! Maybe you’ll see my skills later. Definitely not as good as your Russian athletes, not Olympic level!

Are you a good girlfriend or a bad girlfriend?

Bad girlfriend. 100%.

I expected that… And finally: who would you take to prom? Any living, dead or fictional character.

I think I’d take Cher Horowitz (the main character from ‘Clueless’ – Mikey) to prom. We’d go as a double date. That would be cool and we’d have amazing outfits!

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Talk to Mikey: Juliet Simms (Automatic Loveletter)

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I did mention my intrerview with Juliet Simms from Automatic Loveletter before, but now it’s time to finally show our chat that took place in New York back in summer 2010, when the band was about to release their debut studio album ‘Truth or Dare’. In 2012 Juliet appeared on The Voice and now she’s releasing a solo EP, but let’s take a look back when the things just started heating up for her in the first episode of Talk to Mikey.

Interview with Naomi Pilgrim

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About a year ago Naomi Pilgrim released her debut single – a trip-hop-y ‘No Gun’ that had pleasantly mellow sound and some remarkable lyrics (’12 hours flight, didn’t charge my Pod’ and ‘…at least now I know I should just stick to grass’ were among the best ones). Now she’s got a new song out – it’s called ‘It’s All Good’ (I’d like to think of it as a happy-end sequel to ‘No Gun ’ – ‘cause every melancholic Swedish lady deserves one!) and it’s, well, pretty good, too.

Back in April we did an interview for Cosmopolitan Russia and here’s the original version of the interview. Russian version is on the Cosmo’s website here:

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What’s your story?

My story contains Sweden and Barbados, a lot of longing for summer and creating while searching my own path. I’ve been making music for a long time, but it wasn’t until last year that I decided to dare to dream bigger and since then I’ve been busy fulfilling those dreams.

Why do you think so many talented artists come from Sweden and Barbados? Something in the water/air?

I think it’s because we live in a society where there is room for growth and where we appreciate the uniqueness in and of things. From that point of view we are able to take it further by pushing the limits.

What things from the ‘No Gun’ lyrics actually happened to you?

It’s not biographically written but some things are still true, but which scenarios I’m gonna leave unsaid haha.

What did you learn from working with Lykke Li?

I learned a lot, she is an excellent teacher. She taught me to ask the hard questions in the process of making/ creating and to always stand up for my vision.

What’s the most exciting thing about making music for you?

A lot of things! For example how an emotion and a simple thought can build a new world in a matter of seconds. Music teaches me new things Every day and I love to be absorbed in its wise universe.

You call yourself a ‘a whistle-blower for peace’. What does that mean exactly?

I am a firm believer in equality and since I have my freedom and we live in a cold world I think it would be a crime against humanity not to use it. The deadliest war since world war II  is happening right now in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Kids to small to carry a gun are being sent out in The frontlines of war armed with only a whistle. I use their weapon as my voice. Falling Whistles is campaign for peace in Congo, they sell this whistle and the proceeds goes to different life saving projects on the ground in Congo. And by wearing a whistle close to my heart I keep the story of these children alive.

Is there one thing that unites all Naomi’s of the world?

The warmth, the loving and the excellence?

What’s the game-plan for you this year? When will we hear new music?

I am heading out for The festival season with a new single coming out in the end of may!

What else does the world should know about Naomi Pilgrim?

I love champagne and oysters, swimming and horses.

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More on Naomi at her Facebook and twitter.

Interview with Owlle

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French electro pop singer Owlle came to Moscow earlier this month for a private fashion show and I had a pleasure of chatting with her both before and after her show.

You can read the Russian version on Cosmopolitan Russia and the original version is below:

Why Owlle?

Owlle is a feminized version of the word ‘owl’ – I added French ‘elle’ (which means her). I know that word doesn’t exists, so it’s unique for me.

Why didn’t you want to use your real name? It’s beautiful – France…

Because it’s too close to my own personality. France and Owlle are the same person, but I feel different on stage – there’s different sensuality and attitude. So another name made more sense and makes me feel more confident.

