Sarah Sands and Jack O’Hanlon of the nu-jazz fusionists open up about the myriad influences that make the quintet such an appealing draw on the Liverpool jazz circuit.
If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you say?
We used to refer to it as “jazz for 20-year olds”, but, ultimately, we think of it as a variant of jazz-fusion.
How did you get into music?
In terms of writing music, we kind of got into it by accident. We would do gigs, but we only played covers that we liked and eventually started integrating songs we wrote. We really learnt how to play with one another and develop as a band as opposed to trying to write straight off the bat.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform? What does it say about you?
Funk Detective is one of my favourites to play. It’s super tight, slightly syncopated, punchy horns along with the driving rhythm section. I love the energy we get from it! It’ll be on our upcoming EP, hopefully out in the coming few months, so watch this space.
Why is music important to you?
Sarah: I think it’s only since coming to Liverpool, being able to get gigs and meeting such great people, that I’ve felt music take a central role in my life. There’s nothing else that could replace that energy you feel after playing a gig or recording a new tune!
Jack: Music is our collective creative outlet; it’s quite a vocational thing, we aren’t together for the money. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t love it.
What do you think is the overriding influence on your songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture of all of these?
The strongest influence is other musicians and gigs that get us thinking! We are really into bands like the Brecker Brothers, John Scofield, Chick Corea, so we just focus on trying to come up with good tunes. If somebody comes up with a cool riff or a melody then we take that and run with it. We also try to not take it too seriously and keep it fun.
If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
Jack: Steely Dan, I’ve become completely obsessed! If anyone has been to one of our Frederiks gigs there’s always a Steely Dan tune thrown in. It’d be amazing to be able to support a band of that calibre; if you know anyone who can get us in touch, send us a DM!
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what makes it special?
We’ve had so many good ones! We like intimate, high energy gigs as opposed to big stages. We played Band On The Wall and loved how the crowd can be right up in your face. Frederiks is a close second; everyone just sets up in the corner and plays cool covers and their own tunes.
Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito! readers might not have heard?
If you haven’t been to see The Grapes latin jazz band on a Sunday, or been to Frederiks or The Caledonia, you’re missing out on the coolest spots in Liverpool for jazz.