Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bella Union 2010-2011

i am starting to get super excited about next year, not just cos of Fleet Foxes and The Low Anthem returning with new albums, though that is truly going to be fantastic fun, but also watching the continued growth of all the bands that have been coming through in the last few years, the underdogs if you like.
John Grant's rise this year, in response to the reactions to his solo debut Queen of Denmark, has been a joy, and his arresting performance on Jools Holland's Later...this week, fill me with pride.
Beach House have also had a fabulous year and there is still lots of great things coming, new iTunes EP out this month, sold out show in November at Shepherds Bush Empire.

Our Broken Garden return with a brilliant second album Golden Sea in October, with amazing mixes from School of Seven Bells and Stairs to Korea to come, Philip Selway from Radiohead released his debut album on Bella Union this month,  Abe Vigoda's Crush, a magnificent electro-shoegaze sound married to their roots of tropical punk has taken them into a new bold world, and Peter Broderick's How They Are reminded us, as if we needed reminding, of what a unique talent he is with the one-day recording session illustrating how simple is best.

I Break Horses are close to finishing what will be a magical set of mixes. The Acorn remix album is due very soon, Lawrence Arabia are planning on a new recording session very soon, Lone Wolf has been on a songwriting spurt in between shows with Philip Selway this month, and Heidi Spencer made her first visit to UK, which was a treat for me, as i got to play piano each night!!

Midlake will be releasing the new version of Fortune shortly and the MOJO Best Live Artist of 2010 will be back here in NOV for a headline tour, with support from their friend JOHN GRANT.

Alessi's Ark will have their debut album for Bella Union complete very soon and i can tell you only this, it is a revelation. Alessi, still only 20 years old, went to a remote house in north wales to record these gems and there is a remarkable freshness and energy to these new songs. Look out for something in the early part of 2011.

Mountain Man have had a wonderful few months in Europe with their own dates among shows with The Low Anthem and Jonsi. We hope to see them back here very soon.

Pearly Gate Music will be back here soon to support Blitzen Trapper which i am excited about, as anyone who saw them on their last visit will have been blown away by Zach Tillman's voice and his all-girl band of Heather Cowan (amazing bassist) and Faustine Hudson (superb drummer)...

The Walkmen album 'Lisbon' is out very soon here, having entered at #13 in the US Billboard chart first week. Very exciting times.

Snowbird (Stephanie Dosen and yours truly) are close to finishing the recordings of our debut record and i am seriously excited about this too...some great friends have added very special bits and pieces too which has been lovely.

and well, thats about it for now, so more news on the new signings next week when i have.....signed them!

Saturday, 14 August 2010


i am sure a lot of folks are realising that just calling something 'dubstep' doesnt automatically make it good.
my second job was working in a dub record shop in Goldhawk Rd, and i was heavily into the on-u sound scene in the 80s and in particular the London dub scene with Singers and Players, Bim Sherman, Noah House of Dread, African Head Charge, and so when dubstep arrived a couple of years ago, i was sceptical. But there is some amazing music being made here, and for me the shining light in amongst it all, is ramadanman and this is brilliant. such a good understanding of architecture of beats, building a tune.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


one of my favourite artists of all time.
we worked together on his band Lift to Experience who were signed to Bella Union.
he has a new label now and i am excited to hear his new lp when it lands.
i found this online and thought i'd share it with you

PETER BRODERICK // SHE ANIMATES ' a year is round '....

like all the loveliest of things, this just 'happened'.
matt and kate, who are animators who go under the banner of She Animates, loved Peter Broderick's music and started making a little film inspired by it.
Then they wrote to Peter and asked rather than them just be inspired by him , whether he'd like to compose the music FOR it!

and hey presto....

a year is round from she animates on Vimeo.

Monday, 9 August 2010

HANCOCK'S HALF-HOUR "The Missing Page"

easily my favourite episode of Hancock....truly priceless

ORSON WELLES 'Touch of Evil' opening sequence...

for the longest time, one of the longest one-shot opening sequences in movie history and shows Welles, as does the whole film to be one of the greatest exponents of film noir in history. He also played a truly ugly character Hank Quinlan in the film which for me only adds to his legend....

LOVE LAKE 'Curses'

from minneapolis this is from what i can discern is the work of one Anders Carlson who sounds pretty darn fantastic to this man's ears...

Overtime (a tribute to Jim Henson by Damien Ferrie)

one of the most incredible short films you'll ever see...
i watch it at least once a month whenever i think about making a film..

Sunday, 8 August 2010

ian walsh surfing Jaws on xmas day....

this is something to full screen, action from around 5 minutes

Ian Walsh - Jaws Christmas Day from ACL Productions on Vimeo.
">Ian Walsh - Jaws Christmas Day from ACL Productions on Vimeo.