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Interview with ‘Salem’s Ashley Madekwe

Posted on by Mikey Moscow in Articles, Blog, Cinema, Interviews, Style, TV | Leave a comment

I was pleasantly surprised by the first season of WGN’s ‘Salem’. What looked like an ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ cash-in turned out to be a way better show with impressive twists, great atmosphere and decent character development. So I was very happy to arrange an online chat with one of the show’s stars – British actress Ashley Madekwe (‘Revenge’), who’s also quite a fashionista – when on holidays from her witchy duties she runs a personal style blog Ring My Bell with the help of her husband (and ‘Salem’ co-star) Iddo Goldberg.

The Russian version of the interview was published on Cosmopolitan Russia website and the original version is below.

You have quite a background! Can you lead us through the main points of your life?

I was born and raised in South London. I love London and really think of myself as a ‘Londoner’. After attending RADA (drama school) in London and working as an actress for a few years I decided to move to America with my husband and cat! I’ve been living in Los Angeles full time for 3 years and still miss home!

You worked both in English and US movie industry. Is there any difference?

The only difference for me is the amount of material available. There is a greater volume of material in the US and that’s why British actors gravitate here. I find myself having more scripts to read in the US than I ever did at home.

What’s your personal experience with the supernatural? Are you a believer?

I believe there are things in this world that can’t rationalized or explained. It would be very boring not to believe in a little magic!

If you were an actual witch, how would you use your power?

It depends on what my ‘powers’ were! In Salem the witches have no real supernatural power. All their magic comes from ritual and sacrifice… I certainly would NOT be using Tituba’s powers of necromancy! (re-animating the dead).

Did you do any research while preparing for ‘Salem’?

I read as much as I could about Tituba and the period that the show is set in and then disregarded it all! “Salem” is a fictionalized story and we’re not trying to stay true to the historical events.

Seeing you’re quite a fashion expert, did you give any advices to the ‘Salem’s costume designer?

I wouldn’t dare give Joseph fashion advice! He’s so fabulous and chic that he doesn’t need it. Our discussions about costume are all to do with how the costume makes the character feel and the message that it gives to the audience. For example, Tituba is Mary’s servant to the outside world but privately and within their coven she is not. We tried to highlight that a little with Tituba’s clothes. She doesn’t quite dress in the rags you would typically expect from a servant of the time.

I know you probably can’t reveal much, but can you give us a hint about ‘Salem’ season two and if we will see Tituba again?

I think it’s safe to say we will see Tituba in season 2 but we don’t know what her relationship with Mary will be like.

Any chance the fans of ‘Revenge’ will see you again in the Hamptons?

I never say never because Ashley Davenport didn’t die and she’s a tenacious little thing! I have no immediate plans to go back though.

How did ‘Ring My bell’ come about and what’s your goal there?

I love personal style blogs and my husband has a true love of photography. We combined the two and Ring My Bell was born. For me it’s another creative outlet that has nothing to do with acting. Eventually I’d love to expand the Ring My Bell brand into a small capsule collection of chic, directional wardrobe staples.

Photo from http://ashley-ringmybell.blogspot.ru/

Is fashion just a hobby for you or you plan to explore the industry more at some point?

My love of fashion is very organic and a true pleasure right now. I would one day hope to explore it more but I’d be careful to keep it as organic and fun as possible. Acting will always be my first love.

What are you fashion advices/favorite trends of summer 2014?

Birkenstocks are back! Go for minimalist black or white or metallic gold or silver.

What was the most memorable experience from the ‘Salem’ set?

Tituba’s familiar is a spider. I am absolutely terrified of spiders so this was a difficult scene for me to shoot! Luckily my body double isn’t such a baby and she helped out. I usually love it when we have animals on set. My favorite is the toad. He’s really quite sweet!

TBT: Juliet Simms

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How about a little Throwback Thursday? Here’s me interviewing awesome Juliet Simms at Sony Music’s NYC office back in August 2010, when Juliet was promoting her band Automatic Loveletter‘s debut record. It was long before she got her big solo break at The Voice (and before I learned how to use the hairspray). We had a lovely chat that concluded with us geeking out about who our favorite Buffy characters were (it was Glory for Juliet and Faith for me).

