Gazelle lead singer Ryan Dunn on effect of lockdown: “It really put a spanner in the works”

By Samuel Gill

Lockdown has affected many businesses, such as the entertainment sector, with live music having no potential roadmap in sight for bands to return to venues since the lockdown earlier this year in March.

Ryan Dunn is lead singer for the Leicester-based band Gazelle who, as well as a following in their home city, started to gain major traction further afield before lockdown.

Speaking about the effect of the lockdown from their perspective, he admits that there were big plans in the offing.

“Just before lockdown, we had a few things in the pipeline that were looking really good for us. There were television appearances and a few festivals so it really put a spanner in the works. It was quite annoying to be honest. We’re just hoping we can continue that when we get back,” said Dunn.

A lockdown demo was released by the band called This is My England ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day and this time has led to music being made differently including for Dunn and Gazelle.

“I’ve been writing a lot of new music and getting a few tunes down so I suppose in that respect, it’s been a bit of a blessing to get that time to write some new tunes.

“I think you can be a bit more experimental. I think it’s a time you can reflect and try and work out how you stand and hone your skills a bit more.”

Dunn’s last gig was at The Cookie back in March as a solo acoustic set with The Magic Mod, a sign which still adorns the venue today and like many, he didn’t think it’d be this long since his last gig.

He added: “To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think at the time. I wasn’t too worried about it. I was a bit reluctant to go into lockdown so it was nice to get that last gig in and I definitely didn’t expect it to be almost a year. If you actually go by the Cookie, The Magic Mod is still there, it’s a bit weird to see.”

PRECURSOR: Ryan Dunn on stage at The Cookie before lockdown – Photo – Robert O’Brien/ Snake Oil Music News

So how does he see the future of live music and venues? Dunn believes it has been an apparent issue since lockdown began.

“I don’t think they’re doing enough to protect venues, pubs or any sort of small business. I think they jump to put us into lockdown too quickly sometimes and don’t stop to think of the consequences it has on the businesses.”

The Cookie set to close amid Coronavirus outbreak

By Samuel Gill

The Cookie in Leicester is the latest venue to close it’s doors amid the Coronavirus outbreak as the music industry becomes one of the big losers in the global pandemic.

Based in the High Street, it acts as a bar and a gig venue, very popular for seeing up and coming acts with the likes of Tom Grennan and DMA’s among others previously gracing the stage in its basement.

Many venues not only in this city but across the country have either closed their doors until further notice, like the Cookie, or just are taking it gig by gig after the Government’s advice to ban mass gatherings.

The venue released the following statement earlier today urging their customers to follow the advice given to them regarding the virus.

“It’s with great sadness that under the current government guidelines, we must close The Cookie until further notice.

As always the safety and health of staff, customers and artists is of the upmost importance. This incredibly difficult decision has not been made lightly.

We hope this closure will be short lived and we can welcome you back very soon. We strongly encourage you to follow the advice of Public Health Officials and as always we appreciate your support during this difficult time for all.”

With such gigs as October Drift and Wide Eyed Festival to come in the next few months, the venue have also been quick to say that all ticket holders will be contacted about a ticket shift or a refund.

University student’s career soared after opening for Denodriz Concert

image0 (1)Alwayne Campbell, 20 yrs old (left), Denodriz, 17 years old (middle) and Dami Sowunmi 20 yrs old (right)

by Khrista Davis

A Computer Systems Engineering student from Loughborough, Dami Sowunmi, has had major success since performing as the opening act for rapper Denodriz on January 30.

Dami is a self-made artist who has been doing music for over a year whilst balancing his University degree, he goes by the name of ‘Lyco’ and his music genre fits into the Afro-Rnb category, but it can also be associated with Smooth Trap and Soul.

He began to make music with friend Alwayne Campbell who goes by the name of ‘Wxyne’. Their management team also runs one of the most successful groups in the UK called ‘Lotto Boyzz’ and informed them about the opportunity to be the opening act to Denodriz.

Dami Sowunmi said: “I would say it was a big accomplishment and I am proud to have been given the chance. It was an amazing experience!

“In the past when I’ve been given the opportunity to perform on stage, fright always used to latch onto me but this time it was different.

“As I was up on that stage, I felt like it was where I belonged, the crowd cheering us on really helped boost my confidence as well as being the opening act for such a famous person. My career’s been boosted!”

