And finally, don't forget that BlocParty.net is up for 'Best Unofficial Music Site' in the same awards. You know what to do!
Kele quote:"This is the third time we've played Reading and we've always been successful here so it's got a special place in our hearts. I met Russell our guitar player over there and we decided to be in a band."
And finally, click here to read Matt's Reading Festival blog for Guardian Unlimited.
Created from photos taken by jesusthepixie
Kele goes shirtless for 'Price of Gasoline'
Milena Mepris is a singer and guitarist from New York City. Her past bands include London all-girl trio The Revenge (lead singer/guitarist), with whom she toured the UK, received acclaim from the NME and had singles played on Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 show. She then went on to play lead guitar in the Brooklyn based electro-punk band Black Moustache who, after releasing their debut album, toured the US and Canada and played shows with Bloc Party, Avenue D, A.R.E. Weapons, and Fannypack. She also played guitar in NYC dance pop band Eskimobot and went on to form her solo band Milena Mepris (still alive and kicking). Her 2005 song 'Hot Model' was an indie cult hit, played everywhere from the Winter Music Conference in Miami to Istanbul to NYC rock clubs.
In addition, Milena Mepris writes for and collaborates with other artists. Two of her songs were recently recorded by young soul-singer Alice Smith for her critically acclaimed debut album, 'For Lovers, Dreamers & Me'.
So, yeah, Milena's a pretty busy girl. Quite how she manages to fit so much into her schedule is one of the modern world's greatest mysteries, but she still found some time to chat to BlocParty.net about Pin Me Down. Read on after the jump...
BlocParty.net: Milena, could you introduce yourself to the BLOG PARTY readers with a few Milena-related facts?
1. While Russell plays mainly Fender guitars, I have always been a Gibson girl. My favourite guitars are the SG, my TV yellow Les Paul special and my pink Hello Kitty Fender strat (but that’s more based on its er…rather splendid appearance over its sound…hee hee). And there’s a new gold SG that I have my eye on – this becomes addictive!
2. I was in a Lou Reed video when I was 15 for the song 'NYC Man' (not the best song, but cool video).
3. I am partially Scottish, so I was overjoyed to play in Glasgow, but when I was onstage, no one could understand what I was saying because of my American accent (and vice versa). Now I am trying to brush up my Scottish slang - "Achei".
4. I've been writing songs since I can remember. I have a back catalog of over 300 songs.
5. I used to be a choir girl, singing professionally from the age of 6-13 and I still am a bit of one. You can take the girl out of the choir but you cannot take the choir out of the girl ;) I also played clarinet and saxophone.
BP.net: Describe each other in five words (or bullet points!)
Milena on Russell:
1. One of my favourite people on earth
3. Musical genius
4. Partner in crime
Russell on Milena:
Guitar playing rock goddess woman!
BP.net: Milena...you live on the other side of the pond in New York. How did you come to meet Russell?
MM: I used to live in South London, in Borough, near Old Kent Road (I was a classy lass!) and Russell lived a few blocks away at the same time near Elephant and Castle. Even though we both attended many of the same gigs and parties and had mutual friends, we didn't meet until 2004 when Bloc Party first came to New York and played at the Knitting Factory. At the time, I was the guitarist in Black Moustache and we opened for BP along with A.R.E. Weapons. It was just an insane show all around, full of sweaty, irrational kids, who were jumping on the stage. Russell borrowed my amp and we just really got along from the first moment we met. He was amused by my collection of pink guitars and we both loved a lot of the same cheesy 90s records and 80s TV shows.
Russell and I kept in touch and he was on the East Coast a lot touring at that time, so we started writing music together, plus I was in L.A. and London at other points, so the project just naturally evolved; it was something fun for both of us, a diversion while we worked with our other bands.
BP.net: How did the project, 'Pin Me Down', come about and does the name have any significance?
MM: Neither of us took the project very seriously until we realized that we had something like 30+ songs just sitting around on our iTunes and thought that maybe we should record them properly. We did several sets of demos at various studios and decided we wanted to move away from a more rock-oriented style toward a darker, pop guitar/synth sound, since we both worship Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, 'Burning Up' era Madonna, and New Order.
