Fakers: Keeping The Spirit Of Punk Alive

Earlier today I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Alex Sabey, vocalist for Derby punk band Fakers. I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with Fakers when we played the same bill at SOUPFEST 2022 and after hearing the bands new single “Idiot Box” I jumped at the chance to interview them. Below is the transcript of our conversation.

Oscar: So, Fakers, Derby punk n roll. What defines Fakers? Who are you and what is your mission statement?

Fakers: WE ARE FAKERS! We wanna keep PUNK ROCK N ROLL alive, have fun, play music we love, and keep it authentic (the name was a bit of a joke in that way haha).

Oscar: You’ve recently released a single “Idiot Box”. What was that experience like?

Fakers: It was great, it’s amazing to get some music out there and we’re really happy with the way the recording sounds! Jay Dean did a great job with the mixing and recording, capturing the live sound we wanted and Joe Caithness brought everything out perfectly in the mastering. Doing it at the new Dubrek was also a bonus (I think we were the first to record there).

Oscar: As a part of Derby’s music scene, I’ve always felt it’s underestimated by outsiders, often being compared to Nottingham or Leicester. How do you feel about Derby?

Fakers: I think the Derby scene is hard to measure in a way, there seems to be pockets of musicians, like little scenes, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of major scene I can think of. I think it’s hindered by the lack of venues in Derby for new or unknown independent bands/artists to play. But there’s some great bands that Derby has to offer.

Oscar: Do you have plans to conquer the world with Raw Power? (Pun intended)

Fakers: Of course haha, we want to reach as many people as possible with our music and freak em out, but our main aim is to have fun, there’s no point if there’s no fun (no fun, my babe, no fun).

Oscar: Fakers have a very old school punk style, what is it like to be playing that sort of music 40 years after it was initially popular?

Fakers: I’m just glad that kind of music is still around, there’s band like Amyl and The Sniffers which we’re fans of that have a similar raw punk rock n roll energy and sound. It’ll never die, there’s always gonna be kids in their garage bashing out power chords and annoying the neighbours.

Oscar: Any words of encouragement for punks young and old who are getting into playing music?

Fakers: You can do it! Just keep going, if you can’t play a certain chord just yet, then write a song with the chords you can play or play power chords. Don’t hold back, just go for it, the only thing stopping you is yourself. As long as you’re having fun and do it for yourself, because you want to, then you’re a winner.

Oscar: Thanks so much for your time. Any final words to my readers?

Fakers: Keep an eye out on our social media (@fakersofficial – insta, fb @fakersband – twitter), we’re always making new announcements of gigs and we’ve plenty of surprises to come.

Fakers: Upcoming gigs (for the next couple of weeks)
Dot to Dot (The Angel 2pm) – Sun 29th May
Chameleon – Weds 8th June

Fakers: Cheers for the interview!

I really enjoyed having this chat with Alex, even if it was only via text, let me know if you’d like me to do some interviews in person? For now, check out Fakers and as always…

Peace, Love & Cowbells,

Oscar

Listening to Pop Music as an Alternative Music Fan: Emma Kelly – Under Pressure

Hey Folks!

Thought I would take a break from the usual “wall of distortion” bands that I usually review to talk about something rather controversial to the alternative music scene. Pop music. Adored by the masses and hated by the alternatives. I consider myself to be an alternative music fan, anything weird and I’m usually down! But lately, I’ve been listening to more and more pop music. I’ve always believed that even in alternative music, bands need to retain an element of pop. But when I was sent Emma Kelly’s new single “Under Pressure” I found myself listening to a highly produced, catchy pop track. And you know what? I enjoyed it!

Truth be told I don’t know enough about pop music to know which artists Emma Kelly is drawing from here. But I really enjoyed the track, it uses some really interesting instrumentation, such as the lo-fi strings in the introduction, contrasting the high production value of the rest of the song. I also really enjoyed the pre-chorus, it reminded me quite a bit of Dodie, another highly underrated pop artist I like. Under Pressure has the layers of synthesisers you’d hear on many tracks such as this which add some great atmosphere. The performances are all quality, Emma’s voice has a lot of character to it, however I felt that perhaps if the voice had been less hyper-produced during certain sections it may have had a bit more impact. My favourite part of the track has to be the bridge. This is where a lot of the layers pull back to really allow Emma’s voice to shine and the chords have a lot of weight to them. This is where the emotion really hits me and I applaud Emma for some simple but impactful lyrics. Lines such “my biggest saboteur is my everyday reflection” really evokes the self doubt and the pressure this song is written about.

