The Big Read

The Big Read – Mac DeMarco: Even Cowboys Get The Blues

Once known for his outrageous onstage antics and cult-leader-like effect on his followers, Mac DeMarco has, of late, settled into a hermit-like existence in Los Angeles. The result is 'Here Comes The Cowboy', an album of minimal, sparse and intimate songs, which is out next week. Kevin EG Perry heads to Mac's gaff for drinks, chat and barbecue and hears how music's most chilled-out man somehow cooled it down even more.

The Big Read – Loyle Carner: “All the best things about me come from my ADHD”

Loyle Carner's debut album was much lauded by critics, but it was the south London boy's wholesome extra-curricular activities – running a cookery school for kids with ADHD – which helped him become somewhat of a national treasure. As he releases his follow-up record, 'Not Waving But Drowning', Nick Levine meets him for a chat about mental health, music and his good ol' mum.

The Big Read – Headie One: “If you make a mistake, you’ve got to move quickly”

Headie One is the highest-charting drill rapper ever, thanks to ‘18Hunna’, his collaboration with Dave, and he's a story of success in a fractured society. Yet The Daily Mail demonises drill and police shut down its artists’ shows. “They think it’s not natural for someone from a council estate to have a high income,” he tells Jordan Bassett. “They want you to be on the other end of society”.

The Big Read – Black Honey: “Ladylike can go fuck itself”

Brighton rockers Black Honey are a band of dandy dreamers living the DIY dream on a shoestring – but the album they're working on, with strings and horns and 'Parisian noir' inspiration – sees them reaching for the sky. As they play NME's Girls To The Front, Elizabeth Aubrey meets them to hear how ADHD, Billie Eilish and a hatred of the pop world forged their sound and fuels their work.

The Big Read – The Specials and Saffiyah Khan: “What we said has reached people – and that’s the only important thing”

Celebrating their 40th anniversary and back with a chart-topping third album, 'Encore', The Specials are still pushing the boundaries of social and racial injustice – with a little help from a new recruit. Dan Stubbs meets one of Britain's most iconic bands and collaborator Saffiyah Khan, activist, model and all-round badass, ahead of their major UK tour.

The Big Read – Juice Wrld: “The rap game is so motherfucking soft now”

He went from unknown Illinois teen to Billboard-topping emo-rap icon in under a year

The Big Read – Dolly Parton: “I take care of business”

To Miley Cyrus, she's godmother. To the rest of us, she's The Godmother. Country legend Dolly Parton has enjoyed an unparalleled career, and won over the hearts of a younger generation when she stormed Glastonbury in 2014. As her musical 9 To 5 opened in the West End, Leonie Cooper sat down to talk over Parton's phenomenal life.

The Big Read – Karen O and Danger Mouse: “Music is my church”

She's the firebrand frontwoman of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He's the guy with a finger in some of the greatest albums of the last 20 years. Now, the two New Yorkers have joined forces on 'Lux Prima', a conceptual album that reveals a different side to each artist. Rhian Daly meets Karen O and Danger Mouse in Manhattan to hear about the eight-years-in-the-making collaboration.

The Big Read – Foals: “The only thing anyone can express right now is confusion”

Having lost their most grounded member, bassist Walter, there have been major changes in the Foals camp since 2015's 'What Went Down'. But the group have pulled together and returned with a razor-sharp pair of albums, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost', the first part of which is out today. Andrew Trendell met Yannis and co to talk about friendship, ambition, AI and how to thrive in the messy world we live in.

The Big Read – Twenty One Pilots: “We want to be the best – and keep everyone else at bay”

Columbus, Ohio's Twenty One Pilots might just be the biggest cult band in the world. Thanks to their mythmaking and music, they've inspired in their 'Skeleton Clique' the kind of superfandom normally reserved for space epics or fighting fantasies. But behind the flights of fancy, there's humanity. Gary Ryan meets the band as they kick off their stunning UK arena tour in Birmingham, and hears how family, dementia and anxiety fuel their genre-hopping songs.
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