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The young and talented Lauren Aquilina

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Malta’s Farsons Beer Festival is one of the most awaited festivals by the public. Apart from the beer drinking, this festival serves as a platform for new and aspiring Maltese artists. Lauren Aquilina is one of these artists. Aquilina is a nineteen year old young lady, who has been making it in the music industry in England. She’s an inspiration to many young singers in Malta, proving that if you are dedicated to doing something you really love, you will get there.

Tonight at 10pm, Lauren Aquilina will be singing at the Beer Festival for the second time. Having attended Aquilina’s performance last year, I can say that tonight’s performance is not to be missed! So in order to get you all started below you will find Lauren Aquilina’s debut song released back in 2012, and an exclusive interview with Lauren herself.

 

Nicole: How long have you been in the music industry? 

Lauren: I have been signed for a few months, but releasing music since I was 17. So two years I guess!

 

Nicole: Could you tell me something about your music, what is the aim behind it?

Lauren: I use writing as a form of release, there was never really any aim, I’m just glad people seem to like it! It’s all very personal and fairly chilled.

 

Nicole: Which song of yours is your favourite? What’s the story behind it?

Lauren: My favourite song of mine is actually a new one I’ve written for the album, it’s about wanting to be free of something and finally feeling that release. I can’t reveal much more than that!

 

Nicole: Who are your musical inspirations?

Lauren: I love most music but in particular Coldplay, Stereophonics and Annie Lennox were massive influences whilst I was growing up. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Bon Iver and M83.
Nicole: Are there any new songs to be released soon?

Lauren: I’m writing lots at the moment for my debut album which should hopefully be out in 2015!

 

Nicole: Could you kindly tell me something about your relation to Malta?

Lauren: My Dad is Maltese which makes me half Maltese :-) I have a lot of family here and have been visiting often since I was really little.

 

Nicole: How do you like the country?

Lauren: I love it! It’s my favourite place in the world, my paradise.

Posted in Interviews, Music

Exploring the street art festival

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The Sliema arts festival began on Friday 18th July at 5 p.m. Approaching the swings of Exiles and all along the Sliema front, I could witness an array of vendors, food stalls, 3D artwork on the promenade and various stalls which sold tidbits of clothing, jewellery, and accessories. One could either access the arts festival via the Sliema front or through the Sliema gardens along the coast. Approaching the festival, one could hear music booming from all around the area. A kaleidoscope of colours and people fluttered around which enmeshed the creative and organic atmosphere that was composed to entertain and inspire the public.

I experienced different types of music from two different stages set in the area. The Alternative stage parallel to Surfside on the Exiles beach provided a number of live acts, DJs, local and growing bands, local and foreign street artists silently tapping away with their spray cans on old caravans and walls amongst the tunes of the bands and the fresh sea breeze. Bands such as Juno and the Wolf, Three Stops to China and for strings inn performed that night alongside Hedon Crew which provided the Dj set. The atmosphere epitomized summertime madness. Amongst the Maltese summer heat, people of all ages gathered to dance along to the music and absorb the musical vibes. Some freely danced, others met up with friends and enjoyed a cool beer on the beach. Children could be seen running around and on the strand. Groups of English students, the Sliema strand runners and the bench bummers seemed to stir amongst all the excitement. Restaurants, creperies, and ice-cream shops seemed booming with people wanting a tasty treat amongst the free entertainment.

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It also included local film screenings, skateboarding, abseiling, and an array of activities. Open to the public, the festival was dispersed across quite a large area which met a variety of different needs for all age groups. Families enjoyed taking their children to the new and updated swings whilst enjoying the food and entertainment at the same time. For the health foodies there were organic food stalls and wheatgrass juice stands all around the front.

The open air art exhibitions included work of a variety of both local and foreign artists who could also be seen sketching away at times. The art itself was left open to interpretation and individual perception, though some works of art were actually stolen by the public when left on display as they were temporarily unattended. Different styles were displayed by many artists. On one side, one could see impressionistic landscape designs, on the other modern Picasso-inspired art together with a number of complex and also simplistic individual designs. Interesting sculptures seemed to float amongst the canvases and splashes of art which gave the exhibition its own unique character. Many works of art were on sale and provided information regarding their portfolios, style and collaborations.

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Many photographers could be seen flitting about snapping up pictures of the murals and street art displayed on benches, phone boxes and even the floor itself!

On Saturday, the events started at 2 p.m and singers and bands such as Alex Alden, Errormantics, Massacre House Party and Areola Treat performed alongside Dj sets such as those of Hedon Crew and Laavemuax. The artwork seemed to thin out in size on Saturday and on the other main stage a number of folk bands played medieval tunes which encircled the playful atmosphere beside the playground roaring with kids playing in the summer breeze. On Sunday 20th, Mega Fun, Jane Doe, The Velts and Mana Tapu performed live together with Chris Radium Gedz D Incmode from FDM Crew Dj set.

All in all, the street arts festival is improving and encouraging local artists to display their art publicly which exposes them to the general public and potential buyers. Maltese bands are becoming more known in media circles and should be supported by the general public. In this way, upcoming artists and talented young musicians can expose themselves to a huge demographic sector of the Maltese public and tourists which are seeing a slice of our culture and heritage transposed in different art forms.

