Senem (Lady herself): Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Jack (Guitar/vocals – Speak Easy Circus): During my time at university I (Jack – guitar/vocal) flirted with playing music full time, it was always what I wanted to do but I had never really made the full push that you need. Once I finished university I decided that I had two options, I could get a job and consign myself to the fact that music would always be a hobby, or I could commit and try my best to make something of it. So I looked into renting a place in London, screamed at my computer screen when I saw how much it would cost, and decided to move to Glasgow instead.
When I first arrived in Glasgow I began looking for a band and tried to play with as many people as possible, including a Radiohead cover band for a while. I really wanted to form a band that combined all the different music that I listened to but I was never able to find the right group of people for my own project though, until I met Jon and Chats whilst we were all playing in a different band together. When that band disintegrated I knew that I had to get them involved, so I told them they would get all the riches the music world had to offer if they joined. I lied. That was around a year and a half ago and by that point it was too late, we were introduced to Frazer through a mutual friend and Speak Easy Circus as we know it today was formed.
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?
Jack: We have been doing our best to stay active and creative, obviously it has been a very challenging time. During the initial lockdown we worked on a video series called ‘Quarantunes’ in which we set ourselves challenges to create short songs and videos that were made in different styles, all remotely. Here ‘s an example:
We were also lucky to get the opportunity to record with The Animal Farm when the initial wave had finished, which was a great experience, the products of which you can hear now!
Senem: Hey! I really love this tune and what you did with the name! Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
Jack: We would best describe our music as experimental indie/funk. But when people first listen to our music the initial thing we would like them to think is that this is something different and unique, something that they might not have heard before. All of us come from different musical backgrounds, with different tastes etc. be it jazz, soul, punk, rock. We want to make music that we would listen to, and the music that we listen to is eclectic, exciting, meaningful and doesn’t take itself too seriously all at the same time, so if people went away from our music thinking anything like that then we would take that as a win!
LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Jack: The inspiration for our latest single ‘Lions Should Hunt’ came after I saw an advert featuring a busty blonde model seductively selling something and I was annoyed that this was what people thought would be an effective advertising technique, and annoyed by the fact that it probably was effective! I took that further to think about how men are taught to think about sex, the effect that concepts of masculinity have on us etc. It all sounds very serious or preachy but we try to make sure it isn’t! I think that it is important to discuss these topics but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it in a tongue-in-cheek way.
The song is a combination of all of our musical influences, like most of our songs it is somewhat of a melting pot. This song began life as a disco/dance demo, my instructions to the band were to aim for ‘angry disco’. We combined this with some horn lines and some thumping drums and that is what created the song.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Jack: Yes, we are very happy with the end product! Up until now everything that we had recorded had been done in my bedroom in a Glasgow flat, just making it up as we went along, so to be able to record in a studio with the guys from The Animal Farm was fantastic. The song has been one that has been part of our live show for a long time and was originally conceived many years ago, so to have it out now and sounding so good, with the combination of horns and heavy hitting bass and drums, is a great feeling.
Obviously we can always improve, but more importantly we want to keep evolving, our next song has a very different feel to it!
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
Jack: We have been blown away by the perception, both from our fans and also from reviewers and blogs etc.
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Jack: Unfortunately we hadn’t spent too much time as a band before the pandemic started, so we haven’t really had the chance to tour with this project. It is something that we are desperate to do though and we can’t wait to get back playing shows, it is really a way to connect with fans and it is just fun to play with your bandmates so we have been missing it a lot!
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
Jack: We have more singles coming during 2021, and are looking to record again towards the end of the year. In terms of touring everything depends on how the pandemic develops, but we are hoping to play more shows in Scotland and around the whole of the UK.
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
Jack: I write the lyrics for the songs, and most of the lyrical themes come from experiences that I have either had myself, or have witnessed in others. Quite often these centre around themes of masculinity, relationships, the environment to name a few.
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
Jack: The band started as a solo project, in which I would record songs that I had written in my bedroom, so most of the songs still originate from me. However once they are brought to the band everyone is able to bring in their own influences and that process of collaboration is really what makes the music what it is!
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Jack: We have such a wide range of inspiration from indie acts like The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, to the pop-punk of Green Day, to sax players like Bob Reynolds, funk bands such as Vulfpeck, or nu-jazz acts like Snarky Puppy. One of the reasons we have such a good time playing together is because of our eclectic mix of influences, so we are constantly bringing different ideas to the music, and also recommending different music to each other!
