THE LITTLE CAMDEN BEER ROOM TAKES TO LEEDS
We had one Hells of a week up north, painting the Victoria Quarter red with parties, comedy, workshops, fresh trims, live music and art – not to mention a whole lot of beer (seriously, we lost count by Thursday). A big “cheers” from The Beer Team to everyone we met across the five days: this isn’t ta-ra, only hello. So don’t be a stranger, ya hear?
What better way to toast the opening of our Little Camden Bar and Beer Room than with beer on tap, some food to match,
a good old chinwag and – for those who saw us party into the evening – a bit of a dance? The Beer Team came away with some new slang, and you thirsty folk helped make us feel right at home (shoutout to Daisy the bulldog). That’s Leeds is that.
HERE’S WHAT WENT DOWN
KEEPING UP WITH THE MARSCIANS
One of Leeds’ finest exports, Marsicans have made a name for themselves thanks to their melodic indie-pop sound and riotous live show. Off the back of their set at the Little Camden Beer Room, we talk tour life, woeful jokes and, er, gardening with drummer Cale. Oh, and it’s pronounced “Mar-Sick-Anz”, just FYI.
You describe your sound as “upbeat indie meets dirty pop”. For those unaware, how dirty are we talking here? Very. Dirty. More dirty than a gardener’s knees after a rainy day of potting plants.
And how did you guys arrive at that mix? We like pop songs and heavy songs and indie songs, so it’s not a regular genre. It needs the dirty moniker.
You recently got off tour with Feeder, and just played The Great Escape in Brighton. What’s your weirdest story from the road? Flying in from Canada after driving from the USA, eating buffalo wings in Buffalo, sailing the boat right up to Niagara falls, then boarding a plane, having double vodka cokes, not sleeping all flight, driving to Brighton, napping for an hour then going and playing a show at 22:30 - that was a mindbender of a day.
Tell us the story behind your latest single, ‘Wake Up Freya’. The song was written for James’ niece, Freya, before she was born. It’s about how the world has its horrible weird ways, but then about enjoying all the good that comes with it and not letting the bad things get in the way.
Compared to a lot of your previous material, it has more of an atmospheric build but keeps the melodic aspect. What was the process behind that? We had the basic song before going into the studio, but weren’t sure where we wanted it to go. Arrangement- wise, it could have gone many directions. Working with our producer Micky Dale, we wanted to keep the sombre vibe, linked with its lyrical feeling, but we also felt a large “moment” could be had in the song, so gave it the sort of slow build feel; something, as you say, we were yet to do.
Huw Stephens named you one of his Alternative Tips for 2018. What role does alternative music play right now do you think? We’re always diving into different genres, listening to all bands of different sizes and experience levels. We love to take influence from everything so, to us, it’s a good side of the music industry that we can find new gems in.
Has the blueprint for an indie band has changed over the last few years? Everything has to evolve and develop, so yes, you’ve always got to be trying new, innovative things within your genre, no matter if you’re metal / classical / inde. It’s also fun when things change and keep it fresh.
Your live show has built a reputation not just in Leeds, but across the country. How instrumental has Leeds been to the band’s success so far? A lot. We’ve grown up playing practically every place in Leeds, especially ex-venue The Cockpit (17-ish times). Playing live has moulded us into who we’ve become and what we create.
What tracks or albums are on constant rotation for you guys right now? Bands close to our genre like The Magic Gang and Fickle Friends are making lovely debut albums and charting. Off piste, waking up with A$AP Ferg’s ‘Trap Lord’ album is always fun. And of course the new Arctic Monkeys album is very smooth.
Let’s play a game of “Steal, Collab, Pint”. Whose track are you taking for your own, who’re you collaborating with, and who’re you having a chinwag with over a drink? Your choices are: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Clash. Steal Beatles tracks, because…Beatles. Pint with The Rolling Stones because I’ve seen documentaries and they know how to party. Collab with The Clash cause Indie-Punk would be a rowdy sub-genre.
What’re you guys up to for the rest of the year? Festivals over summer, plenty of those things, big to small, headline to first on and all the good stuff in between. You’ll have to check out our listings! Then autumn is currently booked in for us to write to our hearts’ content, with maybe a sprinkling of shows.
Lastly, anyone who follows the band social media knows about your ‘Woeful Joke Wednesday’. Can you give us a joke on the house, just for the bantz? Sure… Q: What do cannibals do at a wedding? A: Toast the Bride and Groom.
Marsicans’ latest single ‘Wake Up Freya’ is out now on LAB Records
TALKING SHOP WITH NATHAN EVANS
With over a decade of experience painting walls, muralist and illustrator Nathan Evans knows a thing or two about creating art in the most unlikely places. His colourful, quirky work has been featured in Bristol’s Indie Shopping District, Reading and Leeds Festival, and most recently our very own Little Camden Beer Room. But how does he do it?
