Photo credit:Frank Melfi
The LOOP COLLECTIVE last held a festival in 2013. Each member of this potently creative group of musician has gone on to do other things, but there is a clear loyalty and esprit de corps among its members, and the desire to continue to work together. Drummer DAVE SMITH has invite Loop members to the town where he now lives, Frome in Somerset, and has put together a two-night festival. He explained the background to this new festival – which he hopes will be the first of many – in an interview with Sebastian:
LondonJazz News: Dave what’s been going on musically for you in the past few years
Dave Smith: I’ve been mainly working with Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters for the past few years. It has been a massive learning curve for me and a great experience to perform and work with such a diverse and talented group of musicians. We released an album in 2014 on Nonesuch which toured up to last summer. Highlights include playing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, The Bonnaroo Festival, Austin City Limits, David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption and Red Rocks in Colorado.
I’ve also been working with Jim Hart’s Cloudmakers Trio. Since the release of Abstract Forces in 2014 on Whirlwind we have played many gigs in the UK, North America and France. The most recent project is called Cloudmakers Five with guests Hannes Riepler and Antonin-Tri Hoang (REVIEWED). We’ve had two UK tours this year with a live recording from that tour coming out early next year – as always with Jim’s music it’s complex, melodic and beautifully harmonic.
I joined Melt Yourself Down in October last year and since then have been touring around Europe and working on an album. It’s a great bunch of musicians and the music is high energy with heavy grooves, a punk attitude and it’s a lot of fun to play.
Since Fofoulah’s debut release in 2014 on Glitterbeat we have played gigs around the UK and London as well as in France and Czech Republic. The music now has a more open and electronic sound with the addition of Dan Nicholls in the band and Kaw Secka developing his Wolof rap talents.
LJN: When did you move from London to Frome?
DS: November 2015
LJN: What’s it like? Loads of musicians living close by right ?
DS: Frome is a lovely place to live. Very friendly and community based with lots of independent shops, music and art venues, a community fridge and free Stiener school. There are lots of musicians close by including Iain Ballamy and John Law who have been in town for some years and Jason Rebello is up the road in Bath. Bristol is pretty close by too so it’s going to be great to continue making connections there. My very good friend Sam Crockatt lives in the neighbouring village of Mells and we’ve been doing quite a bit of playing together since I’ve moved down. As well as a few trio gigs we formed a band called Corner Pieces with some other ex-London musicians – vocalist Rosie Schura, guitarist Martin Kolarides and cellist Heather Truesdall plus Bristol/London based Will Harris on bass. We’ll be playing at The Rye Bakery on 12th July as part of the Frome Festival.
LJN: The last Loop Festival…I can’t even remember when it was?!
DS: The Loop Collective continues to create and move forward with touring, collaborations, releases and new projects but we haven’t had a festival for some time. The last Loop festival was in 2013 at Kings Place, and since then we have had smaller one-night events in London. This will also be the first time a Loop Festival happens outside of London and I’m hoping Loop can continue to be featured in the Frome Festival in years to come!
LJN: And how long have you been planning this one?
DS: Since January this year. I found out at the end of last year that Robert would be taking a summer off touring which gave me time to concentrate my efforts into this festival which I’m really excited about.
LJN: Who is playing?
DS: – Thursday night we have a set of solo vibraphone explorations from Jim Hart, Splice – which is an electro-acoustic improv group made up of myself, Pierre-Alexandre Tremblay on bass and laptop, Alex Bonney on trumpet and laptop and Robin Fincker on sax, then we have Kit Downes & Tom Challenger with their fantastic project Vyamanikal.
– The Friday kicks of with another duo – Rills & Courses with Pierre-Alexandre Tremblay and Tom Challenger, then the Hip Hop and British ‘library music’ inspired Primitive London take the stage with their Anglo-French line up and special guest Juice Aleem on vocals. This will be followed by Fofoulah vs Ruhabi – a Fofoulah set featuring some re-workings of Outhouse Ruhabi material with Robin Fincker on sax. The last part of the evening will be Dan Nicholls transforming recordings of artists playing at the festival into completely new, remixed electronic music.
LJN: Which concert are you most chuffed to be putting on?
DS: Well that’s a tricky one. I have to say I’m really looking forward to seeing, hanging, hearing and playing with this group of musicians again. It’s great that so many people from the collective could make it over and that we have found some funding to support the two nights. I’m chuffed Primitive London could make it with their rapper Juice Aleem and I’m also very much looking forward to Vyamanikal in their new format with Kit playing harmoniums.
LJN: When is it?
DS: 13th and 14th July
LJN: What is the main venue and what’s it like?
The two gigs are part of the Frome Festival which runs for 10-days from 8th to 16th July encompassing a variety of arts, crafts, food and literature in established venues, pop up venues and cafes, parks and shops throughout the town. The Loop Collective will be performing in Frome’s iconic Silk Mill in their gallery event space which has a bar and an outdoor area where we’ll have a free stage. The space will be seated cafe style for the Thursday and standing club style on the Friday.
LJN: What else is coming up for you – albums??
DS: Tom Challenger has been working on a new Fofoulah album/EP which should be out later this year. He and I have had a couple of duo gigs in the past year and there’s talk of doing an album together. Melt Yourself Down have something in the pipeline and Cloudmakers Five will release their live album sometime in early 2018. I’m also looking to set up a Youtube channel featuring some GoPro footage from some of the Robert Plant gigs last summer.
Loop Collective Frome Festival details –
Thursday 13th July
Kit Downes & Tom Challenger + Splice + Jim Hart
£10 / £8 cons
Friday 14th July
Fofoulah vs Ruhabi + Primitive London + Rills & Courses + Dan Nicholls
£10 / £8 cons
Venue: The Silk Mill, Merchants Barton, Saxonvale, Frome BA11 1PT
LINKS: The festival on the Loop Collective website
Silk Mill Studios