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Avec Sans / November 2016 English Tour

By on Friday, 9th September 2016 at 9:00 am

London electropop duo Avec Sans have announced a short list of live dates in England supporting their recent new album ‘Heartbreak Hi’. Released back in July, the album contains 13 tracks, including a cover of Bon Iver‘s ‘Perth’. Along with the tour date announcement, Avec Sans have unveiled a new video for ‘Perth’, which you can view at the bottom of the page.

Ticket information for these live shows wasn’t available at press time, so check Avec Sans’ official Web site for updated information. TGTF’s complete coverage of Avec Sans, including their appearance at SXSW 2016, can be found right back here.

Sunday 6th November 2016 – Bristol Exchange
Friday 11th November 2016 – Winchester Railway Inn
Saturday 12th November 2016 – Reading Oakford Social
Tuesday 22nd November 2016 – London Dalston Birthdays


SXSW 2016: Friday afternoon with strong women at the International Day Stage and with Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales – 18th March 2016

By on Thursday, 7th April 2016 at 5:00 pm

Another day dawned after the awful event of Thursday evening at SXSW 2016. Despite my still shaken nerves, I was determined to make the most of my remaining time in Austin and my Friday afternooon would include the Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales showcase at Latitude 30. First up though was a lovely breakfast and quick catch-up with our friends from Music from Ireland / First Music Contact’s Angela Dorgan and Brendan Millar at B.D. Riley’s ahead of the full Irish breakfast lineup (Carrie’s review of their act are forthcoming). Then I was off to the Austin Convention Centre for a visit to the panel entitled TV Promos: Sync’s New Best Friend, which was a follow-up of sorts to another sync-orientated panel I sat in on at Norwich Sound and Vision 2016 in October. (For a review of my time at convention panels during SXSW, read my roundup post here.)

After being sufficiently buoyed by the hope that song syncing for tv, film and adverts continue to be a good way for artists to make much needed income to support the music-making side of their craft, it was off to start seeing band trying to make a go of it. Staying in the Austin Convention Center, I went up to the 4th floor to the International Day Stage to catch London-based electropop duo Avec Sans. They clearly had made a good impression prior this appearance, as several megafans of theirs appeared to see them again at this afternoon appearance.

Avec Sans at the International Day Stage at Austin Convention Center, Friday at SXSW 2016

Avec Sans are platinum blonde Alice Fox (originally from Manchester) on vocal duties and Jack St. James on electronics. As TGTF’s resident electro fan, I’ve seen my fair share of duos with a similar setup, and I can say without a doubt that this pair are in the top tier of acts I’ve had the pleasure to witness live. Like Claire L. Evans of YACHT at Easy Tiger the previous night, Fox is a charismatic presence live, providing the human side of Avec Sans with beautously yearning vocals and the perfect foil to the deliciously mechanical machinations of St. James. Watch and listen to the duo’s latest single ‘Heartbreak Hi’ below; their debut album will be out on the 3rd of June; you can donate to their recording effort on PledgeMusic. A headline UK tour will be accompanying its release (all the details here on their Facebook).

It was a nice coincidence, according to Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales manager Fionna Allan that their line-up scheduled for Friday afternoon at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 was entirely made up of acts with strong female or female-fronted acts. Allan was all the more prouder about her showcase when I explained to her that there was an important feminist element to this year’s SXSW, as Carrie previewed in this feature prior to our week in Austin. Three of the five acts performing on this bill were Welsh, including first two acts Rozi Plain (a favourite of BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley who I unfortunately missed) and Violet Skies, who I covered as part of the Trackd showcase and chatted with Monday night. True to her word and despite her relative newness to America, Violet was the consummate professional, garnering a massive audience hanging on to every soulful word she sung. As she sung her debut single ‘How the Mighty’, I became even more convinced in her chance at worldwide success. Good luck to her!

Violet Skies at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016

As I had been with Jane Weaver on Wednesday, I was more than a little excited to finally see Gwenno perform live as part of the Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales showcase. After making the difficult decision to give her appearance Wednesday night at the Heavenly Recordings showcase at Barracuda a pass, I was grateful to have another chance, and to be honest, it was probably best to see her here, as part of and also swaddled by her fellow strong female artists’ presence. Further, Gwenno’s ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ – originally released in Wales on Peski Records, then given another life by Heavenly with its re-release in 2015, as well as winning Best Welsh Album at the 2015 National Eisteddfod and the 2014-2015 Welsh Music Prize – is completely fitting for such an afternoon.

The LP’s key themes include fighting against Big Brother and the constraints of a patriarchal society, which Gwenno helpfully and eloquently pointed out in between songs is sadly a reflection of today’s times, stressing the importance of individualism, strength and feminism. This banter between this strong, female and Welsh artist and the audience created an indelible connection between artist and fan, and that’s even before we even consider the music. As an electro head, watching her simultaneously sing like an angel and manage an impressive set of synths and sequencers and effortlessly was a real treat. Adding more fuel to Ms. Saunders’ argument of the Man holding women down, stage management warned her she had to cut her set. Instead of stopping when she was supposed to, in true revolutionary fashion, she kept going. Way to stick it to them, Gwenno! To hear my interview with her that we posted on TGTF last week, go here.

