Philip Giouras got the opportunity to speak with John Bramwell, the frontman of Mercury-nominated alternative rock band I Am Kloot, before they took to the stage.
How are you finding the festival so far?
Well, we actually only arrived yesterday and what I’ve managed to enjoy so far is a lengthy rehearsal with an orchestra so I’ve not really seen much of the festival itself yet but after tonight’s performance, I’ll be around for a few nights to see stuff.
Is there anyone, in particular, you’re planning to check out?
I’m very intrigued by Connan Mockasin. He looks pretty far out and I’ve just been talking to Guy who recommends him highly. I have no idea what he’s like, which as a musician is a great way to see an act, to go in with no preconceived ideas.
How did you find working with the orchestra?
I’ve worked with string quartets in the past on recordings and occasionally at gigs. It’s interesting because they are trained classical musicians and how they talk about music and how we talk about music actually easily meets, as did our understanding of each other. The discussions of what we wanted and we didn’t want was all really quite good fun. We got them all a beer each during the rehearsal and they enjoyed that and we had a good laugh.
Was it harder than you expected then to perform with them?
It was very enjoyable. I think one of the great things as a musician is always finding new people to reinterpret your songs with. We’ve always played great versions of these songs but it’s nice to have that other dimension and to be in a constant state of slight flux is always very good for you, I’m not saying we are going to be perfect but that often makes a live gig.
I always find an orchestra enhances the music so much. Yeah as long as it’s defined what they are playing because it’s so easy with an orchestra, for instance, to just play the basic chord. Whereas with these songs, especially from the Sky At Night album which we are performing tonight, I had already written a lot of parts for other instruments so they are there for them to play. As long as you’ve already written the parts rather than it just being a blob of sound, I think it’s great when you get all those other instruments.
You mentioned Sky At Night, is this the first time you’re doing it in full?
Yes it is, in fact even when it came out we didn’t do the entire album and the orchestra was kind enough to rehearse three extra songs which we are going to do at the end. I’m also doing a song on my own with just a harp player, which should be great.
There’s a stage at Meltdown this year called Bryan Glancy named after a friend of yours. How important is it for new acts to get featured?
It’s vital. It was to us and obviously we’re a band that’s still not massively known in the mainstream. I think when you are starting out, festivals are more important than your own tours because it can generate a whole new audience. These days festivals are moving away from a chance for people to see new stuff. Like I said about Connan, I’m really looking forward to seeing this guy even though I know nothing about him, which I think is the real benefit of festivals especially when you have someone reliable curating. I think with the internet the way it is now if you’re on a festival bill people immediately check you out before they go, which is pretty handy.
Are you listening to any new artists at the moment?
There is a good songwriter in Manchester called Dave Fidler who is supporting me on my solo tours at the minute and is absolutely excellent. I also heard Bears Den on Radio X the other day – they are kind of early The Cure but folkish, I took one listen and have already downloaded their stuff.
[Update: Since the interview and performance, I Am Kloot have posted a full recording of their fantastic Meltdown performance, I've embedded it below for you all to check it out and see why they are calling it 'their best ever gig']
This article was originally featured on the Southbank Centre’s blog, where I and other aspiring music journalists wrote articles on this years Meltdown Festival curated by Guy Garvey. I’d like to just say thank you to Southbank + Meltdown for the fantastic opportunity
Check it out here alongside all the other great pieces of content made by the Meltdown Journalists.