I work with alot of young bands and even after 13 years of doing this, there’s still something magical about that moment when ALL the shit you know a band went through suddenly is forgotten when they hit upon that one mystery thing that unlocks the door that seemed so determinedly shut for so long. I first heard Maria Linden’s music about 2 years ago and even though her bedroom demos were not ready for release, we both knew there were certain things that were SO great about the demos (the excitement, energy, the excess, the edge..) but also knew what was wrong with them! Because this music is so much about the vibe, the atmosphere, the subtle balances of music and voice, it is not straightforward how to get it right. So many things can go wrong when you take demos like this out of the bedroom..
We found a studio in Poland that seemed to have lots of analog equipment, seemed a cool place to retreat to and Maria who is from Sweden, bravely headed off there on an adventure. The studio and experience probably wasn’t quite what Maria hoped for if I read the situation right, and yet Maria knew that the recordings were good and with the right mixer would be amazing. I know exactly the difficulties that followed and over the next year, Maria tried 6 different people, all fantastic in their own right, but unable to get what Maria and I knew it should sound like. I never doubted she’d get there but I am sure she must have had some dark days…wondering if anyone would be able to take out what was in her head and make it a reality…...but today she sent me the first 2 mixes, done by a feller called Hans Olsson, who worked with The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Wildbirds and Peacedrums, and as they were mixed at svenska grammofon studion one of the best studios in sweden, I had a feeling from the tone of her mail that she was quite happy….? Well holy fuck people, remember this moment, that i am telling you that I BREAK HORSES, Maria Linden’s band, are creating something that will change our lives for the better….if you love Washed Out, Wild Nothing, My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada, Mogwai, Cocteau Twins, Sigur Ros, but have never found a band for a long time that made you FEEL like hearing those bands made you feel, you just found it. I BREAK HORSES, it just made my weekend and my weekend was already made! you can hear an early mix of 'Wired' here now:
 I Break Horses - Wired by Bella Union 


the album 'Golden Sea' will be out on Oct 18th.

to whet the appetite, you can hear the song 'Garden Grow' here

 Our Broken Garden - Garden Grows by Bella Union

ZS the band........

i love the originality of this band

and this video rules...

ZS from TERROREYES.TV on Vimeo.

Sea of Bees

Sea of Bees is one of my favourite artists of the moment.

i wanted to sign her but couldnt..simply cos my label is just so damn (good) tiny and we dont have the damn room.
one day we will work together...

till then enjoy one of her great tunes here

Peter Broderick is back...

after some shitty year in agony from a knee problem, peter returned to Portland and had an operation. It didnt make things much better and the only answer was to do nothing for 3 months...

the album peter had recorded, and was due to tour had to be shelved for a while, as he literally couldnt walk.

this period of enforced inactivity lead Peter to write some sparse songs to reflect this time, and managed to get into a studio for one day, whereupon he recorded the whole album and mixed it all in this one day!
the result is How They Are which Bella Union will release soon..

a little home made video Peter constructed from 3,446 stills he took during his recuperation is posted on his website now. The song is the opening track of the new lp called Sideline, here it is..

new stuff for us to love..

love this.....

   listen here.....

Cool Runnings.....

new stuff for us to love again...

loving this....

Coma Cinema - Only from Tyler T Williams on Vimeo.

Thursday, 8 July 2010






Sunday, 21 March 2010

RIP Leesa Beales-Cocteau Twins' webmistress and so much more...

March 20th 2010...Leesa Beales passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer.

this is so so sad for all of us who knew leesa. no one could have been a more dedicated and loyal fan than leesa and the efforts she made to spread the music of her favourite band were indeed heroic. having lost a parent to cancer when i was still young i have an inkling, as many of us will, of what leesa's husband and children are going through and all we can do is send them our collective love from wherever we may be. i am sure they will feel the comfort of our combined prayers and thoughts.

cocteau twins fans in all the corners of our wide world have been connected by the love of this woman, and deep friendships formed as a result of these pages. now 13 years since our last recorded release, the cocteaufest is still going strong each year, and the music we made somehow lives on. leesa and i have been in contact on and off over the years and recently her occasional emails to me indicated that things were perhaps not going so well.

knowing someone you love is in pain is hard to bear, and i know that now she is out of this pain, her family will at least take small crumbs of comfort in this. Dealing with the loss will of course take time for her husband, for Aidan, Liam and Quinn, and we can only hope that the hole she leaves will slowly heal and what will remain will be only the fondest of memories of this special woman.

