"It's got a dull origin," claims Stephen Brett, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist with the band, "but at the time Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' was everywhere, and there's a track on there called Mojo Pin. His music caught the imagination of many people, and at the time I was obsessed by who he was and his music."
Stephen has just become a father, and inevitably the conversation takes a detour down that route as it is obviously something that now demands much of his time… "He's adorable, I love it, and I feel a complete addiction to him," he beams.
Since 2006 The Great Escape has established itself as Europe's leading showcase festival and music industry convention, featuring over 350 artists from around the globe over three days. About 35 venues are used including unusual locations such as museums, the beach shop fronts and hidden spaces. In all there are 650 live performances, attracting 13000 music fans and 3000 music industry delegates. The City is alive with the Sound of Music!
Running alongside The Great Escape is The Alternative Escape, which features even more bands and artists representing labels, agencies, promoters and management companies from Brighton and around the UK. Some of the acts play more than once, on both the main Great Escape and the Alternative Escape bills over three days.
Since 2006 the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Haim, Jake Bugg, Tini Tempah, The Maccabees, Foals, Friendly Fires, Laura Marling, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Kasabian, White Denim, The xx, Chase & Status, Warpaint, Ed Sheeran, [Alt-J] and Disclosure have performed at the festival. This year expect to see the likes of Kaiser Chiefs (playing a secret show), Kelis, Wild Beasts, Little Dragon, Dry The River, Future Islands, Clean Bandit and Jon Hopkins performing, spanning almost all genres of music known to man. Just as importantly the Great Escape presents a fantastic amount of new and up and coming acts, all of whom are considered 'ready' to take a further step up.
Hard to believe but Orbital have been at it for 25 years now, the Hartnoll brothers creating some of the most distinctive, beautiful, intelligent and commercially popular dance music of all time. From their breakthrough hit and industry game changer, Chime in 1990, to last year’s excellent ‘comeback’ album ‘Wonky’, Paul and Phil Hartnoll have always been about much more than four-to-the-floor beats, instead always seeing themselves as a band, often using guest singers such as Alison Goldfrapp, in making interesting, intelligent, evocative music, that could be both danced to and listened to and performed live, often improvised. Aided by their distinctive headlights which act as a focal point for their live performance, Orbital took dance to the mainstream, in part due to their legendary 1994 Glastonbury show which was also beamed on television.
Not only that, but almost uniquely amongst mainstream electronic dance acts, they tackled political, environmental and social issues, such as in ‘Halcyon’ (based on their mother’s addiction to tranquillisers), ‘The Girl With the Sun in Her Head’ (recorded entirely using electricity provided by Greenpeace’s mobile solar power generator) and a four minute remix ‘Criminal Justice Bill’ remix of ‘Are We Here?’ which appropriately enough consisted of four minutes of silence in response to the draconian bill that would attempt to repress so-called repetitive beats.
Their story is a brilliant one and I met up with Paul at his Brighton based studio to talk mainly about those early days, but also about the here and now and Brighton of course…
Looking for a heartening success story in the fickle world of rock and pop? Thinking it’s all about instant impressions and catering for nano-second attention spans in this era of reality, instant success TV? Then look no further than Mike Rosenberg aka Passenger, who after years of patiently chipping away has suddenly seen all that perseverance, talent and passion pay off.
The whole idea of Gypsy Disco is that we want to bring people together and to make it something more than just a club night. We hope to create a sort of playground where people can explore and interact with the night as well as with people which is why we have created a variety of structures and areas for our audience members to immerse themselves with. Within the collective we emphasise a policy of ‘no ego’ whereby we are all the same regardless of what role we have, this we hope is then transgressed within the event as we show we don’t take ourselves too seriously which I think is important to make everyone feel comfortable and relaxed.
For those who have been living in the Brighton area this last decade you’ll probably have come across British Sea Power, a quintessential INDIE band in the old fashioned sense of the word, purveyors of non-mainstream guitar based music that generally paddles its own canoe, never quite following the diktats of current fashion or flavours; where virtuosity is not a pre-requisite of authenticity or quality. Alternative is perhaps an appropriate single word summation of this band who have dabbled successfully in the sub-genres of punk, lo-fi, noise pop, post-rock and melodic rock whilst managing to stay within the general confines of what we know as pop and rock.
Our reviewer Terry Moore takes us through BrightonsFinest’s highlights of 2013
January is often a quiet month for music, we thought the most interesting event of the month was One Inch Badge’s third Seamonsters festival. They took over The Albert for a week from the 22nd of January and this year they decided to invite some other local promoters such as SOURCE, Teen Creeps, Love Thy Neighbour and Slip Jam B to curate their own nights of the festival, helping make the event very diverse with something for everyone. We saw a lot of acts listed on their bills that would be heavily on our radar during the year, including Physics House Band, Traams, Phoria, Luo and many more. Our reviewer Amelie was very excited about the Love They Neighbour curated third night so she headed down to see sets from Abi Wade, Holy Vessels and Jacko Hooper; have a read of her review of the night here.
