Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Electric Swing Empires - Max Golfar meets Tom Hyland

Max Golfar

The Electric Swing Circus have just released their brand new EP ‘Empires’. Max Golfar caught up with head honcho and guitarist for the band, Tom Hyland, about their new release.

MG: Who are ESC and what is it all about?

Tom: We are a six piece live electro swing band, two girls, Vicky and Laura (vocals), myself Tom (guitar), Chandra (drums and keyboard), Rashad (samples, MPC & synths) and Pat (bass & bass synth). I should say as well, Bridge, our sound engineer, there’s seven of us and we all do everything together.


"we don’t want to be another Caravan Palace, we love them, but we want to push the boundaries and do something different!"


We started off in September 2012, just jamming around a mate's house and we heard electro-swing and we said: "This is amazing, let’s try make something like this."

Pat rocking out
We love electro swing and what we do is we take 1920-50s styles and give it our own twist. We don’t want to be another Caravan Palace, we love them, but we want to push the boundaries and do something different! I do consider Electric Swing Circus to be a rock band.

MG: You guys are just about to have your first release in 3 years, could you tell me what’s it called and how you went about making it and what is it out?

Tom: It’s called the ‘Empires EP’, it is a single with 3 remixes on it. It is out November 23rd. It took about two years to make. This is a real labour of love.

We did our first album back in 2013, and that we recorded in two weeks and we spent a lot of time mixing it and producing it and getting it right. We kinda rushed it and we just had to get a CD out.

This time we took a lot of time over it. We went to the studio and we recorded it, and we listened back and it didn’t have the same sort of energies that it had when we played it live. So we scrapped it and recorded it again. Tried some different things and that didn’t work and so we scrapped it and recorded it again. Scrapped some of it, recorded that again. Eventually we kind of worked out a couple of ways that we can translate when we can use to translate that live energy.

"Electric Swing Circus is all about energy on stage"


You know that sound you get when the speakers are cranked and everyone is dancing in the room, we wanted to get that onto the record. We’ve been doing a lot of experimentation to try get this record sounding right and I think we got there. Quite excited!

MG: You've also have a music video out for the single. What was the process of filming that like?

Tom: The guys who filmed it are from Rum pictures, mates of mine from school. They are genius filmmakers! They made the First Person Shooter viral video you might have seen. They’ve done loads of really cool stuff and they have also done all of our music videos in the past. It’s great working with them again.

We went down to Plymouth and there is a studio down there they used. We basically hung out for the day, shot a load of footage and they edited it together. It looks cool! It’s not something we’ve done before. The first set of videos were us performing, and the second one, which was ‘Valentine’, had a storyline to it. This one was done in a studio in front of a green screen and it’s more kaleidoscopic, things appearing, it’s just something a bit different for us! Electric Swing Circus is all about live energy on stage and we tried to get that message through the video.

MG: Aries is very well known in the Jungle scene, how did you manage to get someone like him involved in this project?

Tom: Aries is great, he is Birmingham based and he is very supportive of the Birmingham music scene. I think it is really good for someone who has had a lot of success, does travel the world and do what he does, right from the start he has been really supportive of Ragtime Records and Electric Swing Circus. It was awesome to have him on board for this.

Father Funk is also one of my favourite producers, does amazing stuff. C@ in the H@, my record label partner and one of my favourite favourite DJ’s and producers as well. For me it is amazing to have these guys on this EP. It is who I would want if I could pick it. I think these guys make absolutely amazing remixes and make amazing tracks in their own right as well.


MG: What was your first experience of Electro Swing?

Tom: Deep Henderson by Nick Hollywood. It used to be played all the time, haven’t heard it in a while. It’s an absolutely bangin’ track! Well worked song, wicked samples, goes together really well. Someone shared it on Facebook and I was like “What is this!? How can I get more of this?”. I listened to it on loop for about 10 hours! From there it was through Caravan Palace’s first album, then it went on to stuff like the Electro Swing compilation albums like White Mink.

MG: You had your Swingamajig vinyl release earlier in the year, how was that for you and should we expect more Electro Swing vinyl anytime soon?

