Della Lupa – Interview – 2016

Steph Brown’s conceptual indie-noir-pop group Della Lupa evolves quickly, having gone through several manifestations since its inception in 2013. She’s been vocal and pointed in the past about this being a broadly artistic, rather than purely musical, endeavour – a goal which quickly becomes clear from her songs, videos and live performances. We at Brightonsfinest thought we’d meet her and try to pin down the concepts behind the band, taking in some of its history along the way.

How long have you played with Della Lupa, and did you have a solo project or other projects before?
Well, Della Lupa is a complex thing, because it’s kind of a changing entity, in a sense. Sometimes it’s in band form, and sometimes it’s in solo form or acoustic form. So it varies from show to show, which is probably not the best thing for anyone trying to follow us!

How often do you change your line up?
It all started maybe two years ago, I guess. And I was pretty much on my own. I’d just met the producer Jag Jago, and we decided, 'let’s do an EP’, so we just went for it. We got some musicians in, which was a pretty chaotic affair. In truth I feel sorry for him because he got given absolutely nothing to work with – I don’t even understand why he did it! My position was, here’s some bits of good music, kind of decent music, but it was mostly undeveloped ideas, and he somehow managed to make some shape out of it.

So do you think the original Della Lupa was as much his creation as it was yours?
No, I wouldn’t say that. I guess Della Lupa didn’t start with the music, it started with a concept. Because I had a lot of stage fright, and I figured out that one way to deal with stage fright is to create a character. And so I just thought about all the things I like, for example female strength and power. And I had this name. I’m half Italian, and I had Della, which in Italian means ‘of the’. Next, my partner at the time helped me to identify the Lupa part, which means ‘she wolf’ – so out of this came a musical concept that’s quite animalistic, it’s intuitive, and yeah, female.

Your lineup is a bit unusual, particularly in that you don't have a guitar. Is that by necessity or by choice?
It’s really just the way it happened. There’s so much to do in a band to make it work, and I’m the one who drives the band logistically, and musically to a degree at the moment – although that’s changing. But there’s so much to do, that you just have to think necessities. I play and write the songs on the piano, and then the second most important is a rhythm section. Then after that, decoration. Sally and Becky approached me at Komedia last year, and they said ‘we really like your stuff, we could do some backing vocals.’ They pushed me, and pushed the organisation to make it happen. I was occupied with all this other stuff that we were doing and they pushed themselves on me, which was great and it just kind of worked. So all of our band makeup has just come about naturally, really, but it is how it needs to be.

Do you write their backing vocal parts?
No. I used to control everything in the band, and I think that’s why previously it didn’t work. I was trying to hold on too much, and the minute I realised, you’re working with these people for a reason and they’re great at what they do, so let them have their space, then everything just worked so much better.

You describe your native musical origins as ‘Italian-Vietnamese’. How can you incorporate different cultures into your music, aside from just using the odd Asian chord sequence?
Around when I was writing ‘Storm of Swallows’, I was realising I had this Asian culture that I’ve grown up around, which included Asian music. As part of this reflection and appreciation, I added various melodic devices into my music. I know it might sound a bit crazy, but I found it sounds quite close to blues, which I also love. But it was a way of doing it a bit differently. So in ‘Storm of Swallows’, some of the melodic lines, I’d make them up and naturally or instinctively go to a western blues feel, before actively deciding to be more diverse. It’s hard to describe it, because I don’t write theoretically, but it’s almost like there’s more space between the notes. As well as sound though, it’s feel and look. On my first EP’s design, for example, there’s aspects which are used in a lot of Asian texts. Visually, I hope this transmits some kind of culture.

You released your first EP in 2013 and then a single in 2015. How were the reactions to each one?
Well, my first one, I did it before I knew anyone on the scene. I used it mostly to get gigs, so I suppose the reactions were positive – but positive at that level. Later, with ‘Storm of Swallows’, I had a great reaction. I put on this event, this quite large event, and it was meant to be a night of visual art and music fused together. It was in a church and it was quite mesmerising and it was meant to be aesthetically very beautiful as well. I think it worked and it got a good reaction. There’s always a certain amount of criticism to grin and bear with as well though.

