“The main benefit of being in a band is about having a good time, while also doing something you love and are passionate about. Effectively this band is our 5-a-side football team.”
Except there’s only three of them. Streaming Lights consists of Steve Minns, Ryan Gibbins and Chris Flynn.
Founded in 2010, they’ve become a recognisable name on the Hull Music Scene. Known for their energetic stage antics and Minns’ distinguishable falsetto tones, their music is incredibly difficult to pigeonhole. When I first saw them perform, in their earlier days, they produced a much heavier sound with clear rock influences. Now, I’d be inclined to use the words ‘electric’ and ‘fun’ (these words, and synonyms of these words, being ones I have certainly used when reviewing the band). And it is this which draws you in: the boyish frivolity (synonym) of their stage presence, entertaining the crowd with humorous banter and general silliness.
Their lyrics too are cleverly comical. On 2014 album ‘KICK’ you’ll find songs about the addictive lure of EBay, the all-encompassing allure of a pair of slippers and the desire to see inside someone else’s mind. With catchy choruses and buoyant beats, it won’t take you many spins before you’re singing along at one of their shows.
“a patchwork quilt of different things”
And now that their audience has become comfortable with these songs, the lads are producing new tracks in the hope that it won’t take another three years before the second album. ‘Box Room Boy’ is their new single, launched at The Sesh on June 30th, with the video being released a couple of days later.
And this weekend they are performing at The Big Gig alongside other popular Hull bands. If I haven’t already convinced you that these boys are something to experience, then get down there just for the fun of it – see what the fuss is all about.
La Bête Blooms have a sound which is propelled by the raw energy the band expel on stage. A review in NME compared their single ‘Stay Away’ to the “feral ferocity of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’”.
Off stage, you find a very different group of individuals. They are lead singer and guitarist Daniel Mawer, Jack Gallagher on bass, John Copley on lead guitar, Louisa Robinson on keys and James Coggin behind the drumkit. With the exception of spritely James, who breaks all stereotypes associated with drummers, they all appear to be serene, even timid, souls. They admit to being rather camera-shy, having one of their most iconic music videos using animation by Jake Machen to express their personality in a potent and colourful manner.
But this is the power of their music, which brings forth the beast within and offers a way to express that sense of freedom and enthusiasm.
A La Bête Blooms set is difficult to describe without sounding a little over-dramatic. Mawer’s lyrics are laced with heart-felt emotion, drawing the audience into their grasp. Once there, the thrashing guitar-fuelled sound captures you and refuses to let you loose again. I’ve never seen Mawer remain on stage for an entire set, needing to sit, or even lie down in the crowd, as a means of cooling off during one of their more heavy songs. They perform with a natural ease, taking it in their way, and leading the audience down the path in which they build.
Photographs by Luke Hallett.
This is the interview I conducted with La Bête Blooms back in October, when they released their EP:
And here is the interview I conducted more recently for their cover feature in Browse Magazine:
Nix: Last time we interviewed you guys, you’d just released your debut EP. What’s been going on since then?
Daniel Mawer: We’ve recorded two singles. We did that… like a month ago.
John Copley: It was a bit more than that. Was it February? The start of February.
Daniel: Yeah, so we recorded two singles with the same guy who did the EP – Matt Peel, in Leeds. He’s moved places, into in like a converted church. And then we’ve just finished a run of four days [of their April tour] with London, Nottingham, Coventry and Liverpool.
Nix: How have you found this tour?
Daniel: The last time we spoke to you, we’d just done the October one with six dates over the course of a month. This was… we have seven dates, but four of them were like Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That was different, coz we stayed over for a couple of them – we’ve not done that before, have we?
James Coggin: No. It was good.
Daniel: It felt better doing that as well. It felt good doing like a little batch all together.
Nix: Did it feel more like a proper tour?
Daniel: Yeah, exactly, yeah. Rather than coming home and having a few days, we straight to a hotel and then back to it the next day. It was more like a holiday really though, wasn’t it?
