Sunday, 21 April 2013

Introducing… Keisha Cane 

Created by Memphis, Tennessee based sisters, writer Ashley and illustrator April Foxx,  the lovably mischievous Keisha Cane is a new children’s book character whose world is filled with colourful, eye catching illustrations and memorable prose that’s sure to capture the hearts and imaginations of children and adults alike. 

Her first adventure “Keisha Cane and Her Very Sweet Tooth”  in which temptation leads her in to trouble, was published in March 2013 with funding raised through the Kickstarter website and will be available from the Foxx sisters’ new company ‘Kifani incorporated’  as well as from online stores. 

Top, the book's front cover and bottom (portrait by Nubia Creative Images) April (in purple top) and Ashley.

Ashley has a background in journalism, having earned her MS in digital media from the prestigious Columbia Journalism School.  After graduating she moved in to early years teaching through the ‘teach for America’ programme, a non profit organisation which connects talented and motivated individuals with schools in challenging areas. She continues to work closely with the Memphis College Prep Elementary School and with the young inquiring minds that motivated her to pen her first children’s book through community literacy and outreach programs. 

I wanted little ones to love big books and become lifelong readers.” Ashley Foxx 

She recognized in particular the importance for the young African American children who often made up the majority of her classes to have positive role models in literature and in the wider media. The character of Keisha Cane is inspired by her own experiences growing up as well as by the community in which she was immersed whilst writing.  She received major encouragement for the project from the local impetus toward education and literacy reform in and around Memphis. 

“There is so much momentum around education reform and we are excited to see how the lives of students are changed in this city! We believe we were meant to launch our book in Memphis. Memphis is the place and now is the time.” Ashley Foxx

As part of their class room tour April and Ashley
 visited St Luke's day school in Memphis, TN in April 2013. 

Keisha’s mischievous nature is in part a tribute to characters such as Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and E.B White’s Charlotte (a spider) as Ashley remembers well from her own childhood that a naughty, tricksy character is much more interesting to developing minds than a goody-two-shoes. 
All young readers will be delighted to share in the story of Keisha Cane, along with parents and educators, but for some, who’re too often under served by conventional media, the book will have an extra special resonance. 

Ashley and April are currently taking Keisha Cane on a book-tour of schools to reach young readers directly.  Their guiding ethos of a fun, proactive and creative approach to social responsibility permeates the Keisha Cane project. The community organization ‘Literacy Mid-South’ received a quarter of the proceeds of the recent book launch and revenue generated through Kickstarter is being used to fund donations of the book to schools and libraries across the U.S. 

April Foxx is a graduate in fine art and graphic design at University of Memphis. She is an award winning multi-media artist and has lent her diverse skills to a range of projects.  Her talents are beautifully showcased in Keisha Cane And Her Very Sweet Tooth for which she took inspiration from some of Ashley’s favourite children’s illustrators such as Eric Carle (The very hungry caterpillar) and Christian Robinson (Harlem’s little Blackbird.) She has melded  their vibrancy and simplicity with her own unique style.  The result is a combination of bold, bright colours with traditional African prints and a layered collage technique full of simple shapes with materials such as cotton and glitter used to produce a range of tactile, textured effects.  These gorgeous illustrations are sure to inspire many a budding young artist to reach for their scissors and glue. 

“There wasn’t a limit to what we might use. If we liked the texture, it would end up on one of the pages!” – April Foxx

From the beginning of the Keisha Cane project April and Ashley chose to use crowd source funding rather than rely on traditional publishing routes. The freedom to choose how their work is presented and to maintain the distinctive nature of their brand were important considerations in this choice.
They were attracted by the immediate viral nature of Kickstarter, which allows friends, family and colleagues to help to promote a project without the need for a large advertising budget or specialist expertise. Their initial fundraising goal was $6000 which seemed ambitious to begin with, however their contagious enthusiasm for children’s literacy alongside a range of specially designed promotional products such a T-Shirts and bookmarks quickly paid dividends and they reached a total of over $8600 in just a few weeks from 183 separate donations. 