Leesa you will be missed by ALL cocteau twins listeners everywhere. To your family, my thoughts are with you all,

Simon x

Monday, 15 March 2010

how lone wolf and shaun the sheep met...!

ashley dean, a york-based animator decided to make a homage to peter gabriel's seminal sledgehammer video. it was one of the reasons he became a filmmaker.
together with Bella Union's Lone Wolf, he has come up with something quite extraordinary, that has had peter gabriel, the aardman animation team who worked on the original, and folks like ed o'brien from radiohead raving about it already!

for new artists like lone wolf, it's wonderful to have supporters like these who genuinely are loving the work that is being done.
now 6Music's Video of The Week, it should get even more patronage!

The video is brilliant, but hey! the song is superb too!
enjoy this again and again

Saturday, 27 February 2010

alessis ark

alessis ark has signed to Bella Union. our fave gal from Hammersmith and has put together a fabulous ep, which goes by the name of Soul Proprietor which will be released in APRIL 2010...

you can check some info out here too

alessis ark will be touring to support the release, with Laura Marling and her own dates.

6th March
Lancaster Library
with the Ark
9th April
Limelight, Belfast
with the Ark & Laura Marling
10th April
Academy, Dublin
with the Ark & Laura Marling
12th April
Lowry, Salford
with the Ark & Laura Marling
13th April
Fruitmarket, Glasgow
with the Ark & Laura Marling
14th April
Queens Hall, Edinburgh
with the Ark & Laura Marling
16th April
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
with the Ark & Laura Marling
17th April
Corn Exchange, Cambridge
with the Ark & Laura Marling
20th April
Opera House, York
with the Ark & Laura Marling
21st April
Colston Hall, Bristol
with the Ark & Laura Marling
22nd April
Tyne Theatre, Newcastle
with the Ark & Laura Marling
23rd April
Guildhall, Southampton
with the Ark & Laura Marling
25th April
Palladium, London
with the Ark & Laura Marling

Friday, 26 February 2010

Save 6Music

We cannot let 6music go without a damn good fight. Seriously.
As a board member of AIM< the assoc of independent music blah blah>, i am sure this will be immediately put on the urgent agenda and i hope some high level discussions can take place asap. there is no doubt in my mind that this will cripple an already ailing sector of our music industry. radio 1 in the 80s and 90s was partially, through peel able to cater for those with tastes outside the mainstream but since 2000, the AMOUNT of new music that is released, available, every day is staggering, and 6Music does an absolutely brilliant job of catering for the vast number of people who listen and enjoy it.

If one had a gripe about 6music it would simply be that the BBC have NOT invested enough thought in promoting the station heavily enough. A six month blast of 6music ads on BBC1 television peak time and through the evening, would soon redress that, and i cannot work out why they wouldnt do that/havent done that. My bands like fleet foxes, midlake etc, would NOT have reached the ears of the radio 1 and radio 2 producers without the early championing by the likes of marc riley, tom robinson, steve lamacq, lauren laverne etc...we are so lucky in the UK to have 6 music and believe me, as many of my bands are American, i know that with 6Music, we are the envy of them. The US radio system, NPR besides, is atrocious, and to hear the news today/last night, should it be confirmed, is staggering. I really didnt sleep so well last night. 6Music is not something that would EVER work in the commercial radio sector, so that excuse really is hogwash. The only stations most of us seem to listen to on our DABs are 5live and 6music, (radio 4, 2 and 7 to a degree) and for all those people that dont want to hear wall to wall pop music and dance music on radio 1, to scrap this unique station is simply ludicrous. Apart from the obvious glaring anomalies like george lamb's show, the programming is brilliant and the dj's are a delight, collins, jarvis, garvey, maconie, nemone, shaun keveney, gideon coe and the others mentioned and more. I, for one, fear greatly for our culture if 6music goes. It suggests that the powers that be, do support the dumbing down of our media output. It suggests that the BBC is no longer a voice of intergrity, diversity and no longer truly reflects all corners of the society it purports to represents.
Sky tv had very low audience for several years in the early days and now most households have a sky box or equivalent service. you have to commit to something for the long haul, not just rip it up and pretend it doesnt matter. If the BBC needs to become leaner, reduce the amount of people who had to go to vancouver to cover the winter olympics. we all want to see it but i dont think we needed to have live coverage every night from 12am-7am did we? 6Music supporting music is the BBC investing in the ailing music industry. To abandon it right now, would be treason.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A magical thing happened....

A magical thing happened to me tonight and I am still in a state of shock.

At 5pm tonight on my way home the following email arrived on my phone with the subject 'fender precision 57 bass'.

