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INTERVIEW: Esper Scout

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Abbi Phillips (drums): Good thanks, really good!

Sarah Statham (vocals/vocals): Busy doing various things so far this year, taking on new jobs and personal growth. Abbi is setting up a drum teaching business and we’ve been working on other projects like mine and Kirsty’s other band ‘Ecate’ and jamming with other people as well as writing together.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Gaps In The Border Fence”?

Kirsty Morton (guitar): I love that all of our songs have a great back story and meaning. If helps us connect so much more to the music and lyrics and hopefully connect more to the audience. I feel Gaps… does this perfectly.

S: It’s probably up there as one of our favourites to play. Has been our set closer for about a year. There’s a lot of meaning in the song for us, some resonating history and power. The camaraderie in spirit is a push, inspired by Cold War music enthusiasts who were actively reluctant to let their governmental regime starve them of culture.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Rebecca Jane (bass): I think we all have a huge respect for activists and people fighting for freedom, the track coincided with Sarah and I both studying European history at the same time. She was looking at it from a media point of view and I was learning through my studies in Sociology, so we were both engaged with the theme. The song is inspired by all the people who find a way to enjoy life and art, enduring through dark days, despite the control and limitations enforced by corrupt policy-makers.

K: I remember us being fascinated by Germany and especially Berlin. Its history and being able to see it first hand in such an inspiring city.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

A: We actually shot a live video of the track at the Lord Whitney studio in Leeds not too long ago that’s out at the moment, and there’s a live video of us playing it on tour last year at Nottingham Rock City, a really memorable show for us. I think having those out have not made us think about doing a video for the single yet, but who knows what the future holds. We like to collaborate with visually talented friends, so something might come up.

The single comes off the new series Come Play With Me – is it a concept series or they are all standalone tracks?

S: Apart from being based in the Leeds region, the six tracks so far have been independent of each other in terms of their form and inclusion. There are definite similarities between ours and ZoZo’s though. A cool coincidence. The concept of freedom and survival runs strongly in both tracks. They both apply geographically far flung inspirations (Cold War Eastern Bloc and to ZoZo’s Mediterranean), mirroring symptoms our bands have perceived in our own immediate surroundings. “This piece is owed to you…Peace is owed to you” from Gaps in the Border Fence is a gesture of respect to reluctant servants of society. Fred from ZoZo reflects this same hopeful sentiment with his also optimistic “salvation’s going to find you.” We’re hopeful crews the lot of us.

How was the recording and writing process?

R: The song is something we wrote a few years ago before Abbi joined us. Since then we’ve managed to find the song’s full potential. Achieving this was pretty special because the song is one of our favorites and we love playing it live. We actually recorded the track live on the Bee Gees’ old mixing desk at Bunker Studios in Castleford with our friends Jack and Sam from FURR, ex-Humans as Ornaments. All the instruments at the same time in one room, with vocals afterwards. I always prefer to at least record drums and bass together and we like to have an involvement with the production where we can, so Abbi mixed this one.

K: I love that this song has finally started to unlock its full potential, I think it’s a lot to do with Abbi’s drums and more harmony within the band.

What role does Leeds play in your music?

R: Leeds’s acceptance of all and DIY culture is highly important. No-one has to rely on a booking agent solely, because even the bigger promoters in Leeds know the bands personally in many cases. It’s a tight knit community, people go to each other’s gigs, are in multiple bands and share bills. The fact anyone can put their own event on is a testament to how resilient Leeds has been in fighting the cuts to the arts. Spaces like Wharf Chambers, the West Indian Centre and Chunk, our practice and venue HQ, are independent co-operatives or venues who run for a love of music and making community bonds.

K: I think Leeds has given us the most amazing opportunities to continue being genuine. Leeds has been very accepting and supportive!

Would all the songs deal with War and other similar topics?

R: Yeah, if Sarah’s dad had anything to do with it!

S: Ha, maybe there’s some truth in that. His interest in history and context has evidently found its way into the way I’m seeing the world growing up and becoming more aware and appreciative of our surroundings. Esper Scout can act as a channel through which dialogue about issues which affect us can run. Some people seem to neglect or dismiss how useful a communicator music can be.

Any plans to release an album of your own later this year – how’s that coming along?

A: Writing writing writing! We’re focusing a lot on the new songs at the moment and trying to get them feeling right before we road test them and let them develop in that sense. We’re definitely working towards an album; I think fans and friends would definitely say it’s long overdue!

K: things are always constantly developing with us personally and musically so the natural thing is to bring all these processes together and show this is an album. It’s starting to become a journey that we’re all looking forward to.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

A: Ahhh that would be telling!

R: We aren’t really a band who have found writing to a deadline something we necessarily connect with, but hopefully next year? I want it to be then anyway. Other than writing songs and planning a demo recording excursion to a cottage up North there’s nothing set in stone.

K: A title and name will come to us by accident. No doubt it’ll be mindful, with some humour!

Any plans to hit the road?

S: We have a few shows coming up. This year seems mostly about new songs and working on demos, but we couldn’t keep away from playing live for that long. Tour-wise less so than last year, but planning on trips to cities outside of Leeds.

What else is happening next in Esper Scout’s world?

S: Things remain to be seen after the release of this split 7”. More so than usual actually. New songs and working on old ideas. Tie things together a bit and make cohesive for an album as well as creating a connection with people. We’d like to take the van out for a spin a few times n’all.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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