Tag Archives: Inspiration

Pareidolia the Formative Years: Brave or Brash Confidence?

Recently I was interviewed about the formation of Pareidolia the band which I have been part of since, well, officially 2013.. Unfortunately, I found that there were simply too many words for an interview, so, it being the week of our first EP Release I thought I would share my story with you about our formation.

pareidlolia-ep-pic

Pareidolia the Formative Years

The formation of the band has been a continual process of serendepity really which dates back to when Andy, Matt and I met on our first day in University Halls back in 2010.

By some very lucky twist of fate we were all placed in the same flat, which was quite lucky as there were only four people known to us that played music in our Halls, and we started to jam on our guitars.   There definitely was no plan in place for a band, our music was instead our retreat from the pissed lad culture that surrounded us / pissed lads playing guitar.

me-and-the-lads

Skip forward to 2012, in a shitty, rodent ifested nine bedroom house in the midst of Fallowfield, the fertile ground for the blossoming of the band was established. In an upstairs room we setup a drumkit for the first time and took it turns to play rhythm. I think at first, if my memory serves me right and understandably it was hazy during this time, this is where the first discussion about setting up a band took place.

ratss

I believe it was at this point that Andy drew the short straw and bought himself a bass guitar. It was certainly a good move as neither me nor Matt could ever be arsed to play bass!

bassss-formation

However, despite a couple of appearances at Fuel Open Mic night under the alias of The High Commisioner, a name derived from a cheap bottle of whiskey widely available on the high street, we still didn’t resemble anything close to the band we are today.

fuelll

Skip forward to a cold and wet Tuesday February 2013. Matt and I were doing our standard thing of avoiding Uni work and hit Witho high street for a few drinks. This later as it transpired was the turning point for us believe it or not… stick with me. After a couple in the Vic and few pool games later we decided it would be a good idea to hit up the Solomon Grundy open mic, you know, as you do. If i remember right Matt hit the piano and I had a bash on the guitar.  It was here we met Eddie an edgy, ever so slightly dodgy but in a sense lovable local promoter.

pool

After a few more beers with Eddie and sloppy renditions of a couple of our classics we had agreed to play a headline slot in two weeks at a night he was promoting at Solomon Grundy’s. Call it brave or brash confidence we vowed to return with our full band, which I hasten to add did not exist at this point.

At this point we were still looking for a lead vocalist, drummer and a lead musician with some sass to pass us off as something accomplished. The morning after the night before we set about this mission and contacted Johannes a lad we had seen playing sax in Fuel a few weeks before who was far cooler than any of us.

joho

 

We then by fluke really found Yemi singing in the Ram and Shackle post happy hour.   Again we should have been at home studying really but luckily we were not. We definitely needed someone to sort us jokers out, and on refection she most definitely did a good job!

The final piece of the jigsaw was Marek a jazz drummer we had seen play over in Indigo at the weekly jazz night. We thought we needed some class so it seemed to make sense at the time. So we joined all the dots and arranged a practice in our humble abode on Rippingham road Saturday.

Unfortunately, Marek was not all that impressed with our group of happy go lukcy musicians plucked directly from the Withington / Fallowfield corridor and after about an hour of jamming and tuning instructions he decided to leave. At which point the remaining members Joho, Yemi , Matt , Andy and I had a good time and got some tunes together. However, we still were incomplete and in need of a drummer.

pareidolia-jam-2

Skip forward to the Tuesday four days before our first headline slot at Solomon Grundy’s and i receive a call from some far out dude from LA called Burleigh who had heard about our plight through a friend who worked in Fuel and came around Rippingham Road around two hours later.

far-out

The rest as we say is history!! 

solomon-grundy-gig

Since then we have adopted more reasoned recruitment processes, recruiting Jon on drums, Rhys on Percussion and of course Jack Davies on trumpet.

Special thanks to other temporary members John Manning (Drums), Stephen Hermitt (Drums) and Izz Karpel (Sax) for the special memories.

And here’s to Marek.. We made it you know 😉

 

Joel White

 

Advertisements

Who is Keisha Thompson a.k.a. SheBeKeke?

Alex talks to Keisha Thompson about what inspires her writing, what Young Identity hopes to achieve and the Manchester literature scene in general

Have you heard SheBeKeke? With an already more-than-impressive portfolio, Keisha Thompson is a valuable member of Manchester’s poetry circuit. As well as being a key member of Inna Voice, another creative group within Young Identity, she recently released her own EP, Abecedarian, and has been published in numerous anthologies.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Keisha perform a number of times. At each performance, I’ve been struck by how she manages to bring new character and life to the poems (even the ones I’ve heard before), whilst at the same time retaining something undeniably “Keisha-y”. This combination of constant reinvention and a strong creative signature is something she shares with a lot of her fellow Young Identity talent: they all excel in showing one piece in many different lights whilst still putting a personal stamp on their work.

And this personal touch is present throughout the whole creative process: Keisha’s work, for the most part, is based on her own experiences of the world, her family and responses to the political/social landscape around us. Discussing inspiration, she brought up the powerful connection between her identity and her family heritage. In ‘Fickle’, a piece on her EP, Thompson examines her relationship with her father, and how it in turn facilitates her understanding of her own heritage.

Being British with a Jamaican father and Guyanese mother, the identification process is not simple: she does not feel as though any of these three identities/nationalities is wholly her. When she was younger, she never felt particularly British because her household held a lot of Guyanese traditions – but when she was five and visited Guyana, she was no longer so sure she felt so Guyanese. Describing it as a “weird one”, she concluded that she is always somewhere in the middle of being Guyanese, British and Jamaican – though all three identities certainly inspire her.

“Once I’ve processed it, I can write about it”

And Keisha’s own heritage isn’t the only thing from across the world that gets her writing. In terms of the social and political inspirations for her work, tragedies like those that took place in Ferguson last summer, when unarmed black teenager Mike Brown was murdered by white cop Darren Wilson, are important creative sources. But with heavy issues like racism and violence, getting pen to paper can take longer. “I get angry about these things but it takes me a while to process it; I need to process it. Once I’ve processed it, I can write about it,” explained Keisha. Indeed for many writers, taking a step back from material is necessary in order to walk the difficult ground between raw, blunt emotions and tailoring language to suit a creative purpose.

Relating to the Mike Brown case, as well as countless other crimes against people of colour, we discussed Keisha’s views on the need for – and lack of – white voices in race debates. Thompson argued that white voices are necessary when violence happens, because racism is not just ‘a black issue’ – “all races need to acknowledge that racism exists and move forward with that.” Here referencing social theorist Dr Joy DeGruy,  she highlighted the key differences between American and English politics: Keisha sees it that voices from all corners of American society can contribute to discussions about the rights and experiences of those from minority groups, even with only a basic understanding of the issues at hand. But in England, she argued, there is a hostility towards approaching an issue if you are not a member of the group being discussed. This was something I could definitely relate to: in my experience, England is more focused on drawing the lines round “who can say what about what” than on actually getting problems heard and discussed.

“They aren’t just playing with words, they also want to be the voice behind them”

Talk turned to focus on poetry as a vehicle for political speech in general. Is spoken word/rap/poetry more powerful than conventional speech when it comes to communicating ideas to people? Again, the differences between the US and the UK came up. “In America, it is way more powerful than here. When I go to places in New York they aren’t just playing with words, they also want to be the voice behind them” said the performer, noting that in Britain it is much easier to go to an event and not stumble across any political ideas. For various reasons, she felt that the spoken word scene in America was a lot more lively – but she takes inspiration from the fact that it is beginning to stand on its own as a viable platform for creative expression separate from the written/literary scene.

Young Identity, the group of young writers based out of Contact Theatre, are a group changing the narrative on what spoken word is, and can do, here in the UK. As we’ve seen from their constantly growing body of work, which brilliantly fuses the political, the everyday and the creative, they aim to change the game of Manchester’s poetry scene by trying to get people talking about current topics, focusing on politics and thinking actively about their own lives. As evidences this, Keisha noted that in the last One Mic Stand “everyone was doing politics and everyone was brilliant; the quality was outstanding”. Having gone to a previous One Mic Stand, Young Identity’s regular poetry slam, I can vouch for this. At the night I performed at, thoughts on equal rights, sexism and abuse were interwoven boldly and seamlessly with powerful, emotive language, bringing the room alive with the honesty of the work.

As with many Young Identity members, Keisha also works with Inna Voice. Helpfully, she explained the difference between the two groups: “When it first started, Young Identity was the writing group, and then as we started to slam we had Inna Voice. Not everyone was willing or ready to perform from Young Identity so it was easy to make Inna Voice the focus of performance”. Since then, Inna Voice has progressed and it is now its own company, a selective group that are hoping to put on a show next year.

Finally, who would Keisha recommend checking out? In Manchester, Ben Miller, Elmi Ali and Shirley May (one of the driving forces behind Young Identity’s One Mic Stand) are some of her must-sees, as well as Isaiah Hull, the phenomenal winner of June 2014’s One Mic Stand, and Yusra Warsama. Outside of Manchester, Keisha Thompson said she was reading Malika Booker’s Pepper Seed at the moment and could not recommend her enough, as well as loving the works of Warsan Shire and Tanya Shirley. If you want some great inspirational material definitely check out these artists, especially Booker’s latest release (which I am already delving into and loving!).

Going forward from Abecedarian, what can we expect from this talented artist in the future? “Abecedarian means learning your alphabet and it seemed fitting for the title of my first release because I was just trying it out,” explained Thompson. “But now I am ready to focus in on a theme and be more specific with something I can develop”. Performance-wise, she’s also bringing her live show I Wish I Had A Moustache to Manchester’s Contact Theatre this year and it is not something you want to miss out on! Whatever Thompson does in the future, it is going to be entertaining, fun and most of all, inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing where her talent can, and will, take her.

 

Follow Keisha Thompson on Twitter and on Facebook

Give her bandcamp a follow and download Abecedarian, her EP (you decide the price!): https://bandcamp.com/shebekeke

Check out Young Identity for more information about One Mic Stand: http://www.youngidentity.org/

Watch a performance here

 

-A.Webb