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Jack: At the moment the thought of being on the road is definitely more exciting, just because of the fact that we haven’t been able to play live in so long!
LOMM: What first got you into music?
Jack: We all come from different musical backgrounds so we all have different musical inspirations. For example, the moment I (Jack – guitar/vocals) knew that I wanted to play the guitar for the first time was when my Dad put on ‘Appetite for Destruction’ in the car when I was 9 years. It blew my mind and I was soon asking for an electric guitar and didn’t look back. Other sources of inspiration include the usual suspects of Blink 182, Stevie Wonder, and even the fictional character of Bleedin’ Gums Murphy of The Simpsons fame.
LOMM: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?
Jack: I think music is something that we would all do, regardless of where we were in our lives, so I think the best thing about being a musician is just that – being able to write and play music. There are lots of elements that come along with trying to make a career in the music industry that maybe aren’t so fun but are necessary evils – sending lots of emails etc! – but it is still worth it in the long run.
LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
Jack: I don’t know if I would be able to answer that right now! I think that is maybe a question of cross that bridge when we come to it!
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Jack: I think that there should definitely be a change in the streaming culture/system that we have in place at the moment. This could be a change back to the more traditional ‘downloads’ that we had in the past, or more likely, a changing of the current streaming system and the laws behind it. Streaming is too convenient and useful to truly disappear at this stage, so we need to make sure that it is actually a viable option for musicians of all levels.
Chats (bass) also has a hot take: “In countries that don’t have such a developed infrastructure (such as my home country of Malawi), pirating still exists as the only option to get a lot of music, so until a more convenient method arises (for example streaming), pirating will continue to happen”
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Jack: Music for its own sake. We would be making music regardless of whether anyone is listening to it, so if audiences get on board and enjoy it then that is just an added bonus.
LOMM: What is the most memorable gig that you have played to date?
Jack: Our most memorable gig so far would probably be playing at King Tut’s in Glasgow. Being a band from that city, that venue has a legendary status so it was a dream to be able to play there.
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Jack: We are still a relatively new band, and to be honest the biggest sense of accomplishment I have had so far is just seeing our music on Spotify for the first time. Might not seem like a lot now, but the whole first EP was recorded and produced entirely by ourselves in my bedroom when we had no idea what we were doing, so to actually create something that existed in the world was amazing.
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Jack: There are so many artists we would love to collaborate with, many that aren’t even in the same style of music that we play: Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Vulfpeck, Rosalía. All these musicians are very different, which is why I think we would be able to create some cool music together!
LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
Jack: Vulfpeck, Jack White, Snarky Puppy – All amazing acts and we are pretty sure that fans of those acts would also enjoy our music.
LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
Jack: There are some obvious big names, the likes of Glastonbury, but we would also love the opportunity to play some festivals in other countries, like Primavera Sound for example, and also to go further afield and play some more obscure festivals, like Lake of Stars festival in Malawi.
LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
Jack: Of the top I would have to say ‘Appetite for Destruction’, because that was the album that made me want to play the guitar. Also albums like ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’, albums that got heavy rotation as I was growing up. I don’t know if I would have any really controversial favourite albums, if you like it then it isn’t controversial!
LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
Jack: Being a child who grew up in the middle of the internet boom, almost all of the music that I have is digital, either through downloads or by using streaming, for better or for worse.
LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the scene like there?
Jack: We are based in Glasgow, which has a very strong music scene. Some particular acts that we have been listening to recently are corto.alto, who have a really cool nu-jazz feel and are lead by Liam Shortall. Fat Suit are also an incredible modern jazz band. Also Joesef, who has been blowing up recently. There are honestly so many bands in Glasgow that are great, Beggar in the heights, Charlotte Marshall and the Hot 5, Walt Disco, Baby Taylah to name a few.
LOMM: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, a movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
Jack: Stephen Fry, Alex Honnold, Bjork, Tina Fey, Jessica Walter
LOMM: Good one! Anything else you think your fans should know?
Jack: Our single ‘Lions Should Hunt’ is out now, give us a follow to keep up to date our new releases!
LOMM: Thank you for taking the time!
Thanks for having us!
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