August and After
Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with band member Vedantha from August and After find out more about them...
Who is in the band, how did you meet?
I met Ned during our first week of University. We were walking back from a party - he was dressed as Johnny Rotten and I made for a pretty unconvincing Russell Crowe! When you are dressed like a fool you seek comfort in numbers, so we started chatting. We realised we had both been lead guitarists in bands, and wanted an outlet to write and to sing, and it took off from there. We met Jordan on my birthday several years later - the three of us were on the South Bank and ended up chatting for about 6 hours straight!
The last few months have seen the addition of Dan and Chris, our drummer and pianist respectively. It's been amazing having them on board - they have been good friends for a while, and our sound has always incorporated those instruments.
Where are you from?
I like the fact that we are a pretty diverse group! Between us we have about five passports. Jordan is French/Canadian, I'm British-Indian, Ned is British/French/Russian, Chris is Australian/Indonesian, and Dan is British. We all converged in London, which is what I love about this city, it's incredibly multicultural on a scale that I haven't seen anywhere else.
How did you come up with the band name?
Two words: 'Round Here'. And actually another two words: 'Counting Crows'. Our favourite song from one of our favourite artists - it is lyrically, vocally, musically stunning. And it appears on their debut album, August and Everything After. Let's hope we become friends so they don't sue us...
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
My first musical memory was as a child age 3. I was losing at ludo, but it didn't matter - nothing bad mattered anymore - because I was felt so inspired listening to 'Fast Car' by Tracy Chapman. Inevitably, I went through various different phases as I grew up. I loved old-school hip-hop as a child - I used to wake up at 6:30am on Saturdays to record a pirate radio station using my Fisher Price cassette player. It was my mid-teens onwards where I really explored music - from rock to metal to classical to folk. I'd say I've been influenced by all of it. To be more precise, different artists influence different aspects of my songwriting and performing. The ones that influence me today are probably The National - for their lyrics and melodies, Antony & the Johnsons - for his vocals and orchestration, and Counting Crows - for Adam Duritz's emotional vocal delivery, and their live performance. I haven't seen an act that is so 'in the moment' and spontaneous. when performing.
How would you describe your sound?
We've all got our own sets of influences and bring them to the band. Jordan has a deep classical knowledge, and Ned has always been interested in more experimental rock - Radiohead, the Villagers etc. We fuse our various influences together to form a sort of classically-influenced indie-folk - I think that is the best way to describe it! Personally, I like just leaving it to the fans and the critics to find the most accurate way to describe us - being in the band makes it a little harder to take an objective view.
What’s your local music scene like?
The scene in London is full of amazing artists. Artists that I'm sure will take off pretty soon - and some that have already. And we've found the artistic community to be both incredibly friendly and supportive. A few examples: we started playing abroad when a friend - Steve Folk - recommended us to an Italian promoter. We secured a residency at Ronnie Scott's after a friend recommended that we should apply to play there. The list goes on. I love that, rather than compete, the artists we've come across just want to see each other succeed.
There is one pressing issue - the lack of funding for live performance. Many venues have closed in recent years. And from an artist-point of view: when all the costs are added up, there tends to be little left over at the end of the night. I've actually seen some artists ending up paying to perform. This has sadly led to some really talented artists leaving the city and moving to more viable spots elsewhere. I'd love to see greater action to protect the live scene. Music, and culture more generally, is a key part of the community.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
We're excited to see what 2017 brings us. We are currently putting the finishing touches on some new material, which will be released during the course of the year. That is the biggest thing for us - we've been working on the material for a while with our French producer, Jonathan Lefevre-Reich, and it's great to be so close to the finish line. Otherwise, I'm just looking forward to get on stage again: touring, festivals, and of course playing to our fans in London. We've just confirmed a few shows for this spring. One that we are all really looking forward to is supporting Natacha Atlas, a fascinating musician that we're pretty honored to be sharing the stage with!
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Yes! How long can the list be? Anohni, Bon Iver, Counting Crows. I'd love to perform with an orchestra, a choir, and a big band. And I'd love to collaborate with a rapper. Collaboration has been a big part of the band since its inception. At our EP launch, a perfumer from the Crossmodalism movement sprayed different scents into the crowd to fit with the music. And on our first album, Embers, we had about ten guest musicians, and incorporated the voices of about thirty fans on one of the tracks!
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Performing always comes with some slightly surreal moments, I'm trying to think of examples... One time after a show - a show we had a put a huge amount of energy into - someone in the audience said to us "Hey, your music is awesome to get high to." Shortly after, someone came up to us after a show and said "Hey, your music is great to have sex to". I didn't realise we were that type of band... One night in Italy, we were being driven to a venue in Varese by a friend of ours. The police stopped the car thinking I was an illegal immigrant, and asked me to come with them. That wasn't funny at the time, it was actually a bit terrifying as I didn't have my passport with me at the time! But our friend sorted the situation out, and we were able to laugh about it afterwards! I guess you have to with these things.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about your band?
That we would love to hear from you! It means a lot to us that people feel able to write to us from all over the world, and feel a connection to us through the music. We have built up some great relationships that way.