21 Apr 2015

Q Magazine guest column – Little Boxes Full Of Ticky-Tacky by Hey Colossus

Jon from Hey Colossus has written this interesting piece for Q Magazine:


With Hey Colossus releasing their eighth album, In Black & Gold, earlier this year, guitarist Jon Richards presents an personal essay examining the spectrum of artists – and faces – across the British music scene.

I recently had the great pleasure of being able to witness the Songhoy Blues concert at East London’s Oslo venue. I was part of a crowd enjoying new music, played by a conventionally set up band (Drums, Bass, Guitar and Vocals) and I was struck by how refreshing it was to see excellent performers completely engage an audience, despite a language barrier and some cultural differences.

The band come from Mali, Africa and I can only imagine how surreal it must have been for them to travel so far from home and play their music to a sold out venue of rapturous fans. They seemed like such a cohesive unit. A very strong sound and appearance. With so much expectation and love coming from the crowd. Part of Songhoy Blues’ appeal, for me, is their otherness. Young black men playing live instruments, singing and dancing. Holding down a zeitgeist show in packed club, the way The Strokes or The White Stripes did at the turn of the century. An antithesis to the Brit school studied pop, or the officer-class acoustic troubadours, or the grime MCs, or the pseudodelic rockers and all that we take for granted as being the best in popular music trends in 2015.

I found myself trying to remember the last time I had seen a young black guitar group and – more to the point – had I ever seen it from UK band? Sure, there are always non-white faces to be seen in bands on stages all over the world, but an all black UK rock band? After much head scratching, I found myself reaching all the way back to the 1980s for examples such as Musical Youth, Aswad, SoulII Soul and Roachford. Really.

How can it be that we are celebrating an exoticness in rock music so well by championing fantastic acts like Songhoy Blues, Tinariwen and Tal National, to name but a few, whilst the current pop landscape seems to be almost bereft of non-Caucasian rock bands and musicians here in the UK?…

Read the rest of this piece here: Q Magazine