Photos by Ryan Paul Hancock

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Kelsey Ellison Interview

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Avril Lavigne may have cause a bit of a riot with her shockingly bad Japanese-inspired ‘Hello Kity’ video, but when it comes to doing justice to J-world, there’s hardly another firecracker like British YouTuber Kelsey Ellison. For years she made YouTube a much more kawaii place and now she’s ready to kick off a music career, too. Her debut single, Maya von Doll-penned ‘Pom Pom’, is a perfect introduction to what’s yet to come: it’s ridiculously catchy, fun and just the right amount of crazy. Obviously I had to find out what was going on behind-the-scenes on that video shoot and, as Kelsey put it herself, inside her ‘cartoon like brain’.

What’s the story of Kelsey?

I come from the land of the Jelly Shoes and the Spice Girls, A.K.A the nineties. I’m from the U.K and I grew up in a small town in South Yorkshire called Barnsley. My Dad has been in various bands and my Mum is a Musical Theatre lover, so I’ve been surrounded by music since a very young age. After I had an operation on my eye when I was three, I lost a lot of confidence, so my Mum took me to dancing classes, and I got a huge passion for it! When I got told in career advice at school that performing wasn’t really a real job, I decided I wanted to be a performer for a living.

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Sohodolls are back: Interview with Maya von Doll about ‘Mayday’ EP

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I’m not going to lie: I have a very soft spot for miss Maya von Doll. First of all, she’s responsible for one of the best electro-rock-pop bangers of the 00s called, well, ‘Stripper’ (you really can’t go wrong with such title). But even when she’s not shouting ‘Hey, stripper!’, Maya stays magical, seductive and a bit tongue-in-cheek no matter what she’s doing: rocking the stage as the boss of Sohodolls, dropping hot electro beats as a solo artist or coming up with clever little pop numbers for artists like Nicola Roberts (whose ‘Cinderella’s Eyes’ is by far the best solo album of a Girls Aloud member). I’ve been holding my breath for new Sohodolls music for a long time and it did arrive in the most unexpected way: earlier this month Maya just dropped the new EP on iTunes. The record is called ‘Mayday’ and features 3 songs that form a perfectly logical follow up to 2007’s ‘Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation’: it has the familiar amount of flirt, danger and silky vocals that made Sohodolls one of the most remarkable electro pop bands of the 00s. Now it’s time to ask Maya a couple of questions about the release and what we should expect from her camp this year.

That’s quite a surprise EP release. Did you plan it long ahead or was it a spontaneous decision to bring Sohodolls back?

It was spontaneous. I just realized that there was still so much love for the band online that people deserved to hear unreleased songs.

What happened to Sohodolls in between the debut album’s release and ‘Mayday’?

We left our label, rewrote a second album, almost moved to LA to record it with a big producer out there. But I got distracted writing for other artists like Nicola Roberts. It was something I had always wanted to do, it just came at the wrong time for Sohodolls.

You’re working with a lot of other artists these days – give me some details!

Actually I’m not. I’ve been writing a lot for myself in a new grown-up way since January 2013 and only writing for two select other acts who will debut in summer. My ethos now is ‘less is more’.

Will you continue the solo career and if not – what will happen with all the electro stuff you’ve recorded for yourself?

Yes, the solo career continues and I have a secret show in April in London. The electro stuff – a good song lasts forever so the good stuff has already found a new home!

What does 2014 hold for you?

The best year in a long time!

Get ‘Mayday’ on iTunes

Photo: Jeff Hahn

It’s all about HER: Interview with Veva

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You can’t do an iconic teen movie without a punchy soundtrack. And Darren Stein got it right with the ‘GBF’ – just like he did 15 years ago with the ‘Jawbreaker’ OST. One of the highlights of the ‘GBF’ soundtrack is Veva’s ‘HER’ – delicious electro pop number with a killer chorus: ‘H, my hips, E, emotion, R, the rhythm’ (spelling and pop music always blend very well). I chatted with the girl behind the hips, emotions and the rhythm. Meet Florida-based singer Veva and get to know her story.  

Who is Veva and what’s her story?