Their success in utilising social media and non-traditional platforms to fund and publicise their project 
 testifies to the potential of this approach for aspiring creatives, inventors and entrepreneurs. For anyone with a can-do attitude and a good idea there are more opportunities available than ever before. 

To get a copy of 'Keshia Cane and Her Very Sweet Tooth' for your classroom, library or home head over to the Foxx's own Kifani inc. shop

Check out 
April's facebook  artists' profile to learn more about her inspirations and processes. 
and take a look around Ashley's personal website to learn more about her work and projects.


Monday, 1 April 2013

Introducing… Candy is Dead
‘Candy is dead’ is an online collaborative project which brings together Márcio, a Brazilian music producer and British female vocalist MadaMercy.
These two artists, living thousands of miles apart serendipitously discovered one another via ‘Bandmix’  A social networking site which allow musicians to forge novel connections by taking advantage of the same technologies that have revolutionised music distribution and production in recent years.  
Having taken an extended break from his professional production career to focus on digital marketing Márcio was inspired to return to his first love by the chance which ‘cyberspace’ presents to work across cultures. Madamercy is a scholarship student at Bristol’s institute of modern music where she is focusing on music industry management. She has always loved singing and idolised strong and eclectic vocal performances, by the likes of Bjork, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury growing up. She divides her time between her studies and her vocal career, often working on several ventures at a time. Her driving ambition is to always have fun in producing and performing her music.

Márcio’s decision to seek out a British artist to work with was inspired by the philosophy of famed American mythologist Joseph John Campbell.  Campbell, whose focus was in the same vein mined by Jung and Frazer sought to uncover human cultural universals ‘archetypes’ which would shed light on the human condition. This may seem a somewhat esoteric concept to grapple with at first, yet the basic underlying theme is an instantly relatable one.  Through seeking out diversity and cultural distance to underpin the music making a dynamic patterning of commonalities and contrasts emerges.

The collaborative process of Candy is Dead
is a mixture of organic creativity and a structured series of responses and reactions by Márcio and Madamercy to each other’s ideas. The nature of the digital communication which they use means that a foundation of mutual artistic trust and open communication are essential elements to their success.
Through negotiating these challenges and opportunities that the process of making music never need stagnate for the artist; there are always new ideas, new sounds and most importantly new people to work with and be enthused by.  The Candy is Dead signature sounds transport  the listener back to the hedonistic days of early 90s UK dance Music, with strong currents of shoegaze and trip-hop  and to the night clubs of Brazil’s constantly thriving music scene, where traditional genres and energetic youth culture jostle for attention.  Their music has the potential to inspire many others to follow their example and to engage with people from anywhere around the world.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Discovering Bristol's past through the bottom of a pint glass...

A great way to begin to get acquainted with the rich and unique history with which Bristol is suffused is through its public houses. Many of these have been at the heart of their communities for generations.  Each pub mentioned here enjoys Grade II listing from English Heritage.

The Hatchett Inn on Frogmore street and Llandogwer Trow on King Street 

The Hatchett claims to be the oldest pub in the whole of Bristol with an establishment date of 1606, whilst the Llandoger Trow dates from 1664.
These classic seventeenth century timber frame pubs, constructed in the instantly recognisable Tudor style, are located within the walls of the Old City. They are remarkable symbols of continuity having survived the Blitz and numerous city centre redevelopments.
The buildings themselves have been altered somewhat over the centuries yet their essential architectural characters remain intact, with their eye catching timbers, overhanging eaves, low ceilings and eerie cellar spaces. They evoke the romance of the Old City whilst competing with the multitude of new drinking holes that have sprung up all around them.
Their very names give an insight in to Bristol's varied past. The 'Hatchett' is thought to have originally been the leisure spot of local 'woodsmen' who plied their trade in the nearby 'Clifton wood.' Now an urban era this was a rural forested site prior to the industrial age.
The Llandoger Trow was once known as the 'Llandoger Tavern' located just by the river Avon it was renamed after the freight sailing boats 'trows' which brought goods from Llandogo, in Monmouthshire in Wales to the 'Welsh back' area which lies behind it.