Dami’s music partner, Alwayne Campbell added: “It was the best moment of my life so far, it reminded me why I’m doing music and solidified that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

As a result of this experience, Dami has been contacted for other performances soon, his songs have been played on Capital Xtra by DJ Semtex and he has made new connections as a result.

Dami hopes in the future to make more music videos and perform all over the country.

Dryden Street Social gripped by legendary Paul Woolford set

By Jacob Moseley

Leicester’s house and techno fanbase were gifted a night to remember last week by one of the best original rave-scene DJs to grace a pioneer.

You would think the 39-year-old may have lost his way around the new technology young DJs use today, but recently being premiered on Radio 1 by Annie Mac says otherwise.

As well as being considered an integral part of the UK’s highly popular Warehouse Project (WHP), Woolford performs worldwide, covering Europe and America.

Born in Leeds, he grew to love House and Techno music through going to the Back to the Basics nightclub. He now has his own record label named Intimacy, and is also a weekly resident at Space in Ibiza.

With Dryden Street Social decorated with colourful illumination productions, green shades, and glimmering drapes covering the audience, the music and crowd seemed to be “At One”.

Embracing aspects of improvised jazz through his collaborative work with Paul Hession and taking huge inspiration from the modern composition of Steve Reich, Woolford has managed to make a perfect blend of well-accompanied disco samples with house beats.

Woolford had the club-goers whistling for more after his funky two-hour set came to a close, and after previous DJs such as Mall Grab last year topped sales at Dryden Street, Woolford did not disappoint.

The next event at the Dryden Street Social is Horse Meat Disco, on Sunday, November 17, bringing classic disco vibes perfect for the two-stepping vodka drinker.

Woolford, also known as Special Request, has recently performed in Bristol and Manchester and will be going on a European tour early next year.

Paul Woolford

Depression & drugs: The dark side of rap

By Charlie Bourne

Drugs and Addiction are issues that have taken hold of modern rap. Charlie Bourne spoke to Joanna Corsie to understand how the two can be a danger to young musicians.

lil peep pic

Lil Peep 

Often inciting a brash lifestyle of partying and carelessness, the modern rapper’s relaxed approach to drugs has been increasing prominently over recent years, but after the tragedy of Lil Peep, has the Rap game started to realise ‘lean culture’ has gone too far?

In a nutshell, lean culture is a US trend where rappers often gloat on their songs about taking an obscene amount of Xanax, Molly (MDMA) or lean (Purple Drank) – a drink consisting of soda, sweets and codeine – too get ridiculously high.

At first this was not seen as a dangerous problem. No one batted an eyelid, until the death of Lil Peep.

On 15th November 2017, the American rapper was en route to perform at a show in Tucson, Arizona. Unfortunately, while on the tour bus an accidental overdose of Xanax and fentanyl (an opioid used as pain medication) took his life.

The shocking news was quick to transcend around the world, as a video recorded by a friend on the tour bus captured Peep, appearing to be asleep just hours before his death. The reality was Peep’s dead body was just broadcasted to the world.

Lil Peep, who was just 21 when he passed, definitely optimised the lean culture trend, his carelessness towards life itself constantly shocked those concerned.

His attitude towards tattoos portrayed this, in an interview with GQ, Peep explains how one night he woke up with “Get Cake Die Young” branded across his forehead before going on to say “I had no idea I’d even got it, I was so f***ed up.”

The rapper made no attempt to hide his feelings when recording music, known for being part of a post-emo revival style of hip-hop he often rapped about his depression and drug addiction on his tracks such as “Better off (Dying).”

Although the rapper was aware of his addiction and depression, nothing was done to prevent his death.

To find out more on these two important problems regarding mental health lead to the death of Peep, Joanna Corsie, a counsellor at the Sir John Moore Foundation in Swadlincote, who provides therapy to aid clients with mental health problems, helped to explain.

Joanna Corsie interview

Joanna Corsie

While discussing drug addiction in young adults, Joanna explained how peer groups can often lead individuals to get hooked on drugs, saying: “The impression that I get is that, it can be a problem within a peer group, if one friend took it and recommended it to others, they may also try it and then become addicted.

