MUSIC At the Bacardi NH7 Weekender there are a whole range of sounds. Here’s what Fin Grenall, Foreign Beggars and the Staves had to say…
Fin Grenall’s is the voice you want to listen to before you fall asleep, but before he got into the groove of being a singer songwriter and part of three piece band Fink, he started with dance music – in the early days – as he calls it, “DJing was new, exciting and avant garde and I really loved being a part of it. It made itself my career when I got signed to a record label and ever since I have been dj-ing or touring or writing and now my work is more band-led singer-songwriter stuff,” he says.
While Fin says decidedly that his voice is more original than his song writing as an afterthought he adds, “When you write a good one it is a great, great feeling. Singing is a new thing for me I started singing only around 2006 with the first Fink record so I’ve been learning how to sing and write songs ever since. The gigs help improve your art – singing at home or even in the studio are a totally different experience to singing live. I’m not saying it is better or worse, just different.”
Fink collaborated with Salim-Sulaiman and Shafqat Amanat Ali on The Dewarists and while it was a bizarre combination as Fin agrees, it was a challenge, “Salim and Sulaiman are so nice and were so welcoming; they are also great producers and have an amazing studio. And while collaborating we were writing in different languages from different perspectives and it was really fascinating. Musically these guys are very versatile and are aware or western music and sounds and they can go anywhere with their music but it has a kind of Indian flavour to it,” he says.
“And Shafqat, well, he is just a legend. His skill set is ancient and wow, he can sing! He has a gift for sure and to work with him and have him do his thing as a singer I definitely felt a little star struck. The Dewarists experience was amazing and it wasn’t all easy and all fun, some of it was challenging and very difficult but the great thing is that we all had music in common and because we were doing this thing we all really love, we did good.”
Fin loves music and writing and the song and rhythm but he also loves the industry side of it, he explains, “I understand what the label wants and needs, what the artist needs and the compromises, it’s like a puzzle,” which is probably what makes him a collaboration favourite.
“Collaborations with keys players are always great because I’m a guitarist and the piano is a totally different musical landscape with more majors and bassline led turnarounds and less rhythm. Working with Amy Winehouse was about witnessing greatness and John Legend was all about finding something cool that represented him and his band.”
From NH7 Fin has the same expectations as anybody else – some great international music, some cool local talent, bands, DJ’s, some folk, some metal some Fink and hopefully some nice weather, “it’s going to be Christmas a few weeks after we get home so some shopping might be in order.”
It’s their first show in India and the Foreign Beggars are riding a high. They are kicked and capital letters and expletives don’t do justice to the excitement in an interview with MC Orifice Vulgatron of the English hip-hop, grime and dub step group which includes MC Metropolis and DJ Nonames, based in London. When talking about style Orifice Vulgatron says, “We started by releasing underground hip-hop and are also heavily involved in promotion and playing drum and bass around the time. Over the years until about 2008 we continued to release straight up underground rap but had started to include a lot more grime, dub step and D&B in the live show. This was the point we started to diversify the releases musically by including cross genre remixes with all our package releases.”
The international boom of dub step and with the visibility of those collaborations, newer fans have referred to the group as a dub step band but this isn’t specifically the case. We are a rap/ electronic group who rhyme over all sorts of beats from D&B, dub step, grime, hip hop, electro, moombah and even house and garage.
The uprising of electronic music may be recent but the style has been around for a while and is even as big as hip hop or rock and roll, Vulgatron says. “Maybe it is that the stars at the centre haven’t been as big but with the crossover of many styles and fusion and a massive insurgence of energy from a much younger audience it is definitely one of the big players in the music industry at the moment.”
Ask him the story behind the name and he says, “It’s just a sick name that's kind of controversial. I heard Kyza refer to real ‘foreign beggars’ on the streets of London on a song called ‘Night Breed’ with Jehst and Klashnekoff around the time we were looking for a name and it was edgy, and seemed fitting as we were such a mixed up bunch having come from and lived in Dubai, India, Iraq, Columbia, Norway, Ghana, South Africa and England.
The audience can expect a spectrum of songs spanning all the albums, lots of energy, lots of hip hop, lots of dirty electronic beats and bass. And of the other acts Orifice says, “Personally I’d love to meet the dudes from Skyharbour, also Susheela Rahman, Nucleya, and Mayur...”
CATHERINE RHEA ROY
The Staves are a trio of sisters from England, and take their names from their surnames (Staveley-Taylor). That’s Jessica, Emily and Camilla Staveley-Taylor.
They keep their music simple: folksy tunes, with often little more than a guitar for accompaniment, enriched by shimmering harmonies (songs like ‘Winter Tree’ are perfect examples).
The Staves recently accompanied the American folk act Bon Iver on his tour, and released Dead And Born And Grown, their debut album, in November. They play in India for the first time at the Weekender.
Jessica Staveley-Taylor answered some of our questions.
What are you most looking forward to about the Bangalore gig?
We’ve never played a festival in India - well, we’ve never played at all in India!— so we’re very excited and are looking forward to catching some other acts on the bill.
What influence has the Bon Iver association/tour had on your career and your music?
We’ve been fans of their music for a long time so they've had an influence on us in that way, but touring with them was inspiring. They are such a tight-knit group and to be around that is a really positive thing. Plus, their live show is mind-blowing!
What's behind the name of your album? Does it refer to the three of you?
No! It's from the album’s title track. Our record label thought it sounded like a bands final record rather than their debut! But it's the first song we ever wrote and we felt it was very true to us and really sums us up.
Recording or live gigs, which do you prefer?
I listen to records more than I go to gigs. Partly because I don't have time to go to many gigs anymore. Listening to albums whilst travelling is one of my favourite things to do. I can't pick - both are totally different experiences and ways of listening to music.
What's the best and worst bits about working as sisters?
The best bit is knowing each other so well that we can be very intuitive when we sing and write songs. The downsides are that we bicker quite a lot!
Do you plan on sticking to your folk sound? Do you plan to experiment with new sounds, perhaps collaborate with somebody different?
As we write new songs we gradually change our sound. We're looking forward to getting in the studio and playing around with new instruments and sounds. Who knows maybe we'll write a metal song?!
What's your opinion on the recent resurgence of folk?
I think it's great that people are appreciating folk music, or music that’s influenced by it, on a larger scale. It means that our sound is less of a niche and that there's a wider audience for it.
What's a typical day like for the band?
We'll usually go over to our mum's house and do emails and play some guitar and write a song. Then maybe go to the pub afterwards.