Numerous legends have attached themselves to both pubs over the centuries, some more credible than others. The Hatchett, which is now a hub for alternative music, has been home to a cock-fighting and bare knuckle boxing. Clearly this has always been a very lively part of Bristol!. Some even say the door and the roof are partially made with human skin!
The Llandoger trow boasts strong ties to Bristol's maritime past which include literary claims to fame. It is said that Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, the real life inspiration for Robinson Crusoe here. The Admiral Benbow in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island was based directly upon the 'Trow. It has long been the frequented by actors and staff from the Theatre Royal which is situated directly opposite. The Royal made full use of this connection in using the 'Trow as a stage set for a recent stage production of Treasure Island in which the exterior of the building was magically transformed in to a pirate ship!

 The Old Duke on King Street 

A visitor to the Llandoger Trow is likely to be serenaded with the distinctive sound of Bristol's New Orleans inspired traditional jazz scene, That's because the famous 'Old Duke' sits just opposite, with live jazz every day of the week and a vibrant jazz festival weekend in the Summertime there's always something worth seeing here. The 'Duke was first licensed to sell alcohol in 1775 and boasts a colourful Georgian façade  Originally thought to have been named for the Duke of Cumberland it is now said to be named for Duke Ellington! Bands including the 'the Bluenotes' and 'the Severn Jazzmen' have played here for nearly 40 years!

The Old Duke provides a stunning backdrop for its popular Jazz Festival

The Seven Stars and The Fleece on St Thomas Street.

Dating from the late 17th c. the Seven Stars is slightly off the beaten track, tucked away as it is in cobbled side street. Many regular drinkers will have initially discovered it when visiting the Fleece next door. Once known as 'The Wool Hall' the Fleece was originally built to house the wool market and is an example of Bristol's unique nineteenth century 'Bristol Byzantine' architectural style. Despite the centuries that passed between their constructions the Fleece and the 'Stars give every impression of belonging together. On the entrance to the 'Stars you'll spot two blue plaques commemorating the celebrated abolitionist Thomas Clarkson who held meetings here to investigate and discuss the slave trade which was a major source of income for Bristol merchants. Clarkson faced many challenges and strong opposition yet his determination and moral courage remained intact. He played an important role in abolition being achieved throughout the British Empire and was a key founder of 'the anti-slavery society' now called 'anti-slavery international' it is the world's oldest operating international human rights charity. 

The interior of the 'Stars 

A street view of the 'Stars and the Fleece 

NB the images used in this blog are not mine. 

A blast from the past. Real Me Records Mission Statement.

A mission statement which Ceri ( manager and reel me records press officer) and I worked on together . It was the first piece of 'media' work we did together :)


At Reel Me Records first and foremost we are musicians and music lovers. Our passion for music drives everything we do and we take pride in providing our artists with support and opportunities which will allow them to thrive. The Reel Me Records team boasts the expertise to successfully push new music through traditional and digital media including press, radio and digital distribution and our expanding network of taste-makers and influencers add huge value to our promotional activity.

Reel me records has been established for singer-songwriters and bands who do not fit easily within the commercial mould. Thanks to our independence, we are not solely focused on commercial success. Our main objective is to connect great new music with fans. We will never seek to iron out the individuality our artists, because we believe that protecting artistic freedom is an integral part of building long lasting relationships between artists, fans and ourselves.

We believe that great music deserves to be heard and that great artists deserve to be recognised. The best track in the world won’t achieve good sales without good promotion. For us, this is the essence of what we do; we spend our time pushing our music, ensuring that it gets heard, increasing plays, fans, and followers.  The supportive and unrestrictive package that we give our artists means that they can concentrate on what they’re good at, writing the music. They can be confident that all the rest is in good hands. As part of our commitment to artistic freedom we will not tie artists in to long contracts. Artists work with us on a release-by-release basis and we will never prevent any of our artists working with other labels. We believe that our relationships with each of our artists should be built on trust and we hope that our hard work ethic will produce results which will persuade our artists to continue to work with us.