We like putting stuff out on vinyl, it’s fun! It sounds better and we spend a lot of time getting it mastered properly and making sure it sounds right. I don’t know when our next piece is going to come out. What we also usually do is put two tracks on a side so that way we can get maximum volume and maximum sound quality. That’s what we care about with the vinyl, it’s not about a whole album or here’s all this stuff, but rather here is a couple tracks which sound really really good! No plans at the moment for a new vinyl, but surely we will at some point, just gotta work that out…


MG: You are one of the creators of Swingamajig. could tell everyone what it is, what it is all about and what can expect from it this year?

Tom: Swingamajig is a four thousand person, one day festival, from the afternoon to the early hours of the morning. It celebrates all things that are vintage inspired, there is a load of music, bands, DJ’s, magic, circus, a proper cabaret stage. It’s multi-venue, but all connected! We have swing dancing workshops, street food, a vintage market. My ideal day out!

I do all the bookings and I book what I would like to see on a day out. It’s an amazing experience to put that on. We’ve got a party and it is really good. All year out, we’re doing festivals and all this other stuff, when we’re not playing we’re always checking out other stuff and other bands and thinking who we can bring to Swingamajig. That side of it is really nice. We’re a bit of a family! This year, it is going to be a really big one!

It’s my dream! I get to organise a party for my mates. What more could you want? Cabaret stuff was a big step forward for us this year. We’re going back to the same space next year, we’re going to tweak a few of the spaces and make them work a bit better.

Tom playing at Swingamajig
There’s this thing about being able to do an event where there's 16-piece Swing bands and Jungle DJ’s, but it kind of all works and there is a flow to it. Some people want to see more of this, and some people want to see more of that but no one only wants to see this or that. They all want to mingle.

There is the broad age range too, a lot of older people doing there thing and it’s really nice for younger people and older people not just being like “Oh, I’m here with a bunch of 20 somethings” or “I’m here with a load of old people” it’s really broad and that is really nice as well.

You also don’t have to be part of the Electro Swing scene or the Vintage scene to enjoy yourself, it’s just for people who want to have fun on a day out! It’s not like some events where people are like ‘this is a 30’s event and you’re wearing a 20’s suit’, it’s not like that, everyone is welcome, everyone can do what they want, let’s just have some fun!

Buy the EP:

ESC Facebook:

ESC Soundcloud:

Swingamajig Festival:

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Album Review: Jack listened to the new Captain Flatcap Album

The editor gives his take on the new Captain Flatcap LP

Having recently decided to take a step back from actually writing the blog posts, it may strike some of you as odd to see my name in the byline again. There’s a simple explanation.

A few days ago I received a promo copy of the Captain Flatcap album, which was released today on Scour Records. To say that there were some nerves as I downloaded the files would not be overstating things. I’ve been a big fan of the Flatcap sound since I first discovered their remixes a few years ago. I enjoyed their early releases, including collaborations with Dutty Moonshine. Was this full length album going to live up to the early promise, or would it be one of those that leaves one feeling shortchanged? Full-length albums are few and far between in this scene, so when one disappoints it really feels like a kick in the teeth. It can be hard to sustain originality across that many tracks, especially if the act don’t look to push the boundaries of what vintage remix can be.

I’m very pleased to report that Captain Flatcap have sidestepped this pitfall with considerable flair. They’ve managed to weave together such a wide variety of influences, from ska to hip hop by way of folk and dnb, glitch, electro-house, plus a healthy dose of swing, all the while maintaining a style that is recognisably Catflap.

It perhaps should not come as a surprise that they do this with such apparent ease, given that Chris and Tom Rotherham, the brothers who represent 2/3 of the band, are classically trained musicians. The subtlety of the instrumentation at points is remarkable. In particular Chris’s flute is used to great effect on a  number of occasions to provide a lightness, brightness of sound that is rather uplifting.

That said, if their skill is only signalled by the gentle waving of a silk handkerchief, their love of a jolly good knees-up is announced rather more rowdily, with blaring brass and some very silly, squelchy wubs.

There's also a humourous tone to a number of tracks, with spoken samples taken from the likes of Black Books and Monty Python, which  gives an interesting insight into the chap's viewing habits, as well as providing a few genuinely funny drops.

