Just ahead of their EP launch, in case you’re not yet convinced that you want to see, encounter or listen to these musicians, we asked their bull some questions and got some answers.
So where is the Bull I can direct the questions to lads?
What was the decision behind the band name?
A friend of Fritz once misheard him and thought he was saying Ask My Bull, while he was actually referring to his uni tutor Mike Bull. Now we’re making up for that mistake and are again often mistaken for Ask My Ball while shouting our name to the audience during and after gigs.
So Ask My Bull, how did you get together as musicians?
We congealed in Fritz’ house one musician at a time. You know congealed, like when Mayonnaise has been left on a pizza box for a couple of weeks and it’s now gone hard rather than being soft.
Actually it was only Alex and Fritz in the beginning who had the idea of playing with different guest musicians for different songs. We got as far as Luc on saxophone and Tom on bass when we realised what this did for the overall sound of the band. Elliot filled in for Luc a couple of times when Luc was travelling. We ended up playing and writing a lot with Elliot and decided to have them both as soon as Luc was back. So we started out wanting guest musicians, but kept most of them in the lineup. That’s why Tom Moon on trumpet is appearing on the EP and there might be more collaborations in the future, though the core of Ask My Bull is pretty clear.
How do you go about composing music?
In the beginning Fritz had already written a lot of songs and often the guitar was used as the general foundation. Sometimes that can be a whole tune and sometimes the chords or a riff. That creates a certain mood and in the practice room evolves further and is strung together in interesting ways. It basically starts from one idea and is then free for everyone to play on top of using their imagination.
So far a big part of the writing process has been that all the musicians have joined Ask My Bull one by one, so that for most of the songs everyone has written their parts at different times. Powder Keg and Magpie Manoeuvre came from jams though, and jam definitely congeals. I guess we have a theme there. Congealing music.
I am feeling some Punk influences in here and I hear some Eastern European/Gypsy Jazz influences too. If you had the choice of tight leather trousers and a gimp mask or an eccentric colourful jacket and silk scarf combo, what outfit would you go for and why?
The problem with gimp masks on stage is that it can often ruin communication and the saxophonists will have trouble playing. Except for Tom who hates communication and wants to be an anonymous machine who doesn’t have to look at any of his band mates who he doesn’t like to listen to anyway. Also no one would understand the emotion of the other musicians by looking at their faces which would result in less overall dynamic cohesion between them, except for Alex who registers emotions on peoples’ elbows.
Your friend once described listening to your music as being like the mathematical mind of Mickey Mouse playing chess with a sledge hammer. What was he on and where can I get some?
That is our number one fan and cameraman Joao Meirinhos and the substance he was on is just his own genetic material. It’s a bit difficult to get you some, but he does donate his sperm on a regular basis. Which means you could make one that’s kind of like him, but you’d have to wait for it to congeal first.
Above: Ask My Bull Teaser by Joao Merihnos
No seriously, how do you like to describe your sound?
“Just don’t, we like other people to try. It’s certainly funny to ad up people’s weird attempts.”
“I like to describe it with my body rather than my mouth, because every time I describe it I come up with this boring list and in the act of describing, people lose all interest and I lose all interest in saying it.”
“Trying to find the middle ground between things that are not on the same scale.”
“Rock Fusion with a sense of humour.”
Ask My Bull started as a power duo which was loud and erratic. Once we expanded to the bigger lineup we wanted to keep this big Punk Rock energy, but were really interested in all other genres apart from Rock, like Jazz, Math, Prog, Video Game Soundtracks, Gypsy/Balkan, Afrobeat, Trip Hop and Breakbeats. So we basically try and bring a Punk energy to some of those genres and also blend them together, preferably in the same song.
What song were you humming in the shower this morning?
Powder Keg. 16 tons. Rolling Stones. Didn’t shower. Hyper Sweep. We actually try to stress the saxophonists out with the songs so much that they can never get them out of their heads. So it’s good to hear that this is working, as they were both humming Ask My Bull tunes.
If you were to be eternally delayed on the M60 between Prestwich and Middleton and only had one cassette, what 10 tracks would you have on it?
Ask My Bull EP twice 😉
Ask My Bull EP once normal and once reversed.
Who should we be checking out on the local Manchester scene?
Apes Grapes (who will be supporting at the EP launch)
Salutation Dub Collective
The Peace Pipers
Salvador Dalai Lama Farmers
What can we expect from the EP launch?
