Jordan Mackampa, Knees, The Supersonics & We Animals play The Charles Bradlaugh in Northampton
Hey good looking,
Northampton-based four piece We Animals list their influences as Oasis, Arctic Monkeys & The Vaccines, and if I was in a particularly lazy mood I'd end my review right there. It basically tells you everything you need to know, doesn't it? If you're searching for something brimming with originality that's gonna blow your mind for sounding like nothing else out there then you're wasting your time on these fellas. If, however, you're in the mood to shake it like a Polaroid picture (kinda like me on Friday night, only I was more like a spasmodic penguin) then grab your dancing shoes and get down to the nearest We Animals gig, pronto.
Yep, I was present at their EP launch gig on Friday 6th March, and first to take to the stage was the charming Jordan Mackampa. With a voice that could melt butter, Jordan draws on his accomplished lyrical skills and love of a high note or two to write songs that "tell real experiences". When executed well there's something so natural about a solo singer/guitarist, and for me tracks like 'Dark, Twisted, Dirty Little Secret' are ticking all the right boxes.
Afterwards I managed to grab Jordan for an impromptu interview. Here's what he had to say:
What's the story of you? Who are you for people who don't know?
I'm Jordan Mackampa, twenty years old, currently in third year at Northampton University studying popular music performance. I've just played my set here at the Charles Bradlaugh in Northampton opening up for the amazing We Animals for their EP Launch. It was a really good gig. There weren't that many people but I feel like the people that were there left feeling like they knew more about me through my music. It's not always about how many people are in the room, it's about how many people are in the room listening. Really nice gig. Really nice venue too.
Quality not quantity. You could play to two thousand people and not connect with any or play to a room of twenty and connect with all of them.
If you have someone in the room tapping their feet or nodding their head or even standing up coming towards you or saying how great your show was afterwards then you've done a really good set.
So what sort of thing are you trying to do with your music? Where's it going? What's the aim?
Currently the aim is to graduate first. I'm currently doing my dissertation whilst also gigging in and around London. My next gig will be on the 11th March at The Strongroom in London. In August the plan is to release a four track EP and then just do a very small tour to try and push my name and my music more. I feel like my music can tell you more about me than I can in an interview or a magazine.
I think that's a really cool thing to say. What sort of music would you say you make?
I feel like I make music about real experiences that people go through. To put it into a genre I'd probably say it's acoustic, indie and blues. Those seem to be the three that I come up with the most when I'm describing what sort of music I like or the sort of music I make. But the sort of music I like isn't generally reflected in the music I make. I can go from listening to Knees who are playing upstairs now to listening to Alphabeat. I don't have a type when I listen to music. If I like it I'll listen to it, if I don't I won't.
Yeah most people I meet who really like music take that sort of approach. What inspired you to become a musician?
According to my mum I was singing before I could actually talk. Music was one of those things that came very very naturally to me. Every time she brought me an instrument I'd just get it like that.
You're one of those guys.
Yeah I'm one of those people. My step-dad he pretends to play guitar. My mum was a singer in church for a while. So there was constantly music in the house. I get my tastes from them, and as I grew up I developed my own. I just wanted to tell real experiences about things that people go through in an honest way without making propaganda about it. Strait to the point about what it is, what people go through, how they overcome it and where they can go from there.
I like that idea. What sort of people would you say inspire you? Musical and non-musical.
Non-musical would be my parents, my friends, my teachers and my lecturers. Musically I've got three bands and three artists: Young the Giant, Coldplay & Bombay Bicycle Club and then Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder & Matt Corby.
Do you have any advice for other musicians?
Be nice to your sound guy. As much of a prick he can be, be nice to him. Honestly because he can make or break how good your gig is or how incredibly bad your gig is. As soon as you walk in say hello to the sound guy. And have a spare of everything - guitar, capo, strings, plectrum everything. You never know. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Question from Stephen Mone: What was your first kiss?
My first kiss was with a girl who was my best friend when I was like eight or nine years old. Her name was Danielle. Her mum and my mum were really close friends so we'd always meet together. We were in my room playing doctors and nurses, as you do. She leaned in for a kiss. We kissed. And then that was it.
Up next it was Knees' turn to rock the joint (the joint, get it, cos they're called Knees). I remember watching this band's first ever gig and since then, despite now having fewer members, their sound has evolved into something miles weightier. Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of their set but what I heard were frenzied, raucous post-hardcore tracks that contained a multitude of wild dynamics.
Thirdly we were treated to the super sonics of The Supersonics - a band who couldn't have exuded any more Britishness if they'd been wearing matching Union Jack suits constantly complaining about the weather. Yes they're a run-of-the-mill Brit rock band, but the quartet performed lively, delay-soaked guitar music with true proficiency, entertaining the crowd with that classic sound we all know so well. So very very well.
By this point in the evening I was reflecting on what an excellent job all the young people organising this gig had done, but after We Animals played their set I have only one thing to say: "uni students, shame on you." Whilst the four piece's breezy, melodic indie tracks reverberated all round the Bradlaugh, you lot were out-partied by punters old enough to be your parents.
As infectious as anything, We Animals are such enjoyable performers especially live but also on record. People couldn't resist moving their bodies to those guitar riffs, and the music was made even more cheerful thanks to Maxx Riley's softly sung storytelling and a nifty bit of drum work. Personally though I'd love to hear them ramp up the aggression; at the moment they're slightly more intense than a chicken korma, and I love a vindaloo.
We Animals' 'The Fall' EP is available to buy on CD or download from MusicGlue