Posted in Art, Culture, Music

Clash of the artists

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On Friday 18th July, the Maltese population was literally spoiled for choice. Whether it was taking slow and tasteful sips of Marsovin’s delicacies, or listening to the vocal dexterity of Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja alongside X- factor winner Leona Lewis and Italian singer Claudio Baglioni, or just chilling by the serene Grand Harbour coupled with soothing jazz music and Maltese dishes.  Organizers were concerned about the turnout of the general public, and even though all three events were taking place in close proximity of each other, attending all three was somewhat impossible.

The Jazz Festival is always held on the third weekend of July and, since most artist bookings had to be made way before summer, the thought of clashing with another event did not cross the organizers’ minds. For non-jazz enthusiasts, the name Brad Mehldau might not ring a bell. However he is a very distinguished pianist and composer who was nominated for several jazz instrumental performances.

Brad Mehldau

Brad Mehldau

In Malta, different generations are drawn to different genres and only a few seek non-‘mainstream’ music. The constant bombardment of pop songs on TV, radio and, for the party animals, Paceville, unknowingly enables people to ‘prefer’ pop culture over other genres. One’s preference depends on that individual’s exposure to that particular type of music. Certain likings vary according to what is popular  at the time. As a case in point, when ‘The Great Gatsby’ was released in cinemas last year, many people got hyped up with the roaring twenties. The soundtrack was played everywhere around the island, and the movie inspired the KSU’s Grad ball theme. Most of the people who loved listening to the Great Gatsby soundtrack were not necessarily twenties- enthusiasts, but the songs’ successes drove the public into liking them.

It’s all about timing. I am not saying that people do not have a personal liking or a favourite  genre, but that such opinions are indirectly influenced by society. Joseph Calleja was not as popular ten years ago as he is now. He was definitely as good as he is today, however as he internationally flourished, more and more people started to follow the trend and attendance to his annual concert increased. This year’s performance was said to be beyond words, as the artists crafted their voices into the audience’s hearts.

Joseph Calleja

Joseph Calleja

Events like these could enable people  to discover new artists or to take more interest in an artist’s music. Unfortunately, the current generation is less into lyrics and emotion, and more into beats and rhythm. Most of the new songs released, popular amongst the teen generation,  have  an overall variation of lyrics as much as a limerick. The gradual shift of artistic preferences is primarily influenced by what is popular rather than by what is best. Then again, one cannot generalise as many have un-fluctuated tastes.

This summer has been characterized by hipster and indie music, most of which have reached the top of the Maltese music charts. However, events such as the ones that took place on the 18th of July help the public embrace the possibility of alternative music, rather than the same old same old. We should all be very thankful for having continuous events enriching our perspectives on the arts and constantly reminding us that, no matter what genre the music  is from, there are always amazing artists to grasp our attention. New movies and events are coming out, meaning new influences. Let’s see what the hype of summer 2014 will be!

Posted in Music, Opinion, Opinion

Two men, two cellos, one heart

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One thing that personally struck me as I sat in the Royal Opera House in Valletta was the passion that Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser put into their performance. You could see the love towards what they do in the way they got lost in the music they were playing, from different genres and artists including Coldplay, ACDC, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson amongst many others.

2Cellos is made up of two Croatian musicians, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, and together they raised the bars of cello playing. Their fame all started in 2011 when they uploaded their rendition of the king of pop, Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal to Youtube. This same cover landed them a record deal with Sony Masterworks and was featured in Fox’s TV series Glee, with Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin accompanying them. They have produced two music albums, one in 2011 called 2Cellos and another one in 2013 called In2ition. The first album got them as far as winning the Best International Album award, while their second album got nominated for the same award but did not manage to hit the heights of winning like the first one had.

Although achieving such great fame, Sulic and Hauser still remain down to earth, friendly and funny, going as far as staying at the theatre after their performance to meet everyone present in the audience. Their performance constantly involved the audience with many leaving their seats and moving closer to the stage dancing, jumping and singing. One thing I know for sure is that I will definitely go and watch them play again.

Posted in Culture, Music

Gozitan post-rock band to release second single

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Gozitan post-rock act ‘They Come in Twos’ will officially release their second single, titled “Through the Trenches (Into the Light)” on the 22nd of July. In a press release, they describe the song as one that makes use of strong dynamics, heavy guitars and drums while delving further into the experimental side through the utilization of various strings and electronica.

They describe the song’s concept as being about the ‘personal battle to confront the toughest of obstacles in order to achieve the ultimate goal, whatever it may be, and no matter how dirty one’s hands get in the process.’

‘They Come in Twos’ is made up of songwriters Christian Farrugia, formerly of Saving Alexis, and Paul Formosa, both hailing from Xaghra, Gozo. Currently a studio-only act, the band is planning to issue further releases throughout the second half of 2014.

“Through the Trenches (Into the Light)” was recorded at 3some Studios, Msida, produced by Kenny D’Ugo and Dave Calleja and mixed and mastered by Kenny D’Ugo.

The debut single of ‘They Come in Twos’- “Static Made This Way”

Posted in Culture, Music

Junior Eurovision Song Contest – Call for Volunteers

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As a result of Gaia Cauchi (S.G.)’s victory last year with her song ‘The Start’, Malta will be hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for the first time on the 15th of November at Malta Shipbuilding in Marsa.

To ensure that this popular event is a success, the Public Broadcasting Authority (PBS) has released a call for volunteers to help in certain activities, such as delegating hosts and front office service. There are even open positions for volunteers willing to help in photo and video editing, among others.

This could be a wonderful opportunity for students currently reading for a degree in communication or tourism studies…or for students who are just fans of the show!

 

Check out the image below for more details about the posts available and details on how to apply:

 

                                                                                                          jesc

 

 

Posted in Culture, Music