House of Hats at The Brunswick / Cate Ferris at The Neptune

This weekend we went to two gigs which on paper, could have been very similar – Both were in Hove, in pubs, both were folk-based acts, and both featured performers who have recently made recordings with local producer Tim Bidwell. That’s where the similarity ends though.

Saturday night, House of Hats hosted their Harvest Sessions night at the Brunswick. The Harvest Sessions is a monthly affair put on by the band where they invite other people they’ve worked with onto the bill to share them with their audience. This month saw Cordelia Gartside (who’s also recently been produced by Tim Bidwell), Rob Vincent and Conrad Vingoe play with House of Hats.

Cordelia Gartside

I only caught the end of Cordelia’s set, but for someone so young I was impressed at how she held the room enthralled. Sometimes the simplest of setups – just a voice and guitar – can create wonderful things. Next up was Rob Vincent, who was very good, and had a fantastic voice, but isn’t from Brighton, so I’ll move on.

Conrad Vingoe

Conrad Vingoe was next onstage, fresh from playing at the Levellers’ Beautiful Days festival thanks to winning a set through an Acoustic Magazine organised contest. Conrad was playing with a slightly reduced band, since his regular mandolin player was playing with Emily Baker in Shoreham, and was just accompanied by double bass, as well as his own guitar and harmonica playing. It was easy to see that Conrad had the skills to win the set – as well as a quality performance, he was charismatic and friendly between songs too. He’s got an EP out soon, which I’m sure we’ll tell you more about nearer the time.

House of Hats

At the end of the night House of Hats came on, and played a relatively short set for headliners – I guess that’s that’s the price of having four bands on the bill. The band played a number of songs from their debut House of Hats EP, their upcoming Rivers Will Run release and even threw in a Dylan cover. Lead vocals were passed between guitarist Alex and multi-instrumentalist Noddy, and the close harmonies from the whole band sounded very slick indeed. It’s great to see a band who are working so hard and seem to be on track for big things also remembering the people they have worked with along the way.

Cate Ferris

Sunday night we were just around the corner, where Cate Ferris was playing at The Neptune’s regular music night. Cate was last invited to play at the Neptune back in March, and they enjoyed her performance so much that this time they gave her the whole evening to perform in, which she broke up into two forty-five minute sets. Most of this was filled with her newer material which starts off simply but builds up subtly with harmonic vocal loops and sampled drum or keyboard lines complimenting her acoustic guitar. It wasn’t all new tracks though – Cate also dug out old favourites Still Green and Bonnie & Clyde. The gig also marked the first outing of Cate’s new EP – “Deep Breath, Ready, Get Set, Go” is a new four track which isn’t officially out until next Monday, but was available on the night. After a marathon set, the crowd demanded more, so Cate improvised on the spot, building a song just made from harmonies layered over one another and looped – a raw exhilarating end to a fantastic performance.

 

New videos : Fragile Creatures, House of Hats, King Porter Stomp, and King of Cats

We’ve come across a few videos in the past week or so which I thought I’d share. First up is Dear Michael by Fragile Creatures, which we wrote about back in June. They’ve finally got a video to go with their debut single. Next up is House of Hats with their next single Rivers Will Run. We interviewed them about their previous animated video not long ago. Then we’ve got the video for the new King Porter Stomp single which is out on Monday. Finally, we’ve got a new offering from King of Cats. We meant to write about his cassette that came out on Reeks of Effort a little while ago, but somehow got a bit distracted:

 

Fragile Creatures – Dear Michael

House of Hats – Rivers Will Run

King Porter Stomp – The Shuffle

King of Cats – Swelling Up

House of Hats / This Love video interview

Last December, House of Hats released their eponymous “House of Hats” EP, and decided to make a video for the track This Love. The band have made a fantastic animation for it, in collaboration with film maker Finn Hopson, which only got released to the world last month. I caught up with Finn and James, Alex and Rob from the band to find out how it all came about, and why it’s taken so long to appear.

The first version of the video was made at the time of the EP by James, who plays guitar and has also designed of all of the band’s artwork so far. It was shot on an iPhone and everything was hand drawn and captured and assembled using traditional stop motion methods. James tells us “It had a shakey quality to it, which was very charming but it didn’t have a quality that matched the music, really”.

Finn Hopson’s day job is profession filmwork, doing everything from video editing for TV, to making animations for corporate clients. Around the time the orginal video was made, Finn had made a time-lapse video and showed Alex. He was impressed, and showed Finn James’ original iPhone effort and asked if Finn could do anything for them. Finn said “Why not? I’ll take your little things, I’ll move them around, I’ll have it done next week!”. Things took a little bit longer that though.

When Finn asked for the James’ artwork from the original version, he got an envelope stuffed with hundreds of cut out figures, each meticulously labelled, some still with blu-tack on them, and a seventeen page email of notes detailing exactly how everything works! James says “I didn’t know how detailed Finn wanted things, so I told him exactly”. Finn counters “What I said was ‘could you write down roughly where you’d like things to happen?’ and you had it word for word all of the way through all of the lyrics, syllable by syllable!”, to which Rob adds “That’s James through and through!”.

Finn explains “I tried to do it stop motion in my camera originally and try and do it frame by frame with stills, and I got a little way into it and after about a day I realised that you shoot 25 frames a second worth of stuff for a few seconds and suddenly you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of photos all of which need a little bit of fiddling and then exporting and then putting together into a movie and then if it’s wrong you have to go back and start again from scratch. So I did that a few times and realised that I should do it differently.”

The final version starts off with stop motion – the book opening at the beginning is put together shot by shot, but from that point on it becomes scans of the illustrations laid out in a virtual 3d environment, treated and processed and sprinkled with Finn’s magic touch to make it look less synthesised. “Where there are faces it’s often not just one face but a scans of multiple faces blended together digitally” Finn says. “Where the original iPhone version had one tree, I was given free reign to use multiple versions of these to embelish to the world in the video, but everything you see is from James’ original drawings”.

All this leaves us with one unanswered question – why are we only seeing the video now? The reason is that the band’s next single is coming out next month and the PR agency they’ve got working for them asked them to hold it back to help with the push for that. We’ll be writing more about that in a few weeks time. In the meantime, you can buy This Love and the rest of the House of Hats EP from iTunes here.

http://www.houseofhatsmusic.com

http://finnhopson.com/