My biggest regret of the year is that I did not make it to the Innerstrings Psychedelic Lightshow curated SOURCE new music night. The Innerstrings guys have been bringing their retro lighting skills and equipment to brighten up Brighton stages for some time and for this night they had chosen five bands who most suited the psychedelic visuals they provide with obvious headliners Physics House Band supported by an array of awesome leftfield acts with my top pick being improvised rock group Reds, who I’ve seen before and been very impressed by – although one suspects with improvised music that can’t always be the case! Brighton SOURCE have been able to put on a subsidised night at the Dome Studio Bar for a mere £4 and they’ve often come up trumps with their line-ups. Always a good chance to see some of our great local talent play on a decent stage, with a great PA and lights without breaking the bank. A Brighton institution!
BrightonsFinest top local releases for February:
5th February Luo – Antidote EP (featuring Jacko Hooper)
25th February Marika Hackman – That Iron Taste mini album
In March Amelie made it down the the Green Door Store to check out The Great Escape’s Spring Party and was particularly taken with Marika Hackman’s set (check out her BrightonsFinest review here).
Best Brighton Releases for March 2013
17th March Apples & Eve – L’Homme single
25th March Laish – Obituaries album
In April we started an experiment putting on our own monthly BrightonsFinest night at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. For our first show we hosted Apples & Eve, hot on the heels of their single L’Homme. We had some excellent supports from Emma Gatrill (best known for her contribution to Sons of Adrian and Noel) and Willowen from down the coast. The night was a rounding success, you can read my review here. Apples & Eve had a fantastic reaction to their L’Homme single, playing sessions on BBC Radio and gathering shining accolades left right and centre. It seems a shame that they’ve decided to call it a day. I expect their last performance at our Old Market show will be one to remember, and I’m sure the solo projects from founding members Eva and Fran will be just as good, if not better. Also this month I got to see a great local group who’ve done well for themselves. Moulettes played The Haunt touring The Bears Revenge, it was a cracking night from a fabulously different band (you can read my review here). Moulettes will be touring this winter to say ‘Farewell to the Bear’ and have compiled a free 6 track EP on their soundcloud page to mark the occasion, get your copy now: https://soundcloud.com/balling-the-jack/sets/moulettes-farewell-to-the-bear We’ll be looking forward to album number three ‘Constellations’ next year.
Best Brighton releases for April:
1st April British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy album
15th April Crayola Lecturn – The Fall and Rise of Crayola Lecturn album released
15th April The Physics House Band – Horizons / Rapture EP
29th April Phoria – Bloodworks EP
May is always a busy month in Brighton with The Great Escape, Brighton Festival, the festival fringe and Meadowlands. We held our second monthly night at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, this time hosting local band Fragile Creatures supported by Swallow and The Wolf and Stark. It was a fantastic night with all the bands putting in a great performances, we hope to see more releases form Fragile Creatures next year, as they’ve certainly got the material for it!. Meadowlands Festival was probably the best place to catch local talent with a great lineup including BrightonsFinest favourites Time For T, Physics House Band, Phoria, Oscillator, Nordic Giants, Nick Williams, Marika Hackman, Laish, Interlocuter, House of Hats, Forestears, Emma Gatrill, Clowns, Apples & Eve and many more! Although The Great Escape has been criticised by some for over-looking the locals we saw a few familiar names amongst the mass of buzz bands they brought down from London including Physics House Band and Luke Sital Singh. I’ve heard rumours we might get to see a few more Brighton bands in the 2014 lineup… if that’s the case I might even go along!
Best Brighton releases for May:
6th May Time For T – Mongrel EP
17th May Wildflowers – Wild Among The Flowers EP
In June we put The Mojo Fins on for our last night at Sticky Mike’s, having decided to jump ship and move to The Hope from July. The Fins treated us to a sneak preview of some exciting new material, including their new single ‘Introverts’ which they released on November 11th. The band were supported by O.Chapman and Richard Allan III (have a look at my review from the time). Also in June we checked out the Brighton Music Awards an event designed to celebrate local music talent. We approved of Jacko Hooper winning best solo artist and Fragile Creatures winning best video for ‘Dear Michael’ (a classy black and white piece they brought out last August), The Brunswick picked up best venue and it’s certainly one of the nicer places to catch live music in town, but one expects that was a hotly contested award!. Awards were presented by famous local actor and Brighton Beach Boy Ralph Brown, Saffron from Republica and the devil horned music journalist Simon Price. All in all it was a good effort and a pleasant evening, especially considering the night was nearly scrapped and later rescued by The Latest Music Bar and the people behind BMusic, who filmed the even for posterity.