John: We forgot we had gigs sometimes.
Daniel: Spent too much money as well. Went to a Monkey Forest. John’s idea, wasn’t it John?
John: It was.
James: I enjoyed that!
John: It wasn’t that good.
Louisa Robinson: Everyone enjoyed that.
Daniel: It was kind of like East Park but worse… there’s more to see at East Park.
Louisa: Yeah, different varieties.
Daniel: Once you’ve seen one monkey, you’ve…
James: Don’t say you’ve seen them all. Coz you haven’t. There were 140 monkeys there, and you didn’t see them all.
John: Anyway, enough about monkeys…
Nix: Were there any venues which you particularly enjoyed?
Daniel: Well, we’ve played Nottingham before, so we knew what we were expecting with that. It was a Friday night; it does really well on a Friday.
James: I think every venue seemed to have its own…
John: It was all very different, wasn’t it?
James: Yeah, everything was so distinct. It was really nice, actually.
John: Yeah. Some were really big, and one was literally a tiny, little…
(Here, John was asked why he was wearing his sunglasses indoors by a member of staff. James pointed out that this is because John is “cool”.)
Daniel: Coventry was nice: the Tin. It was next to a canal, and it felt the middle of nowhere to be honest. It kinda was. Maybe ten minutes before we played, a lot… like twenty, thirty people were stood up, ready to watch us play. So that felt like a gig, a proper gig. Not like a night where we’d just jumped in…
John: Yeah, and people had paid for that one.
Daniel: Yeah, people had paid to come and see us. They looked after us as well.
James: Yeah, yeah, very hospitable.
John: Good food.
Nix: So, where else features on this tour?
Daniel: Wakefield, Leeds and the Sesh. We’re playing The Hop in Wakefield, Wharf Chambers in Leeds, and then we’ve got the Sesh. But they’re like the other tour; it’s really over the next month.
Nix: And, then, what’s next for La Bête Blooms?
Daniel: I suppose when we’ve done these dates, we’ve got the first single coming out in July, which we’ve recorded.
James: Got to do a video.
Daniel: Yeah, video and a few dates will go with that as well. It all kicks into summer after we release the single. The usual… same kind of summer we always have.
John: Yeah, Wembley Festival…
Daniel: Yeah, no. Obviously, we’ve been doing them [Hull festivals] for three or four years. Everybody looks after you, everybody knows each other. So, yeah…
They may be young, but they’ve got some old-school funk in their sound.
Formed in 2012, Young Jack have taken the local music scene in their grasp, performing at a range of venues across the city, including both shopping centres, as well as further afield. Though they’d like you to think they are a band of lads named Jack, this is not quite the case – though, a band of jack the lads wouldn’t be far from the truth – they consist of lead singer Luke Bowe, lead guitarist Daniel Higgins, bassist Jack Rowland, drummer Jack Allbones and on percussion ‘Tommy Bongo’.
Influenced by the music they listened to with their parents, these young lads bring to the stage a more aged and classic sound: a soul and motown vibe mixed into the indie rock tunes. “Cliff Richard in his prime,” they tell me.
I last saw them perform as part of the West Park Party launch, in Princes Quay. With an audience predominantly of young girls eager to see Union J, their sound was something different to the others in the line-up. They brought a bit of classic rock to the stage, proving that your age does not define the way in which you should sound. And there wasn’t a person in the crowded shopping centre who didn’t turn their head. I was pleased to hear teenage girls saying they would check the lads out on their Facebook page.
Their previously released singles were all made possible with thanks to Warren Records, who the lads speak very highly of, thanking Stew Baxter and the team for all their effort and belief which kept the band motivated.
Now looking to take the next step, the band are breaking out of the UK with a gig overseas. Performing the top support slot for The Happy Mondays, Young Jack will be performing at the Rugby Spy Tens gig in Ibiza this June, a three-day event which involves forty teams from across the globe playing knockout tens rugby mixed with DJ sets and live music.