You said your second release was different to your first. Do you base that on musical ability, or more on style and concept?
I think that I’ve become more of an artist as I’ve got more into it. My first EP was… more half-assed I guess? I wasn’t really sure at that time what I wanted to do, I didn’t even really know if I wanted to do music. I just went: ‘here’s some stuff, let’s see what comes out’ – and it organically grew. My second single, on the other hand, ‘Storm of Swallows’, was very much a vision, when I wrote the song I saw the video. The video took a long time to make because I had to find the right people to put the vision together. Choreographers, for example, and the director and I had to make the costumes, etc. I was more critical about it and more like, ‘it has to be right.’ And I guess that’s more about the art then anything else.

Now you’ve just crowdfunded your third release, so how will it be different?
I want to put more energy into the music. I’ve found that after every show people would walk out almost in a daze, which is great, but I want a bit more to it. I want to inject some energy, make people feel more exhilarated, like they might need a cold shower.

Do you have anyone in your sights for future collaboration?
Well there’s my next music video, which is probably the most ambitious and stupid thing I’ve ever attempted to do. I don't want to give too much away, but it’s about the Brightonian subculture that people see, if they’re lucky, around the city. I want to do a video basically following them around Brighton, and I want it to be a video that documents how different and quirky Brighton is, and all the reasons we love it here.

You just successfully crowd-funded a new album, to be recorded at Brighton Electric. You obviously have a fan base that are willing to fund you: with that kind of following, isn’t being signed on the cards?
I've had a few things, the occasional email. But I can’t help but feel when I look at people who want to help me out, that if I could do what they’re offering myself, I might as well do it on my own; there’s a very small pie with not enough slices. Most musicians can’t make money, even if they’re signed, you know. It’s very difficult to make a living from it, and I’m very pleased to say that through the business I’ve created, I’m able to fund my music and live off doing music every day, every single minute, and night.

Is the use of crowd-funding campaigns, which are becoming more and more common, a response to change in the music industry?
Oh massively, massively. I don't understand how a label can even survive, off the back of a band, if the band themselves can't survive. And I feel sorry for everybody involved, including myself – it really is a tough time. But, on a positive note, I went to an art exhibition, maybe about a year ago, and this artist said something that really stuck with me. She said ‘we’re in a kind of renaissance right now, where art has completely changed because of social media, because of downloading, because of accessibility, because of saturation. The artist is trying to find their way, and what is coming out is different art as a result of that process.’ So it’s quite exciting, and I really do believe that in some ways, business is creative, as well as art. But it’s quite hard to go from the cultural mentality of ‘the artist is the artist and the label is the label and the manager is the manager’, to one person having to do everything. In a way, I wonder whether we’re losing an era where artists were supported, and we’re losing those stars that were nurtured, and whose art was given what it needed to do to grow.

Lets go back to the gig at the Hope & Ruin, where you showcased some of your new material. How do you feel it went down?
I really loved it – it was my favourite event that Della Lupa has curated so far, as an event and as a performance. As I said before, recently I wanted more energy, and I’ve been writing correspondingly different music. Honestly I was petrified, thinking ‘oh God, what if everyone is dancing a lot and then when we go on it’s just standing still, being enveloped by the music again?’ Which I’m willing to accept is part of our music, but happily it didn’t go down that way. Actually it really worked, and the idea, or one of the ideas, was all the dark sides of pop. And I felt a real excitement from people. Maybe it’s because I was curating it, but I felt this kind of, real buzz, and I thought, ‘this is great, this is just how live music should be and just how exciting going to a show should be.

How about your past concerts, high points?
Yes, the ‘Storm of Swallows’ launch was amazing. I was working with a visual artist, Beth Stedden, and we made all these paper origami birds, which when you shone light through them created shadows, and we hung them all over the venue, One Church. They don’t often do events up there, because you have to bring everything yourself. It’s kind of like a festival in that sense, it’s now a community hall, but it’s beautiful inside, and has this sense of decaying beauty which I love. Well, Beth hung all these birds off the lights, and up against the stage, and it was a very atmospheric event. People came and absolutely filled the hall, it was like a carpet of people. We had the dancers from our video for the single there, and they did a surprise performance at the end, and they came out of the audience with no warning. it was special you know, it was really special.

Do you have any big concerts coming up, or anything planned?
Our concentration is to record. We’ve got some gigs lined up that I’m excited about in Brighton, but I’m not going to announce them yet.