“I’ve had other clients that would take drugs and that was a part of their friendship lifestyle if you like, to such a point where it became a problem for one of them. Where it got to the point where they began to revaluate their lives – surely there is more to life than this?

“Being a part of a peer group that starts something and makes it feel acceptable can lead somebody to have a real problem.”

Was this the problem with Lil Peep? From the viral video recorded on the tour bus, we know drugs were socially accepted within his clique.

To them, and like many other rappers popular today, Xanax was no longer a dangerous drug but a pastime.

When putting a link to connect addiction to depression, there isn’t a definitive answer.

Does Joanna feel there is a direct link to drug addiction and depression, she said: “That’s a difficult one for me to answer, I suppose for some people, the depression and what is behind the depression may trigger addiction to alcohol or drugs.

“Workaholics for example, they work to distract themselves from uncomfortable feelings that they’re having when at home. Any addict will tell you for a long time that they didn’t care, whatever the consequences even if they were detrimental to their health.

“Any addiction is a distraction from what they are feeling.”

The lyrics from Yung Bans track ‘Lonely’ spring to mind, repeating the phrase “I got all kinda drugs for when I get lonely” to form a catchy hook, Yung Bans reflects that addiction often is a distraction to mask whatever a person may be feeling.

From his toxicology report, Peep had nearly ten different drugs in his system when he died, ranging from Xanax to cannabis.

With both a range of medicinal and recreational drugs, Peep may have been using a variety of drugs to self-medicate and mask his problems in his personal life.

A situation that can create a false sense of protection from the negative issues that troubled him.

Through her therapy, Joanna deals with clients that face similar issues. She believes being open to discussion by addressing past issues, is a positive step forward for anyone seeking to get better.

“What I personally believe is that you have to sometimes look at what is behind the problem. It’s all well and good addressing how you deal with it now but if there is still stuff that is unresolved from back in the past then it’s good to be able to bring that out into the open, to unpick it and find some resolve or peace with that problem, because then I believe the outcome, which obviously we hope is positive, will be more stable.” She added.

Joanna had a message to anyone that may be suffering in silence.

She said: “Try to be real and honest, because depression usually comes about through holding on to thoughts and feelings and repressing them. From as young as possible, try to be as real as possible with how you feel and what your thoughts are.

In terms of lean culture, the turn of 2018 saw many rappers that previously took Xanax and lean to now reject the trend entirely.

Rappers Lil Pump, with the hit single ‘Gucci Gang’ that features lyrics such as “Me and my grandma take meds,” along with Smokepurpp, took to social media to announce on New Years Day that they were both quitting Xanax as sort of New Years’ resolution.

Furthermore, Famous Dex announced back in November that he was “done with lean” after being rushed to hospital.

Moreover, a movement on social media with the hashtag #KickDaCupChallenge is aiming to inspire others to stop drinking lean.

With the recent times suggesting their may be an internal uprising within the Rap game against hard drugs, the genre may be beginning to clean up it’s act before anyone else suffers the same fate as Lil Peep.

For more information regarding mental health visit the website www.nhs.uk/livewell or contact Joanna.corsie@me.com to get in touch with Joanna.

Thoughts of some other rappers:

Vic Mensa said in a lengthy interview with Billboard: “To be honest on one hand I almost don’t even feel that I have the right to chastise anybody because I’ve f***ing done it. I’ve rapped about Xanax. I regret it. I don’t rap about it anymore, but I have some lines about taking Xanax.

vic mensa photo

Vic Mensa

“I just think that we’re in such a dangerous place now because it’s been normalised and the drug abuse has been reduced to a marketing tactic.

“it’s horribly irresponsible because you got kids that idolize these people and will do anything they do. They’re being misled but their f***ing heroes and getting addicted to Xans or Percocets and dying from them. So it’s pretty f***ed.” (per hotnewhiphop.com).”

One of the biggest rappers of today’s generation, 21 Savage, posted hs thoughts on the issue of drugs in rap to his twitter page.

“They say we make drug user music like making drug selling music is better, what’s the difference? What about the fact that rap is the number one genre of music right now, none of y’all acknowledge that?

He Added: “Artists been snorting cocaine and smoking crack since the 70s and 80s did y’all forget that?

“Our music is a reflection of what is going on in our community and all we doing is using our talent to escape that community.”