Proving that you’re never too young to establish a music career is thirteen year-old Yasmin Coe. And with fans including Emma Fee, she’s making waves across the local scene.
Her natural flair for music saw her taking to any instrument on offer. She started piano lessons at six years old, as many young kids do, moving onto guitar at eight. Since then, she has also taken up violin and clarinet, as well as joining a choir. It was here that she truly found her passion for performing, singing alongside others equally enthusiastic. Even though her sound is very different to where she started, it is this which keeps her motivated. She described her belief that anyone should do what makes them happy. “If you love it … if you want to do it … “ then Yasmin says you should. Taking to the stage in 2011, she was rewarded for her singing talents at the Cottingham Music Festival. Her live debut was at Humber Street Sesh, following gigs at Freedom and Trinity Festival, where she was able to play to a wide range of people.
With broad influences, ranging from One Direction to the The Beatles, Yasmin sees her music as a release of emotions. She explained that “when something hits you hard … you can sit with your guitar for ages”. Writing her own songs from the experiences a young girl has, she treats her songwriting as a means of “[getting] the emotions out there”. New single ‘Leave and Let Go’ is about accepting the loss of those close to you, whether through death or a move to another country. This gives her lyrics a power which draws you in, instantly identifying with the content.
On Saturday 7th March, her single launch takes place at That’s Entertainment, Prospect Centre. The first in-store promotion gig to happen in Hull since The Paddingtons performed at HMV, this offers anyone and everyone a chance to hear her perform live. Being a teenager, many of her fans are of a similar age, but her sound is something which will capture the attention of anyone wandering past on a busy weekend afternoon.
She described the store’s recent introduction of local music as “good that they’re encouraging local artists”. And though she’s a fan of current pop bands, such as One Direction, she recognises that there is often more talent in those performing for the love of it, than manufactured bands who often get more time in the spotlight. And this gig is a perfect example of what local musicians can offer their fans – intimate and friendly.
So, show your support for this talented young woman at 1pm next Saturday. Copies of her single will be available for purchase, which includes an additional track to that which will be available on ITunes.
The world of music is an ocean of personalities. I’m referring to the collection of instrumental choices, I’m talking about the plethora of genres, but mostly I am guiding you to delve into the compilation of people swimming in the pool of musical talent.
Take three musicians: all from and/or based in Hull and the local area. All have developed their career as musicians and were willing to talk to the PressPack group about how to ensure success as a new or young act. They were there for a similar purpose, but their journeys to where they currently sit have all been quite different.
There’s Darren Bunting whose love of music was piloted by his father. Following somewhat in his footsteps working as a DJ, Darren is also Director of Hull Music Limited and Music HQ, as well as having taught himself how to play bass guitar. Having done cabaret and military work, he described his performances as an act which was self-contained and choreographed, yet he stated that “improvisation is such a big skill” when asked what advice he would give an upcoming musician. Darren’s passion didn’t appear to be in the instrument, but in the production of music. He works as a sound engineer and with events management and PR, showing insight into the way in which musicians need to use technology in order to develop their following in order to not hit that one-hit wonder wall.
Someone else who taught himself bass guitar is John Marley, who sees Radiohead as “gods” who created “rock but clever rock” and took his passion for music to launch into a career as a freelance bass player. Having completed a BTech in Popular Music, he then went on to study a BA (Honns) in Jazz Studies, describing the choice to move away from Popular music as a strategic one. He described the three options as Classical, where you become a Classical musician, Pop, where you learn popular music, and Jazz, where you learn the Classical and the Popular and the skills to play any genre. John has worked with huge musical names (Katrina Leskanich of Katrina & The Waves being the one I got a little excited about) and performs over 250 gigs a year, often playing with no rehearsal of preparation. Having to end the interview in order for John to play at Pave Jam, he explained that often he is the one freelance musician, paid to perform alongside other freelance musicians who work to support singers, who ends up playing all night, as everyone needs a bass guitarist. But what struck me about John was that whenever he was talking about playing music, he relaxed. Music is what he does, what he loves and clearly what he is meant to do.
