Introducing Luminites [Interview]

Luminites are a mixed group of males and females, aged between 17-22 from different parts of London. They were put together as a band, when Ben was discovered beatboxing on the streets of London by their now band management, and the rest is history. The band have been together for a few years now, working on building a fanbase by continuing to busk on the streets, and performing on school and club tours. I went down to meet them for dinner in Shoreditch to get to know them better and watch them perform live at an event. Afterwards I talked to them about how they met, how the band work together, their friendship and most importantly their music.

Firstly tell me the story behind Luminites, how did you guys get together?

JJ: The guys who are managing us they spotted Ben and were blown away by his beatboxing talent. They had a chat with Ben to see how they could channel his talent, and they had a few ideas. One of them, which they ended up going with, was Ben helping with finding a group of people to put together. I know Anthony (one of their managers) because my school is right next to his office, and I heard him speaking to one of my friends about music, and it was something I wanted to get involved in. They found us all in different ways, I sang in front of Anthony in his office.

Ella: I was at a small showcase night at a jazz café and they found me there.

Corey: I put loads of stuff on YouTube, and the managers spotted me whilst flicking through there.

Steph: I went along to a rehearsal with my friend to show my support. Anthony asked me to sing and I was like no because I’ve never sung before, and it just went from there really.

JJ: It wasn’t 100% that it was going to go that way, we work shopped some ideas, and we all loved each others sound, so we thought lets go for it, lets get the band together.

Did you gel straight away?

Ben: It was weird because usually when you put a group of such different people together usually there’s always a clash, even families everyone argues. We’ve all got along very well for some reason. I think that’s why we’ve stayed together and things are going well.

Ella: It’s a good thing we’re all different.

JJ: There was no gelling process. The second that we met each other we all had something in common, and the conversation got rolling straight away. It was really nice.

Ben: Where we all have different inspirations, we all have our own input. Imagine five people wanting to put into 1 idea; we all have to come to some agreement.

Ella: We know each other better now, so we know what works.

What do you all do to kick back and relax together?

JJ: We chill with each other, we like to have a laugh and we skateboard a lot. Were all really into skateboarding. The girls are all really good at it (laughs).

Explain your roles to me.

JJ: I play the keyboard and I’m also a vocalist.

Ben: I beatbox and rap, I’m like our drum kit.

Ella: I’m a vocalist

Steph: I’m a vocalist as well

Corey: I play guitar and rap, and I try to do a little bit of beatboxing.

How would you describe your sound?

Ben: (sings) ahhhhhhhhh

JJ: When it comes to our live performances we like really stripped back music. We use our keys, we use an acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, and that’s one of main aspects.

Ella: It’s a bit edgy.

Ben: I’ve not seen many groups that have a beatboxer, that’s what makes us different.

JJ: It’s a unique element what Ben brings to the band, his percussion sounds aren’t meant to replicate that much of a proper drum kit. He’s got sound effects, synthy sounds and scratchy sounds.

Your initial performances was busking at London’s main tourist attractions, how did people react to you?

Ella: They gave us really good support. Considering nobody has to stop and they do, were proper grateful.

How different is street performing to club and school tour performances?

Ben: Clubs we use more backing tracks, schools we usually strip it back and it’s calmer.

Ella: They’re both wicked but in totally different ways. Schools are wicked because the kids are buzzing, they’ve come out of class, and they’ve seen a new band. With kids they love the latest things, they like to know something before everyone else, if some thinks in fashion next week, then they want one today. That’s what we love about them, they give us great support.

JJ: It’s nice because school kids don’t tend to see live bands. They enjoy it when they see a band come in and play.

Ben: They follow us on Facebook the school kids.

Any funny stories from your street performances?

Corey: We were doing a gig in Trafalgar Square, and this, guy he must have been about 50, he was obviously drunk because he was all over the place. He came and stood next to me, we were in the middle of a song, and he rocked along to it in front of everyone that was watching. Then he thought it would be funny to try and play my guitar while I was playing it. That was really weird.