We’re gonna play some songs and you will definitely get a definition of our sound that we might have failed to describe in question 7. And we’re gonna sell the EP. There will be Tom Moon on the trumpet. Live music that’s different. No vocals. Make sure to check out Apes Grapes, who are fucking awesome. Unusual stuff basically, that you wouldn’t find at every concert, like fortune tellers, face painters, visuals and performance of some sort. We wanted live bulls, but we can’t get them up the stairs, so we’ll have loads of invisible animals instead. There’s also a chance of the real Mike Bull turning up.
Above: Real life, hard copies for purchase on Friday 4th March
What does the future have in store for Ask My Bull?
Eventually we’ll all die 🙂
We’ll have more band members and still be playing the same tunes as two years ago, but with more instruments and a greater arrangement. We basically intend to never play any more songs than we already do. We might have a DJ set and remixes of our tunes. An all acapella version with everyone humming their parts is feasible as well as a session with Ask My Bull songs arranged for five guitars. Some of this might be lies, some of it are definitely good ideas 🙂
We got invited to do a session with Samsara Sessions in February and will record a live video with them. Also, we’re on the list of The Sessions of March.
We’re always looking to keep up to date with whats going on in the local scene, and picking up on original music cultivation in the area is very much on the top of our list of what we want to support. This originals projects has a sense of revival to it, jazzy blues and swing, and it’s definitely a good thing!
We first encountered these guys via the ol’ social media, whilst looking for acts for our canal street event Live in the Village. Lucy, Luc Phan and Alex Martin of Ask My Bull graced the audience with jazz almost year and a half ago, and even now these musicians who currently go under Lucy Mae and are still on our radar.
The umbrella of projects is lead vocally by Lucy- Camba-Bermudez. Her voice has an air of arousal, with a rustic edge on a foundation of broken blues. She’s accompanied by a bountiful brass section, Soprano Saxophone (Ed Kainyek) Tenor Saxophone (Caitlin Laing) and Baritone Saxophone (Tom Harris). With Christian Van Fields (Keyboard/Organ), Luc Phan (Guitar), Joshua Cavanagh -Brierley on Bass, and Joe Wood on Drums . The potential of this outfit not to be doubted and we’re keen to see what 2016 will bring for them. The Mudez Project is the latest musical venture consisting of traditional jazz-swing in it’s more modern state; re-instilling the importance of classic musicality.
One track in particular ‘ State of denial‘ encompasses the sound at its most triumphant.
Another of the projects is a duet between Lucy and Luc (see image below), which sees the couple come together in a stripped back acoustic style, that silences crowds. Listen to more here: with this smooth rendition of Portis head’s ‘Give me a reason’.
These guys have got to be some of the most dedicated and active musicians in the area and you’re bound to see them on a live music line up in chorlton or the city centre whether its putting on their own music or providing a platform or house band for others. Revivalist, methodical and passionate Lucy Mae are doing what we (M20) like to see! Making music, movements and keeping the live music scene a-thrive!
You can also watch them for real! at their residency at The Lodge at Richmond Tea Rooms every Saturday, it’s an Alice In Wonderland themed bar that’s part of the Tea Room or experience the sound on Sunday 21st Feb at Hold Fast Northern Quarter and many other places for that matter! we’re spoilt for choice.
I managed to grab a few words from fantastic local painter Ray Martin on his journey with art and his inspirations.
(Above recent work by Ray)
Tell us a bit about your journey with art?
I believe art is inherent, although, until nurtured cannot become more than that. There are many forms of expression, from literature, to music production from which any person can choose to pursue, but personally, I am satisfied most by creating visually. That is not to say that I always knew I was going to end up creating the paintings I do now, and that is also not to say that I will be creating the paintings I do now in fifteen years time. Creativity, in my eyes, is very much a journey. An exciting and surprising one at that. I came to art school 5 years ago, fresh and also naive about the world. Art school is a brilliant place, because it has few rules. It gave me the time and confidence to experiment with my creativity, to learn more about the world outside of Chester (my hometown and shell), and to meet wonderful people. It was quite late on in my degree that I started to paint, and although I have always been drawn to, and created 2D images, I felt for a long time that it was less exciting than some of the other things going on around me. I began to work in sculpture, performance and installation in my first years but I wasn’t truly satisfied until I picked up a paint brush. It wasn’t an immediate fit though, there was a lot of frustration and a stack of terrible work but at some point it did click. I remember the breakthrough painting very well, I was sat at my space, surrounded by a huge (and horrific) mural painting I had created from one of my dreams and I was also working on a small board I had primed the wrong colour (a bright, thick orange) at the same time. I was lazy and didn’t cut the board down to the right proportions first, so just masked it off and started putting in a few loose landscape-y marks. I had a group crit. soon after and unsurprisingly the mural was ignored. There was something much more interesting in this small painting that I had approached, unintentionally, unconventionally. My eyes were opened a little bit wider from then. Since then I have been discovering more and more about the technique, the history of and my personal language within painting. Every new painting, or series is an education for myself and I can’t wait for the next time my eyes widen.
