Tag Archives: Kraak Gallery

Getting to know Lyons and La Zel

Given that we’ll soon be hosting this marvellous duo, we thought it fitting that we caught up with them and shared with you, what they do, who they are and why exactly M20 booked them for this FRIDAY 19th gig at AATMA.

So, Lyons and La Zel let the people know what it is you guys do and how you do it?

(James Lyons) Hello!  Léa (La Zel) sings and raps over music created by me beatboxing and playing instruments at the same time.  The majority of our stuff is based around guitar and some of it is flute and harmonica as well.

Tell us a bit about some of the best live music experiences, that you guys have played?

(James)  We did a DIY tour around South East Asia from November 2015 – May 2016 and played just under 60 gigs.  Lots of the performances there were by far the most inspiring and enjoyable as we got to play in some beautiful locations and to people from all around the world. It’s one thing to have support for what you do locally, but to find out that people from all corners of the earth enjoy it is a beautiful feeling! 

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(Léá ) We’ve had some really fun gigs at festivals such as Glastonbury, Boomtown, Eden, Solfest etc but a highlight has got to be when we played on the main stage at Beat Herder festival last year to a massive crowd on a big booming sound system. That felt amazing! We’ve also had some really nice times busking to the public in different cites and met some proper characters through that.  

Léá – Who are you top vocal inspirations?

My sister Jules from the band ‘Rumjig‘ has been my biggest inspiration and she has always encouraged me to sing and I love writing songs and harmonising with her. Then, incredible artists such as Sharlene Squire, Aretha Franklin, Esperanza Spalding, Bobby Mcferrin, Nai Palm, Dallas Tamaira, Erykah Badu, Sona Jobarteh, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Marie Daulne and most recently an amazing Swedish artist called Fatima have also massively influenced me. 

James, how and when did you realise you were good at the old beatboxing, to the point that it is now almost your secondary instrument?

My first dip of the toe into music was learning to rap when I was twelve, and I used to hang around rapping with some of my friends and we started to beatbox through this.  I never took it ‘seriously’ until around five years ago, when I started to go out busking.  Through experimenting on the street with flute beatbox and harmonica beatboxing, and the response that I got from it, I started to realise it’s potential for reaching out to people from all walks of life, and how satisfying it is as a musician when combined with playing instruments at the same time.

Are there any running themes in your lyrics, style, musical message?

Musically, we like to experiment and blend together elements from all of our favourite styles, and in terms of lyrics, I think we try to write things that are mostly uplifting and thought provoking. 

What does working and living within the music scene mean for you both?

We’re both very lucky to be able to earn a living from doing what we love which has also led to us meet multitudes of incredible and inspiring people.  As well as playing live, we both also teach music workshops (I teach rap and beatbox, Léa teaches singing), so being able to perform and then pass on the skills to other people, is greatly rewarding. 

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What was the best thing you LAST saw live?

(James) I’ve seen Victor Wooten twice over the last couple of years and those shows are by and large the best displays of music and showmanship that I’ve ever been witness to, he and his band are phenomenal musicians.

(Léa) We saw Fatima play in Constellations 3 weeks ago and she totally blew me away with her powerful yet sweet, fun loving, stage presense. The Eglo band who back her were incredible musicians too and she made everyone at the gig feel empowered and filled with love. It was very special indeed and I can’t recommend her ‘Yellow Memories’ album enough.

Any acts out there that you guys want to give a shout out or pay homage to?

First and foremost we have to shout out to “The Fire Beneath The Sea”, which is the band that we both first played in together, that led us to developing this duo.  Also shout outs to “Rumjig”, fronted by Léa’s sister, who Léa moved up to Liverpool to be a backing singer for.  Both of those bands have new releases out at the minute which we are very excited about.  Massive thanks to everybody else that we’ve played with, jammed with and been inspired by, there are far too many people to list them all here!

Any exciting projects or gigs coming up?

We have a new project in development at the minute that features us both as vocalists, backed by a ridiculously tight, four piece band, playing jazzy, funky hip hop.  It does not have a name as of yet, but we are putting together the finishing touches to our first EP that will be released in a few months time, so please keep an eye on our social media for further news on that.

Where can we see and hear more about you? 

Our main point of contact is through Facebook, which is  http://facebook.com/lyonsandlazel

We have a lot of videos up on youtube, but are currently writing lots of new material that will be going up in video form VERY SOON!

https://www.youtube.com/lyonsandlazel

We are also building a website at the minute which should be going live in the near future, to support the release of our debut EP, which is currently being mixed and will be out in the next couple of months.

For any other enquiries, our email address is lyonsandlazel@gmail.com.

Ask no questions tell no lies: An interview with Ask My Bull

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?
Next question

 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.

ask my bull alex and fritz
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 😉

No, seriously.
Ask My Bull EP once normal and once reversed.

Okay, now for real.
1. Richard Wagner – Tristan und Isolde Prelude
2. Mr. Bungle – Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz
3. Tortoise – On the Chin

tortoise on the chin
4. Quantic – Time is the Enemy
5. Nobuo Uematsu – Cait Sith Theme
6. Madvillain – Rhinestone Cowboy
7. Glaxo Babies – Christine Keeler
8. Portico Quartet – Zavodovski Island


9. Venetian Snares – Hajnal
10. Too Many Zooz – F.W.S.

Who should we be checking out on the local Manchester scene?
Dirty Flowers
Luna Marada
Turf
Lucy Mae
Apes Grapes (who will be supporting at the EP launch)
Salutation Dub Collective
Henge
Shyfinger
Galivantes
The Peace Pipers
Psychedelic Pirates
Kalakuta
Esmegma Jazz
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.

ask my bull EP artwork

                                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.

TSOM.jpg

M20 Collective presents: Urban Expression MCR

There’s something exciting about Manchester‘s Hip-Hop scene that does away with preconceptions about the UK’s inability to match up to the lyrical, rhythmic and melodic prowess of our friends across the pond. Multi-instrumental musical collectives like Mouse Outfit and Riot Jazz thrive on the diversity of their artists’ talents, and the exciting stuff that is borne of that difference: jazz drummers meet MCs meet brass sections meet rock guitarists meet velvet-voiced vocalists…the list just goes on. Audiences, too, are massively varied: at any given hip-hop night across the city you’ll find a huddle of listeners representing any background, any musical taste, any haircut you can imagine.

On the 13th March 2014 (that’s this Thursday), M20 Collective presents Urban Expression MCR at Kraak Gallery. For anyone who hasn’t been before, its just off Stevenson Square in Northern Quarter (there’ll be loads of signposting on the night). There’ll be artists of all kinds – hip-hop bands, live MCs, live graffiti artists, fashion designers, visual artists, spoken word poets, DJs and dancers – performing and exhibiting work, inspired by the different routes they’ve taken from the same urban root. Expect community vibes and a creative melting pot of ideas, and come meet some of Manchester’s best hidden talent!!

Here’s a sample of who and what’s to come…

on the stage

Music-wise, we’ve got hip-hop/jazz ensemble 8 Gold Rings [in the loop, I Love Live, Play Doubt] featuring a slew of locally sourced special guest MCs and vocalists. Bringing technical perfection and imaginative improvisations, you might have caught these guys at Free Verse, our Thursday jazz and poetry jam at Solomon Grundy…

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One hell of a meaty treat, Beef, a hip hop genre melt-pot superband packs some serious punch with a double bass, a Congolese MC and a whole lotta musical fury…

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http://www.facebook.com/soundOFTHEBEEF • http://www.soundcloud.com/soundofthebeef

Have a listen to Danny Diatribe and the Crimson Underground, a hip hop/electronica DJ and MC duo hailing from Ireland, serving thought-provoking musical political commentary and lyrical depth…

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http://www.facebook.com/pages/MC-Danny-Diatribe-Artist-Page • http://www.soundcloud.com/dannydiatribe

Catch Kid Katharsis and his soulful blend of acoustic guitar, beatboxing, verses on everyday life and smooth vocals. This guy sings the inner monologue in your head….

http://www.facebook.com/kidkatharsis • http://www.soundcloud.com/kidkatharsis

On the decks, we’ve got Dan Nation of Mind on Fire collective taking us into the wee hours on a musical journey from jazz to trip hop to electronic, as well as garage, grime and hip-hop tunes from Big War of Generic Greeting in between performances.

There’ll be spoken word and dance performances in the intermissions. Chris Jam spreads positive thinking vibes with his words, whilst Michael O’Neill verses over live percussion accompanist Loner Bell, and you can look forward to shaking a leg with super talented dance crew Rhys Fagan and friends.

creative corner

Of course, it wouldn’t be an M20 night without an arts corner where you can get stuck in, see the artwork of others and flex your own creative muscles…

SHUNK and Delroy Do Not Bend will be creating live pen graffiti works, and positivity-focussed, art-based fashion from keep it bright. and artbyomni.

essential info

WHERE? Kraak Gallery, 11 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, M1 1DB

WHEN? Thursday 13th March 2014

TIME: 9pm – 3.30am

PRICE: FREE BEFORE 10PM + £3 after [send your names through the M20 Collective facebook page to get £2 guestlist all night]

*** All proceeds go towards the artists and building future events ***

Gonna be a big night, look forward to seeing you there!!

Love, M20 x