JJ: We had another one outside Covent Garden, it was right outside the tube station and it was immediately after work, and there were loads of office guys drinking and stuff. It was really good; they appeared to be really enjoying themselves. Then we had to police officer’s come up to us and stop us. They got a bit ratty with us. Ben asked the crowd “Do you want us to stop?” Everyone was like “no no.” These police officers weren’t happy about it at all and pulled us to the side and said, “if your going to be like this we will arrest you.”

Ben: Westminster council has always been my biggest problem when it comes to busking. Everytime they come up there’s 2 of them and there was this one woman who came along and she had these pigtails and tried to stop our show, but we didn’t pay much attention.

Steph: There were so many people on our side booing her.

You recently started to write and record material, how does this work, as there are 5 of you?

JJ: We all have different ideas. We sit down and write some pieces and share our ideas, some are better than others, and my ones are usually the worst ones. We come to an agreement and we structure it like that, so it all fits and ties in together nicely.

Ben: If we’re doing a cover for an example, I’ll go home and learn the beats, Corey will go and learn the melody with his guitar, and the other 3 guys will learn the harmonies and the lyrics, then we come together and make our own arrangements.

Ella: Sometimes we make stuff up as we’re going, and we’re like ah that sounds good, we’ll put that in.

Ben: Even tracks that we’ve got finished we always have this thing were its not finished till it’s finished. Were still working on tracks that we think we’d finished a few months back.

JJ: You just think there are always things that need improving.

Is there a leader of the group?

All answer: No

Ella: There are 5 big personalities in one band

Ben: No-one’s the leader.

JJ: Everyone’s on a par with each other.

You have done a few cover tracks including Rihanna’s ‘Talk That Talk’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Part of Me’, how do you decide what tracks to cover?

JJ: We like ones that are relatively new. We do up-tempo’s, mid and some slow ones. It’s what we like the most, we all go home and research tracks, and when we come back we all chip in. If we’re all feeling it, we’ll say yes lets arrange it, and record it and stick it up on the Internet.

Ben: We all listen to different types of music. I might come in and say I like this hip hop track, Corey might say I like this rock track and the girls might like a Beyoncé track.

Individually what do you all listen to?

Corey: I like reggae, hip hop and rock

JJ: I like hip hop and stuff like Chris Brown, Eminem and Ed Sheeran.

Ben: I listen to mainly hip hop, some dubstep and drum n bass for beats, just whatever I can beatbox, dance and rap to.

Ella: I like something for absolutely everything. There’s not a genre of music where I can’t take at least one song.

Steph: I like bashment and D’banj and Leanne Rhymes and people like that.

Tell us about your recent track ‘Gotta Get Into It.’

Corey: It’s about chatting up a girl. It gives the listener both points of view. The woman whose getting chatted up, and the guy who’s chatting the woman up. The guys rap what the dude would feel in the situation.

Ben: The girls are saying you got to try harder, I’ve heard all this stuff before and it’s just not going to work for me.

JJ: Because we’re a mixed band we thought it would be cool to do the two point of view thing. There are so many boy bands and girl bands, but there’s not many mixed. Where the boys are quite cheeky we thought that concept would work, and the girls are like nah I’m not having it.

Ella: That’s what we’re like as well.

Ben: It’s a real reflection of us in a way.

What does the future hold for Luminites?

Ella: Just gigging really.

JJ: We don’t get anymore of a buzz than we do when we’re out performing, on the stage live.

Ben: That was my thing about busking you can set up anywhere and you don’t know what’s going to happen, you could get a crowd of 200-300 people. You’ve stopped a big crowd of people without telling them to stop. For them to stop enjoy it and clap it makes you feel good.

JJ: We don’t do things in half, we put everything into it, so in 5 years time if we could be at the 02, which would be amazing. We’ve just got to keep working hard and see where it takes us.

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