Esper Scout Talks New Single, Opening For The Cribs, Upcoming Music
There’s something absolutely enigmatic about a certain band from Leeds called Esper Scout. For years they’ve been carrying a modestly skillful charm about them, quietly putting together some quality music to little to no fanfare. And now, in 2015, it seems as if this quartet of ladies finally have the chance to show what exactly they’re made of on a bigger stage. We got the chance to speak to them about their thoughts on this and more in an exclusive interview with 24Our Music.
24- Hey Esper Scout, it is so awesome to hear from you all again! How about we start things off by telling our readers real quick, in 140 characters, who you all are and what you do.
Reb: Close friends, making music together in different guises for half our lives. One description? Progressive punk with dynamic rhythms and hope.
24- I want to touch on your sound very briefly. It’s got a very progressive yet garage and punkish feel to it, although “In Foreign” definitely leans more towards an alternative, grunge side. What’s the common denominator across all Esper Scout performances, and how would you describe it?
Kirsty: I’m glad our diverse tastes and influences can be heard! And through that, not being pigeon holed and compared to a small number of bands and artists.
Sarah: We’ve known each other for a long time but it feels like things are only just waking up having learnt a lot about things gradually. Reb will usually crack me up during a song at some point and you can be sure we’ll have made new friends by the end of a show.
Reb: We like to talk and a good pun, that’s what all great performances are about aren’t they?
24- Speaking of “In Foreign,” I really like the set you used for the music video. It seems you have a knack for picking out cool places to play, I mean “Carpet Of A Crest” took place on a beach and I always think that’s so cool when artists film themselves playing in the elements. Where was “In Foreign” shot, and what went into filming the video?
Sarah: Carpet was filmed on Morecambe Bay the Sunday after playing Fell Foot Sound at Lake Windermere. My family used to have a caravan there so me and Kirsty know it really well. A friend from high school (Jonathan White who’s doing ace for himself, brilliant guy and director) brought a small crew up and shot around the streets in the morning while we packed up our tents and drove down to the beach.
Reb: Again with In Foreign we relinquished control and trusted good friends. We wanted to film in an indoor space and Chunk was the perfect location. Chunk is the co-op music and art space we are part of in Leeds so we were literally right at home. Another old friend from our teenage years in Manchester was Scout Stuart who had the idea. With the help of Frankie Sophia behind the camera they filmed the best bits of our running around.
24- This is a really generic question, I mean, I’m basically going to ask who your influences are, but who are they? Not just musically either, I want to know who you think visually and even emotionally inspired you all.
Kirsty: Every single person I know has qualities that I appreciate, adore and respect. I respect and try to learn from them. People who are so passionate about something they make it happen and get pure joy from it.
Sarah: I second that for sure. Openness, transparency and decency. Constructive people who are fun, caring and inquisitive. Arrested Development (Speech), Courtney Barnett, Kate Tempest, Amy Poehler and Kiran Gandhi are a few names I can think of who are doing great things at the moment. Corbyn, or at least a lot what he represents when it comes to alternative voices and championing the underdog. Cameron, like most, is a vacant vessel for stagnation and degeneration.
Abbi: Yeah I agree. Am I allowed to be cheesy? I think, if i’m being honest, the biggest influence in my life is my Mum. She’s strong, caring, talented and creative and always does everything to the best of her ability. She’s a very passionate lady!
Reb: I feel influenced by all the amazingly talented people who I know!
24- Esper Scout’s also got some pretty impressive songwriting amongst the underground punk scene. Who writes the songs, and what goes into the writing process?
Reb: Well thank you, that’s really nice to hear. I think the songs are really an amalgamation of collective thought born from a single idea Sarah will usually have. We spend time developing an idea, mostly from a small set of chords born from a riff maybe. Back and forth between rehearsals and testing it live.
24- How about for your latest single “In Foreign”? What kinds of things, whether it be emotion or creative force, went into creating this song, whether it be lyrics, song composition, or production?
Kirsty: What I love so much about Esper Scout is that we’re forever growing and developing. We all have a passion to cram as much knowledge into our heads and to share that with others and most importantly, learn and gain from others. A lot of our music comes from intertwining experiences and always wanting to better our craft.
24- Tell us about the upcoming tour with The Cribs, whom you will be [opened for earlier] this month. How did a gig like that come about?
Sarah: This might be a long answer. Gary and Ryan (Jarman, of The Cribs) turned up to a gig of ours in Wakefield earlier this year, so bizarre to see them walk in. A Fire Brigades Union fundraiser at The Hop of all things. We hung out with them for a little bit afterwards talking about what’s going on in the UK a bit, because they both live in Portland and NY now. In March we’d heard from a mutual friend, veteran Leeds promoter Jonny Strangeways, that they’d picked up us having said he found us through a Kill Rock Stars Tweet about us playing a previous Wakefield show. Confused about why his favourite label would be promoting their modest home city he looked into it and found us that way. Reb met the three of them during an in-store visit to the independent record store where she works. Gary picked up our 7″ and they chatted about bass and the Pacific NW.
We got an email in June about supporting them at the Gloucester Guildhall, two days before that show. So we wriggled out of work and drove down and back in time for 8am starts the next day, them setting off for a Glastonbury set. It’s been something growing gently for the past six months. A total surprise! I stayed with Ryan when I was teaching and travelling in the US over summer. His girlfriend Jen is ace! We stayed up all night writing a song, which I need to nag her for actually. Such a supportive and loving bunch of people. We distantly knew both their guitar tech and tour manager but had no idea! It’s a bit of a small world.
Really looking forward to seeing them again and are so grateful for the opportunity. Being a small independent band who love to reach out to others ourselves, it’s moving to know there are people in ‘mainstream music’ who will take chances on things if it connects with them.
24- Just from looking at everything this tour sounds like a pretty big deal. What are your collective thoughts to something like this?
Reb: Excitement. It’s like going on holiday really. But there aren’t hotels, or even hostels. There’s a van and floors (hopefully a bed here and there).
Abbi: Meeting new people and making new friends is always good. Being on the road with my best friends and playing together, on stage and off stage, everyday is my favourite thing to do!
Kirsty: Experience and learning. We never want to stop adding to the fire!
24- What can fans always expect from an Esper Scout live show?
Kirsty: Jokes and commitment.
Sarah: Providing Reb tells them right – comedy ensured either way. If you’re lucky she’ll have a party popper on hand too.
Reb: All facts.
24- What are your goals for the near future? Can fans expect some more new music sometime soon?
Kirsty: One way or another, we’ll keep on going, being creative and hopefully bringing people together!
Sarah: Album number one. Abbi has brought a lot of ideas since joining in January. We like to self-record and mix, so demoing over winter for sure and go from there.
Reb: Will be playing the new songs live too.
Abbi: Yep, definitely new music, and new adventures!
24- Okay, this last question is super serious, so bear with me. Say all of you are suddenly transformed into a dessert treat. What would you be?
Kirsty: Egg puff! Sweet and savoury.
Sarah: Awkward for the greater good? Trifle (my Nana’s), for the layers.
Reb: Yes, I’m with you on the custard. I’m custard, preferably cool custard.
Abbi: My instinct is to say cheesecake, but I’m gonna go with hot chocolate fudge cake with ice cream. It always ends up like a sticky mess, which is usually me by the end of a show!
24-Thank you Esper Scout for speaking to us!
Ta very much!