Jersey born musicians, James Bell and Chris Wackrow of Velofax moved to London to pursue their dream of making a dent in the music industry. I caught up with these musical alchemists to see how they?ve progressed and what their plans are for the future.
Firstly, how did you get into making music?
Chris: I was forced into it by my parents. No not really, neither of them are particularly musical, although my dad is a great pub singer and my mum introduced me to some classic albums such as Paul Simon?s ?Graceland?. I got into playing guitar through my good friend Ivor when I was aged about 17. My first song was ?Dear Prudence?, played on two strings, in an hour and then that night I borrowed a guitar belonging to my dear friend James ?Slow Hand? Brennan. I didn?t give it back until I had mastered how to play it. But of course I?m still learning, the guitar is a versatile instrument!
Jim: I actually started playing the guitar before playing drums. I was seven years old when my mum, who happened to be looking in the JEP, generously offered to get me something from the small ads in the back of the paper. The choice was either guitar lessons or a second-hand trampoline! I chose wisely and plumped for music. I later also took up the drums at the ripe old age of ten.
In the three years since moving to london, what have been the highlights?
Chris: We?ve had some great gigs supporting bands we admire, Menomena being a recent and memorable one. But the greatest highlight for me is when people approach me after playing and they get what we are doing, love it and come back again ? with a friend!
Jim: The main thing has been recording our album last year in East London, getting it released and seeing it on the shelves in the shops. Plus we?re continually playing gigs and have had slots at some great venues including a recent event at superclub Fabric. Playing live on air at BBC 6 Music was also a highlight earlier this year.
Has living in london influenced your writing?
Chris: Yes in the sense that the city gives a sense of freedom and sometimes chaos. I think this has an effect on my lyrics, but not as much as say ?I?m not in Love? by 10-CC.
What?s inspiring you at the moment?
Chris: New stuff I like includes Studio and Black Affair. As for oldies, I?m digging Neil Young, The The, Japan and in particular Grace Jones. I?m really into the musicians that she used on her Compass Point sessions – it?s a brilliant mixture of dub reggae, disco and lovely 80?s soft synth sounds. Everyone should own the Grace Jones compilation ?Island Life?.
Jim: My favourite new band of the moment is MGMT. Their music sounds like cosmic 70?s rock and synth-tastic 80?s pop recorded in the present by a band from the future. As for older stuff, I recently got hold of a bootleg copy of Kraftwerk?s third album ?Ralf and Florian?, it?s a pastoral kraut rock masterpiece and it?s a crying shame it?s not available on general release. You can find it if you know where to look in London. By the way, we?re going to play tracks by some of our influences on a podcast on www.music.je that will be on-line soon.
Have you got any new material coming out soon?
Jim: We are currently working on demos of our new material. We?re recording these demos ourselves using a laptop running Pro Tools. I?m fascinated by the black art of recording and producing records. It appeals to the geek in me and I?d like to get a white coat to wear whilst at work like the engineers at Abbey Road in the ?60s. By the time you read this, you should be able to hear some of these new songs on our MySpace page and you can hear them when we play at Jersey Live at the end of August.
What are you looking forward to most about playing at jersey live?
Chris: The rider! The Warrens have promised us pistachio Turkish delight, lemon sorbet, and two kegs of Breda. Bless ?em! More importantly I?m looking forward to playing our new material out of a big facckkk off PA. Playing on a large stage is fun and also there is the benefit of being more than six feet away from Kevin ?houmous fingers? Pinel. I?m looking forward to it, it?s gonna be soundos and proper quality and that. It?s the big time blud innit?
You can catch Velofax at Jersey Live on Sunday 31st August. For more information about up-and-coming gigs and new releases check out www.myspace.com/velofax or www.velofax.com