Gwenno at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016 1

Fickle Friends were up next. If you’ve been keeping tabs on indie British music in the last few years (and America’s similar scene, for that matter), you know that synthpop bands are a dime a dozen. If you have been keeping up with our SXSW 2016 preview coverage, you would have read Rebecca’s great Bands to Watch on both this Brighton band and their seemingly similar Liverpudlian counterparts Clean Cut Kid, who I saw on Wednesday night at the Paradigm Agency showcase at Maggie Mae’s. Due to Rebecca’s piece featuring both bands, I could not help but compare their performances in Austin.

Fickle Friends at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016

Fickle Friends put on an admirable performance that received a great response with loads of cheering from the audience, especially when they swapped out the words to their song ‘Brooklyn’, changing them to ‘Austin’. However, I didn’t find anything about their music that distinguished them particularly from all the other synthpop bands Britain has been churning out over the last few years. Will there be a North vs. South divide over these two bands’ corresponding success? We’ll have to wait and see how things go this year.

Concluding the female-strong afternoon of Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales at the British Music Embassy were Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep, who I had the great pleasure of seeing play in their hometown, at the cavernous Red Bull Studios at the Garage stage at my first Liverpool Sound City in 2012. Since releasing ‘Not Real’ in April 2015, they’ve adopted a much more colourful stage presence, which in Austin meant neon bright leotards and tights and mirrored sunglasses. Without a doubt, it’s an attention-grabbing look within a dark club; some may call it a gimmick, but it works for them and will keep them firmly in festival-goers’ minds. (In comparison, Fickle Friends looked like they could have been any American band in t-shirts, baseball caps and jeans.)

Stealing Sheep at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016

The talent and fun with Stealing Sheep is multifold. Each of the three band members have a strong enough voice to take the lead, yet their harmonies together on album title track ‘Not Real’ are fantastic enough to make you think they’re all sisters (they’re not). The handclap-happy ‘Apparition’ (watch the video below) demanded audience participation, and you can’t help but get drawn into the percussive nature of their music. Despite stage management calling them to stop, they kept on going, to the delight of the punters. Of all the British acts I saw in Austin, I’d rank these Liverpudlian ladies in the top 5 of having made a lasting impression on American audiences that should serve them well in their continuing career.


(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #104: Avec Sans

By on Wednesday, 9th March 2016 at 11:00 am

Ahead of SXSW in Austin next week, just as we have in the past 2 years of our preview coverage of the big dance, we’ll be bringing you showcasing artists’ answers to a special SXSW 2016 flavoured set of Quickfire Questions. Today, we’ve quizzed electronic duo Avec Sans to give us their answers, with singer Alice Fox answering the SXSW-specific questions first. Her partner in crime Jack St. James joins her for the rest. Our Rebecca introduced the London-based pair in this previous Bands to Watch back in January. Read on to find out what album the both of them remember hearing growing up, and what songs by previously featured on TGTF artists remind them of the first time they fell in love.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Dreamy happysad electropop.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
It’s been our dream to go to SXSW since we started playing in bands when we were in our early teens, so we’re going for the whole thing and just want to soak up as much as possible. We’re taking some friends along for the ride and we know it’s chaos, so we’re aiming to just be in it.

Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
We’ve never seen AlunaGeorge before so we’re keen to see them and Lapsley’s going and she’s a brilliant talent. I know we’re all keen to see what Bloc Party are like live these days and curious to see what Charli XCX and SOPHIE are up to. (I’ve attached a photo of SOPHIE taking the piss out of my hair.)

Avec Sans and SOPHIE

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
10 disposable cameras. We’re taking photos of the trip and leaving them undeveloped as part of our album pre-order. There could be anything on there.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Spiced rum and diet coke for me (Alice) and a cold beer for Jack, unless there’s a frozen margarita with a beer turned upside down in it, in that case, he’ll take one of those.

What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
We’ve been out to play CMJ and also played in LA, so far our shows in America have been such an incredible experience and they’ve taken us to places we’d never thought we’d get the chance to go to. We’re so excited to play in Austin and in a dream world we’d play to some full rooms of people who are up for a good night out. We know it’s crowded at SXSW, so we’re going to have a great time no matter what. Hope to see you there.

Now, let’s get into our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
We both remember Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ being played by our parents.

What was your favourite song as a child?
Alice: Jimmy Ruffin – ‘What Becomes of the Broken Hearted’. This is telling.
Jack: Green Day – ‘Dookie’.

What song makes you laugh?
Alice: Clarence Clarity‘s remix of Kate Boy’s ‘Midnight Sun’ made me laugh, he’s that brilliant and it’s that weird. I love it.
Jack: Hot Chip – ‘The Warning’. Geeks singing about taking people down.