I was a bit disappointed by the chorus, not only does it take far too long to get there, but it’s not overly singable. It’s over a minute and a half before the main full chorus kicks in, with a half chorus during the introduction. I really like the verse, I love the bridge, but pop music is centred around those chorus hooks. I definitely think this is a brave decision and I love the progressive nature of the choice, but if Emma Kelly wants to find a mass audience then she needs to focus on writing tunes that won’t get out of people’s heads.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this track. The production and performances are both superb and that bridge alone is to die for! That section alone makes this song worthy of your playlists. In fact, I’m going to include a new category in reviews going forward “worthy of your playlists”. I have never and will never give a number to rate something as complex as a record, but see this as a badge of approval from me. Stick that in your resume Emma!

Listening to pop music, as someone who just a few years ago wouldn’t be caught dead listening to tracks such as this, is not a bad thing. Any music that gets you to dance and singalong is to be applauded as its own unique art and should be appreciated along with all forms of music. So well done Emma, I look forward to hearing more from you!

Peace, Love and Cowbells,

Oscar

Rhythm Lab Records & The History of Jungle Music

Heya Folks! Wow it has been a minute since I last posted to the blog! Of course we’ve had the wonderful Tea & Tones Series that I’ve been working on for the last month and I’ve been working on hard on new music for you all, In between the scheduled university final year breakdown. But I’m back today to talk with you about my friend Iyunoluwanimi Yemi-Shodinu, Rhythm Lab Records and their new series “I just love how Black it was!” I had a wonderful conversation via email with Iyun and I really enjoyed the first episode of the series. It talks all about the history of Jungle Music, featuring legendary MC MADRUSH, it’s a deep dive into a world that I’ve never been a part of. I greatly enjoyed the experience and it’s left me eager to learn more. In order to do this I spoke with Iyun in an interview, the full transcript of which you can find below!

First up, can you tell me a little bit about Rhythm Lab Records?

Rhythm Lab Records is an independent community based record label run out of Manchester. We’re a sister company to Reform Radio, a community radio station and talent development platform that has become a staple in the Manchester scene. A year ago, 6 young creatives under 25 (including myself) were hired to run the label and bring it towards a new direction. Since then we’ve worked to solidify Rhythm Lab Records as a place where young talents in Manchester can come and explore the roots in their music, as well as challenge themselves to collaborate outside of their usual creative space. We sign music (EPs/singles) not artists as we see ourselves as an innovative step in an artist’s journey, as opposed to their final destination. In pushing to work and collaborate outside of their comfort zones a lot of the artists that we worked with have made some of their best and most dynamic music with us and for almost all of them this will now be just a new standard to excel past in the rest of their careers.

Coming from an outsider perspective, what’s the best place to get started with jungle music? Any favourite artists or albums you can recommend?

So a lot of our knowledge on Jungle came from having to research this project and discovering how vibrant and intoxicating the Manchester Jungle scene was. A Guy Called Gerald and of course MC MADRUSH and the entire are good points of contact for the crazy, innovative stuff that was happening back then in Manny. The track VOODOO RAY for example is a classic in this regard. I must give the disclaimer that Jungle is new to me too! Like a lot of your readers, I am also a burgeoning Jungle fan and so a lot of the rabbit holes and recommendations that helped me situate myself in the history of Jungle came from both research and on the ground recommendations by my hardcore Jungle friends like TAIGA (@DJ.SOYBOI). For example they told me to look up Sully, Over Shadow, Moving Shadow and I have been obsessed ever since. Metalheads is also a great place to start in this regard!

Could you give a brief overview of the history of Jungle music for my readers?

This is a complicated one but I will try! In the 90s, a post Thatcher Britain saw diverse and under-represented factions of society forming alliances in what was- and still very much is- an unfair and dangerous time for their respective communities. These alliances saw people of colour and members of the LGBT community joining hands to protect and party with each other in safe spaces of their making- i.e Shebeens which we discuss in episode 1 of the documentary. And like other similar movements of the past century that took place in Britain- like the early Daytimers movement that swept through London in the late sixties and early seventies- these alliances often came with new and innovative dance music born from underground interpretations of Jamaican sound system culture. In the sixties this led to the sounds of Dub taking over Britain and in the 90s Jungle was born, taking the lower tempo sounds of its Hardcore predecessor and adding distinctly darker melodies, basslines and vocal textures that stem straight from Jamaica. The call and response nature of Jungle music is unique for electronic music of the time, the crowd is very much a part of any good jungle performance. This also stems from Jungle’s Jamaican sound system roots and is an aspect that genres which evolved from Jungle- particularly Drum n Bass would run with, to astonishing effects. But that’s a topic for another day! Please do your own research on this as well. The history of Jungle is too rich and interesting to fit into this paragraph, this is merely a summation from one dude!

What are the plans for future episodes?

We want to keep looking at how Manchester has informed and transformed the history of electronic music. There is a lot that our team uncovered in just researching this one episode, people running some of the first black queer nights in Europe out of Manny, women who have intrigual to the history of drum n bass, hiphop and even dance. Honestly the answer is that right now we don’t know. For now we are looking for funding, but rest assured that finding a story to tell about the innovations from Manchester electronic music is the easy part. 

