If you were to ask musicians in bands what they enjoy doing most, a good number will say jamming. Letting the restrictions of form break down and just play. Often, the best and most satisfying music happens when you’re just not trying. A hugely confident band will let this happen on stage where they stop trying to impress and actually genuinely make it all up as they go along – actually very rare. In some ways that’s a definition of ‘jazz’. Which leads me on to my subject.
Pigeonholing. When a group is trying every avenue they can find to convince people to take the time, effort and even hand out cash to see them play, they have to identify what they offer. In other words, label the music somehow. People who are not in bands could be forgiven for not understanding the pained look on a musicians face when asked ‘what kind of stuff do you do?’. It’s a perfectly reasonable question after all. If you enjoy the stylings of medieval choral music, it is unlikely (but not impossible) that you’ll be happy turning up at a death metal gig.
For us, Shadow Factory, it is equally hard to answer. I can tell you what we’re not, quite easily. We don’t use much from death metal or from pastoral choral music. The music we create doesn’t generally fall into standard formats either ie. Verse, Chorus, Middle8, 12 bar blues, keychange etc. That’s not to say our tunes don’t use these musical tropes, it’s just that we don’t feel the need to follow any standard patterns.
Which takes us to the style of what we play. We have saxes and so that is likely to lead us down a jazz path and we have electric guitars that can cover jazz, rock, and pop. There’s an electronic drum-kit so there’s little limitation to where we go with percussive sounds.
So it’s probably best to label us with LoopyJazzPopRock (as we do) and just cite our influences which could just mean if you like most our favourite music you might like ours! So here goes:
Courtney Pine, 10cc, Bill Nelson, James Brown, Andy Shepherd, Kraftwerk, Vaughan Williams, Kylie, Jethro Tull, Talking Heads, Miles Davis, John Martyn, Prince, Yes, Stranglers, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Andy Williams, Pink Floyd, Schubert, King Crimson, Steeleye Span, Kate Bush and so on.
If you put that lot into a blender and the get the three of us to play it – you might have a good idea of what we sound like. Easier still – take the plunge and buy our album – after all, we could use the cash…