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Watch “Cali Girls” by The Private Language



The Private Language knew how to get us hyped about their new project. By way of introduction. Singer Blake Lewis and musician KJ Sawka sent out a dazzling update on the 1985 Tears for Fears hit, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World“. The release more than stoked up some curiosity within us. Especially when promising that we would soon be dripping in more uniquely blended electro-funky grooves from them. They have actioned this plan to the letter with the debut original single “Cali Girls“, released through the Black Hole Recordings imprint.

This song is for you. If you would much prefer to take some respite from thumpa, thumpa summer anthem’s being pumped into your earholes. “Cali Girls” is a lovely breezy yet still summery jam. Perfect for luxuriating in while you recline in a sun lounger with a glass of fruity cocktail served on ice, placed in your hand. As the name suggests, the track exudes the kind of dreamy sun-soaked mood you just wanna kick back and vibe with. Perhaps when caught up in a daydreamy moment on your own, yet would be an equally perfect choice when gathering your mates around for a summer pool party.

Listen on Apple Music

The idea for the song came to Blake during a writing session.

“I kept thinking of this amazing woman I met in Berlin. We walked the streets for hours, had some Mezcal, deep conversations, and a friendship blossomed. While writing, my brain just kept going back to that moment. “Catching flights for your love life, there ain’t nothing in the world like California girls.””

The music video leaps onto the pool party aesthetic with aplomb. We follow two Cali girls as they head out to cool down poolside with a group of friends. Instead of pressing play on a playlist. They are super lucky to have The Private Language invited along in person to tap out some of their funky grooves.

The duo never set out to follow suit with what everyone else is doing. They certainly are shaping things uniquely and as they see fit. Long may The Private Language continue to carve a unique space in the musical landscape. If you want to catch onto a groove for a while, cut out the guesswork make sure it is The Private Language you seek out.

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Your instant guide to Dreampop




We lose ourselves in the hazy sonic textures of dreampop, that most painterly of musical genres…

What is it?

With dreampop the clue is in the word ‘dream’. This is music to immerse yourself in, to take a long warm bath in. It’s music that carries you gently from the real world to another, more abstract and ethereal place. In the case of dreampop figureheads Cocteau Twins, that place can be tranquil and balmy, with My Bloody Valentine it can be intense and threatening. There are elements of psychedelia in dreampop, but the emphasis is on sonic textures, not melodies. It’s ambient, with pop flourishes.

Common characteristics include fuzzy guitars, breathy, multi-tracked vocals and introspective lyrics. Expect plenty of reverb and echo, too. Dreampop can be downbeat or upbeat – it can take you up or bring you down. Often at the same time.

Musically, its origins lie in the thick sonic soup that was Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, though there are hints of dreampop in some of The Byrds’ acid-fuelled experiments and the delicacy of Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column. Also check out The Beach Boys’ All I Wanna Do, from 1970’s Sunflower LP, which sounds 20 years ahead of the curve.

Dreampop’s heyday may have been in the 80s but it’s still out there, with bands such as Beach House and – until last year anyway – Chromatics still flying the flag for hazy, transportative pop music.

Essential songs

The Beach Boys – All I Wanna Do (1970)

This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren (1983)

Falling – Julee Cruise (1989)

Cocteau Twins – Cherry-Coloured Funk (1990)

Mazzy Star – Fade Into You (1994)

Essential bands

This Mortal Coil

Dreampop’s sole ‘supergroup’, This Mortal Coil were started by 4AD label boss Ivo Watts-Russell in 1983 alongside producer John Fryer. Though they were the only two official members, the collective had a revolving door of guest artists, including Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie as well as various members of Cindytalk, Dead Can Dance, Colourbox, The Wolfgang Press, Breathless and Modern English. “The idea,” states the 4AD website, “was to allow artists the creative freedom to record material outside of the realm of what was expected of them; it also created the opportunity for innovative cover versions of songs personal to Ivo.” 

Cocteau Twins

The quintessential dreampop band, Cocteau Twins were formed in 1979 by Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie. It wasn’t until 1981, however, and the arrival of the honey-voiced Elizabeth Fraser and later multi-instrumentalist Simon Raymonde (replacing Heggie) that Cocteau Twins became the group we know. Fraser’s shimmering vocals, often singing words you needed a Smash Hits lyrics sheet to understand, sat atop Guthrie’s shivery guitars and Raymonde’s growling bass to create music of transcendent beauty. Sadly, they split in 1997, after the breakdown of Fraser and Guthrie’s relationship. FAST FACT: The band were named after the Johnny And The Self-Abusers (later to become Simple Minds) song The Cocteau Twins (itself later to be retitled No Cure).

