Popes of Chillitown : An Interview


My approach in doing interviews for bands has not changed. It is still made in the spirit of spontaneity. You know, that moment when you meet your favourite band and you scribble questions in a piece of paper (or ask them impromptu) and let them answer it shortly. I think it also depends on the occasion. There are times when the interview is complicated due to the schedule or the availability of the artists. But I always try to strike at a moment when I can get my answer out. Because it is fun that way. And I am darn sure you my readers will enjoy it.

I want to keep it simple and that thought made me decide to have a brief chat with Matt, the singer from Popes of Chillitown. They are a 6-piece band from London. They play a variety of Ska,Dub and Punk. They’re originally founded in 2006. This interview is a continuation of something I’ve written a few weeks ago.

Enjoy the answers and explore the music!

1.Tell us about your new album To the Moon.

Our new album to the moon…it’s our journey through space (uk ska scene and dance floors) and time (a year of line/up changes and our first European tour) What we wanted to do with to the moon was give people something that they could either dance to or sing along to as consistently as we could across 11 tracks.

2.Your new single Wisdom Teeth is out how was the experience shooting a music video?

Doing the music video with Craig from the snare was jokes. We’re all mates so we just had a laugh and ate monster munch and drank red stripe. It was nice that he knew what he was doing too. Check it out on the YouTubes.

3.You’re touring Europe promoting your album. What keeps you all energize while being on the road?

I’ve already mentioned monster munch and red stripe so add ginsters and walkers sensations to that list of energy giving fodder. Not that we’re looking for sponsorship or anything…More spiritually it’s an altruistic Bill and Ted style vision of musical utopia that drives us on. That. And Munroe.

4. How do you decide that the song is ready for recording?

When we finally get round to recording stuff we’ve usually tried and tested every could-be song at live shows. We feel that is the test of whether it should go on a recording. And that’s what we’ve done with this album. Other songs maybe fun to play or whatever but we were only after dance music on this one. Aside from that when a song is ready is a weird concept as some things burst into existence and some things linger and fester so you have to sympathetic to this and adaptive in the creative process.

5. What can the audience expect when they go to your gigs?

At live shows we try to bring as much energy as possible to the entire time that were on stage. We want people to dance so we have to take the lead in it, innit. We have sing along bits and we try to get people moving. Sometimes me and Tom go wandering on the wireless. Which is fun. Especially at festivals when you go too far from the stage and you’re trying to sing in time with an echo.

6. Are there other bands you hangout when you have the time?

I said The Snare and Millie Manders. We hang out with any of the bands we play with around the country. There are loads of safe people in the ska scene. People who have recently been safe; Tree House Fire, Riskee, Call me Malcolm, Stiff Joints, Cartoon Violence, Mad Apple Circus and Counting Coins.

7. Can you list down the band members and what they play?

Popes of Chillitown are:

Popes of Chillitown:Attitude, melody and energy- the reasons why I like these guys.

Popes of Chillitown:Attitude, melody and energy- the reasons why I like these guys.

Jck – drums / vox

Arv – Bass

Tom – Electric Guitar / vox

Jimmy Pingu – Trombone / vox

Classic Trev – Sax / Melodica / vox

Matt – Vox / Acoustic Guitar

8. What’s great about being in Popes of Chillitown?

Being in Popes is great because we get to live the glamorous life style of eating shit, driving all day to Germany and then sleeping on a strangers floor. We get to listen to a lot of music in the car though. We just love gigging and playing shows with other bands we like and can have a laugh with. We’ve had a really fun time this last year making the album and we’re enjoying playing it – as well as a few of the dancier tracks from the first one. We’re still exploring the continent one gig at a time and that’s fun too.

Yes, these fellas are fun. Be sure to visit their official links below:



GOAT: The Power of Music, Causes and More (Interview)

Following the release of the senseless ep, Justin Griffith a.k.a. GOAT took my request for an interview. I admire how he handles his musical career and how he inspires other people to be passionate with what they do. His music is a fusion on Hip Hop, Alternative rock and Pop. Other than giving us tips on how to stay buoyant in the seas of challenges that face  independent artists, he also gives us a glimpse into his project H4. You will learn about it as you read along. 
1. How did you come up with the moniker GOAT and what’s the meaning behind it?
When I was around 8 years old, a childhood friend gave me the nickname GOAT. After watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, there’s a part where they say something about a “gnarly ole’ goat dude.” We started calling each other that and it stuck to me. For a long time, my friend Brent was the only person that called me that. I began playing in bands with him years later and the name spread.  Back in probably 1998, I came up with an acronym for it – Grades Of Absolute Truth. So I didn’t choose goat, it was given to me and I gave it meaning later. Within the last few years, I noticed how many people think of evil things when they think about goats, which is completely deceiving regarding my music. That’s when I really started pushing the branding of Grades Of Absolute Truth more.
2. Can you tell us about your latest release and video?
Our new project, the senseless ep, is almost anaural social experiment. After recognizing my life was out-of-control and unhealthy, I decided to design a customized 40-day cleanse based on my weaknesses. I committed to specific diet restrictions and water intake, but also refrained from touching people, intimacy, listening to music, watching TV/movies, documented how many times I visually admired women, and more.  I needed a change for myself and I wanted to build an inspirational bank to write from.  We’re constantly on sensory overload and things bombard our senses every minute – marketing, advertising, entertainment – all targeting your cravings. I wanted to cleanse myself of some of that.  I wanted to get back to the roots of what I feel like lifeshould be about. Less clutter, more substance minus substances.

