Interview: The Bluebeat Arkestra

Ahead of their New Year’s Eve performance at The Yardbird, we talk to ‘trip hop’ funk outfit, The Bluebeat Arkestra about their year.

How has 2013 been for you?

Shaun [Hand – guitar, keyboards]: Very creative and exciting – in February we suddenly found ourselves needing to write a whole new set. Ultimately it was great ‘cos it led us to completely reassess and reinvent every aspect of the band. Overall, this year has brought us closer together and the songs we’ve written are the best we’ve done yet. But next year we’ll aim even higher.

Festivals, single releases, it’s been a busy old year for you hasn’t it?

Hayley [Trower – vocals]: We’ve been having way too much fun at festivals this year. Mostly Jazz was a highlight of course, it’s fantastic to share a stage with so many legends. In amongst all the gigging we are getting lots of recording underway, plus we’ve been writing new tunes by the bucketload. Our sound seems to be constantly evolving – we’ve just finished writing a Baltic influenced tune which incorporates pentatonic and ancient gypsy scales.

And what do you think 2014 will have in store?

Shaun: Got a lot of great new tunes on the go which are taking us in a new direction so looking forward to playing them. Hopefully a few festivals abroad too so we can have a holiday together.

If you weren’t playing live on NYE, what would be the last song you would spin just before the clock struck midnight?

Shaun: It’s all about the first song you play AFTER midnight…

Hayley: Probably some filthy jungle?

Dave [Breeze – bass]: Chris De Burgh – Lady in Red. BIG tune!

Who else would be on your ultimate NYE playlist?

Shaun: Too many to name names but lots of afrobeat, reggae, jungle, disco, 80s, 2-tone, punk rock…

Hayley: Old school drum’n’bass, British hip-hop, electronica, trip-hop, some classic soul. I could spend many many hours choosing an ultimate NYE playlist.

Dave: 90s dance, some 90s old skool DnB, Prince ‘1999’, anything off of the GTA Vice City Soundtrack.

And who would be on the line-up for your own dream Hootenanny?

Shaun: If we’re partying then I’d have The Clash and Fela Kuti…and then Bill Evans for the early hours when people wanna wind down.

Hayley: The Black Keys, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and The Cinematic Orchestra.

Dave: Mine would be Bluebeat, The Mondays, The Roses… Anyone else I’d want is probably dead…although that’s probably why I’d want them there – to raise hell with!

What’s the best NYE you’ve ever had?

Hayley: A big group of us rented a barn in the Welsh hills. There was no electricity, just a battery-powered boombox and some confused looking sheep. Very rustic, and loads of fun. And no, there was no animal cruelty.

Dave: Hmmm…really?! I had a great NYE at Hockley Street Studios NYE Party two years ago. I recall a spirited rendition of Purple Rain which usually means splitting my trousers. I know it got to about 10am in the morning and I said: “That was the best new year ever…what happened?”

And the worst?

Shaun: I spent one in hospital having had me appendix out the day before. They’d took the morphine drip away that afternoon too…

Dave: I went to some god awful murder mystery thing and came home just after midnight and got into bed. About 4am in the morning I heard this banging on the front door. I opened it and my 60-year-old dad fell through onto the floor at the bottom of the stairs. I couldn’t rouse him at all so had to leave him in a pile at the bottom of the stairs.This is what I aspire to!

The Bluebeat Arkestra headline the New Year’s Eve party at The Yardbird, Birmingham, with support from Andrea Brown and The Yardbird DJs – 8am–4am, free entry.

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