What got you started in illustration and mural painting? Around the age of 14 I took up breakdancing. After a short period of failed attempts at one-handed handstands, I soon realised it wasn’t for me… However, breakdancing was my introduction/gateway to the subculture known as Graffiti. I’d always being good at drawing, so took to Graffiti a lot better than dancing. After a few years of painting and developing my skills I made the decision to turn my hobby into a career by studying Graphic Design at university. It was there that I specialised in Illustration and I had already developed the skills to produce my work at a larger scale for murals.
Often there seems to be an element of music influencing your work. Tell us a bit about that. Music is a huge source of inspiration for me and always has been. Around the same time I started painting Graffiti, I was introduced to boom bap Hip-Hop. Over the years my love for beats, wordplay and the whole culture surrounding Hip- Hop has continued to grow and the do it yourself attitude within Hip-Hop still remains a core value which has fuelled my creative career. I also often compare my illustration style to how Hip- Hop producers make beats. I constantly collect inspiration, rework and sample it, add my own flavour to the mix and the final result is a unique visual language that is my own.
What exactly goes into the muraling process. How does it differ from digital illustration, or physical work that’s on a more traditional canvas? Preparation is everything! You have to consider designs, clients, measurements, access, match your colour palette and select the best paint solution for the surface. It’s also a very physical way of creating work. You use your entire body to produce a mural, giving the work more movement and sometimes transforming the process into a kind of meditative performance.
You’re creating a mural in our Little Camden Beer Room during our Hello Leeds week. What’s the concept behind your design? It’s no secret that I work with lettering, so I knew immediately it would contain a typographical element. Camden Town Brewery also use a lot of interesting and bold type in their branding, so it seemed like a perfect marriage stylistically. The design reads ‘Love Lager’. I used a strong bold sans serif typeface for ‘Love’, representing the strength of the word and the structure of a pint glass. For ‘Lager’ I chose a more free-flowing script lettering, reflecting the pouring of the liquid. For this mural I wanted to explore some new ideas. I wanted the overlaying of the two words to subtly reference the visual you get when you look through a beer glass.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve created a mural in, and what was the biggest challenge? There was a challenging incident painting in Moscow a few years back, where halfway through a mural I had to convince a Russian speaking security guard that I had permission to be painting, using only smiles and a thumbs up.
Your work has popped up across the world, but do you feel a certain sense of pride working on projects in your home city? It always makes me feel like I’m creating something for the city itself, almost a gift for the city in return for everything it’s provided me with over the years. I think my work is also best known in Leeds and for that reason I feel like the people in the city place more value in it and truly appreciate the effort that goes into it.
Last year you were commissioned to create the 30 meter long ‘Hello & Welcome to Leeds’ mural. What was the initial response like, and how do you look at the work today? One of the best responses I got came from an older local gentleman of around 70 years old. Whilst I was painting the lettering, I felt a light tap on my right shoulder. I turned around to face him and without a pause he said “This is a credit to you… I will write to the queen and have you knighted.” I never found out if he wrote to the queen, but I am yet to be knighted. There were endless moments like that throughout the painting and those were the highlights for me. The mural still remains very dear to me, not just for the work I created or the impact it had on my career, but the journey it took me on and the things it allowed me to provide for others around me.
An increasing amount of young creatives are self-taught. Do you think the industry has become easier or harder to break? And what advice would you give to illustrators and/ or muralists starting out?
I think that being self-taught is a brilliant thing. All of my mural and illustration skills were self-taught and it gives you a great sense of creative independence and the ability to make all design decisions. Social media and access to a ready made platform has meant that everyone can share as much of their work as possible without any quality control filter. It’s a double edged sword in my opinion and although it’s brilliant more people are given a platform for their creative voice, I think a lot of creatives are not taking the time to develop their craft to a high enough quality before sharing their work with the world. More recently I’ve been thinking about the sheer volume and quality of work that young creatives are exposed to. You can argue that it inspires them to create, but I have also seen an adverse effect. Seeing such a large amount of high quality work from industry professionals has become overwhelming and intimidating for some younger creatives and this paralyses them creatively. My advice: If you decide that this is what you want to do, keep doing it no matter what.
CAMDEN MEETS PARK FIRES
After cutting their teeth in their previous bands, Emma Duffy and Rachel Lissenburg now create electro-pop as Park Fires, armed with an eighties influenced sound and a girl gang attitude. After bringing their live set at The Little Camden Beer Room, the duo share their creative process and ventures as both musicians and PR mavens.
You’ve both played stages and festivals across the UK in different bands over the years. What led you to form Park Fires? Each other! We found each other and found that we both share the same passion and love for music! And it helps that we both love a bit of electro pop!