Do you have a provisional date for your next release?
Not exactly, no. I know I have to release it soon, but I don’t want to make the product suffer, you know? I used to put deadlines on everything, but then it becomes more about the deadline than about the actual work itself, and I’m taking the ethos this time that it’s all about the creations. But we’re aiming for late spring, although we want to release a video at the same time as the music, and the videos have to be filmed in certain weather conditions due to what we’re trying to do. It is, as I said, the most ambitious project that we’ve attempted. filming is just so difficult. Still, it’s worth it, I’m working with a director called Ben Salam from Sound Supreme Media and they are excellent, really cinematic – they did ‘Storm of Swallows’. A really talented young group of male directors. I literally say to Ben, ‘Ben, I’ve got an idea, I want to build a castle with a stick and some glue and he goes, ‘yeah ok, this is how we’re going to do it.’

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dellalupa
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DellaLupaUK

 

 

Half Moon Run – Interview – 2016

One of the aspects about being a music journalist is that you get the chance to find out how a band came together, what elements were brought to the table in forging a distinct sound. And when you learn that sometimes bands come together by sheer chance, with little or no pre-conceived notions of what it is they want to do, the story writes itself…

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Yonaka – Interview – 2016

If you're looking for a Brighton group destined for big things in 2016, I’d be hard pressed to think of a band more of a safe bet than dark pop four-piece Yonaka. In March they head out on tour to support their debut single ‘Ignorance’ and the track is a belter. Throwing together stuttering electronic drum sounds with relentless guitar riffs and soaring melodies. It demonstrates their knack for bringing together sounds you would never think of combining and then leaves you wondering why no one else had thought of it before.

I crowded around a small pub table with Theresa (Vocals), Alex (Bass), and Rob (Drums) to talk about their upcoming tour, their shared love of hip-hop, and getting stoned with Killing Joke. Which has been edited for clarity below.

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Porshyne – Interview – 2016

Porshyne have been laying low for a while now, however all is set to come together this spring as the pieces begin to fall into place. The five-piece atmospheric/rock group plan to release a new three track EP in the coming months which was recorded with the Black Peaks album producer, Mark Roberts. This EP was coined last autumn, recording went on for a couple of weeks out at Stronghold Studios in Newhaven and after hearing brief glimmers of early mixes, these showcase a raw, abrasive sound in comparison to the earlier Porshyne material. Tracks such as ‘Exit’ and ‘Hubris’ are set to bring down walls somewhere out in Brighton. I was fortunate enough to get down and have a quick chat with both the vocalist/guitarist, Fergal and lead guitarist Harry about what to expect.

So, how did you find recording this time round, using Mark Roberts as your producer?
Harry: He really makes the most of a very natural sound. He puts everyone at ease and makes the most of leaving mistakes and happy accidents in.

Fergal: He gives amazing value for money and he worked on a ‘we’ll do it until it’s done’ ethos, it allowed us to relax by not putting such a stringent time bracket on it. His demeanor and everything just put everyone at ease from the off.

How would you describe the sound on the EP then?
Fergal: I think any polish should really come from our playing rather than Mark having to add it and tweak it loads afterwords. It made me sing a lot better as I wasn’t constantly thinking things would be changed if it was a fraction above or below the note, Mark explained that he’d leave it in as it can add a great emotive tug on the track. It generated a good band attitude from the outside too as it was healthy going in with a mindset of not relying to heavily on tweaking and nudging notes. My voice was a bit knackered whilst doing it and he left it up to me as to whether to do it there and then, we decided to give it a shot in the end. I’m really happy with how it turned out in the end ‘cause the roughness adds an emotional edge to it rather than it being pristine throughout which can sound a little contrived at times.

Harry: We are really happy with how it sounds as it sounds closer to how we sound live. We feel collectively that it is a true piece to us. The influences are worn less on the sleeve – in the past it was easy to identify roots however now, it feels like it is our sound we have made. People have always reacted better to us live and we feel that this acts as testament to that.

So, we have heard ‘Hubris’ before from the previous Small Pond live recording, can you explain the choice with including this over the likes of ‘Warp’ that were previously recorded in a studio?
Fergal: It [Hubris] has basically been the most successful track in terms of how people responded to it, maybe because of the Small Pond recording. We were always under the impression that ‘Warp’ was a better track but again, it’s a completely different sound – it’s a lot more polished and maybe not as beefy as we would have liked. However, off the back of that Small Pond recording, people seemed to really like ‘Hubris’ so that swayed our mind slightly.

