Posts tagged ‘band’

August 1, 2012

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.

April 20, 2012

Clement marfo and The Frontline: Destined to hit highs and headlines in 2012

Meet rapper Clement Marfo, who has been making waves as an individual on the underground grime scene. Then there’s the band: you have vocalist Kojo, Dion-on drums, Johnny on bass, Rich and Dan on guitar, and the only female, Stacey, on keys and vocals. Collectively their sound is unique, uniting hip hop with grime, rock and pop. They have been together for three years, playing shows on the underground circuit as well as supporting Example, Plan B and Florence + the Machine. Now 2012 is set to be their year, to be at the forefront. Flavour meets Clement Marfo & The Frontline to talk fusion, concrete and Captain Kirk…

So, can Clement Marfo function or exist without The Frontline, or The Frontline without their frontman?
CM: That’s a good question. I was a hip-hop MC before this, and a mutual friend hooked me up with Dion, and Dion knew other musical people and recommended them to me. Everything just came naturally; and I swear, if I wasn’t with the band, I don’t think I’d be in this position.
Dion: As a band, instrumentally we can hold it down, but this dude’s stage presence and energy is amazing. We bounce off each other. If any of us out of the seven wasn’t there, it just wouldn’t feel right.

Your sound has been described as a fusion of grime, hip hop, rock, pop and R&B – is that how you’d put it?
CM: The thing is, you can’t put us in a box. There are seven of us with different backgrounds. Dion’s into his rock, I’m into hip hop, Kojo’s into soul, Stacey’s into pop… there’s different aspect of things. We can cross genres. I would say hip-hop rock. We borrowed those elements and incorporated them in our music.
Do you think by mixing up all these genres it unites today’s youth?
Dion: I’d say so. I’ve met people that are strictly grime or strictly rock, and the two worlds just can’t understand each other. I feel as a band, hopefully we bring it all together. Kano did ‘Typical Me’ – that’s when everyone started to go, ‘OK.’
CM: People are borrowing elements. I think we’re in this generation where it’s not like your jazz, your hip hop, your pop; everything’s mixed around. When you come to our show there’s a wide demographic; there’s kids, adults, teenagers, black, white, Asian people. It appeals to everyone, not because of the music, but because of the seven figures you see on stage.

Does having so many creative individuals within one entity often lead to creative differences?
Dion: No chance.
CM: Were a family. I wouldn’t say not a chance.
Dion: No, because I feel like…
CM: We’re having a dispute right now… [all laugh]. It’s the quality control, everybody puts a contribution in, which is positive. It’s not like, ‘I want this in because I’m a rock guy.’ We all sprinkle our ingredients on it to come together. I’m the frontman.
Dion: Captain Kirk.
CM: There always has to be someone who makes the executive decisions, in a way. You’ve also got to listen, and the guys have got so many valid points, it makes you think outside of the spectrum.

How do you begin to make a song, with so many of you involved?
CM: There’s two ways: One is where a producer might come up with a little snippet of a beat and we kind of loop that and put an instrumentation of that. Or we go in a rehearsal studio or a sound check, for example, and come up with a natural jam.
Dion: We’ll go into a rehearsal room and start jamming and doing our thing, and Clement will come out with some screenplay, he’s very visual.

Tell us about your latest single ‘Overtime’. What has the reaction been so far?
CM: This is the first step in the door, I think. With this track we’re here to set a mark and the response has been crazy. It’s No 2 on the MTV Base Chart, and Radio 1, 1Xtra have all been supporting the track, and it’s got us MTV Brand New for 2012. The track is about nobody works harder than us, it’s about work ethic – in order to get where you are you have to work harder than the people around you. Someone like Ghetts, his work ethic is crazy – every year he’s got singles, mixtapes, collaborating – he was perfect for this.

Your second single ‘Mayhem’ is out in March, so tell us about it…
CM: We’ve had this track for a year and a half now. We knew it was going to have some heat on it, because when we did it on a few shows it gets the crowd hyped. With Kano on it, he just added an extra something.
Dion: He just swagged it completely.

Clement, how do you feel about other MCs on a track, being the group’s rapper?
CM: I like collaborations; I think it helps us as a campaign and as a product. People want to hear a great UK legend on track. If it was any Tom Dick or Harry, I’d be like what’s this?
Dion: For me, if you can bring it…
CM: It’s a very competitive field and it steps my game up. It’s great because these guys are inspirations to me and it feels like I’ve worked hard to be on stage with guys that I’ve looked up to.

What was the track that you feel first got you guys noticed?
Dion: It has to be ‘Champion’.
CM: Yeah. We wrote the song on the day of David Haye’s fight – we wanted an entrance theme, that was the inspiration for it. The day we recorded it, I remember the producer was like, ‘This is it, this is a hit.’ Then A&Rs started coming to our shows: Warner came, Sony came, EMI, it was like, woah, crazy! So after a few months we were offered a contract with Warner Brothers; it was like, damn, massive major label!
Dion: That was one of the best days, but we didn’t want to get gassed.

How long do you think it takes to create an underground buzz?
CM: You can’t blow in six months; you can’t blow in one year.
Dion: You just can’t do it like that.
CM: There are ways, though; with the likes of YouTube you can have one song and blow up. Everything takes steps – you can’t run before you can walk. We’ve been together maybe three years and I believe that’s how long it takes. You’ve got to build a foundation, get the concrete, make sure everything sits perfectly and then you can start building.
Dion: You need to be going out and tearing shows to pieces. I think what’s worked for us is we like to go out and talk to people after shows and just hang out with them. If you want to keep them on board, you have to give them something to remember.

You’ve worked with many great artists. Who’s been your favourite?
Dion: You could ask each member of the band and everyone’s got a different answer. For me, I feel torn, because Ghetts’ energy on stage is incredible, and then Sway, when he came down and I heard his verse, it was just like incredible.
CM: Ghetts matches our energy, and I love that. Sway adds a polish and Kano adds a package full of swag.

What’s the nicest thing a person in the music industry has said about your music?
CM: Mike Skinner from The Streets, we did a gig with him at the Freeze Festival and he said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, because you know what it is, I’m not going to make your head big, but you guys are the future.’ This is Mike Skinner, he’s sold millions. ‘The future’, that makes us feel amazing. He’s an icon, a legend.
Dion: There was a session drummer, Ginger his name is, he came down and saw the set and said, ‘That was incredible.’ For me, from drummer to drummer, that was just beautiful.

What can we expect from the forthcoming debut album?
CM: We’ve written 60 songs; I know in the back of my mind there’s eight songs that I want on the album.
Dion: We’ve all got our lists of what we want; because there are seven of us we need to get a shortlist.
CM: Expect something like ‘Champion’, big energetic hooks, full of instrumentations; we’ve got two guitarists so it’s going to be a very rock/hip hop/pop album. It’s out this summer, just before the Olympics.

Is 2012 going to be your year, we expect great things from you?
CM: I wouldn’t like to say yes, 2012 is our year, because I might jinx myself or underachieve.
Dion: I think it is; the momentum at the minute is building, and if we keep going how we are, then yes.

Follow Clement Marfo & The Frontline on Twitter
@ClementMarfo or visit
www.clementmarfo.com