Last, but in no way least as he lead much of the discussion, was Robert McGrath. Robert plays the saxophone, clarinet and flute. He was first inspired by Zoot from the Muppets, and now works as a teacher of Woodwind inspiring others. Out of the three personalities being interviewed, Robert came across as the most professional. He clearly loves music, and commented that he would love for his nine-year old son to “pick up a trumpet”. It’s not that he wasn’t passionate about music because clearly he is, but the way in which he discussed his career was with a clarity of how to make it a profession, picking the venues and with groups which were both enjoyable and financially viable. Robert learned clarinet in school because he was told that he was “too small” for the sax, but did go on to play the instrument of his childhood dreams, as well as playing the flute which he learned alongside his young students. Robert has worked in a range of venues, including some outside of the UK, and with a wide variety of people of all ages.
These three talented musicians are proof that the music industry works, and that with the right amount of passion and the thorough understanding of the business, you can make it in this complex industry which seems to be returning to its roots of playing because you love to play.
The Ebola Crisis is worldwide news at the moment. Since the outbreak started in February, flights to the Ivory Coast have been restricted and over a thousand people have died. The BBC reported this outbreak to be the “deadliest to date” since the virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.
Newspapers are reporting that many of the infected sites – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria – are bringing in soldiers to monitor and establish strict quarantine sites. When speaking to Barmmy Boy, a young man visiting Hull from Sierra Leone and unable to return because of the outbreak, he compared the crisis the civil war which affected the country from 1991-2002.
Barmmy Boy, aka Lansana Mansarey, is from Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. He came to the UK to work with several schools in Hull, teaching our young people about the conflict and corruption in his country as well as offering rap lessons. He has been unable to return due to the Ebola crisis, having to extend his time here until the end of the month. Though this may seem like a lengthy holiday, now that the kids are on their summer break, Barmmy Boy continues to work over here in order to support his family, a family who he misses and worries about constantly. He spoke to a group of us about his fears for the people in Sierra Leone, including his family and the members of a friend’s family who have contracted the virus.
Next week, Barmmy Boy is working with Steve Cobby, a music producer from Hull who has worked with such musicians as Radiohead, to produce a song about the dangers of Ebola, which he described as a “stranger” coming into the country and taking control. He said that you would not accept this from a stranger, telling him to pack up and go before he could cause any damage, and so he says the people must treat the Ebola virus in the same way, shunning it until it leaves. He aims to take the song back to Sierra Leone in order to teach the young people of his country about the precautions they can take to evade this virus and stop it from spreading. Ebola is contracted through bodily secretions, including sweat, and in a country with a 60% Muslim population, the shaking of hands is a custom difficult to break. Barmmy Boy explained that to test for a fever, a person will place a hand under the jawline to check temperature, something which is perfectly sensible were you to fear the other person had the flu, but which can be deadly if that person indeed is showing one of the first symptoms of the Ebola virus.
Barmmy Boy told us that “music is a driving force for many people in Sierra Leone”, describing the ways in which young people, including ex-combat fighters, can use music to give themselves a voice, to express their ideas and discuss their problems in a way which many still feel they are not entitled to do. He explained that his music is about many serious topics, including the conflict and corruption he has witnessed in his country, taboo subjects such as child abuse and HIV, as well as promoting a different way of life.
His song about Ebola will be similar to that of his biggest and most famous track ‘HIV Dangerous’, which promotes taking precautions against this deadly virus. With messages written into this song such as “get up, stand up, make up, and go for check-up” as well as “better use a condom” his point is clear. His songs are catchy, with traditional dancehall rhythms and use of repetition to ensure the meaning stands out in strength. When asked why he was using a similar sound, he simply said that this is what is popular, and in order to reach as wide an audience as possible the song needs to be one which the people can accept quickly into their dancehalls and onto their radio stations.
