Interview with Speak Easy Circus

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Speak Easy Circus is an experimental indie funk posse from the East End of Glasgow. Their chaotic crescendos and eclectic overtures, a celebration of the strange and the new, are a “circus” of tongue in cheek attitude and unpredictability.

Getting to know Speak Easy Circus

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Band Members

Jack Avison – Guitar/vocals/keys

Jon Wallace – Sax/keys

Chatonda Ridley – Bass

Frazer Laurie – Drums

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?

When we shower together as a band we sing exclusively west end musicals and Christina Aguilera.

What was the last thing you dressed up as for fancy dress?

The pandemic has ruined fancy dress parties, but before the world went wrong the last thing I dressed as was Sully from Monsters Inc.

What was the last TV series you watched on TV?

The Sopranos – amazing unknown show and definitely worth watching, don’t know why it’s so underrated…..

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

Either Edward Norton or Adrien Brody, are the most common answers I get to this question. Jon (sax) says he would be played by Jack Black, Zach Galifinakis AND Jude Law (Jon has range).

Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?

Dinosaurs because they are just real dragons.

If you could learn any language fluently what would it be?

I actually speak Spanish and have been learning French during the lockdown, and Chats (Bass) already speaks French!

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What first got you into music?

We all come from different musical backgrounds so we all have different musical inspirations. For example, the moment I (Jack – guitar/vocals) knew that I wanted to play the guitar for the first time was when my Dad put on ‘Appetite for Destruction’ in the car when I was 9 years. It blew my mind and I was soon asking for an electric guitar and didn’t look back. Other sources of inspiration include the usual suspects of Blink 182, Stevie Wonder, and even the fictional character of Bleedin’ Gums Murphy of The Simpsons fame.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

We would best describe our music as experimental indie/funk. But when people first listen to our music the initial thing we would like them to think is that this is something different and unique, something that they might not have heard before. We want to make music that we would listen to, and the music that we listen to is eclectic, exciting, meaningful and doesn’t take itself too seriously all at the same time, so if people went away from our music thinking anything like that then we would take that as a win! 

What is your creative process like?

I (Jack – guitar/vocals) started writing songs when I was around 9, which was basically just a process of taking songs that I liked, changing the words slightly and calling it a new song. Since then though it has kind of become a habit where I just keep notes of little phrases/ideas etc, and then  at some point something will stick out to me and that will be the seed of a song. I find lyrics more difficult than music, so the lyrics tend to progress more slowly than the rest of the song.

‘Lions Should Hunt’ came after I saw an advert featuring a busty blonde model seductively selling something and I was annoyed that this was what people thought would be an effective advertising technique, and annoyed by the fact that it probably was effective! I took that further to think about how men are taught to think about sex, the effect that concepts of masculinity have on us etc.

The band started as a solo project so musically most of the songs start as a loose song idea or a demo recorded in my room and then the band all throw in their individual influences. We have always wanted to be an eclectic band and the fact that each member of the band is so good, and comes from a different musical background, means that we can really try to create some unique music. 

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

There are so many artists we would love to collaborate with, many that aren’t even in the same style of music that we play: Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Vulfpeck, Rosalía. All these musicians are very different, which is why I think we would be able to create some cool music together!

Are you finding the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or is it hindering the experiences you can write about?

We have been doing our best to stay active and creative, obviously it has been a very challenging time. During the initial lockdown we worked on a video series called ‘Quarantunes’ in which we set ourselves challenges to create short songs and videos that were made in different styles, all remotely. You can see an example here:

We were also lucky to get the opportunity to record with The Animal Farm when the initial wave had finished, which was a great experience, the products of which you can hear now!

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

We have grown up with the internet so for us it is intrinsically linked to music, for almost my entire life it is the way I have listened to music, bought music, learned about music etc. I think that for better or for worse online music is the only realistic way to consume music nowadays. This means that there is a huge amount of opportunities for people to put themselves out there, releasing their own music and finding their own fanbase. The flip side of that is that the internet has become a very saturated place. As with anything there are positives and negatives.

What is your favourite song to perform?

It feels like our favourite song changes all the time, at the moment it is definitely ‘Lions Should Hunt’ which was released on the 22nd of January (plug-plug-plug). This is a song that we played live from the beginning and always went down well with audiences so it was great to get the opportunity to record it. The song is a combination of all of our musical influences, each member of the band comes from a different musical background so all of our songs tend to be somewhat of a melting pot. This song began life as a disco/dance demo, my instructions to the band were to aim for ‘angry disco’. We combined this with some horn lines and some thumping drums and that is what created the song.

What’s next for you?

We have plenty of music coming in 2021, the first release will be ‘Lions Should Hunt’ on the 22nd of January. This will be followed by more singles and potentially an EP at the end of the year.

Hopefully we will have the opportunity to continue to play gigs in Scotland and further afield, however at the moment with so much uncertainty we are happy taking things as they come.

May 28th the band released a new single ‘Company of Men

Connect with Speak Easy Circus:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Written by Divine Magazine

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