We struggled with band names forever. One day Russell was on tour in Europe and, because of the time difference, we had to schedule when we could talk on the phone. I rang at a certain time, but he was in soundcheck and he sent me a text message saying "Pin me down at 7" or something to that extent, and a flashing light bulb went off in my head. The name was perfect and it stuck. We both liked the phonetic sound of "Pin Me Down" as well as all of its multiple meanings.
BP.net: Your first track, 'Cryptic', was posted on your MySpace a couple weeks ago to a great reception. What's the story behind this song and is it representative of your other material?
MM: Ummm…yeah, we're pretty pleased with the way people have been responding to it! We can't wait for some people to do remixes because it's quite dance-oriented.
Sometimes Russell titles our songs – he'll just name an instrumental track or idea and send it to me, so he initially gave 'Cryptic' another title that was very funny, but it didn't match the lyrics I was writing. So we changed the song in the studio. We must have three different versions. At one point we were sticking the names of people we knew into the lyrics – as a laugh. I'm praying those takes never surface! The real song deals with issues of celebrity and how, in this day and age, people can gain fame (the highest caste in our culture) for doing nothing at all, maybe just for being photographed. I find this disappointing and wish more people would be known for DOING and creating things.
We try to make our music coherent and eclectic at the same time – so it all feels of one piece, but there are many different kinds of songs and moods. There are several upbeat anthems, a few songs that are really dancey, some that are more rock, and a few slower songs too.
BP.net: What's the 'Pin Me Down' songwriting process? Do you record together in a studio, or send your parts to each other via email?
MM: It works a number of ways. Sometimes Russell will send me a fully formed instrumental song or idea and I will write the melody and lyrics to it; other times it's just a drum beat and keyboards and he doesn't flesh it out until I've created a vocal melody. Other times, I'll suggest a musical theme or idea for a song to Russell and he'll send me back his take on it. Sometimes I add keyboard or guitars to the tracks. Many may not know but Russell is an amazing keyboard player and bassist. He writes all of the bass lines and programs all the drums on our songs and our drummer Alex (the other guy in the first picture) plays those parts live.
When we met, we recorded all of our songs on my old digital 8-track which ran on zip disks - quite fragile and limiting! We'd have to be in the same place for that, but shortly after we both got laptops and I showed Russell how to use Protools (which isn't as hard as it looks), so we began to send stuff back and forth over the internet, which is useful since we're usually not in the same city. It's also great for editing and refining songs. For serious recording, we go to a proper studio together. It's funny because when I was a teenager, I wrote a song about how I dreamt of having a songwriting pen pal, and in a way, that has become the reality for Pin Me Down. Maybe I am psychic! Technology is amazing in that regard.
BP.net: Do you have any long term plans for the future...any official releases or tour dates?
MM: I guess the big news is that YES there is a record. We are mixing it at the moment and are figuring out how we want to release it. This is a scary but exciting time in music right now because albums are increasingly being distributed digitally and with that comes a whole new set of pros and cons. It changes the role of the record label and gives artists like us way more control. But we're also working in an untouched frontier, where album leaks and file sharing are the norm…so we have to be smart and do things in a strategic way.
We want to tour. I am most looking forward to playing in the UK as I haven't played a gig there in several years and England, Ireland, and Scotland have very enthusiastic audiences. I'd also love to go Japan because I've never been and I hear they love blond girls there! SCORE! It seems like such a surreal and magical place.
BP.net: And, finally, the last word goes to Russell…will you be taking time out from Bloc Party if Pin Me Down takes off?
Russell: Bloc Party is always my priority so I'd never take time out, that wouldn't be fair on anyone, but if there's a gap in the Bloc Party schedule (ever!), then I'd love to play some shows as Pin Me Down.
So, there you have it…Pin Me Down have been hard at work in their secret underground bunker creating future electro-pop anthems. Expect to hear much more from them in the not-too-distant future! In the meantime, stream their first track, 'Cryptic', over on MySpace now.