How would you describe your style of art?
My paintings place themselves in the middle of different area. They not entirely figurative, nor abstract. They depict the natural landscape but appear very unnatural in their use of hard-edges and overly-saturated colours. Some are the size of a post card, and others I have had problems removing from buildings. It is the meeting of different visual languages that I find most intriguing.
Can you name some things that inspire your art, pieces already finished or works in progress?
The landscape imagery I use is found online, in books or magazines I pick up in charity shops. I guess I am initially inspired by these images; the placement of the photo on the page.
Are there any characteristics of Manchester and its scene that inspire or influence your works?
That’s a funny one as my worked actually stemmed from a rejection of Manchester. I don’t deal with the grey weather too well, so my escape came in the form of my resource books. Don’t get me wrong, Manchester has a beautiful, subtle lighting but I’m not one for translating subtleties. It’s also quite hard to find a place to yourself here, it’s a vibrant city. Back in Chester I used to have a few places I’d go to and know that I could have time alone. On top of a 5 story car park, or a mile down the cycle path. At the time, I didn’t know Manchester so well, so felt claustrophobic. I guess that has something to do with why I moved away from painting people and urban spaces. Even though I rejected Manchester’s scenery you cannot help but take influence from small things that surround you. I get a great deal of my colour choices from shop fronts, peoples clothing or posters around the city. My feeling of Manchester have changed since. I’m intrigued to see how this changes my work.
Any artists (of any genre) right now that are catching your attention in the wider culture of arts? UK, Europe or the rest of the world?
I found a really exciting Parisian painter online recently, Matthieu Clainchard. He employs the palette and formal qualities of video test screens into large public and gallery installations. The work is interesting to me, as it highlights how images can manipulate our perceptions.
(above Matthieu Clainchard art)
Are there any movements, events or projects going on in manchester right now that you would recommend for local aspiring or working artists in the area?
Check out the ‘Real Painting’ exhibition at Castlefield Gallery, on until the 2nd August. I loved it!
“the exhibition emphasizes the essential grammar of painting, considering not necessarily what a painting means but what it ‘does’”…(Castlefield Gallery)
Do you have any particular or personal goals that you are aspiring to right now with your work?
Absolutely, I’ve used what time I’ve had since graduating to really evaluate what kind of artist I am. I’ve had to remind myself that although I may not be in the studio every spare minute, painting, it’s okay. At the end of the day, graduate life is difficult for a creative. Creating a way of working that is sustainable is very important, as I want to be doing this for a long time to come. I am currently researching ways I can be involved in arts education, whilst applying for funding to work on my own practice. In terms of my work I have realised I need to be more delicate with my surface prep, like I was in university as it makes an enormous difference to the quality of work I make. I also need to use more brown. I don’t use enough brown.
Are there any exhibitions coming up that will be showing your work at?
Yes, I have a show at Sugar Store Gallery at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal in November to coincide with the Kendal Mountain Festival.
Interview by Yemi Bolatiwa
CARNIVAL IS COMING TO TOWN – and it’s gonna get twisted…
On Friday 24 April, Twisted Tubes and M20Collective present a night of 40s side show-inspired madness and debauchery. Join us as we transform a warehouse into a carnival of dark and mysterious interactive art, sounds and performance where the mundane will become the miraculous and nothing is as it seems…
Massive thanks to Doodlesndrips for the artwork!
This will be a celebration of the UK tour launch for brass collective Twisted Tubes, who Joel recently interviewed – have a read and find out more about them here. They will be joined on stage by a whole host of their favourite live acts and DJs: the mighty Dub Smugglers, high-octane bluesmen Salutation Dub Collective and vinyl-spinning Congo Tuff.