Harry: Mark was really happy with the choice as he felt ‘Hubris’ was a lot hookier as a song. It should hopefully add to what the Small Pond recording was which is just in a complete testament to how great Mark is. He wasn’t just recording it, it was proper production. We do a lot of arranging with a five-piece with three guitars and he did a great job of cleaning all that up, getting to the roots of each instrument. He has really good sonic ideas that just make ‘Hubris’ sound massive.

Do you have any future plans to record with Small Pond again?
Fergal: Because the EP isn’t going to be released for a while we’ve been working on a few new tracks – one in particular just needs the finishing touches. We tried to do something last spring at The Hope; we got it all set up in record time but then someone came up from downstairs and said it was too loud which was really unfortunate so we had to drop it. We are now thinking of doing a live video of this new untitled track whilst also doing a live video of a track off the EP. It’ll just give us more content and something to haul us over between now and the EP release.

Great! What song would you choose to record there off the EP?
Fergal: Well, we already have ‘Hubris’ so the other option is either ‘Exit’ or this track we are playing around with a title for – it’s currently going by ‘Nadir’ as a working title.

Are there any reasons for the single word titles?
Fergal: See that’s one of the things! We have thought about that for sure. To have on an EP ‘Porshyne’, ‘Hubris’, ‘Nadir’ etc – it can maybe be misconstrued as pretentious. In the past we had ‘Locked In’ which was a step aside. It’s almost for that point of view because these are little things that people generate really preconceived ideas about and it may come round to hurt us sometime – it may give off the wrong impression. Loads of prog bands can come across really pretentious but we want to simplify ourselves slightly to give us more appeal – a simple visual style, something more digestible.

How was the writing process this time round?
Fergal: Well, a lot of bands, they persevere with ideas or songs even if they aren’t sold on them, whereas we’ve always been like “nah, scrap it” [laughter] if we aren’t all into it – however, it did mean that we were working on stuff that everyone was into from the start. Don’t get me wrong though, writing songs in Porshyne is so hard, except ‘Warp’ which was miraculously easy for some reason.

Harry: Most bands though work on stuff, even if they are not that into it. It’s this that develops a song writing skill though, so, for the future, we have promised to persevere more.

Fergal: We began to realise that a lack of perseverance made it really hard as we never wrote that many tracks. None of us are really prolific songwriters and in the past when we came up with them, we never stuck with them too much when we should have because one or two of us may not have been too into it. This particular set of songs however are so representative of us right now, out of all of our songs, these are those that we are most excited about.

Are there any obvious singles on the EP?
Fergal: No, not as such. It wasn’t a conscious decision, we’d love to have a solid single. At the same time though, we want to write something we are happy with. It’s a constant battle between trying to write something with legs and something that suits you and your style. There’s no point for us setting out to write a single; if there is a track that goes on for pretty long and feels like it should, there’s no point fighting it. If you are all into it when you’re jamming it or whatever, you don’t want anything to stop that.

Harry: I always thought from the lot that ‘Hubris’ would make a good single…

Fergal: Yeah, maybe. The only issue is it’s quite long, it’s about eight minutes or something [laughter]. It is hooky though. Can you have an eight minute single? I’m not sure, ‘Sultans of Swing’ was seven minutes or so but it’s just whether a radio would take on something so long as a single.

Do you have plans to gig with this release then?
Harry: For sure! We have a gig coming up on February 9th at Green Door Store but as soon as we get a label to license the EP, we will certainly put together a tour.

Facebook: facebook.com/Porshyne
Twitter: twitter.com/porshyne

 

J-Felix – Interview – 2016

Bristol-born producer J-Felix has joined the likes of Quantic and Hot 8 Brass Band on local label Tru-Thoughts. He’s spent the year producing tracks in his basement bunker, playing DJ sets all over (solo and with his backing band), and smashing collaborations with big names from Brighton’s soul and RnB scene. We wanted to know about his past collabs, his upcoming releases and shows, and his musical life in general, so we grabbed him for a chat about life on the label. Enjoy.