Well, that’s a long story, and it kinda incorporates two questions. I grew up in Toledo, a small industrial town in Northwest Ohio, where my best friend and now music partner Matthew Paul only lived blocks away. We eventually met and it was over from there. His mom used to tell him that his twin was here when I arrived at his house. He noticed my pipes when I was about 14, and always encouraged me to pursue singing. Growing up in a poor family it was a struggle. But at my 6th grade recognition people started to notice my talent when I performed ‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey. Fast forward to middle school, and I was in choir, and then in high school I was in the gospel choir. After the death of my sister in the early 2000′s I decided to take the bull by the horns: Matthew and I pow wowed how we would get to the ‘American Idol’. I went but didn’t quite make the cut, so we started researching and after a long drawn out conversation I packed and took off to sunny Florida. We placed Craigslist adds and networked for a producer. Justin Diggs answered the call and that’s how “HER” was born. After that we buckled down in the studio and recorded many other tracks, but it wasn’t until ‘GBF’ that we finally had something.

What’s the story behind ‘HER’ and how did the song end up on the ‘GBF’ soundtrack?

Justin Diggs approached Matthew and me with the demo for ‘HER’ in early 2011 which had a hook but no verses and bridge at the time. I was like ‘Wow, this is a really great track! It has massive potential’. So we did an informal writing session which turned into ‘HER’. And we had many difficulties in the studio: I do believe at one point we lost a bunch of files. It really was an adventure. We then contacted Tom Baker for mastering and once we got it back, we just KNEW! I had the strangest feeling. Matthew has always been fan of ‘Jawbreaker’ so it didn’t surprise me while networking that he would run into the famous ‘Jawbreaker’ director Darren Stein. Matthew made the connection, he met Darren Stein and they became professional friends. Darren at the time was looking for new music for his movie ‘GBF’. Matthew sent him a few of our songs and Darren fell in love with ‘HER’ which alongside ‘Love Gun’ made its way into the film. ‘HER’ plays during the sexy slow motion strut scene and again in the credits and Love Gun plays in a hilar scene with Megan Mullally (Mrs. Van Camp), Michael Willet (Tanner) and Paul Iacono (Brent). ‘HER’ also made its way onto the ‘GBF’ soundtrack!

Do you have a GBF?

LOL Yes: Matthew Paul.

 Is ‘She’s a monster’ line anyhow connected to Lady Gaga?

As much as I Love Lady GaGa, that’s a no. ‘She’s a monster’ just means ‘she’s fierce, she’s on fire, she’s out of her shell’. We had no intent on that at all. Honestly I didn’t know anything about the connection until after the fact.

Are you a party girl? If so (and even if you’re not!) – share your wildest party experience with me. No holding back!

Well, there have been so many!!! Haha, but I would have to say that anytime Matthew Paul and Veva get together…Enough said!

What’s next for you?

Sky’s the limit! I’m working on a plethora of projects right now including a few music videos and more music. So I’m geared up and ready to take on the world! I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for myself and Team Veva! Get your fangs out!

You can get ‘GBF’ soundtrack on iTunes.

Interview with Jeremy from PARAMORE

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Paramore had a pretty good year. Their fourth self-titled became a huge success and made several ‘best-of-2013’ lists. They toured like crazy – and even came to Moscow for one of the biggest summer festivals. Back in May I chatted with band’s bass guitarist Jeremy Davis for Rolling Stone Russia about his pizza-delivering past, recording a song for ‘Twilight’ and the best gig Paramore ever had.

How are you?

I’m good, I’m currently in Boston. We have a show here tonight.

It’s a cool city. Have any of you ever been to Russia or the upcoming show is going to be your first one?

None of us has been to Russia. And we’re so excited about it. We just started filling out all the paperwork we need for our visas. Russia’s one of those places: I have no idea what it’s gonna be like. It’s really exciting.

It’s been more than 3 years since the last album was released. What did you learn during that time? Was it a necessary break? 

Music is our lives, so to not be playing shows for that long it was really hard for us. But it was nice for us to be home and have normal life. We constantly tour and we’re never home, so it was nice – to act like normal people: watch movies and TV shows when they come out. Normally we watch it all on DVD all the way through, and now we’d watch it like normal people and wait for the next week. That was kinda boring, but the rest was good.

When we got to start recording, we had a lot of plans and ideas. We were very happy that we were able to pull off a lot of things that we did, like having a gospel choir or a strings orchestra on the album. We really had enough time to experiment and try new things.

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