Keep following #twistedtubes for updates…
when? Friday 24 April 2015, 21:30 – 03:00
where? 1 Primrose Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AQ
how much? Early Bird £2 / Second Release £4/ Final Release £6
Read Groovement’s preview of the night with Joel on what’s coming up – on the night and for M20Collective
Get your tickets from partyforthepeople here
Head to M20Collective’s FB page to enter the competition for free tickets!
Landlords raise rents at their will and get away with not lifting a finger to repair problems tenants are having in properties – even when they’re life-threatening. From Monday 16 March to Wednesday 18 March, Langdale Gallery are working with Generation Rent to host a three-day event to raise awareness about the renting crisis, give people tools to fight back and create a safe space for discussion about housing.
Learn more about Langdale Gallery Campaign here: http://www.langdalegallery.uk
Have a look at what Islington Mill’s website says about it: here: http://www.islingtonmill.com/visual-arts-events.php
The FB event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1407453709556403/
Langdale Gallery is a tenant led campaign open to those experiencing housing issues, and provides the safe space and the materials for community arts and action.
They are calling for residents, artists, musicians, writers to drop in and make art about the renting crisis or tell their story about what home means to them, any time from 1pm until 10pm at the performance space in Islington Mill from Monday March 16th – Wednesday March 18th.
On the final evening of the event live music from Kolo Tamam will play us out.
Art works from the Campaign will be added to the gallery at Piccadilly Place as part of the LifeShare art exhibition from April 11th- 16th.
The campaign continues at St Chrysostoms Church during the Victoria Park Festival in May through to June.
Any artworks, writings, or photographs can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
Any queries about renter’s rights and campaigns to Pollyannasteiner@generationrent.org
Natalie Proctor previews the nous magazine/As We Are Away festival, taking place around the city 20-30 November
How lucky we are here in Manchester to have so much creativity on our doorstep! No matter what the artistic genre, there is always something going on in this vibrant northern city. This diversity of talent is something that self-established Nous Magazine champions. The magazine is a relatively new enterprise, which has a unique focus on ‘contemporary mind culture’. In collaboration with As We Are Away, the magazine has created a mini-festival for all things arty. AWAA is an art project with a difference, focused on overcoming the cultural stigma around mental health. The festival hopes to inspire us to think differently about mental illness, and learn to become more open and understanding about something that affects thousands of people across the UK.
The event, which goes on until the 30th November, will host a variety of acts throughout the creative sphere. Each night focuses on a different collection of some of Manchester’s finest artists, poets, musicians and directors. Whatever you may have an interest in, the AWAA mini-Festival will surely have something to spark your creative interest.
What makes this event even greater is that it’s free! Although donations are extremely appreciated, and do go on to ensure that these kind of fantastic events may continue. You can even buy an 11- day ticket that gives you access to all the events running for just £5.50. That seems like a bargain to me! We here at M20 would also strongly encourage you to make this donation, as we fully believe it is vital to support the arts to the best of our ability. Without such contributions we would find it hard to maintain the wealth of opportunities on offer for Manchester creatives.
So what’s on? Well, if you’re interested in poetry, there is Tea Hour Poetry on 25th November, which is sure to offer a plethora of new and old talent; including established writers like David Hartley, who we interviewed in October. This will be taking place at the trendy Northern Quarter café The Koffee Pot. Certainly not one to miss!
There is also a lot to offer in terms of music. On Thursday the 27th, the night As We Are Here will host some of Manchester’s most exciting up and coming bands and artists. The live music will continue into the evening at the Eagle Inn, and there will be a variety of sounds from the likes of Second Shepherds, POST and Locean.
If you fancy a little slice of the Cannes Film Festival in Manchester, then why not head over to the concluding night of the festival, curated by Cultivate Film Art. This evening will present some critically acclaimed foreign films, which may perhaps may a nice change from the outlandish Hollywood blockbuster. The documentary film ‘Black Sun’ (2005) by Gary Tarn tells the dramatic story of French artist Hugues de Montalembert who finds himself blinded after a violent attack in New York. It is a moving piece of cinema that is sure to strike a nerve. Also showing is the 1970 film adaptation of the novel ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’. This erotic horror is somewhat otherworldly, and definitely different to what’s out there in the box office!
The festival has plenty more to offer so check out the website for a full list of the events coming up. And remember, the festival ends on the 30th November so don’t miss out. Keep supporting the arts.