Your sound is heavily inspired by eighties electro- pop. What is it about that era of music that you find so inspiring? Girl power! Growing up listening to the likes of Madonna and blondie sparked a love for the 80’s sound.
This month you released your new single ‘Wake Me Up’. What was the writing process like for that? The writing process was pretty easy for this track, it kind of fell into place. We often sit together at the keys playing around with ideas and bouncing off each other. At the time of writing this track we were both under a lot of pressure juggling a lot of different things and ‘Wake Me Up’ embodies the struggle we both shared.
To add to that – what classic eighties film would it soundtrack (and why)? I know this is cheating, but it is 80’s inspired and we think ‘Wake Me Up’ would be perfect on the Stranger Things soundtrack! So if they did want to give us a shout, they know where we are ;)
As an independent band, how important is the DIY approach to your creative process? Really important. We’re proud to be independent and proud to be DIY. It’s integral to what we do.
And how do you view the relationship between physical music (particularly vinyl) versus streaming and playlist culture? We live in a time where music is much more accessible and love that music is now easier to share with the world. However nothing can quite compare to that feeling and sound of your favourite song on vinyl!
Small venues are closing across the UK – Leeds is no exception – and yet the scene seems to be as strong as ever. What part has the city played in your sound, and what can we do to support upcoming talent when access isn’t as readily available? We are home grown and incredibly proud to be a part of the Leeds music scene. It is such a diverse and welcoming scene to be part of. It would just be lovely to see a few more amazing women on festival and gig line ups!
Last year you launched Her Music PR, a female- focused music promotions company. How did that come about? It was a natural progression for us. We have both lived and breathed the music industry for such a long time. Which unfortunately meant we also had to experience the inequalities within music on more than one occasion, so it made sense for us to do our bit for ‘change’.
With more and more people fighting against gender inequality on festival bills, and in the industry as a whole, what is your advice to young aspiring musicians – particularly women? My advice to any woman in music would be to embrace exactly who you are. Don’t change just because the industry pressures you to. Trust yourself and trust your music. Also, have a voice. If you feel like something is wrong, then talk about it and fight to be heard.
Let’s play a game of “Steal, Collab, Pint”. Whose track are you taking for your own, who’re you collaborating with, and who’re you having a chinwag with over a drink? Your choices are: The Human League, Garbage and The Cranberries. The Human League for a song steal. We would take ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ any day! Let’s go for a pint with Garbage – Shirley Manson is awesome! We’re massive fans of the Cranberries, so to collaborate with them would have been amazing. Dolores was such an inspiring woman and a fantastic songwriter! Her passing was such a musical loss!
What’s the rest of the year looking like for Park Fires? Busy! We have just released wake me up on vinyl, so are currently riding that wave! We are also performing some cool festivals, including a Tramlines Fringe and our very own festival HER FEST at the Brudenell, Leeds in October!
CAMDEN IN LEEDS
Whether its digging through the crates of vinyl at Doghouse with a cold beer in your hand or just relaxing with friends by the canal at Dock 29, the East side of Leeds has something for everyone. Here’s our pick of East spots.
LUCKY NUMBER 7, LS1 6PQ
Ideal for: Chilling out and watching the game with friend
Serves: Hells Lager, Pale Ale, Ink Stout
DOCK 29, LS10 1PZ
Ideal for: Lazy afternoons sitting by the canal
Serves: Hells Lager, Pale Ale
DOGHOUSE, LS2 7DJ
Ideal for: Digging through vinyl with a pork pie and a pint
Serves: Pale Ale
THE WARDROBE, LS9 8AH
Ideal for: Watching the best live music
Serves: Hells Lager, Ink Stout
ALLEY CATS, LS7 4LA
Ideal for: The Best American Food in Leeds – so much cheese!
Serves: Pale Ale
The West side of Leeds has a bunch of quirky and cozy bars that are perfect for day drinking, bottomless brunches, and amazing beers. You could also head to Headingley, student capital of Leeds, where you can enjoy a cold beer in LS6, right next to Hyde park or try to complete the Otley run, usually in fancy dress.
POSTAL SERVICE, LS1 4JY
Ideal for: A cozy hideaway
Serves: Hells Lager, Pale Ale, Gentleman’s Wit, Unfiltered Hells, IHL
THE NEW CONSERVATORY, LS1 6JL
Ideal for: A live music underground hangout
Serves: Pale Ale
TOAST, LS1 4JY
Ideal for: Catching sports
Serves: Hells Lager, Pale Ale, Gentleman’s Wit
LS6 CAFÉ, LS6 2AS
Ideal for: Chilling out right on Hyde Park’s doorstep
Serves: Hells Lager, Pale Ale
MANS MARKET, LS1 4JJ
Ideal for: The best Chinese food
Serves: Hells Lager, Pale Ale, Gentleman’s Wit