In the build up to this year’s Common People, we listed 6 acts we’re looking forward to seeing, which included Southampton’s own Bel Esprit. We reached out to them for a quick interview, and they kindly obliged.
We talk about being invited back to Common People, festival do’s + don’ts and how integral The Joiners is to the Southampton music scene.
Hey! How was last year’s Common People for you guys?
Last year’s Common People was incredible. To have a festival in our back garden, a place where we’ve gone to hang out every summer of our lives was completely surreal. So many of our friends and family as well as our fans were at our slot and that made it really special.
What have you been up to since then?
Since then we’ve released our Debut EP Lose My Mind, released a new single ‘Leave Me Here’, played loads of shows including Independence Festival, Icebreaker Festival and supporting artists like Sundara Karma, Ezra Furman and The Bohicas and even going on our own mini tour this April. It’s been a hectic year to say the least.
How does it feel being invited back?
When we got the email it was the most amazing feeling, particularly because the scene in Southampton is so live right now, it’s nice to be considered amongst the other great local bands on the lineup like Sean McGowan, Signals, New Desert Blues, Elixir and Kassassin Street etc. We actually booked our first gig (before we’d even played together) after a Palma Violets gig so sharing a stage with them is pretty insane.
The Uncommon Stage that you’re playing is hosted by The Joiners. How integral is The Joiners to the Southampton music scene? Would it all fall apart without it?
The Joiners gave us gigs when we weren’t so good but they always had faith in us and we appreciate that so much. I’m not sure how small bands would grow without The Joiners at all, given that they give this absolutely huge and legendary stage to any band in the city that works hard for it. It’s inspiring to have such a venue in the city who regularly get in the best touring bands.
What do you think is the most important thing for playing festivals vs the most important thing playing your own shows?
Playing festivals you tend to get smaller slots so you’ve gotta pick the best of all your material. It’s difficult because often you’ll be trying to engage passers by at festivals, which can be a lot less forgiving than playing to people who already know you.
What are your festival do’s and don’ts?
DON’T: Forget toilet paper. Under any circumstances.
DO: Check out as many bands you’ve never heard of as you can – you can sit in a circle and drink in your garden so make the most of your ticket.
DON’T: Sit on your mate’s/boyfriend’s shoulders for the whole gig, I’d rather watch the gig than your back, thanks.
DON’T: Forget you have the strength of one normal person – traipsing three crates of carling in with your rucksack and chair is only going to make you wish you’d paid more to go somewhere with a shower. and it’ll probably get nicked.
Presuming you have the time, who else are you looking forward to seeing and why?
Fahad and Bill are massive Gaz Coombes fans. Primal Scream and Ghostpoet will be amazing, but I think we’ll spend most of our time at the Uncommon Stage as the local bands are really incredible. Although we may take a break from that to check out Southampton treasure Craig David!
What have you been listening to recently? Any favourite albums from this year?
As far as great albums this year go, Blackstar by David Bowie, Kendrick Lamar‘s untitled unmastered. are stand outs. Mystery Jets and Savages have also put out amazing albums.
You’ve covered Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ before. What do you reckon to the new track ‘Burn the Witch’? Any more Radiohead covers in your arsenal?
We wish! We love Radiohead and both the new tracks sound great. By the time this interview comes out the album will be released which we’re hugely excited about! As for covers, you’ll have to wait and see…
Finally, what can we expect to see from Bel Esprit in the near future? Any plans beyond Common People?
More festival announcements to come, a tour and more music in the summer. Trying to keep everything quiet at the moment so you’ll have to stay tuned!