Ahead of their free entry gig at London's Southbank Centre this Friday, London Afrobeat Collective spill the beans on their latest release Food Chain.
After solidly cooking up a storm amongst London's resurgent live jazz scene, London Afrobeat Collective have set their table with their debut LP Food Chain. I caught up with vocalist Funke Adeleke and leader/ guitarist Alex Farrell to chew over the recording and production of the album...
'The recording process was pretty quick when we got in the studio, from a writing to recording time of around four months. It was produced by Leon Brichard (the jazz producer previously worked with Melt Yrself Down and Plan B). That was brilliant working with him.'
'Being a ten-piece collective we work through collaboration, that's the main art bringing out our talents and contributions.' Though with such a number in their mob, Alex needs to stay top dog, with Funke creating the lyrical input.
Without them being a genre band, LAC have firmly nailed their colours to the mast of Afrobeat, so for the uninitiated, what is this music? 'Afrobeat is the music of West Africa and the feeling of that rhythm, we started out playing as much stuff by Fela Kuti (the Afrobeat godfather), and though now we have more influences and ideas we are an Afrobeat band'.
Food Chain is a state of the nation rallying call - hard hitting politicisms hollered over blaring horn lines and mellow tone guitar stabs. The single track, Prime Minister, is an unashamed denouncing of the greed of Britain's political class. What would Funke's first law as a new Prime Minister be? 'I would stay simple and just make everybody get along in respectful way, so that we treat each other as we want to be treated. Without being too negative there is a lot of attacking going on in politics now, and you can't hide the fact that sometimes it feels like we are stuck in the 1960′s, at least more than we should be. Maybe it is my position as a singer so I don't want to speak for the band - we all have different experiences, but maybe it is a colour issue.'
Alex adds, 'Though we are definitely a London band, and we are made up of members from all cultures of the world. It has this cosmopolitan feeling and London is always quite open to that. The way we are made up is quite representative of the city, that is a reason we are called the London Afrobeat Collective.'
With Food Chain released and a launch tour underway, LCA are also looking forward to playing festivals further afield, particularly in Nigeria. It is sure to be a different festival culture to the UK - what are they expecting from it? 'The festival The Shrine is where Fela originally started out. We are so excited because when we play for people there, we play for Africans and it will show how much people love Afrobeat music outside of Africa. Because like anything if you appreciate the culture it is best to go to its' home where it all started. And people there have always been up for our music, it's something they've always come out to see.'
LAC pride themselves on a fantastic live show, the nine piece bringing a big band energy to their performances. 'So far we've been playing the new tracks live and had an amazing response. We think we always get everyone dancing, even when we're playing 'traditional' dinner jazz venues we got people up to the front!'
London Afrobeat Collective play these live dates:
12th June Southbank Centre
26th June Glastonbury Festival
5th July Avant Festival
1st August The Fleece
12th July Mondomix Festival
12th-19th October Felabration Festival
Food Chain is available to order from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/food-chain/id991333327
For this Friday's gig details visit http://southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/london-afrobeat-collective-1000945 or phone the Southbank Centre on 020 7960 4200.