A.R. Kane

Though A.R. Kane remains one of the lesser heralded dreampop outfits, it’s said that it was singer Alex Ayuli who first coined the term itself. Formed in 1986 by Ayuli with former schoolmate Rudy Tambala they were first inspired by seeing Cocteau Twins on television. “They had no drummer,” Tambala recalled to The Guardian. “They used tapes and technology and Liz Fraser looked completely otherworldly with those big eyes. And the noise coming out of Robin [Guthrie]’s guitar! That was the ‘Fuck! We could do that! We could express ourselves like that!’ moment.” Three albums followed – 69 (Indie Chart No.1), “i” and New Clear Child – until they split in 1994. Later bands such as Slowdive, Dubstar and Apollo Heights have all cited A.R. Kane as an influence.

My Bloody Valentine

Imagine the ethereal beauty of Cocteau Twins with the cold-eyed aggression of the Jesus & Mary Chain – that’s the sound that My Bloody Valentine have perfected over the course of their nearly 40-year-long career. Formed in 1983 by Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig, they took their name from a 1981 Canadian slasher film. The band signed to Creation in 1988 and later that year released their debut long-player, Isn’t Anything (“the first full-length expression of this remarkable new sound: gossamer vocals and insinuating melodies glimpsed through sheets of blurred, opaque noise,” enthused Stuart Maconie in Q). The classic Loveless followed in 1991, but Creation dropped them shortly after. Just one more studio album has surfaced since then, 2013’s m b v, though Shields keeps promising
more material. 

What they say

“An atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody.”
The AllMusic Guide To Electronica

“[Dreampop] celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery…. After 12 years of Conservative government in Britain, any idealism or constructive political involvement seems futile to these alienated middle-class dropouts.”
New York Times, 1991

“As a genre term, dreampop embodies some of the same characteristics as the music it describes: it’s hazy, ever-shifting, often undefinable and yet somehow distinctly recognisable.”
Long Live Vinyl

Read more: Popscene – C86

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Classic Pop’s John Earls wins top industry award



Classic Pop’s John Earls has won a coveted industry award for his work on the magazine.

John was named as the winner in the Best Writer – Specialist category at the British Society of Magazine Editors Talent Awards, beating fellow nominees representing Time Out London, Stylist, BBC Top Gear magazine, Glamour UK, Which? Travel and Prima.

Staged at 100 Wardour Street in London, the event was hosted by Tim Pollard, British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) chair and group digital editorial director of Bauer Media, and author, journalist and NHS doctor Dr Ranj Singh. Judges combed through hundreds of entries to find the best writers, designers, sub-editors, social media teams and support staff who make Britain’s editorial industry the best in the world.

The BSME judging panel concluded: “A great writer communicates effectively with their readers and John Earls has done just that! A clear winner in this category. We loved this entry; it was different and engaging and also highlighted John’s great interview skills.”

Tim Pollard, BSME chair 2022 and group digital editorial director at Bauer Media added: “The 2022 Talent Awards are proof that the UK’s magazine industry has bounced back from the toughest two years in living memory. I was blown away by the resilience and creativity, storytelling prowess and teamwork demonstrated by editorial teams the length and breadth of Britain. Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to everyone for entering and making the awards party a memorable night.”

John, who has written for Classic Pop since our first issue in 2012, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win, especially against such a great field of other writers from such leading magazines. I’m obviously thrilled for myself, but I’m more pleased the judges have recognised not just the hard work the Classic Pop team do to get the best interviews and features possible every issue, but in seeing the value of pop music itself.

“It’s been traditionally easy to dismiss pop music as unimportant, and it’s great the BSME have realised that what artists like Duran Duran, Boy George and Soft Cell have to say is of value, as well as hopefully entertaining the readers. Of course, it’s also true that chatting to Boy George about turning 60 beats having a proper job any day of the week. But pop is important, and so are magazines.”

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Issue 76 of Classic Pop is on sale now!



In the latest issue of Classic Pop we have an exclusive interview with Karl Bartos who reveals all about his life in Kraftwerk.

We also serve up an exclusive chat with Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, as the pair take us inside Bananarama’s lockdown-inspired new album, Masquerade. Equally productive during pandemic downtime, Clare Grogan tells us why she’s reconvened Altered Images as a recording outfit with husband Stephen Lironi and neighbour Bernard Butler, to serve up Mascara Streakz – the band’s first new studio LP in almost 40 years.

Elsewhere, we take a deep dive into Whitney Houston’s back catalogue for our Album By Album feature and meet Thomas Robsahm, the director behind the new fly-on-the-wall a-ha documentary.

Annie Lennox’s stunning Diva is this issue’s Classic Album and we meet The Revolution’s Wendy & Lisa who give us a fascinating insight into what life was like on stage in Prince’s backing band as the latest archive release from the Purple One’s vault reveals a must-listen triple live LP.

We also head down the front to catch the ground-breaking Abba Voyage avatar live show plus catch gigs by Blondie and the Pet Shop Boys.

Our comprehensive reviews section features new albums from Dave Stewart, Bananarama, Neneh Cherry, Sun’s Signature and Hot Chip, while our expanded reissues section includes Madonna, George Michael, Roxy Music, Depeche Mode and Swing Out Sister.

Steve Harnell
Editor, Classic Pop

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