Will you explore black history in other genres of music?

Yes! As mentioned earlier, Drum n Bass, Hiphop, Disco, House. Black people have been at the forefront of it all! They deserved to be celebrated

In the episode MadRush talks about the adversity he faced trying to play jungle music in the clubs, and issues with promoters being against the congregation of black people in clubs. Does this still persist today?

Yes and it is sad! The whole team have friends (that will go unnamed) and have heard stories of black night runners struggling to find a venue for their parties in Manchester because “we just don’t do that type of music here” but when a white crew comes to play similar music at the same venues they don’t have a problem. In one of these stories, the person in charge of the night finally got a venue and that venue ended up making more money at the bar than they have ever made since the venue opened. I as a black man have found it so hard finding where black people go to party in Manchester and I am only just now finding some of these spots right now. These stories extend past myself as well, talking to people who throw black queer nights in Manny has really been harrowing even and sometimes especially from the gay community in Manny itself. The gay village is not known for being the most black friendly spot. 

Basically the promoters in Manchester as always need to do better or step out of the way. Now that I have been finding more black events in Manchester they are often lively, infectious and some of the most fun I have had in the country But that is sadly often despite the best efforts of the venue itself.   

what can others who are not part of that community do to help? How can they best honour and respect the struggles of those young black artists who fought so hard to make their voices heard?

Speak out when you see something weird! Look out for your black friends or just black people at any parties you are in regardless of whether it’s a black event or not. Look out for racist bouncers as I can personally attest they can ruin your night in a heartbeat. If you see a person of colour being harassed by a bouncer ask why? Solidarity is how we win. There are many other things you can do. If you’re a promoter put people of colour and queer people on your nights. Book black women. Go to black parties that very often are quite welcoming to white people and don’t be a racist weirdo! All this and more! Have fun with it. The problem extends well past club nights and spawns from a history of white supremacy but still do your part wherever you can!    

Wrapping up, just want to say thank you to you and your team once again for creating such a brilliant piece of content that provides an insight into an important part of musical history. Is there anything else you would like my readers to know?

Thank you for having us! These were all really fun to answer. Check out Rhythm Lab Records back catalogue! Honestly all of our music is fire! Check out episode 1 of “I just love how black it was..” Follow us on instagram @rhythmlabrecords and stay tuned for our Releases and club nights as well as development programs. In early December we’re throwing a synth workshop for cis/trans Women as well as any non-binary people who feel comfortable in that space. Come along! Have fun learn about synths, it’s free.

Be kind to one another! We appreciate you all very much.

Hello! Oscar again, well done for reading the whole way through! I’ve really appreciated Iyunoluwanimi’s time in answering my questions and I’m already arranging a trip up to Manchester to visit Rhythm Lab Records, among many other locations, in order to network and get to know a city that has given the musical world so much. I look forward to working with him and his team even more in future. Thank you for reading, and as always,

Peace, Love and Cowbells,

Oscar

A Classic Rock Ballad In 2020??

The new single from Jordy Baines, local musician in my hometown of Derby, brings the classic rock ballad to 2020… kind of (in a good way). My Silent Enemy is an excellent example of quality song writing and production. I’ve seen Jordy live at the open mics he puts on around Derby, but this is the first time I’ve heard anything non-acoustic from him, and it leaves me wanting more. The beautiful classical piano quota and reverb heavy backing vocals bringing in the track gives me chills every time. Then an effect heavy bass brings in the lead vocal and neither of these are to be scoffed at. Poignant lyrics pared with the melodic bassline really bring out the emotion, all with that haunting piano underlying everything. There’s some added synth work thrown in, which is a nice touch, but for me feels slightly too stripped back. The drums also go for a largely subdued approach, which while I can appreciate, I feel need to become larger and heavier as the song goes on, but that’s just my personal preference. This song clearly isn’t meant to entirely copy the classic rock formula, but my heart is crying out for some kind of climax, and I feel a guitar solo could really have helped in that regard. However, I applaud Jordy for taking a different approach to a ballad than a more traditional one would be. It gives the song a more relaxed vibe while still maintaining tension. I will recommend this song based on the first half alone, and it’s still a quality listen if you are into less traditional rock or just feel like chilling out. I’ll still definitely be adding it to my playlists when it is released despite my constructive feedback. It is truly an emotional experience and it’s obvious how much heart and soul has been put into this track. Also, as someone who knows him a little bit, I know how hard Jordy works and he deserves commendation for that alone. Jordy has proven himself not only to be a really cool dude but a really good songwriter and producer, and I will be following him closely in his progression from a local musician into someone I have no doubt will be successful. The track is going to be released on the 15th of May and I’ll be sharing it all over when it is out so keep your eye on the page and of course on Jordy as well!

Peace, Love and Cowbells,

Oscar