I genuinely find it difficult to pick an objective favourite out of these tracks. I imagine that traditional electro-swing fans are going to feel most at home with tracks like ‘Coconut Affair’ and ‘Are you Me’, which sounds to my ear very much like some of the Jenova Collective’s work.

But for me the tracks that have been on heaviest rotation for me are the two hip-hop tinged tracks, 'Boom Bap Boxing' and 'Squeaky Clean', both very different, but featuring some of my favourite MCs on the scene: Great Scott and Too Many Ts respectively. I really look forward to 'Squeaky Clean' being released as a single: I imagine that the video will be fun.

But then I’m a sucker for hip hop. I can also see 'Sergei’s Journey' being spun by DJs in about three of Boomtown’s districts, so that implies a certain versatility. For straight out dancefloor stormers the appropriately named 'Filth Wizard', 'Alien Jazz', and 'Are you me?' are the go-to tracks.

I wrote on Facebook that I thought this was an example of what vintage remix can be, and I stand by that: While there’s a definable thread that runs through the work, there’s so much variety in this album that I think it should help to shove the scene out of the creative rut that it was in danger of entering. I can see this some tracks appealing not only to the vintage remix community, but to a wider audience of dance music fans, especially the growing community of Americans who have grown bored with 'EDM' and are beginning to explore the weirder corners of the dance music world.

Go out and buy this album now. Seriously. Do it.

Why are you still here?

Monday, 21 November 2016

Guest Post: Captain Flatcap Album Preview

Captain Flatcap's Tom Rotherham joins us for a guest blog to let us know a bit about what to expect from their new self-titled album. 

Hi everyone, Tom Rotherham here from Captain Flatcap, guest blogging about our upcoming album and paying tribute to Jack the Cad for having me on his superb Guide To Vintage Remix – thank you! For those of you who don't know me, I'm trumpet and guitar player and co-producer (alongside my brother Chris) in Captain Flatcap.

'What is Captain Flatcap?!' can be a hard question to answer but I'll endeavour to be concise. Musically, it is [*inhales deeply*] multi-genre, vintage-remix, instrumental, electronic dance music! It is the live 3-piece band. And the DJ. And the production duo... besides of course being my brother Chris, the Captain... who wears a flatcap... confused? Just watch this interview from earlier this year.

"we grew to realise we are fundamentally a dance music live band, and it wasn't until the term vintage remix came about that we felt truly well-placed in the scene"

It feels great to say that we'll be releasing our self-titled, debut but long-time-coming album on the 24th of November 2016 on Scour Records! Of course, this feels like a real milestone for us. Chris started the band four and a half years ago, and we released the studio session video of 'Funky Farmers' and not long after that our remix of 'Dragons' by Caravan Palace, which, combined, got us noticed in the electroswing scene. Although we are (since 2010) big Caravan Palace and Dutty Moonshine fans, we never intended to be an electroswing band. Rather we grew to realise we are fundamentally a dance music live band, and it wasn't until the term vintage remix came about that we felt truly well placed in the scene. Since we started out we've experimented with combining all sorts of vintage styles – swing, ska, funk, folk etc. - with different styles of dance music and the album is almost a portfolio of much of what we've tried to do.

There's something for everyone on the album - with the Spanish guitar + ska + DnB party antics of 'Are You Me?', the Russian mandolin electro voyage of 'Sergei's Journey', the trademark Flatcap electroswing sound of 'Coconut Affair' and the filthy squelchy glitch of 'Awakening' - as you'd expect it features a multitude of instruments (including the classic flute an trumpet parts,) and a variety of genres and tempos.

"it would be nice to hear more music that's come from deeper than the surface of infinity"

Chris's inspiration formed the core of the record. He started eight of the ten tracks and brought out their basic compositional essence ('Coconut Affair' and 'Boom Bap Boxing' were the only two I produced completely independently). In November 2015 Chris told me he was ready to release the album, but I certainly wasn't. The next 6 months were filled with tireless and sometimes argumentative work, composing and recording but mainly producing the album, smoothing out every rough edge and sitting frustrated in a makeshift cabin studio in Australia whilst all around us, outside, was a music festival... six months after that and a festival season later, it is finally ready!

