Having had numerous plays on 6 Music and Radio X, London based 6-piece, Cable Street Collective are a band that creates music that “grooves like a bastard”.
With influences of both indie pop and indie rock, and with African inspired guitar, this band is well worth checking out to add a touch of something upbeat and different to your musical collection. Their new single, 'Where Now From Here', has a more electronic vibe and is the perfect song to funk up any summer day or night.
Tell us a bit about yourselves?
The band started about eight years ago, with Ash and Tristan, in Cable Street Studios in Limehouse. It was a bit ‘Von Trapp’ at the start, with four cousins and two brothers in the band - Tristan’s brother played bass, and there were two of their cousins on drums and percussion, but we’ve branched out a bit since then, and added a few new members. Each of us brings something a bit different.
How did you guys meet?
Tristan and Ash have been friends and playing guitars together since school. In fact, for the last 20 years, Trist and Ash have lived no more than 500m from each other… They both went to Nottingham Uni together where they met me (Fiona). Dan Cat produced the very first Cable Street EP, and Trist got Aaron and Sam on board after meeting them through the Mozambican band he plays with, Nelson & Friends.
You have a really eclectic vibe taken from around the world, how did you discover your sound?
Trist and his brother, Ro grew up in Swaziland and Malawi until they were about 12, so they grew up on African music, especially Congolese soukous and South African Kwela. They also really liked Paul Simon’s Graceland album, which was on repeat in the car when they were kids... There are other influences too - I lived in Brazil and then Australia for years, Sam grew up on the Shetland Islands playing traditional folk, Dan was a house DJ for years (one half of the duo Cheshire Catz) and Aaron was raised on afrobeats. His dad is Greg Kofi Brown, bassist for the legendary Osibisa, so he spent a lot of time on tour with them as a kid and has even stepped into the band on several occasions.
Being London based, what does this city mean to you and does it have any influence on your music?
I guess London does feature quite heavily in our songs - we’ve even occasionally written about it directly ('Two Cities' off our first EP is a love/hate letter to the city). It’s hectic and grey and horrible... but it’s also the best fucking city in the world. It’s a crazy melting pot of people and cultures from all over, and when it’s on, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
What have you been up to since the release of your last single, 'Wonderland'?
We’ve been filming the music video for the second single ‘So We Go,’ which was fucking fun. We got director Cassidy Burcher on board, and he got us plus a bunch of friends and extras down to a studio and fired industrial-strength leaf blowers in their faces. The effect is like a wind machine, but one that makes everyone look ugly - rippling skin filmed in slow motion. It looks awesome. We’re also gearing up for the launch of the EP, Where Now From Here on the 18th - we’re having a big launch party on at Vortex Jazz Bar in Dalston. And then we’ve got a summer full of festivals booked, culminating in Boomtown in August.
What has been your proudest moment so far as a band?
I think it’s got to be being played on Steve Lamacq’s 6Music Recommends show a few weeks ago. We’ve had a few plays on BBC 6Music before but it was amazing to hear Steve Lamacq talking about our song, and likening the lyrics to a hardcore punk band - loved it!
Does anyone in the band have a reputation for anything?
Um, Tristan is always late. Aaron can’t play more than two songs of a set before he takes his shirt off on stage, and always takes his trousers off in rehearsals. He wears shorts, it’s not like he’s not naked. But yeah, he likes to be “comfortable”. Most importantly, Ash is 'Band Dad', he organises everything and everyone.
How do you find writing music as a six-piece?
It works pretty well these days. Tris or Ash normally come up with an idea - a snippet of melody, a guitar riff and idea for a beat or a chord sequence - then we all chip in and write various parts, often together. It often ends up in a wildly different place to where it started, but it benefits from everyone’s input.
As a band, you are really upbeat and positive. What cheers you up and how do you keep the good vibes going?
Trist, Ash and Fi have been tight friends for about 14 years so band practice is always a bit of a social affair. Dan is ALWAYS smiling (he claims to ‘suffer’ from pronoia - the belief that everything and everyone is out to help him) and Sam and Aaron are super chilled. We’re lucky to play so many festival gigs - hanging out together for the weekend, generally getting a bit loose and telling each other how much you love each other.
Tell us about your new EP, Where Now From Here?
Sonically this one’s pretty different from the last one, ‘The Best of Times’(although weirdly, if you strip the songs back to just chords and melody - as we’ve been doing recently with some acoustic versions - they have a lot of the same essential elements).
But yeah, we consciously went for a more synth-heavy electronic direction with the instrumentation - influenced by stuff we’ve been listening to like William Onyeabor or Jordan Rakei, but also by having Dan and Sam join the band. We switched out the live drums of the previous EP for programmed beats by Dan, which Sam then augments with a mixture of acoustic percussion and stuff he plays on his Roland HandSonic - a crazy piece of kit that he’s a master of.
Tristan and Ash also started playing keys a bit more, and guitar a little less on this record. The title is a line from ‘The Very Best’. Lyrically the EP gets pretty dark in places, and although that last song is a bit more uplifting, that line seemed to sum up the themes of the whole lot. It also seemed fitting as everyone’s getting a bit older (especially Dan) and no one’s the last to leave the party anymore (except Dan).
What is the message you try to get across in your music?
We try not to be too prescriptive about stuff like that - we want people to take whatever they want from it (and the responses we’ve had suggest that people hear very different things in our songs!) But despite the upbeat nature of a lot of the music, some of our lyrics touch on a lot of the darker aspects of modern life: Depression, anxiety, societal inequality, and the pernicious effects of social media - as well as more ‘classic’ song subjects like relationships.
I guess if there was a message at all it would be that however crap things might seem, sticking a stomping beat on and having a party is always a good idea, and will usually make things better. That’s kind of what ‘The Very Best’ (the song that gave the EP its name) is all about actually. We used to say we play “music that’ll make you dance your arse off” and regardless of how serious it can seem at times, I reckon we still do - especially live.
In general, what is the worst trouble you have ever been in?
You’d have to ask my bandmates, I’m a good girl, (laughs) honestly, I’ve only been done for speeding once!
What would you like to do before you die?
(Laughs) lots of things! Hopefully, that’s not going to happen any time soon. As a band I guess it’d be good to play Glastonbury - we’ve played a load of amazing festivals down the years but never the mother of all of them.
What does the future hold for Cable Street Collective?
Good question. Hopefully. Tristan will buy a watch?
Where can we keep up to date with what you are doing?
The best place is our Facebook Page, or you can check out our website.