Photo by Danny Duran

Photo by Danny Duran

After I completed the senseLESS Cleanse, I designed five 48-hour self-induced experiments aimed to deaden one sense at a time. For example, I blind-folded myself for a weekend. It helped me appreciate my blessings more.  The songs from the senseless ep are directly inspired by these experiences.
Our new video, “Hands Around My Throat,” is a story of struggle and addiction.  Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or whatever…we all have vices.  Once something has you by the throat, you’re finished until you make a decision to fight it.  If you defeat it, you can’t ever let that issue out of sight because it’ll sneak back into you.  “Lost in the darkness” is a phrase repeated throughout the song and Director Teddy Cool played with lighting and shadows to back that up.  Glimpses of hope appear in the lyrics and the occasional shots with the bright white background drive that home.  Roger Charo was in charge of editing and special effects – his post-production work blew me away.  Lourdes Mabel did an amazing job of personifying struggle.  We’ve heard several people comment on how creepy she played her role and that’s exactly what we were going for.  If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss Double J sporadically appearing in the shadows behind me.  I also have to give a shout out to Jordan Palmer of JP2 Photography for makeup and Joel Salazar of Too Fresh Productions for putting in work behind-the-scenes.
3. How’s the music scene in Dallas these days?
It’s on a slow and steady incline. There are struggles like anywhere else, but the talent is thick here. I’ve read and heard that many critics feel like Dallas doesn’t have a sound.  I see that as a strength.  On the other hand, I’m definitely not a representative of mainstream thinking.  I want diversity and multiple flavors to taste.  This is my home, so I fully believe in what it can become.  On any day of the week, there’s multiple shows to choose from.
4. You also play the guitar and other instruments, right? What other musical things do you do?
Yep, my first love was the guitar.  I grew up listening to and idolizing musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Slash from Guns-n-Roses.  That’s where my passion for music began.  Then it slowly progressed into learning more about writing, singing, bass, piano, drums/percussion, sequencing, and production. Honestly, I’m just attracted to anything that has to do with music…it’s my life.
5. How challenging was the recording of the new EP compared to the rest?

The most challenging part of recording the senseless ep was the fact that Double J & I are both crazy perfectionists.  That’s a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing because now that it’s complete, it’s exactly how I envisioned it to be.  It’s a curse because it took so long for us to agree that it was finished.  With that said, I’ve never been so ready for that release date.  With past projects, there were always things that I wish I had done.  Not with this one, it was time.

6. You are also doing merchandising. I have seen the T-shirts and other things. Do you think this is necessary for artists in terms of propagating your ideas, style and brand?
Yes, I absolutely think it’s necessary.  When someone believes in what you do enough to wear it across their chest, that’s powerful. That’s always been one of the coolest things people can do to support us.  Because of that, I make it a consistent priority to release fresh and comfymerch – baseball tees, hoodies, thermals, t-shirts,racerback tanks, boy shorts,coozies, stickers, and more.  Plus, it has opened the door to collaborate with visual artists and pushes usto be creative in another way.

7. What are the causes that you are passionate about?

Overall, I feel like we all need to lend a hand when we’re able to.  Back in 2008, I foundedH4 (Hip Hop Helps Heal).  It’s a non-profit collective built on the love of hip hop culture, where egos are left at home and the people involved become selfless.  With close partnership with The Intelligent South, BumTheary,ArtLoveMagic, and more, we pledge to throw benefit shows annually to aid specific concerns of the community.  We’ve raised and contributed thousands of dollars to organizations, such as Genesis Women’s Shelter, Toys For Tots, American Lung Association, National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Susan G.Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Salvation Army, and Children’s Medical Center.  No one involved in our shows gets paid a penny and all profits go directly to the charity we chose.  Hip hopfrequently has negative connotations attached to it, but we try to disprove that mentality the best we can.