Talk us through the process that led to you focusing on production rather than traditional instruments.
I started by playing the drums, then focusing on the guitar and bass, and now I’m attempting more keys and voice, so traditional instruments will always be part of the focus. I always wanted to be a producer, I’ve spent the years gradually building up the studio and finally got to a place where the combination of gear and my own abilities reached a passable standard, and I had a few tracks put out on compilations. That and the fact that I’m probably a bit of a control freak.

How would you describe your signature sound? Do you have a clear vision of the kind of music you want to make?
At the moment the sound is pretty uplifting overall and has solid roots in the soul music spectrum, be that Disco, Hip-Hop or Funk. After messing around with the sound, I had a pretty clear objective of what I wanted to achieve whilst writing my first album. I reached this through trying to focus on one part of what I want to do musically at a time. I think it helps to give yourself a specific area of focus sometimes.

There’s a lot of revivalism in your music. How do you stick to your roots while avoiding bland reproductions of them?
I’m not sure if I do, but will take that as a massive compliment, thanks. My studio setup isn’t particularly analog or old school, so inevitably I was gonna create a modern take on things, just by using modern gear. When I was writing 101 Reasons, I didn’t really reference other music much, I more just went with ideas floating around my head – which must have come from listening to odds and ends of funk, soul and RnB which resonate with me. A lot of the music I listen to is modern soul and funk like Reggie B and D’Angelo, so maybe it was 'cause I don’t actually know much of the old stuff, it’s a re-revival of the revival ha!

Describe your production setup. Do you tend to favour simplicity or a complicated rig?
It’s fairly straight up, I’m using a Micro-Korg and my most recent addition, a beautiful juno 106 with my bass, guitars and software synths and FX with a few pedals and voices. Simplicity is the key for me.

You work with a variety of singers. Who are they and what do they bring to the table?
I’ve worked with Abi Flynn, who is great, she’s fronting my live band at the moment. She brings a nice RnB vibe with jazzy flavors to the table and is very hard working in the local jazz scene. Sophie Paul is pitch perfect and has fantastic knowledge of harmonies. She’s also done some impressive session stuff. Victoria Port has a very sweet, yet smokey vibe that flows beautifully over Rhodes-esque keyboards – she’s now one half of Anushka. It was great working with the guys above 'cause we all used to do function work and stuff together, so the relationship was already there and we all share similar tastes in music. Jake Jon is another fantastic local soulful singer who I released a track with in 2013.

You used to run your own workshops. What were they and do you still do this/will you do it in future?
I’m still teaching at DV8 Sussex, last year I was doing Music Production and DJ stuff at BACA and Ringmer schools and have done various projects teaching young people.

How long have you been signed to Tru-Thoughts, and how did it come about? Were they the label you were hoping for?
Just over a year now. Tru Thoughts are a cool label who I always liked, and they give you creative freedom and opportunities to collaborate with or remix other great artists on the label, as well as links with singers etc. I met some guys from TT through playing with Alice Russell and sent Rob Luis a demo, which he obviously had some faith in; Paul Jonas was a great help in getting a multi-album deal at the label.

How does it feel to be signed to one of the giants of DIY production, and arguably one of the most successful indie labels in the UK?
It feels good baby!

Do you ever feel the pressure to fill the enormous shoes of the artists who are and have been signed to Tru-Thoughts?
All amazing artists, I’m just gonna do my thing and if it goes as well as that, result!

You’re also in a band named E.M.E. Tell us about them.
We’re no longer running as a band as such, but will always be doing music (and drinking together) together in some format, those are my go to musicians if there’s something I need on a track, all as talented as they are silly.

You played a set recently with the Neon Saints Brass Band. What’s the connection?
I’ve played with James Coleman, one of their sax players a few times. Great guy and great band!

What do you look for in live music and are there any local bands you would tip for success?
Good players, tightness and vibes. Black Peaks from Brighton are bubbling up if you like heavy music. Some members of Neon Saints Brass Band have got together for a smaller, more hip-Hop orientated project, so keep your ears to the ground for that.

Any lesser-known artists you can recommend, past and present, for someone looking to expand their music catalogue?
I really like a guy called Reggie B and a singer called Amalia. Harleighblu is wicked. A rapper called Delta Lima, Werkha is very talented, I like the 22a guys in London, Fatima and Anderson Paak.