In addition to the song about Ebola, Barmmy Boy will produce a song about the flaws in the education system, which he aims to produce when he returns to Freetown, which he admitted “the government might not like”. Previously, he has had his music taken off radio stations, and he said that they may threaten to banish him from Freetown, but he did not seem too concerned as he has a wide fan base not only in Freetown but also internationally with the work he has done in the UK and with WeOwnTv, a media production company based in Sierra Leone working with international companies and North American Filmmakers.
Barmmy Boy stated the messages he shares in his songs are “the most important thing I do” and that “there are things that can change in Sierra Leone” which he wishes to promote and share with his people.
I wish him all the best, and look forward to the release of ‘Pack ‘n’ Go’.
The word ‘life’ is everywhere. Look around the supermarket and try to argue that I’m wrong: this butter will improve your life; this magazine dissects the life of this celebrity; even long-life milk. This was the response from LIFE when asked how they chose their band name.
The band LIFE consists of brothers Mez (lead vocals) and Mick (guitar), originally from Lincoln. Mez moved to Hull for university, where he met Loz (bass) and Rich (drums), former school friends, and established the band The Neat. About a year ago, Mick was introduced and the band took an alternate spin, playing a different, cleaner sound.
As Life, the band have certainly developed, having released their first demo ‘In Citrus’ in 2013, the video to which is a kaleidoscope of colour and sound.
Since then they have played numerous events, this weekend having performed at the Humber Street Sesh and Kendal Calling, and signed with Birthday Records. The band have been working alongside Nick Hodgson in London, and putting themselves out there to ensure the name LIFE is heard in every corner of the country. We were lucky to have over half an hour talking to the band, whereas often they only get 10 minute slots with journalists to promote themselves in this need-it-now windstorm of a music industry. This isn’t enough, as these “Hull scamps” are hungry to promote their music and engage with their audience. This is evident in their live performances, where the focus is on the integration with the audience rather than on perfecting the delivery. Mez says that he treats every show like his last, giving as much of himself to the audience as he can. When I saw them last weekend, he certainly did this, spending as much time in the crowd as he did on stage. They are a true punk band who play because they love to play, recognising that their songs could be interpreted to delve into political issues though this is not always the aim.
The band have been heavily influenced by a wide range of music in addition to Literature and popular culture. Mick, who often writes the lyrics alongside his brother Mez, explained that they like the slightly egocentric manner in which they will slip in a literary reference or comment on a contemporary popular television show, giving their songs a dated and edgy feel. This promotion of their intelligence reminds me of bands such as the Manic Street Preachers, who build their academic knowledge and intellect into their music because they love to, and because they can. This gives a poetic feel to their lyrics, sung to a catchy pop-punk tune which can really get the audience moving to the music.
It’s difficult to compare this band to any specific previous musician, as a whole. They write in a similar way to the Manics, they play in the same way as most punk or indie bands, and they sound like LIFE. Though you can always hear a sense of influence – we live in a world where so much has been done, that it is nigh-impossible to create a truly original piece of any art form. ‘In Citrus’ resonates the sound of The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, while ‘Crawling’ reminds me of the Ramones. Their current single ‘Take Off With You’ has a much cleaner sound, with controlled use of music to heighten the senses; knocking you sideways with sudden bursts of energy, taking you from shades of blue to intense moments of sunset red.
When asked why he wanted to be in a band, Mez stated that it has always been his dream to “self manage… self promote”, taking on the punk ethos of music, and to “be in a band, not working”, which he quickly pointed out is a misconception obtained in naivety (he later admitted to being the member of the band who feels he most has to control and organise). More than anything, what really came across, was that Life is a Hull band. Though they have recorded in London and played gigs across the UK, they promote Hull wherever they go and admitted that they couldn’t see themselves settling anywhere else. All members of the band are proud to have roots in Hull, and said they would like to be seen as “the leading light in Hull … show Hull in a good light.”
And I see no reason why this shouldn’t be the case. The band are currently finishing a string of festival dates, and then they’ll be recording again in September. Hopefully, an album is on the cards.