How many pundits frantically casting their runes back in 1999 for predictions for the new millennium would have foreseen that TURIN BRAKES would be releasing their seventh studio album in 2016? Back then, they were hotly-tipped young ingénues, and we all know what usually happens to them in the heartless world of showbiz... Since then, music business headlines have become a catalogue of collapse. We just don’t do long-lived acts any more, haven’t you heard?
Step away from the shrinking world of the mainstream business, though, and it seems like there’s another story going on, right under your nose, so close that it’s hiding in plain sight. While many of the rest of the class of 2000 seem forever frozen into the faces in their yearbook pictures, Turin Brakes are still making their way through the century’s changing landscape. Their association with now-fallen giants EMI yielded four internationally-acclaimed albums, with all the trappings of hit singles, billboard ads, and the TV transmissions that are now beaming their way endlessly into space, but the glare of the spotlight left the secret at the heart of their vision still intact and waiting to be discovered.
Turin Brakes was created by Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, in a millennial South London bedroom, more out of a shared need to express a hidden message they’d both caught at the century’s end, than in a grab for stardom. Enlisting the membership of long-term collaborators Rob Allum and Eddie Myer, the band carries on because the message is still there, still hidden, still with something to say. 2010’s OUTBURSTS was followed by 2013’s WE WERE HERE, written on the back of a continuous live touring schedule driven by their fans’ need to keep tapping in. Sending out continuous streams of under-the-radar transmissions to whoever tuned in to hear, the band found their audiences staying, then growing, as more and more listeners tumbled to the secret.
The cover artwork of their new album LOST PROPERTY shows an urban spaceman marooned in a deckchair as, behind the winter lawn, half-hidden shapes loom in the dark. The image is a perfect match for this collection of dispatches from the elusive side of reality that’s just a twist away from the everyday. Their sonic camera pans wider and deeper - trademark West-Coast acoustic guitar and widescreen harmony textures wrap themselves around the enigmatic explorations of normality at the heart of Olly Knight’s lyrics. Listen carefully beneath the lush, cinematic production the band created with co-conspirator Ali Staton in the analogue world of Rockfields’ legendary studio; and you’ll hear other hints and stories, both hopeful and unsettling, resonating with unexpected echoes from your own life. The record scales up from the intimacy of MARTINI, through the uneasy domesticity of QUIET ONES, the futuristic pulse of 96, the yearning gospel inflections of SAVE YOU and the pure folk-pop of KEEP ME AROUND into the wistfully uplifting, anthemic JUMP START, leading to the towering darkness of BLACK RABBIT. There’s the intimacy and warmth that Turin Brakes have taken along with them down the years, but this time reaching up towards something bigger, more epic in scope and darker in hue. It’s a sound yearning for the wide open spaces of the USA but rooted in the grimy streets of South London, still unique, still unforgettable.
Sixteen years of touring across continents have sealed their reputation as a fearsome live act, able to hold any size crowd with the sheer chutzpah of their no-hidden-tricks raw and direct onstage presence. Turin Brakes carry on their secret life, and with a new generation of artists like Max Jury, Aquilo and Benjamin Francis Leftwich starting to beat a path to their door to collaborate, it looks like the secret is getting out.
THE EDDIE MYER 5TET is a project I started in 2011 with Ian Price, Luke Rattenbury and Tristan Banks as a vehicle for our individual compositions and as a way to play the kind of hard-swinging, open-ended jazz we all enjoyed.
In 2012 we recorded an album, Why Worry?with the assistance of the prodigious Frank Harrison on Fender Rhodes, and played some great gigs at the Verdict in Brighton. Since Ian’s untimely death in 2014 the project has kept running and we’ve been very fortunate to have Riley Stone-Lonergan joining us on tenor sax and Mark Edwards taking to the piano chair for our second release Finders Keepers and some fun-filled festival gigs festival gigs including Love Supreme and the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival in 2016.
Finders Keepers launched officially at Verdict Jazz in Brighton at a sellout show for The South Coast Jazz Festival.
"One of the best and most exciting bands we've ever booked!" Andy Lavender – The Verdict Jazz Club
Son Guarachando are one of the top exponents of Cuban Son, Salsa, Cumbia and Latin Music working in the UK today.