If you could choose anybody to work with on a musical project, who would it be?
Tough one, but Prince is up there!

You’ve toured with Alice Russell, but there are no recorded collaborations. Maybe there’s something in the works?
Not yet sadly, definitely on the wish list though!

You’re in the studio a lot at the moment. What are you working on?
The next album’s on the hob. I’ve also been doing some remixes, recently for Hot 8 Brass Band and working on some production for Abi Flynn and spending a lot of time messing about with my new juno 106.

Do you have any more live dates booked, either solo or with bands?
My live band will be supporting Soul ll Soul at the Brighton Dome on 21st Feb, there’s a few more dates TBC and you can come check out my DJ residency every Saturday, 8pm-12pm at Patterns, Brighton. I’ll also be warming up for Gilles Peterson there in March which is exciting.
Ben Noble

Website: jfelixmusic.com
Facebook: facebook.com/JFELIXuk
Twitter: twitter.com/MrJFelix

 

 

Ocean Wisdom – Interview – 2016

Born in Camden but residing on the south coast, Ocean Wisdom is one of Brighton’s most exciting emerging talents. Having been honing his craft for years he had his break when he dropped the Dirty Dike produced banger ‘Walkin’’ out of nowhere, which was followed up by the smash ‘Ewok’ a collaboration with producer Kidkanevil which ended up A-Listed on the BBC Radio 1Xtra playlist. Gigs issued and Ocean recorded his début album with impressive features from Foreign Beggers, Klashnekoff, The Four Owls, Lunar C, Jam Baxter, Edward Scissortounge and Remus, as well as the production from Dirty Dike – not bad for a début album! There is no doubt about Ocean’s hype and with his album (Chaos 93’) being released by High Focus Records on 22nd February, we met up with him to find out more.

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King Nommo – Interview – 2016

Local afrobeaters King Nommo haven’t been around for very long, but they certainly know how to get peoples’ attention: they’ve already played a support slot at Concorde 2 and have some big dates booked. With the recent addition of their singer, they are now complete and ready to get out there. They have an irresistibly big sound, with a horns section that guarantees a good gig. Their music is a great blend of revivalism and experimentation – we expect to see a lot more of them in future, so we got together with one of their members and asked some questions.

How was King Nommo formed?
King Nommo was formed originally as an instrumental band by a group of friends who share a love of Afro-flavoured, groove based music. We’re all working musicians in Brighton, who play with bands such as Resonators, Lakuta, Gentle Mystics, Voodoo Love Orchestra .

You recently added a singer to your lineup. Where did you find him and what does he bring to the band?
Khadim Sarr’s a talented Senegalese vocalist who has been resident here in Brighton for a few years, playing with Backlampfall and the duo Mike and Khadim. He’s now joined forces with King Nommo and brings a whole new dynamic to the band. He has great power and range, reminiscent of great west African voices like Salif Kieta and Yussou N’dor, but he also brings in a modern edge with elements of rap and ragga.

How far do you stick to traditional afrobeat, and in what ways does your music depart from it into new territory?
We like to keep some of the more traditional or typical afrobeat characteristics, like the busy, heavy-feeling rhythm section you would expect from recording artists such as Fela Kuti, Mulatu Astetque or Ibo Taylor. Strong and prominent bass lines, poly-rhythms between kit and percussion with two intertwining guitar parts really gives the recognisable “afrobeat” groove and of course there is a four-piece thumping horn section riding and lifting the music.

Khadim really brings an original element to the sound, singing in wolof and bringing rap and ragga vocal styles in to the mix. A hybrid of modernised Traditional rhythms from Senegal and Guinee, and rhythms from the realms of hip hop, jazz and funk are also incorporated alongside the more typical Nigerian and Ghanaian afrobeat drumming styles. There are also a fair few modern day influences such as Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Daptones, Sean kuti and Heliocentrics, to name a few.

All of your songs are very long. Why is this?
We like playing music and providing space to explore! Plus, afrobeat is music for inducing a trance like state for dancing. It's groove music, where traditionally the forms of songs are quite free in terms of the length of solos and vocal sections. The structure and length of verses and choruses aren’t a set number of bars. Fela Kuti, the legendary founder of afrobeat, was notorious for playing tunes that lasted up to 30 minutes long! It's just another way in which we’re influenced by traditional afrobeat.