8. What’s the best thing about playing live and meeting your listeners?
Playing live is an addiction and I go through withdrawals when I go long periods of time without it.  Feeling the energy and connecting with people in the moment is amazing.  When a listener tells me that a song has helped them through a tough time in their life, that’s one of the best feelings in the world.  Music has always been a form of therapy for me.  So when someone can relate to something I went through and it directly helps them, I think of it as turning something negative into a positive.
9. Who is your mentor?
I’ve never had anyone that I’d call a musical mentor.  There are people that I’ve learned from, but only for short periods of time.
Dr. Paul Tucker and Dr. David Schwarz were two professors I learned a great deal from while studying music at UNT, but I’ve also learned from collaborating and consistently working with other lyricists and musicians.  The internet is something that’s really contributed to my growth, but it’s probably stunted it in ways too.  Tom Jackson, Derek Sivers, and John Oszajca are a few industry leaders that I’ve been following online for a while.  They put amazing info out for indie musicians.

10. What’s your message to your readers?
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to hear what I’m about.  Please feel free to hit me up anytime, it’s always cool to connect.  You can also sign up to get 7 free songs on my site.  Check out the LIVE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM page while you’re there too!

Instagram – @musicbyGOAT
Twitter – @musicbyGOAT
Thanks for the invite Baxter!
There you go. Another inspiring interview. Check out his links and give your support. This artist is amazing!

Cornish Singer/Songwriter Dan Aston: On Google Plus Concerts and Many More.


Instead of remaining in the traditional ways of playing live, Dan Aston has a new way of performing his music. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this is a resource that many artist are yet to tap their skills into. I am talking about Google plus concerts. Performing live has been part of his upbringing, as music is a family affair for the Astons. The internet proved to be another effective way of reaching potential fans all over the world.

This interview also talks about his goals and upcoming projects this year.

1. You are going to conduct your second Google hangout this march 30th. What’s good about this medium?

It’s a brand new way of performing music, a platform that is still in its early stages and one that hasn’t been discovered by many especially here in the UK. It enables musicians to perform sets to a global audience from their own home and the possibilities are endless! Some artists have had tremendous success through it as their shows get shared around the world and people tune in on their devices wherever they are. Initially, getting the technicalities right was a challenge, but my dad, Phil Aston, is an expert on Google Plus and thanks to his hard work and knowledge the set up I now have is great.

2. Can you tell us more about your current project(s)?

I’ve been busy writing pages of songs since the release of ‘The Way Home’. A few of them were played live during shows last year, some were dropped and some never left the notebook. I wrote a mini sequence of songs in DADGAD tuning not long ago that formed a short conceptual piece, and I don’t know what to really do with those. More recently I have been writing heavily with the idea of a new album in mind. I hope to return to the studio this year, although I think it will be a bit different this time around. The songs I have written for the next release sound great so far but I think they would sound even better with other musicians on them. I’m trying out some ideas with a pianist and percussion player and I may well have a three piece for the new album. It’s still early days though!live fal 2

3. I played one of (off your EP The Way Home) last week on my radio show. Can you tell us more about the experience recording this live version for the camera as opposed to the one you recorded for the EP?

To be honest I wasn’t sure if it would work the way I wanted it to at first and I’d never recorded like that before. However, I wanted to give fans some regular output and I think having a video adds a lot to just an audio file. After getting into recording videos regularly for my Youtube channel, it was from there that I took the big leap into the world of Google Plus Hangouts. In the hangouts it really is live! Quite a surreal experience, too. There I am playing to a computer and apparently forty people around the world are watching! It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to the next show.

4. You’ve been doing covers lately. One of them is Mansion on the Hill originally done by Bruce Springsteen. How huge is his influence in your music?

That’s my favourite song from Bruce Springsteen’s album ‘Nebraska’. When I first heard that album, it resonated with me immediately. It was playing in the background whilst I was washing the dishes and I stopped immediately to find out what the music was. The music on that album is so sparse, so raw and bleak yet beautiful and honest at the same time. Yes, it’s a depressing album, but let’s face it depressing music is often the best. I loved the intimacy of the stripped down production and instrumentation. Just one man, his guitar and his feelings. It was this album that introduced me to the harmonica too. Without hearing this album I wouldn’t have picked up the harmonica and wouldn’t be playing music the way I am now. I wasn’t a singer back then either. I was really shy and had never sung a note to anybody. Hearing that album and others by the likes of John Martyn and Nick Drake really inspired me to express myself through singing.

5. Harmonica and guitars…what other instruments do you play?

I can play a bit of piano and very basic violin and drums. I’ve used the piano to write songs in the past and I’d really like to learn to play it properly at some stage.

