You can never have too much of a good thing, we say. So we’re glad to report that Bristol welcomes yet another mini festival on 22 July: Thatchers’ Haze Sessions.
The event will be hosted by Welshman, Radio 1 DJ, and new music supporter, Huw Stephens, and will see six up-and-coming live acts take to the stage between 6.30pm and midnight.
The event is staged by Thatchers in honour of their new cloudy cider, Haze, but try not to be put off by the commercial element of a branded festival — Barclaycard’s British Summer Time Festival has scored the likes of Massive Attack, Alabama Shakes, Kamasi Washington, Jamie XX, and Stevie Wonder. And while on a much smaller scale, this mini-festival has been equally well curated.
The artists have been selected as the most promising live acts in the indie scene at the moment. So, see them here first, folks…
First on the lineup is Bristol’s Showhawk Duo, of YouTube and Live Lounge fame, who create astoundingly good acoustic versions of 90s dance classics like Zombie Nation on their guitars.
There’s also folk pop band the Keston Cobblers Club, who have just returned from a sell-out UK tour; synth-pop trio Anteros; seventeen year-old singer songwriter and BBC Introducing / Glastonbury Emerging Talent favourite, Rachel Clark; and Cambridge’s Best Female Solo Artist (NMG awards 2013 & 2014), Melodie Causton.
And not forgetting festival headliners, By The Rivers. The reggae, afro-beat and soul 6-piece from Leicester have probably already played a part in your festival experiences somewhere down the line, with a hefty touring schedule since they formed in 2010.
Their upbeat, vocal and horn-driven tunes make it impossible to walk past without your ears pricking up. So, like us, you might have found yourself having a little skank in a strange tent or at the wrong stage after getting sucked in en route somewhere else.
However, in the last few years they’ve been (deservedly) getting headline slots and selling out shows, after the BBC named them as one of the five future stars of the Pyramid Stage, along with the likes of Foals and Jessie Ware.
They’ve also found a fan in reggae tastemaker and legitimate legend, David Rodigan, who has been pushing their stuff on his BBC Radio 1 Xtra show, including the summer hit One Step Two Step from their new 5-track What Your See EP.
In the midst of a busy summer festival schedule, including their headline slot at Haze Sessions, Pitch had a quick chat with frontman Nile Barrow to get a closer look at this promising up-and-coming…
You’ve described your sound as British Reggae – apart from obviously being from Leicester, how else does the British element come into play?
It’s a funny one really. I think if you asked each member of the band what genre we are, you’d probably get a mixed answer of different influences and genres, although there is a big influence from British music. I know most of us were brought up surrounded by music from bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Specials, which is classic British songwriting.
You tend to write songs with an element of social comment – is this to try and stay true to the reggae genre, or is there a reason that’s closer to home?
I wouldn’t say it was necessarily something we set out to do, but it’s something that we feel passionately about. You can’t help but be aware of the current government situation and the impact it’s having on the younger generation.
How did you come to be the 6-piece you are now?
From being life long friends to meeting through the Leicester music scene. From there, we picked up Theo our trumpet player from Birmingham, so it’s all very close to home.
We bumped into Rodigan on the ferry over to Bestival, and gave him a copy of our album.
You were named by BBC as one of the five future stars of the Pyramid Stage in 2014, along with Foals and Jessie Ware, did that open up many doors for you as a (relatively) new band?
We didn’t really know how to take it to be honest! It’s a massive thing to have said about you, and we were honoured to be included. I think it definitely helped put our name out there.
As well as the BBC, you’ve also enjoyed some support from David Rodigan – how did that come about? Has he been in touch personally?
We initially bumped into Rodigan on the ferry over to Bestival and gave him a copy of our album. Since then he has supported our music, giving us airplay on his 1Xtra show. Rodigan is a true supporter of music purely for the music, regardless of who it’s passed on to him by. It’s refreshing!
Why do you think you’re so well known for your live performances?
We pride ourselves on being a tight live band and I think people can feel from us that there is a genuine love for what we’re doing, and that there’s no other reason for us being on the stage other than to share the music.
With such a reputation for energetic live shows, has it ever been hard to get away from that ‘great festival band’ image and be seen as a band in your own right; and is that something that concerns you?
No, not really. I think the music stands up more than just being a festival band. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love playing festivals, but on the whole as a band, musically, we have much more to offer than that purely that tag.
Bristol always brings the vibes, and we will too!
We are really loving the new What You See EP, what can you tell us about it?
Thank you! We’re really proud of it. It’s great to have it out to show people where we’re at now, since the album. We had a nightmare filming the One Step Two Step video, having equipment stolen on set and all sorts! But we got there in the end.
What does being chosen to front the new Haze Sessions festival, which is promising “the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming performers” mean for you?
It’s a show we’re really looking forward to. Bristol always brings the vibes, and we will too!
Haze Sessions takes place on 22 July at Passenger Shed. For more info, head over to thatcherscider.co.uk/hazesessions
You can also catch By the Rivers at Secret Garden Party, Y Not Festival, Boomtown Festival, Greenman Festival, Great Northern Ska Festival, and Camper Calling.