They are fronted by vocalist Adriana Lord from Havana Cuba, who has been a leading force on the Havana scene for well over a decade having worked with the likes of William Vivanco, Eliades Ochoa (Buena Vista Social Club) and N.G. La Banda.
Individually the band members have been at the apex of the Latin music scenes of Colombia, Spain, Cuba and the U.K.
Son Guarachando have been in high demand during the past 2 years with club dates, tours, festivals and private parties and the band were recently featured on BBC1’s The 1 Show.
Since 2005, I have taught bass at BIMM in Brighton. Here's a question and answer I did for their website.
FEATURED TUTOR: EDDIE MYER
What do you enjoy about teaching at BIMM?
I enjoy the interaction with each new cohort of students – they always bring a different perspective to discover, new artists to check out, or new techniques to try and get under my belt!
Can you please briefly discuss your experience as a musician and teacher?
I’ve been playing professionally for over 20 years, in all kinds of styles – from rock to jazz to funk to folk to latin… I don’t believe in musical segregation! I’ve been teaching at BIMM since 2005 and it’s been amazing to see how the college has grown.
How/when did you learn to play bass?
I played in a band called Ozric Tentacles for six months when I was 18, because their regular player went AWOL, but then I didn’t take it up again until much later. I think I bought my first bass guitar when I was about 25 and my first upright about five years later – I’m self-taught on both instruments, although I got some invaluable lessons from BIMM’s own Franc O’Shea early on.
What was the first bass guitar you owned?
It was a Squier Jazz and it cost £100 including the case!
What can students expect from studying bass at BIMM?
Great tutors! And a real range of playing experience and different types of musical input – there’s a lot on offer if you engage with it.
What’s the best gig you’ve seen?
Too many to mention! Recently, it’d have to be cosmic jazz supremo, Kamasi Washington.
What’s the best gig you’ve performed at?
Our Turin Brakes show two days ago at the Concorde in Brighton was a sold-out blinder!
What are you listening to at the moment?
Right now I’m switching between Julia Holter, and the latest album by an amazing jazz bassist called Matt Ridley.
What’s your most memorable moment as a musician?
Big question! I guess playing the main stage at Glastonbury with Turin Brakes was a dream come true, but I don’t like to dwell in the past. It’s all part of the same long, strange trip, and even the down moments have something to teach you.
What have you got coming up?
I’m writing this pre-soundcheck for a Turin Brakes gig in the Brudenell Social in Leeds – great club! We’re midway through a UK tour, then we’re off to Europe, then summer festivals and another UK tour in the Autumn – see the website for details! Then I’ve also just completed my second album with my jazz outfit, the Eddie Myer 5tet, so there’ll be some gigs with that. And I’m promoting a stage at the Love Supreme Festival this summer, and also working on a programme of jazz gigs in Brighton called New Generation Jazz… and getting ready to return to BIMM next term. It’s all about the diversification these days.
With three major new jazz festivals, a new purpose-built jazz club, top-class big bands, a thriving jazz school and a wealth of grassroots players and gigs, jazz has never been stronger or better represented in the Brighton area.
Yet it can still be hard for new acts to break through to connect with audiences outside London, and many younger music fans are often unaware of the wealth of great young players currently moving the music forwards, and see jazz as something belonging to an older generation.
New Generation Jazz is a new, Arts-council supported project that will start to build some bridges. The aim is twofold – to help young artists develop audiences outside the capital, and to introduce young people in Brighton and the South-East to jazz and demonstrate what a vital, living tradition it is today.
There will be a year-long programme of monthly gigs, starting in October 2015 showcasing the very best in rising UK talent.
Each gig will be on the last Friday of every month at the Verdict Jazz Club in Brighton.
The tickets will be held at a low price for students and young people.
Each of the featured artists will also lead a workshop in one of the schools and colleges across the city, giving our young musicians some hands-on experience of what it’s like to play jazz.
New Generation has partnered with educators, promoters and festivals in Brighton and beyond. The project will foster links between the many different participants in the local scene, and the City’s educators, to ensure the continuation of the music we all love into the New Generation.