With no shows taking place we’ve had to switch around our weekly music news just a little bit. However we will still be here every Tuesday with a Leicester music update for you in partnership with PPL PRS Ltd.
Homage à Trois – Katy Perry
Now available to stream
Following the popularity of the ABBA Gold release, Homage à Trois returns with a re-imaged full length release of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ album. You can now listen in to hear all 14 songs, including ‘Firework’, ‘Teenage Dream’ and ‘Last Friday Night’, dismantled and reassembled in 14 entirely different ways by musicians from Leicester and beyond.
Stream all of the songs now via Facebook.
New single from S T Manville
S T Manville’s new single, ‘Best I Can Do’, is out now. The intimate and raw single is an open letter to those struggling with feeling overwhelmed – Manville explains; “I started writing this song about having to raise my kids on my own, but as time went on I realised that I was actually writing it about more than just lone parenting. I suppose it’s a reminder that as long as you are trying your best for those around you and taking positive steps to cope with your situation then that really is all you can do. Even if it doesn’t feel enough.”
INTERVIEW: Jamie Sykes
As we continue our catch-ups with people from across the Leicester music scene, this week we chat to Jamie Sykes. Jamie is part of hip-op influences jazz trio, Major Ruse, as well as juggling solo recordings and teaching drum lessons. We caught up with him to see how he’s adapted musically during the lockdown period and what else he’s got coming up.
Tell us a little about your background in music?
I was fortunately brought up around music, my mum played as part of an Irish family band and was regularly playing the tin whistle in the house. She also used to play guitar to us in the evenings so music was a big part of our household. I began my musical journey as many others, playing recorder in a god-awful school group. After many months of this collective torture I developed a love for strings and took up the cello, then followed in my brothers footsteps in playing drums. I copied everything that my brother did, so if he had taken up the kazoo, that would undoubtedly be my instrument of choice. I also started teaching myself guitar and piano, and from then have been playing and producing music non-stop.
How would you describe Major Ruse for anyone who isn’t familiar?
Major Ruse are probably a contemporary jazz trio, certainly consisting of Joe Egan, Marcus Joseph and myself. We take a lot of rhythmical influence from D&B and Hip-hop combined with melodic influences from jazz and rock, in order to create something vibrant, unique and (we hope) meaningful.
You’ve been busy recording through the lockdown, how have you found it?
Throughout lockdown I have been recording almost daily for a number of projects, ranging from session work for the projects of others, creating my own acoustic and trip-hop instrumental works, making collaborative videos with countless others, recording demos with Major Ruse and more. I love working in my own environment and am endlessly passionate about making music. Though the circumstances bringing about the lockdown have been horrific, the lockdown itself has almost saved me from myself in the sense that before, I was up early to teach lessons, run workshops, move music gear around, perform pretty much daily and more, often being out of the house until 1/2 am. Though I feel very fortunate that my passion is my job and vice versa, I hadn’t been afforded the space to make an honest record of how I feel and what I love musically. I am now able to do so!
When is the new music out?
I have my own album coming out in the upcoming weeks, undoubtedly by the beginning of July. I have spent years putting together an album of my own and it is vastly different to anything that I have been a part of before, so I am very excited about that. With Major Ruse, we have been working on our album for over a year now and as soon as we are able, will be committing time to locking ourselves in a room together until we either meld into one amorphous jazz blob or finally have every track for the album completed. Maybe that’ll be a winter album, we’ll see.
You’ve also been offering drum lessons? How do these work virtually?
I have been teaching drum lessons online, which has afforded me the opportunity to teach people from all over! Due to having more time and space to practice and develop ideas, the lessons have been great. I am very fortunate with the students that I have, and though zoom, messenger etc are never going to be as good as being in the same room, it is great to see people working on beats when sat behind their own kit.
What’s been the most challenging thing about the lockdown?
There have been a number of challenges with regards to the lockdown. We often define ourselves through our routine – if we have any traumas or difficulties that we have not faced as individuals, in ‘normal’ reality we are often able to keep these at bay through perpetual distractions such as endless work, drinking & partying, supporting others with their issues etc. Even if our routines aren’t particularly positive, they allow us to focus our attentions elsewhere whereas I feel that this few months of forced introspection have been hard, but important. On a personal level, not being able to properly meet my newborn nephew has been a challenge, having to look into the self as opposed to maintaining a distance from that through work, seeing a 24 hour stream of harrowing news, not being able to hug and experience the warmth of family and friends. All of these have been challenging, but lockdown has provided some very important insights too.
What other local artists do you enjoy listening to?
There are countless Leicester artists that are awesome. Ones that I have been listening to a lot over the course of lockdown have been Def Ninja, Hayche Griiim, Hiro, Ola Szmidt (now living in York), loads of releases Clarence Street have been a part of & more!
How supportive do you find the leicester music scene as a city to be a performer in?
I think that there is a massively supportive community in Leicester, largely made up of other performers. People attend one-another’s gigs, collaborate continuously and there seems to be a real push towards musical exploration without the want of expectation of capital gain or bolstering of self-image. People tend to want to perform, create and attend out of a genuine passion and sense of community. Individuals like Kulvir Bhambra, Robin O’Brien, Carol Leeming, Leonie DuBarry-Gurr, James Hickford and many more, names that have become recognised as active supporters within the Leicester music scene and community are out attending shows every week, performing, contributing out of love. Venues such as Brick & Beam and the Riverside Cafe actually pay well and support artist endeavors and new musical ventures alongside all of the classic venues that are at the heart of Leicester music scene (the Soundhouse, Donkey, Musician, Cookie etc). The only way individuals such as myself are able to do the thing we love for a living is through the kindness of others, and I am thankful to have been brought up as part of such a supportive musical and artistic community.
What’s the first thing you’re doing after lockdown?
Pints. Some pints. Many pints.
You can follow Major Ruse over Facebook for the latest updates.
Enjoy this week’s best of Leicester playlist! Each week we’ll be pulling together some of our favourites as well as recommendations to highlight some top local talent. This week’s list features the likes of interviewee Jamie’s band, Major Ruse, plus other great tunes from acts across Leicestershire.
Have a listen and get in touch to tell us which tracks you’re loving.