Our aims for the LP and and how and why we've made it take me back to our childhood. My brother Chris and I have always had very similar musical tastes, especially when it comes to dance music. We grew up listening to the same bands and receiving classical music tuition in our instruments. We were at first both very apprehensive of dance music but gradually came round to it via artists like Justice and Infected Mushroom who combine more traditional musical elements like melody and harmony with the power and timbres of dance music.

We both became obsessed with dirty electrohouse, with its complex, layered sounds and melodies; this is what inspired Chris to write the first Captain Flatcap tune 'Funky Farmers' and it helped to form the basis of Flatcap's creative ethos. Our electrohouse days also had a huge influence on our production style; despite being a band, we produce our tunes like typical dance music (strong beats, little live band feel), because that's what our music is – dance music. These days I don't dive deep into listening to any particular genre, what I love is finding things I haven't heard before, anything that's different. The ecstatic fascination I felt when hearing both Caravan Palace and Dutty Moonshine's first electroswing tracks (the latter aren't available any more!) for the first time are now something I chase. So, I think of vintage remix and combining genres as a way of finding this.  Both Chris and I agree that a huge part of Captain Flatcap is about making music that we would enjoy, and I've found when writing for Flatcap that it's like I'm making the unknown music for which I've been searching but can't find.

The Captain Flatcap lineup: L-R, Tom Rotherham, Chris Rotherham, Matt Woods

A suggestion Jack the Cad made to me for this blog was that if we have a point to make with this album, make it here.

After reflecting, something small occurred to me. We don't really have a point to make, we don't think music should be made any particular way, we just do it like this because we like to... But... the reason we've taken to vintage remix and combining genres is because it opens a world of infinite possibilities; to me, vintage-remix means the allowance to literally combine anything in the whole world of music. Ever. And now with technology and electronic music, a whole new world of music has opened up.

That's pretty mind-blowing if you think about it, so, at least for us it would be nice to hear more music that's come from deeper than the surface of infinity, people can allow themselves to be thrown into it a bit further. The only rule I follow (although it's subjective) is that you have to work to create a convincing, unified expression when combining genres; you can't just play Edvard Grieg's 'Morning' and System of a Down's 'This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song' simultaneously and expect their aesthetics to merge! It's worth saying here that a fair bit of our music is unplanned or comes from happy coincidences. We use whatever we have available (e.g flute!) and try random things and just go with it and make it work (we hope!)

It is an honour, a pleasure and privilege to be releasing the album with Scour Records! It's not only our first LP but Scour's as well, so we're really happy to be working together to reach the same milestone.  We're also stoked to have collaborated with the amazing rap duos Too Many T's and Great Scott, vocalist and album designer Isabel Drake, and glitch-hop connoisseur William Breakspear. They've all made the album truly special – big up! Over the summer we performed all three vocal collaborations - spontaneously playing new music live on stage has a reliable magical energy, I'll never forget each performance and you can expect more live collab performances to come!

So once again, the Captain Flatcap self-titled, debut album is out on Scour Records on the 24th November 2016, exclusive to Juno. Soon after that, physical CD copies will be available to buy from our bandcamp page. These are worth a special mention - they contain sleeve notes, beautiful artwork designed by Roo and Isabel Drake and a free poster - a collage of memorable Flatcap moments! On the 12th of December the album will be available to buy on all other outlets.

Finally, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who's helped us get the ball rolling and everyone we've met in the vintage remix scene - it's a beautifully warm, inviting unpretentious community – big up!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A right old Rumpus: Mr B causing a scene

Max Golfar gives you the inside track on Chap-hop's leading light, and catches up with him for a chat.

Your favourite chap is back again. After a summer of Gentlemanly escapades and multiple festivals every week, the original rhymer, Mr.B, has brought us an early Christmas gift in the form his new album ‘There’s A Rumpus Going On’. 

Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer has once again delivered his own unique signature take on Hip-Hop by adding that ‘chap’ flair, known as it’s own genre ‘Chap-Hop’. 

When Mr.B isn’t having a perfectly made cup of tea or playing a game of cricket, he is writing the finest rhymes to create a right Rumpus for us to enjoy. 14 full songs on the album which is some of his most creative work yet. The production value is immaculate and the rhythmical flow is as smooth as ever. 