Best Brighton releases in June:
12th June Black Fields – House On The Brooks EP
16th June Usbabybearbones – What Starts With A U Ends With An I EP
17th June Electric Soft Parade – IDIOTS album
In July we moved our monthly night to The Hope and, for our first ‘Breakout’ night, we put on Wildflowers with support from Nick Williams and The Victorian Hunter. We had originally booked Native Roses to headline the night but they pulled out on us. Thankfully the wonderful Nick Williams stepped in at the last minute and played a fantastic set. Bumping Wildflowers up the bill to headline was also a great decision as they are another band we’ve seen go on to have a fantastic year, having bagged some amazing support slots including Robert Plants Band of Joy and BIMM graduate Tom Odell. We expect Wildflowers will really take off when they release their debut album next year. You can see what Amelie made of the show here.
BrightonsFinest best releases in July:
8th July Kins – Kins album
15th July Abi Wade – Boxer single
22nd July Octopuses – Sarcastic single
29th July The Meow Meows – Somehow We Met album
In August we had another spectacular night at the Hope, with Phoria, Luo and Fox in the City. Phoria caught our attention with their track ‘Red’ on Soundcloud. We’ve never seen a local band gain so many plays and comments on there, but they’ve got an impressive list of supports in their past, including the wonderful Little Dragon and Ultraista (a project from Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich). The EP they released this year has done fantastically well and we wouldn’t be surprised if 2014 saw an album and some mainstream success for the band: it is very much deserved. Fox in the City also deserve a mention as one of the hardest working bands we’ve booked and a great live proposition to boot – we hope to see more from them. Amelie wrote a glowing review of the night which you can read here.
BrightonsFinest best Brighton release for October:
25th August Flash Bang Band – Bite Your Tongue album
September was the last, and possibly best of our monthly nights for this year. This time round we had a bumper line-up with four fabulous acts; Time For T headlined with support from The Gypsy Switch, (who we’ve been fans of for a long time), Paperhawk and Prisoners Cinema. Time for T impressed us so much we’ve invited them back for our end of year show at The Old Market. You can read a review of the night from our director here. Also in September our reviewer Terry was very impressed by The Flash Bang Band when they played a late album launch at the Greend Door Store, playing their new Bite Your Tongue album in it's entirety. Have a read of his review here
BrightonsFinest best Brighton release for September:
14th September Traams – Grin album
Oxjam was our favourite event in October our reviewer AMS braved the Autumnal weather and trekked all over town to see a great variety of different acts. Last years Oxjam seemed better supported from Brighton institutions like Brighton SOURCE so in some ways it was a surprise that this year’s event, all the result of hard working volunteers, was such a success. AMS’s highlight included Wolflung – a young man with an impressive vocal range who is a captivating presence even with hs one man one guitar show; grasshopper, a boy/girl group who look like they’ve just passed sweet sixteen but play impressively nonetheless and Fragile Creatures who seem to have played everywhere this year! You can read his review on the site here and hear about some of the stranger acts he came across!
BrightonsFinest favourite local release for October:
27th October – IYES – Til Infinity single
As we mentioned earlier in the review The Mojo Fins released their single ‘Introverts’ earlier this month, showing great promise for their as yet untitled 2014 album. We’re putting the band on again at The Old Market with support from Time For T, who wowed us at The Hope back in September and Apples & Eve, who are performing together for the last time having chosen to go their separate ways. It’s set to be an unforgettable evening. In other November news local band Birdeatsbaby have caught our attention too with an ambitious Kickstarter campaign asking for £10,000 to help them make and tour their third album. At the time of writing they’re 86% of the way there with six days to go. It’s fantastic to see a local band able to win so much support from their fans and we really hope they make it to the total – if you don’t get the full amount on Kickstarter you get nothing! Have a look at the campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/birdeatsbaby/birdeatsbaby-the-bullet-within?ref=live
BrightonsFinest favourite local releases for November:
11th November The Mojo Fins – Introverts single
16th November Beautiful Word – Particles album
Well that was 2013… unlucky for some but not for Brighton’s music scene. We’ve seen some fantastic talent emerge and we’re already getting excited about next year! I can’t really write much about December as it hasn’t happened yet but here are a few things to look out for. After their return to form album ‘IDIOTS’ which was released back in June the Electric Soft Parade are celebrating with a show on December 6th at the Unitarian Church. They’re playing a couple of sets and promise to bring us some live rarities and some Christmas songs. We hear Mark Chadwick form The Levellers is going to be singing Fairytale of New York. Probably worth the entrance fee just to see that! Blood Red Shoes have announced they are ‘unlocking’ some new material on their website on 1st Dec, so it’s likely 2014 will be a big year for them too. When you’re done with all the festive cheer you’ll bound to start thinking about New Years Eve. I would recommend heading to the Physics House Party at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar – we’ve heard great things about the Physics House Band and their parties are becoming legendary. If you’re a fan of the Brighton music scene this is a great way to end the year it’s free entry with some great live bands, including Luo who we put on at The Hope in August, as well as DJ sets from Physics House Band.