London Afrobeat Collective describe themselves as a ‘dirty dozen of battle-hardened musicians from all corners of the globe’, who’ve played everywhere from Gdansk to Zanzibar, from Lagos to Los Angeles.
They formed in the capital in 2008, recorded an album and have built up a dedicated live following, keen to experience their latest afrobeat sounds.
With blazing horns, pounding drums and global influences, not to mention the ridiculously catchy bass licks, London Afrobeat Collective bring a slice of sunshine to all of their performances.
This year they will descend on Glastonbury for the first time, taking their special brand of carnival spirit to Britain’s most diverse festival.
M caught up with the collective’s John Mathews to find out what’s in store for the band down on Worthy Farm…
Describe Glastonbury in three words…
Lubriciously Amplified Colossus.
How does Glastonbury differ from the other festivals?
At Glastonbury, people are free (and positively encouraged) to be people, not forced to be cattle…which is amusing, given that Worthy is a dairy farm! The last time I went to Reading, I got milked so hard, I ate nothing but grass and clover for about six months afterwards. At Glasto there’s no cash-rinsing arena, no ‘give us your booze’ at the gates, just one enormous carnival of the senses. To borrow the words of Dr Funkenstein himself, at Glastonbury ‘fantasy IS reality’.
What is your favourite song to play live and why?
ONE?! Behave yourself! Ha! I’d have to say Agbajo Owo. Dele Sosimi – the musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80, and a true master of the funkiest afrobeat – contributed the vocal and lyrics to this tune on our album L.A.C, so that’s a major thrill before we even start. We usually open with this one and the suspense cooked up by Alex’s funky guitar and Andy’s lone trumpet is like being strapped to a rocket, about to explode into the stratosphere without warning. When that monster groove kicks in, we are GONE!
You get to curate a night on the Chai Wallah stage this year, which three acts do you choose?
Orgone, Saravah Soul, and United Vibrations. United Vibrations are deliciously sick and trippy…and a damned fine bunch of fellas too – check ‘em out!
Have you played Glastonbury before? If so, what were the highlights?
No, London Afrobeat Collective will be Glasto virgins until we take to the West Holts stage on Saturday morning, so we’re enormously excited to be there. We did play for about 200 locals and festival organisers, bookers and judges at the Emerging Talent Contest in Pilton back in April though and that was a blast. Michael Eavis dusted down his funk on that floor and nearly wore us out! Mr. Eavis is a very funky man.
What are your tips for building up a following for your band?
Social networking, Spotify and online aggregators like Tunecore make it easier than ever to get your music out there… except everybody’s doing it! Actually, getting noticed is now the tricky bit.
Tip number one: Practice! When you’re confident and proud of the music you’re making, it’s much easier to stand tall, talk loud and say something with impact.
Tip number 2: Listen, observe and then broadcast! It’s just like conversation and making friends…and that’s often how it all starts.
London Afrobeat Collective will perform at Glastonbury four times over the weekend –
Saturday 25 June: West Holt’s Stage, 11pm
Sunday 26 June: Other Stage, 4pm, Chai Wallah’s Tent, 5.30pm, West Holt’s Bar, 11.30pm
Watch London Afrobeat Collective perform Lagos Junction at London’s Hideaway club, 21 May 2011: