Universal High Universal High
Beats 1 will premier "Californian Light" on Wednesday evening 7pm BST. ‘World First’ slot with an interview with Ben, the singer 26th April: 'Californian Light' will have a ‘World First’ on Zane Lowe’s slot on Beats 1 alongside an interview with Ben and Matt Wilkinson between 5pm - 7pm BST. Thursday 27th April: Fader premier of Californian Light from 10am BST with an exclusive embed.
First radio plays for ‘Californian Light’ below, with choice quotes too -
Beats 1 Zane Lowe (Matt Wilkinson covering) + interview “outrageous tune"
BBC Radio 1 Huw Stephens - “Oh my goodness, what an incredible record!"
Radio X John Kennedy - X-Posure Hot One - "amazing return”
Huw Stephens - “Oh my goodness, what an incredible record!”
Phil Taggart - "I really really love”
Lauren Laverne - "Incredible band” John Kennedy - "Amazing return” Fader - “A love letter to the people of South London” Sunday Times Culture“ Blissful but bittersweet soul-pop” - “Hottest Tracks” The Observer - "Sunny soothing sounds" - “Hot Tracks” Evening Standard - “Brilliant new single” - “Tracks of the Week” Q Magazine - "Completely reinvented themselves" - “ On The Stereo” Music Week - "Restore your faith in guitars” - “The Playlist” i-D - “ We love this new sound
Video premiered on FADER http://www.thefader.com/2017/04/27/childhood-californian-light-video Screen shots attached below “Californian Light video is a love letter to the people of South London"
Video premiered on FADER http://www.thefader.com/2017/04/27/childhood-californian-light-video “Californian Light video is a love letter to the people of South London" http://www.thefader.com/2017/04/27/childhood-californian-light-video
Californian Light to Vevo and they’ve just confirmed 2.1million impressions starting on the 11th May
Featured on "Five tracks to hear this week" http://www.standard.co.uk/stayingin/music/five-tracks-to-hear-this-week-a3531216.html
UK Spotify Viral Chart, Fresh Finds playlist (500k followers), Fresh Finds: Six Strings playlist (920k) at #4 and #2
‘Californian Light’ is no 8 in this weeks R1’s Specialist Chart Listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08rp5j2 (min 13)
DIGTIAL: SPOTIFY - 'Californian Light’ hit the UK Spotify Viral Chart last week! Screen grab below Current streams are 88,291 streams Playlist additions: Today new adds are Spotify ‘Your Office Stereo’ Hot New Pop Tracks + - New Music Friday Netherlands - The Indie List - The Other List - Hot New Alt Tracks - Fresh Finds - Best of Indie (Domino Records) - Dream Pop - Live At Leeds - HUH - Lauren Laverne 6Music - The Great Escape - Latitude Festival
APPLE - - UK Best of the Week The A List Alternative Loud Places - Germany Best of the Week - Netherlands Best of the Week
VEVO - supported the video with a total of 3.1 million impressions + socials support across territories. 2 million of those impressions will start on the 11th May.
RADIO: Radio 1 - 3 x Huw Stephens + Huw has now confirmed ‘Californian Light’ as his ‘Track of the Week’ which means a play a night this week! Listen to last night here @ 2hr, 22min - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08njhy8 ‘Sounds even better than the 1st album, I love it' 6Music - 2 x Lauren Laverne Beats 1 - ‘World First’ for Zane Lowe’s show + an interview with Matt Wilkinson + 3 x plays on Matt’s show BBC London - 1 x Gary Crowley Support on far-reaching key LA station KCRW
ONLINE: Fader UK/US video premier DIY NME I - D Clash Magazine Northern Transmission Huh Magazine Promo News Under The Radar Magazine Vents Magazine TMRW Magazine DORK Gigwise Interview with Clash scheduled this week to promote them playing their stage at Great Escape.
PRINT: ‘Track of the Week’ The Evening Standard ‘Hottest Tracks’ Sunday Times Culture ‘Hot Track’ The Observer ‘On The Stereo’ Q Magazine ‘The Playlist’ Music Week NME piece will run this Friday
4/27 Album announcement PR with 'Californian Light' video Announcement of free underplay London show 4/28 - L’Ere De Rien Festival, Nantes, France 4/29 - Live At Leeds 4/30 - Stag & Dagger, Glasgow 5/2 - Underplay show, London TBC 5/18 Cameo available across DSPs + IG ahead of TGE Festival with pseudo video + PR 5/19 DSP Great Escape Festival x 2 6/4 The Ritz supporting Whitney, Manchester 6/23 Radio impact of Californian Light 7/6 - Service Don’t Have Me Back to radio + PR + official video 8/8 or 9 Euro Festival slots - more info soon 9/1 Radio impact of Don’t Have Me Back 20th - 23rd September - Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg 7th October - Neighbourhood Festival, Manchester 1st - 5th November - Iceland Airwaves Festival, Reykjavik November - UK/European headline tour OCTOBER Headline tour UK/Europe (will start end of September possibly) 11/1-5 Iceland Airwaves Festival, Reykjavik
CHILDHOOD UNIVERSAL HIGH
No one sets out to make the same record twice, of course, but play the new Childhood album side-by-side with their debut and they could almost have been made by different bands such is the monumental leap forward the South Londoners have made.
Released just three years ago, Lacuna was a miasma of shimmering guitars and dazed dream pop. A deep dive into swirling pools of shoegazing-like sound that surfaced into hazy sunbursts of choruses. While it still maintains the same alluring character and swooping, sleepy-eyed melodies that made its predecessor so alluring, Universal High is another beast altogether.
From the low-riding shuffle and jet stream falsettos of opener A.M.D., Cameo’s elastic slow jam and the sparkling, four-to-the-floor stomp of Too Old For My Tears To Lie, it’s a record that gently traces its finger across classic sounds from the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis and Prince, slips into rare groove’s slick sensuousness and shares the magpie eye of MF Doom. Lacuna announced Childhood as one of the new voices worth listening to. Few would have anticipated this is where they would go to next.
“We wrote most of the first album when we were at Uni, we graduated in 2012, we recorded it in 2014 so by the time we were touring Lacuna I was listening to so much different music,” notes frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft over a pint en route to discuss video ideas in Soho. “I was listening to a lot of ’80s stuff, left-field soul and making connections with that to psychedelic bands and stuff like The Blackbyrds. I got heavily into MF Doom, Q Tip that were gateways into loads of old soul artists from finding the samples, discovering stuff like Black Ivory. I properly went into it.”
While much of Lacuna was co-written by Romans-Hopcraft and guitarist/vocalist Leo Dobsen way back at Nottingham University, this time around he returned home to his soul nut mother’s flat in South London and shut himself away on his own to formulate a plan for the band’s next move. As the vision for what Universal High would be started to come together, he noticed his Mum’s record collection bleeding into the process. Literally.
“My mum’s a massive soul fanatic and I think it eventually started seeping into my room. Her radio’s actually right next to my door. By the end she was noticing it. She would listen to The Jones Girls then ten minutes later, it’d be blazing out of my speakers. There’s definitely been a little exchange which is cool.”
Looking out over Camberwell’s high-rise flats, the walls of Romans-Hopcraft’s bedroom were plastered with an ever changing collage-cum-diagram dissecting and analysing just how songs by Smokie Robinson or David Bowie or Todd Rundgren actually work.
“I’d never really confronted song-writing as a discipline. I’ve always just been, ‘I like that tune,’ or, ‘I like this thing and I’m going to try and replicate something,’” he reflects. “But I got really into trying to work out what exactly was the thing that made them work. Studying them, as it were. I’ve completely changed the whole way I approach a song. I’ve forced myself through a university of song-writing.”
Having been friends with Fat White Family’s Saul Adamczeski over the years, the pair worked together both in Warmduscher and more recently as part of Insecure Men. Something that also led to him gaining a pop master class while co-producing with Sean Lennon in New York. “I’ve been working with Sean quite a bit recently, he was teaching me about all this stuff like, ‘That’s a coda.’ I was like, ‘Oh, really…’ So I’ve been really geeking out on song-writing.”
It’s an education Romans – Hopcraft has passed with flying colours. Whereas on Lacuna melodies worked as brush strokes in a wider painting, here every verse, middle eight, coda, chorus, slap-bass thunk or freewheeling sax break is a precision-tooled, pop knock out. Take the chorus on Nothing Ever Seems Right’s Talking Heads-like tessellations – it’s such unashamedly, fist-in-the-air, radio-friendly stuff, it’s a shame there isn’t a John Hughes film soundtrack for it to go on. Or Don’t Have Me Back, the sort joyously tumbling piano-led tune that could have come out of Brian Wilson’s sandpit. Only here, the outwardly sunny disposition is undercut by a sly lyrical subversion.
A similar thing happens across Universal High’s ten tracks. A song like California Light might glisten with all the sun-kissed optimism of its titular locale, yet the whole album – despite being recorded in Atlanta, Georgia – is deeply rooted in London and informed by a sharp sense of melancholy and disillusionment.
“People are like, ‘Oh, you’re writing about being in California, then?’ No, not at all. It’s actually about being in London. It’s about me thinking something is one thing when that’s completely not the case. The title’s a joke to me about a time when me and my friends were taking a lot of ‘shrooms in San Francisco and we thought, ‘Oh the lights are so amaaaazing here, look at the trees, it’s sick,’ when actually it was just the police shining their lights in our face,” notes the singer with a chuckle.
“There’s a soured tinge to a lot of it, even on the more joyous moments on the record. There’s a lot of disillusionment. A lot of it is about how a lot of young people are getting eaten up by London. Whether it’s drugs, whether it’s social clichés and expectations, just depending on who you are in the world. You’re in a kind of vacuum, I feel like people lose their sense of who they are in London.”
Having started sessions in Normandy before decamping to America, the whole group – Romans-Hopcraft, Dobsen, Thomas Fiquet, Max Fantin and drummer Jonny Williams – have considerably upped their game as musicians to deliver these songs, and in Ben’s case perfect a particularly agile falsetto vocal. One of the main challenges though was to hang on to their own identity as a band while pushing themselves in new directions while working with producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Deerhunter & Animal Collective).
“I first tried singing like that as a joke then thought, ‘Oh actually I might be able to get away with this…’” he recalls with a laugh. “Recording the album we were very aware of our roots as an indie band. We wanted to make sure we could have all these influences but still make sure we weren’t trying to be a soul band. You can never really forget your D.N.A. as a band. We’ll see what will happen with the next one. Maybe someone’s going to come in with a mini drum machine and we will have gone gabba.”
Until they break out the Day-Glo and dust masks we can simply enjoy this unexpected chapter in Childhood’s story.
2. Californian Light
4. Too Old For My Tears To Lie
5. Melody Says
6. Universal High
8. Don’t Have Me Back
9. Nothing Ever Seems Right
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