6. It must be a great experience hearing your song played on The David White Show on BBC Radio Cornwall.

Yeah it was nice, I was played on BBC Radio Cornwall prior to that too on another show. A lot of people still listen to the radio.

7. What are your live stage/recording plans this 2014?

I may be playing some festivals and a few stage gigs later in the year, but nothing is set in stone yet. I’ve primarily been focusing on getting to grips with Google Plus concerts and writing new material. I have some songs that I definitely want to be on the next release, some that I’m not sure about and some that I’m sure are yet to be written. Having the idea of a pianist on board is very interesting. Some songs I’ve been thinking about arranging for solo piano and voice, stripping the guitar out entirely. I hope to enter the studio later this year.

8. Where can listeners buy and download your recordings?

Pretty much anywhere! ‘The Way Home’ EP can be found digitally on Amazon, itunes, Google Music, Spotify, Bandcamp and more. Head to my website for further details http://danaston.com/

9. Message to our readers?

Keep supporting new music and check out one of my online concerts, they’re quite unusual and a lot of fun. People can interact during the show too and I’m going to be inviting some guests on during the next few shows, so if you have a webcam and a good internet connection you could join me! Thanks.

His style of music is filed under: Acoustic Folk, Jazz and Blues.

He listens to:John Martyn, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Gary Moore, Pink Floyd, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Queensryche, Porcupine Tree, Anathema and Black Sabbath.


EP ‘The Way Home’ available now!
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the…

Second EP and Canadian West Coast Tour for Once A Tree this 2014 (Interview)

Once A Tree

Once A Tree


Hayden and Jayli Wolf form a strong musical bond with their First EP and beautiful single Light Me Up. In this Interview, Hayden explains the story behind the formation of Once A Tree and other interesting things that await them this 2014. Their music is a great find. It is something that penetrates you right away because of its craft and style. I am so excited to represent this band to everyone because I believe in what they do and I think they will win more fans as they continue in this glorious path of music.


1. What’s the story behind the creation of Once a Tree?

Jayli and I met through our love for music, and as corny as it sounds, it was love at first sight! We had mutual friends, and she needed someone to sing a duet with her. So I traveled to her town and ended up staying three extra weeks! We started out writing folk music and gradually transitioned into more of a digital space where the project “Once A Tree” was born. The rest is history.

2. Are we going to hear more songs similar to the style of Light me Up? I like this style because it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard before.

After the release of our first EP we took a bit of a break to work on our writing style and where we wanted to take our sound. We always want to be experimenting and growing in developing ourselves and our sound. So you can expect to hear more tracks similar to “Light Me Up” as well as some stripped down (more  organic) tracks that we have in the works.

3. What’s the songwriting process between you and Jayli?

Jayli and I both work to develop a melody and with Jayli’s singer-songwriter background; she is the one to usually form lyrics. After we have that down we move on to production where I do what I do.

4. What are the plans for this year as far as music is concerned?

2014 is our year to grow. We are excited to start performing live! And after we release our second EP we are hoping to do a small Canadian West Coast tour. As well, we are both developing our solo projects that we are really excited about. 

5. How do you maintain creativity in making tunes?

There are so many musicians and producers that we truly admire and inspire us, and we are always listening to new music. But drawing aspects and circumstances from life is where we gain a lot of inspiration for writing out music. There is always something in this experience we call life to draw inspiration from. The good times and the bad times. All circumstances deserve a chance to be told in their own unique way.

6. Where can fans buy your music?

Currently all our music is available for free or by donation.

You can stream and download our music at the following:



And follow us on 

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onceatreemusic

And twitter: https://twitter.com/onceatreemusic

7.Message to your listeners?

We want to thank everyone who listens to our music! We are so grateful for you all; you don’t even know! We are truly looking forward to growing and sharing our musical experience with you all. We wish everyone a blessed 2014. May all your dreams come true.

Oceans of Love,

Hayden & Jayli

//once a tree//

Audio Interview with Milan Samko of The Aprill

www.bandzone.cz/theaprill — with Daniel Székely, Jakub Fišer, Milan Samko, Jan Mourek and Gárl Ticháček.

http://www.bandzone.cz/theaprill — with Daniel Székely, Jakub Fišer, Milan Samko, Jan Mourek and Gárl Ticháček.

Interview with Milan Samko of The Aprill (Plus live performance) by Baxter Labatos on Mixcloud

This is my interview with lead man Milan Samko. I posted a blog about them in my past issue. I like their music. It has mainstream appeal. Milan and I planned to talk through Skype. He usually does video editing and Photography work in the afternoon because that’s part of his job. He surprised me with an acoustic performance. I am glad to capture the energy in this audio interview.

YouTube version of the interview