Led by double bass player Ben Muirhead, Stepmother Jag features Christos Stylianides (trumpet), Alicia Gardener Trejo (baritone sax), Vittorio Mura (bass clarinet), Allan Young (guitar), Elliot Sansom, (keyboards), Andrew Woodhead, (electronics), Nathan England Jones (drums), and Max Tomlinson (electronic percussion).
Formed in Birmingham, the band made their live debut at Café Ort, Balsall Heath, in May 2016, in support of their self-titled debut album – an 11-track collection that combines jazz traditions with elements of folk and electronica.
The nine-piece’s next appearance is as part of the Match&Fuse ‘Mini Festival’ at The Hare and Hounds (26 Oct 2016) alongside two rising Nordic acts: the 2x Danish Music Awards 2015 winning Horse Orchestra and jazz/ rock power trio Krokofant.
Founded by WorldService Project’s Dave Moorcroft, Match&Fuse aim to bring together talent from various countries for festivals in London (28-29 Oct 2016) and other European countries, plus one-off events and tours. With collaboration a key element, each act typically performs their set, before returning to the stage at the end of the night for a collective jam.
As Ben Muirhead says, “it should be an exciting gig…”
How did Stepmother Jag come together?
The band started as a trio of myself, Allan and Nathan. Over time it expanded, and I think it’s still growing.
Odd name! It’s a North of England phrase for a whitlow / an abscess on the finger isn’t it …?
Yeah it’s a northern colloquialism for a hang nail. I’d like to say there’s a deep symbolic reason for the name, but there isn’t. It sounds cooler than “Abscess on the Finger,” and it reminds me of home.
What was the process of writing your album?
Writing the material was fun. I usually start with a bass line then develop the harmony and rhythm from there. The electronic sounds on the record were collected from the beautiful city of Birmingham on a hand held recorder. I like to workshop ideas with the band – there is a collective contribution to the writing process.
Was there an element of improvisation when it came to recording?
There is improvisation all the time on the record, it is a strong component of the music.
But Stepmother Jag isn’t your only musical outlet…
I’m lucky to be around so many amazing musicians, as a bass player I get to play with many of them on a regular basis; I love Chris Young, Ben Lee, Lucinda Fosker, Piera Onacko, Mike Williams. It’s a great music scene here in Birmingham.
You must be looking forward to the Match&Fuse show! It’s a great line-up …
I’m really excited for Krokofant and Horse Orchestra, the music scene is incredible in Norway and Scandinavia. I’ve been lucky enough to play with the drummer from Krokofant before. Axel, he is amazing. Stylistically I think the bands have similarities – we all like big heavy grooves. But it should be an exciting gig with lots of variety.
What’s your thoughts on the traditional Match&Fuse finale, when all the acts get on stage and play together?
I love the whole concept of Match&Fuse – combining bands from all over the world is a beautiful thing. The finale should be interesting. It’s going to be a tight squeeze on the stage in Hare and Hounds. But that should make the completely improvised psychedelic collaboration at the end even more exciting.
What’s your plans for the coming months?
Jag have some great coming up at Cogs in the heart of Birmingham and Rush Hour Blues at Symphony Hall. Dates to be arranged. I’m always writing so expect new music on the new shows and we look forward to a busy 2017 full of festivals and gigs.
Match&Fuse Mini-Festival, featuring Horse Orchestra, Krokofant and Stepmother Jag, is on Wednesday 26 October 2016 at The Hare and Hounds, 106 High Street, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7JZ. Start 8pm, tickets £10 (adv via thsh.co.uk), £12.50 (door).
For more information on Stepmother Jag, and their debut album, see:
- stepmotherjag.bandcamp.com (includes album stream)
- Stepmother Jag on Facebook