Aside from the length, how else do your songs differ in structure from the mainstream template? Is this a conscious decision or did it just happen?
Yes it's a conscious decision! Our tunes are not pop tunes, so we don't use standard chord progressions. In fact most of our tunes (like afrobeat in general) is based on a one chord groove! Most of our most straight-up afrobeat tunes have a Dorian flavour (the second mode of the major scale).

What do your songs tend to be about? Or, in a band with such a focus on instrumentation, is this a misleading question? Is it about the meaning of the words for you, or the sound of the music?
Its about both, the sound of the band and the voice also as an instrument is important . I think you can enjoy the music and vocals even if you don’t understand them immediately. Sometimes I think its interesting to get an emotional message or feeling from a singer without understanding the language, it can kind of bypass your thinking brain so you don’t try to analyse and relate to the story or images lyrics might create – it becomes a different experience. The words do have meaning though, of course, although the songs don’t tend to have a common theme. One is about Independence, to be conscious of your responsibility, one is a tribute to the life of Khadim’s son, one is about Karma – quite a mixed bag really.

Does the band prefer songwriting or live performance?
I think everyone enjoys performing. Some of us seem more in to song writing at the moment, but that depends on how much time each of us has to commit to practice, too.

Describe your songwriting dynamic. Is there a core writing group within the band or does everyone jump in?
There’s always been a kind of core that write in the band, but everyone is welcome to chip in and in the end I would say most of us give some input before a song is “finished”.

You seem like a band well-suited to festivals. Where will you be playing this summer?
We are currently booked to play at Tropical Pressure festival in Cornwall and we are talking too reps from Wilderness Festival and Womad, hoping to get some more booked in soon

Tell us about your upcoming gigs in Brighton.
We have a late night gig on 29th January at the Rialto, we’ll soon be playing at the Dome at the brilliant Spectrum night on March 17th, The Concorde 2 on 2nd April and the Kemp Town Carnival on 4th of June.

What is your favourite Brighton venue?
We like the Concorde. It’s a good size and it feels great to be on that stage.

Do any past gigs stand out?
Supporting Gladiators at the Concorde recently was fun

Is there anyone you would particularly like to support live, and is there anyone you would particularly like to support you?
So many! We’d love to support Sean Kuti, United Vibrations – too many to list.

Not sure who we’d like to be supported by, we’d love to put on gigs with local bands. We can all support each other, awwww!

What other Brighton bands would you tip as destined for big things? Are there any new bands we should be aware of?
Barnacles, King Lagoon’s Flying Swordfish Dance Band are definitely two to watch.

If you could collaborate with any artist of any kind, who would it be?
I can only speak for myself, but personally I would love to collaborate with David Attenborough. He has nothing to do with the music of afrobeat! But he is my hero! He could present our story!

Or David Bowie! But so sadly he's gone! RIP BOWIE!!!

Are you looking to sign to a label, and if so which would you choose?
Not right now, we’ve gotta do some recording first.

Do we have any King Nommo releases to look forward to in the near future?
Yes, we should be recording an EP soon, around the end of march hopefully – release date tbc!

 

 

Our Girl – Interview – 2016

Our Girl have been one of the pinnacle acts over the past year or so making their name in Brighton’s thriving rock scene of up and coming bands. The trio is made up of Lauren Wilson on drums, Soph Nathan (also in The Big Moon) on guitar and vocals, and Josh Tyler on bass. They create a dreamy yet gloomy shoegaze inspired rock, mixing Soph’s soft feathery vocals with distorted melancholy guitars, and it is incredibly absorbing. With three songs for us get obsessed and engrossed in, the amazing eponymous ‘Our Girl’ anthem and their stunning debut release Sleeper/Level (out on Cannibal Hymns), we put some questions to the band to out find more about them.

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Gang – Interview – 2016

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Yep, it’s two men fighting to the death amongst the soil, one entirely naked, the other a hunter trying to track him. I’m afraid you’ve stumbled into the deranged and carnal world that the video for Gang’s new single ‘Animalia’ inhabits. Big, slow and as fuzzy as a woolly mammoth, Gang’s music brings together the density of doom and stoner metal with a melodic sweetness and flourishes of kaleidoscopic colour. It’s like if Electric Wizard had grown up on The Byrds as much as Black Sabbath, or if someone had put a bit of 60’s tie-dye colouring in their grey and ashy bong water.
 