If you have any questions, feedback or comments please do not hesitate to get in touch with Kris of the team and in the mean time we hope you can share our vision and enjoy the beautiful music that makes Reel Me Records.

Bless the Music,

Thursday, 28 March 2013


For.The.Love  will be hosting an E.P launch for the lovely ladies on the 4th of May at the Birdcage in Bristol.


Jo Hadler, Annie Wright and Ash Trafford are a female vocal harmony trio for the modern age.  Ash and Annie are currently students undertaking music focused courses and Jo is a recent music graduate. Their musical accompaniment is ably provided by Ben Shauffler on bass, James Howitt on guitar and Jake Luxton on drums. ‘FMK’ are dedicated to honing their craft and absorbing the wealth of influence around them in Bristol’s burgeoning acoustic music scene. Their main sources of inspiration growing up were decidedly pop orientated; the classic fodder of the 90s generation with access to their parents’ record collections from Abba and Joni Mitchell to Beyonce and Foo Fighters.  The list is a familiar one to millions of 20 and 30 somethings all over the U.K. and it’s this formative passion for catchy lyrics and soaring sing-a-long vocals, an unabashed love of the power of the mainstream, combined with a willingness to experiment and stand out that makes ForgetMeKnot such an exciting prospect.

The girl’s writing process is a collaborative one, as harmonious as their on stage vocals.  Ash and Jo usually sketch out the initial idea, with a feeling or image often being at the centre rather than any concrete subject because they want their music to be as much about their audience’s personal responses as about their own artistic expression.  Nowadays the girls cite each other as their main source of inspiration. During their live performances which showcase their elegantly pared down style this comfortable comradeship comes to the fore as Ash provides a piano accompaniment that simply compliments and never overshadows the delicate harmonising of intertwined voices. The girls’ lyrics and contained emotional intensity come through with gorgeous clarity. The result is redolent of the classic harmony groups of yesteryear, such as the Andrew Sisters, but with an added, updated edge lurking tantalising just beneath the surface.

Check out the Facebook Page

Listen to 'Dust' and 'Monsters' on Reverbnation
Watch a live performance of 'Beneath the Waters' filmed at The Croft, Bristol.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Introducing... Memory of Elephants

As resident writer at I'm extraordinarily privileged be working with some of the finest new musical talent Bristol has to offer :)


are a Noise Rock trio that we're absolutely thrilled to have on board, their live performance presence is really outstanding.

 photo by Ruby Walker Photography

Born of late night Monopoly sessions and a shared penchant for energetic noise making memory of Elephants is an instrumental trio made up of three music students. Drummer Sam Simpson, bassist Ben Shuffler and guitarist Toby Stewart, all in their early twenties, share a seeming musical telepathy which can only be the product of late-night board-game based bonding and countless jams. This is a group of musicians who found themselves organically forming a band. The finishing touch was simply choosing a memorable name. Between them the trio share a wide range of interests and inspirations, from Motorcross to philosophical debate, from the latest dub-step of Bristol’s nightclub scene, to the pared-down gentle poetic outpourings of Jeff Buckley, taking in Mars Volta, Mowgli, System of a Down and many others along the way. In the wrong hands such a mixture of influences might spell catastrophic cacophony, but memory of elephants have been blessed with just the right balance of testosterone fuelled love of loudness and restrained, intelligent melodic sensibility. Each composition is a close collaboration, with no room for excessive ego or undue modesty. 
The resultant tracks are joyously controlled explosions, driven, purposeful and very satisfying. For the full effect of their wall-of-sound exhilaration this is a band that must be heard in their natural setting, live on stage in full force. 
Motivated by their heroes, their peers and most of all by each other memory of elephants have suitably elephantine ambitions, with extensive touring, major festivals and much more on their to-do list.
If their musical force-of-nature style is anything to go by it would be very foolish to bet against them.      

Learn more at the Facebook page

Hear a track now on Reverbnation  'In space it's jungle rules'
Boogie on down to this video of 'sex in sevens' performed at Bristol's Mother's Ruin.