The letter read thus:

Hello Simon, I have been asked to contact you regarding a 57 Precision Bass that I believe may have belonged to you back in the 1990's.
Please can you contact John O'Connell (my other half!)

My heart was pumping so fast as I finished reading that I had to sit down.

You need to know this before I continue the story: In my previous life before bella union, I played bass in Cocteau Twins and during our 14 years together, I did accumulate some beautiful guitars and basses. From approx 1991 to 2001 we had the lease of Pete Townsend's Eel Pie studios and made our last few albums there, and ran the place as our own commercial recording facility, recording beth orton, hope sandoval, nick cave, dirty three, mark hollis, etc etc, as well as our own band broadcasting the world's first ever live-to-internet gig (which no one actually saw cos the technology wasn't up to it!)
With the constant turnover of artists and visitors at the studio during its heyday perhaps it was inevitable that some things would go missing. Yes you guessed it. As the break up of the band and the subsequent demise of our beautiful riverside recording studio swamped us over that period, and we lost nearly 15 years worth of recording studio gear, we at least salvaged all our guitars etc and yet when stuff got moved to a lock up I noticed that the flight case for the 57 fender precison was very light. Slowly I opened the case and the realisation began to kick in.

I searched high and low, at home, in garages, in studios, and I called friends in bands, managers etc and continued to do that for at least a year or two. Having used the guitar on tour, in the studio on many of our recordings, to be without it, did, laugh if you like, feel like being sparky without his magic piano. I never reported it stolen because I never had a clue WHEN it had gone missing or WHERE from, or even if it had just been borrowed. I do lend stuff out as most of my bands on bella union know well, but i knew I'd have never loaned THAT guitar out!

So fast forward to today some 8 or so years since I may last have seen it.

After reading Jan's mail, I call her husband John who it turns out runs a guitar shop in Edgware called rock around the clock.
A feller had gone into his shop with a couple of filthy, mouldy guitars that had been in a garage for years after a spell in a Crouch End Studio... They really were in a state. John had a quick look and told him that in this condition they weren't worth much at all. The chap mentioned that he'd been told that they may have belonged to the Cocteau Twins. John hadn't heard of the band so it didn't mean much to him. One was a Squier and one was a Precision. He paid a nominal fee to the feller for the pair and some old pedals. In the condition they were in John initially assumed the Fender was a Japanese reissue, and it was only a few days later when he was cleaning it up that he started to realise that it was a genuine '57 fender. He did a search on Google and after a few minutes came across a photo of me from 1988 playing that very guitar. It's very distinctive and John immediately realised that this may not be a simple re-sale. Further internet digging lead him to consider that this bass in his hands may indeed be stolen and so his endeavour to find me began. John is no fool and knows that the guitar, regardless of its rather sad condition, is a rare piece and highly valuable. He could easily have said nothing, sold it for several thousand pounds profit, and no one would ever be the wiser for it.
But John is not that man. He is that rare breed of human being who instinctively felt something wasn't quite right, and on discovering that, made the decision of karma over kash! As he said to me on the phone he "wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing it was stolen and that someone was still missing it"
That someone would dedicate all that time to trace the guitar back, (he even found the guitar shop where I had it repaired once) and to track down the owner, is a beautiful testament to the honour of musicians. A vintage Fender isn't a guitar to me, it's a piece of history, and a part of MY story. I will be re-united with the guitar next week and once I have it back home, I will lock it away!
Please take your custom to Rock Around The Clock in Edgware, and think of my story. I am making a 'donation' to the shop for their rescue and recovery operation which is the very least I can do to show my appreciation to John and the owners of the shop.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

mountain man yours truly

there's a lot of music filming going on out there. pitchfork tv, rockfeedbacktv, black cab sessions, i could go on...but rarely has there been anything quite as beautiful pop up on my screen and into my brain as the work of Yours Truly.

the truly amazing Mountain Man played three songs for them in session and you can watch it here...

i would embed it, but it looks more beautiful in wide screen and there so many other cool articles and blogs on here i would rather you spent some time over there before coming back over here...; )


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Cocteaus memories...fonder ones....a really rare piece of footage from 1985

its not often i find something cocteau twins related that i havent seen before, save this curious phenomenon of hundreds of rather odd videos on youtube that fans make themselves and post.
but this particular film was sent to me by mark at bella union and was so cool to see.

The editor of the fanzine The Offense was a wonderful man called Tim Anstaett and his passion, like John Peel in many many ways, for music he loved writing about that was far outside the mainstream, enriched the lives of many people from a city that usually was not a stop off point for smaller bands. Watching the film back, i now recall so much of that trip and Newport made it all the more special.

The news pieces are priceless right?