Last week they celebrated their single release with a righteous show at the Green Door Store before setting off on their first tour around our green pastures. I communicated with guitarist Eric via invisible waves of electromagnetic radiation (the internet) to see if he might tell us some more stuff.
 
Who are you and what do you want from us?
I am Eric. I'm in a band with my buddy Joe and my brother Jimi. All we want is a nice, clean fight.
 
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Going to see Iron Maiden when I was 7 and Jimi was 9. We thought Eddie was real.
 
What was the record that made you realise you wanted to be in a band?
Probably Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water by Limp Bizkit. I got that when I was 7 and thought it was the raddest shit ever. Soon after that my dad showed me Nirvana and I told him it wasn't heavy enough for me.
 
Outside of music, what else inspires you?
Everything except love.
 
You’ve got a new AA-Side about to come out but each side feels very different tonally from the other. ‘Animalia’ is more typically heavy but ‘Breath Before Death’ feels much dreamier. Was creating that contrast and tension intentional?
Absolutely. It's a goal of ours to represent both sides of that spectrum.  Life can be beautiful and dreamy, Life can be very heavy.
 
How involved are you in the production aspect of things? I vaguely recall you saying you did ‘Animalia’ basically yourself. 
Yeah, I've recorded and mastered all of our stuff so far. We do it in our garage turned studio back in Kent (where we're originally from) with some nice old gear and a big old live room.
 
How do you get such a massive sound? What’s your setup?
I think we kind of just learned to play heavy. We've not drop-tuned yet (surprise, surprise), partly because we think it's more interesting to work out ways to make something sound big without just giving it more bottom end. The time will come though.
 
Breath Before Death’ is a bit of a departure for you sonically, what inspired that song?
Jimi wrote it after he put too many plants in his body and had a series of deathly panic attacks.
 
Your videos always have some pretty unique concepts. How involved are you in making them?
Our friend Chris Wade (Dogbrain videos) has made all of our videos thus far. We've always been very involved with the process in the past, who knows what the future may hold. Maybe we'll lose all creative control.
 
Has the music scene in Brighton or living here had any influence on your music? 
Not particularly. Joe and I moved down a year and a half ago because Jimi was studying here, and we wanted to try and do the band thing. At the point we moved we already had an idea of what we wanted to do, and it's just grown very organically since then. Brighton and its music scene are rad, but I think we'd be pretty much the same band if we were elsewhere. Brighton's a sweet platform for creative stuff though, which is why we like it here.
 
You’re heading off on tour this month, what can people expect if they venture out to see you?
Severe discomfort.
 
Who would be the headliners of your dream festival (dead or alive)? 
Probably the first caveman who played music because he was a true original.
 
Apart from Gang, who else should people be listening to at the moment?
Their parents, the government, corporations etc.
 
What other gang/criminal organisation would you like to belong to?
Avon's crew in The Wire.
 
Who do you wish you could collaborate with?
Keith and Orville.
 
What was the last gig you caught that really made an impression on you?
Kagoule at The Green Door Store's 5th Birthday party was super peng.
 
What else does 2016 hold in store for Gang?
Many beautiful things that only the slow unveiling nature of time will reveal.
 
Classic stoner metal album showdown: Electirc Wizard’s Dopethrone or Sleep’s Dopesmoker?
After much deliberation we can't decide. Instead I'm going to say Dry Hitter by the band Dopethrone, even though it's not quite as good as either of them (it's still sick).
 
And finally, what strain would you recommend for listening to Gang’s music?
Mutant Psychosis.
 
Website: gangband.co.uk
 
 
 

Ady Suleiman – Interview 2016

I first came across Ady Suleiman music a few years ago on Giles Peterson’s esteemed radio show. After signing a deal with musical giants Sony Records, Ady’s popularity blossomed and he found himself winning ‘Breakthrough Act Of The Year’ at the 2014 Giles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards. At The Great Escape 2015, I made sure I got to see Ady’s unparalleled talent first hand. His amazing soulful voice matched with his incredible song writing skill was stunning, and it had the room in a state of glee and excitement for one of Britain’s best young emerging artists. With Ady Suleiman coming back to Brighton to play the Green Door Store on 29th February, we felt we had to get in contact to find out more about him and his music.

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