What song makes you cry?
Alice: Bat for Lashes – ‘Sad Eyes’.
Jack: Death Cab for Cutie – ‘Transatlanticism’.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Alice: Bon Iver – ‘Skinny Love’.
Jack: Freelance Whales – ‘Generator First Floor’.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Alice: Taylor Swift – ‘Shake it Off’. I hate to dwell, and it makes it hard to stay mad.
Jack: MØ – ‘Kamikaze’.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Alice: The Beach Boys – ‘God Only Knows’.
Jack: ‘Happy Birthday’.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Alice: Jon Ronson.
Jack: John Niven.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
We fantasise about a world where we would have to rack our brains thinking what we’d be doing outside of music. We both work in creative industries as well as making music, we’re lucky that our jobs positively feed into each other. We’d love to run a label too.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Alice: The Postal Service – ‘Give Up’, as it’s the most perfect and beautiful album ever made.
Jack: Green Day – ‘Dookie’. I’ve never got sick of it up until now, I can’t see myself getting sick of it.

Many thanks to the fantastic Avec Sans for answering our questions! You’ve got three chances to check them out at SXSW 2016: a DJ set on Wednesday, the 16th of March 16 at Speakeasy at 10 PM, followed by a live set around the corner at Lucky Lounge at 1 AM, then an appearance at the International Day Stage on Friday, the 18th of March at 2 PM.


(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #374 and #375: Avec Sans and Plaitum

By on Thursday, 28th January 2016 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Avec Sans (pictured at top) and Plaitum are a pair of female-fronted synthpop duos, that are both scheduled to appear at SXSW in Austin this March. Both bands have crafted a lofty and ethereal sound, drawing comparisons to CHVRCHES and Purity Ring.

Avec Sans embody a soft, yet steady electronic spirit. The London-based duo comprised of Alice Fox and Jack St. James released two singles in 2015, ‘Resonate’, and ‘When You Go’. They have been compared to CHVRCHES on numerous occasions, and fans of CHVRCHES looking for something in a similar vein won’t be disappointed, as both bands create an addictive synth sound. Whilst the bands are similar vocally – namely by being fronted by a talented female singer – Fox’s vocals are more mature and sharper than Lauren Mayberry’s own saccharine pipes. Fox’s throaty, breathless vocals fit well with the whispering notes that almost float through the tracks.

But this doesn’t mean Avec Sans have created a sound that is limp or easy to overlook: there’s something soft and strong about their music at the same time. ‘When You Go’ and ‘Resonate’ both ooze subtle, well-crafted electronic melodies, tethered to simple, catchy choruses and hooks. ‘Hook’ is the operative word here, as both singles are memorable, grabbing you by the ear and pulling you in. ‘When You Go’ is lofty and buoyant, and really shows off Fox’s vocal range. The track is otherworldly and full of cascading sounds, which rise and fall throughout.

‘Resonate’ is equally unearthly, but is softer and gentler. The lyrics are equally gentle, with a striking sentimentality: “The sky falls away, so they come see him / in the light, holds its place / Inside of me and your heart, your heart, your heart / bears my name, to hold me now, to resonate”. It’s the kind of song that grapples with everyday occurrences such as falling in love, but takes them beyond the realm of the ordinary.

Just as unearthly in sound are Plaitum, an electro-pop outfit rooted in Colchester. They’ve just released their eponymous EP, featuring four enticing tracks produced by superstar producer Paul Epworth. Like Avec Sans, Plaitum have created a series of unique, well-crafted tracks. Matt Canham and Abigail Dersiley, who have been friends since they were 11 years old, signed to Epworth’s own Wolf Tone record label towards the end of last year.

Like Avec Sans, Plaitum’s music includes a range of electronic influences but is better compared to Crystal Castles’ blend of eclectic synthpop than Avec Sans’ subdued melodies. Plaitum are also similar to Purity Ring (another female lead synth duo), both in musical style and make-up. And, like Purity Ring, Plaitum ventures into the realm of witch house that Crystal Castles do so well, with bewitching industrial sounds and distorted noises weaving throughout each track.

Dersiley’s throaty and guttural drawl only adds to their atmospheric aesthetic. The track that has everyone talking is ‘LMHY’ (Let Me Hold You), which begins with a gnarly scream. Being the first track on the EP, it sets the precedent for the rest of the record, which continues on in an equally unusual and captivating way. ‘LMHY’ itself is vampish and bold, densely packed with a murky ambiance that calls up all manner of ghouls and eerie shapes that might be lurking in the edges of your consciousness. For fans of Glass Animals, also signed to Wolf Tone, Plaitum will be worth a listen as both bands capture a similarly eerie quality. In particular, Glass Animals’ ‘Holiest’ featuring Tei Shi echoes Plaitum’s spectral mood.

The ‘Plaitum’ EP has a decidedly mature sound to it, and I was surprised when I discovered that Matt and Abigail are both only 20 years old. It’s always seriously impressive when people so young can come together to produce something so vivid and different, considering the way that teens of this generation are often looked down upon. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do next.

Both acts are sure to big on the radar in 2016, melding pop, indie and electronic elements into their music. Both Avec Sans and Plaitum are scheduled to perform at SXSX 2016 in March in Austin.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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