LA beats and general wobbly instrumental, old stool hip-hop, music hall and George Formby

The whole album is a great listen and each song is unique. For me the standout songs on the album are ‘So Many Reggie Perrins In The Arse End Of Space’, ‘Hitler Gifs’, ‘Ollie and Stan’, ‘We Need To Talk About Kanye’ and ‘Youth, Truth, Gin, Vermouth’.

Unlike Mr. Reginald Perrin ever was, we are treated to a beguiling set of hip-hop beats through the album. ‘Hitler Gifs’ had my sides bursting, it’s not often I feel the need to dance whilst giggling. ‘Ollie and Stan’ has some jungle breaks half way through, which was a cool change up of pace on the album. Perhaps we’ll start to see Mr.B MC’ing over some heavy Jump Up next? Ok probably not, but this certainly got me skanking nonetheless.

Do you ever feel sad? Well Mr.B has treated us to a track that is 100% guaranteed to make you feel better, titled ‘The Happy Song’. I dare you to try listen to it without having smile on your face the whole way through.

‘We Need To Talk about Kanye’ starts off with a tribute to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which suits really well with Mr.B’s delightful chap-y vocals. Kanye West is yet to respond to the track, but the logical assumption is that he is afraid to rear his head after the roasting Mr.B has delivered.

Mr.B is currently on his album tour, having already done one and a half months, with another month and a half to go. Expect to see our favourite Gentleman Rhymer everywhere from London to Birmingham and even Manchester, travelling to all gigs via his Penny Farthing of course! 

Overall, a really fun and enjoyable album, and one I would highly recommend. I was lucky enough to see him perform at Bestival this summer, and if you get the opportunity to catch The Gentleman Rhymer, do so, as you won’t regret it! A charming chap who puts on a great show. I managed to catch up with Mr.B to talk about his latest album, along with a couple other topics including his influences. Check out our interview together below, but first, here's an acoustic version of one of the album tracks.

Congratulations on the release of the album, how long has this been in the works and would you say that this is your best work yet? 

This one has taken a while. I started it in the middle of last year, but then decided to do Mr.B’s Christmas Album, so started again earlier this year and throughout the summer, whilst doing about three festivals a week. It was somewhat hectic and the closest I have ever felt to actual ‘work’. Sorry to do a four letter word there.

The production quality is fantastic, so I'm sure many people are wondering what production software did you use to put the music together?

This album was largely put together on Reason 9, which is nice and easy for a luddite like me. I have recently started using Logic, but it appears to be terribly glitchy. Things disappearing and all that sort of thing. I shall persevere though.

Which artists inspire you and your work? 

Of late I’ve been listening to a lot of lo-fi hip-hop, LA beats and general wobbly instrumental things. My overriding influences remain the same though - old stool hip-hop, music hall, George Formby, Ronald Frankau...

Would you have any stories of your years with your school chum Acid Ted, that you would like to share? 

Glad, almost all of them have been forgotten amidst a fun of Absinthe. Heart of gold though, even if he’s a tad flighty.

Other than Hip-Hop and Rap, what does Mr.B like to listen to in his spare time?

All sorts. Last week in the motor car I listened to Duke Ellington, Elvis, Parliament and Nirvana, as well as the new Tribe Called Quest album, which was a timely reminder of how great hip-hop can be.

Kanye or Trump?

They both have titanic egos, but one is a racist, misogynist bigot and now in charge of everything, so I don’t fear The Kanye, just give him a bit of a ribbing every now and again.

To be honest I have a soft Spot for old Westy. I think if one is making music one ought to think it’s the best music there is. Otherwise why bother? Just listen to someone else’s. 

What is next for Mr.B?

I’m back in the studio working on the next Mr.B The Gentleman Selector long player, the second in the Chapstep series. It’s called Absinthe House and, like its predecessor ‘Acid Ragtime’ it’s a chap’s take on dance music (another love of mine). I think this one is going to be something of a winner.

Links and whathaveyou

Mr. B’s Facebook:

Buy a CD copy of the album:

Digital Download and Mr.B’s other work:

The Gentleman Rhymer’s Soundcloud: