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!
(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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.