For our latest ‘5 Biggest Influences’ feature, we spoke to Café Spice, who released their new single last week, in the form of ‘She Loves and Leaves’.
‘My 5 Biggest Influences’ is when we talk to some of our favourite upcoming and established artists, delving into their greatest influences and inspirations, to see how bands, records, tracks, friends & family, hobbies and even environments have impacted on their work and music.
More about the new single and the Manchester-based trio below, but first, here are Café Spice’s 5 Biggest Influences…
Nature in the Big City
We live in the big, red-brick city of Manchester. A strange cohesion of towering shiny buildings with smooth, unfaltering glass faces, and crumbling ruins slowly disintegrating back into damp earth. Nature and the wilderness is something we all miss in the city and our longing for it seeps into our music. We dream of green fields and mossy forests, blustery moorland and emerald seas. It provides endless inspiration because there are so many stories in nature. Stories we easily miss in our busy lives. There is the changing of seasons; an epic never-ending tale. The toss of waves on the shore, beating the rocks and the earth over and over until it is nothing but sand and silt. A flock of birds escaping the cold and the barren, for the warm and the luscious. These are all stories that could be turned into songs and those songs provide a peaceful sanctuary for us from the hustle and bustle of urban living.
Watching other female musicians perform is hugely inspiring; we want to offer that to the world. We want to inspire other women to become professional musicians because there are far too few. When you see another woman creating incredible music on stage, it fills you with a swell of limitless possibility – you feel like you could do anything. We recently read a stat from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that in popular music, only 4% of bands are made up of only women, while a whopping 71% are made up of only men. The importance of seeing all-female bands perform is hard to understate because if you rarely see yourself represented on stage and in the music industry, it’s very difficult to feel inspired and encouraged to give it a try. If you can’t see it, it’s far harder to be it. I (Niamh) remember the first time I saw Beyoncé live as a teenager during her ‘The Beyoncé Experience’ tour. She performed with her 10-piece all-female Band, the Suga Mamas. I can’t describe how inspired I felt watching them all perform, I came away from the venue floating on air and feeling completely intoxicated by the possibilities of becoming a touring female musician – it’s a thrill we want more young women to experience.
All three of us grew up with music; singing and playing with sisters and friends. Growing up in England, Ireland and Scotland, we come from very different places but all hold a common love for where we’ve come from and the people we’ve grown up with. Although we all love Manchester, we have a somewhat nostalgic longing for our homes which feel very far away at times, but perhaps it’s this melancholic ache that brings us closer to each-other. When we’re tucked up in someone’s living room, writing a new song and singing together, it feels a little like new roots have sprung.
The Rough Seas of Life
A lot of our songs are about our own experiences. Relationships with friends, family and partners. Sometimes smooth, sometimes not so. Singing about something so private is both terrifying and extremely freeing. We’ve all at times had moments where we release a song into the world and secretly dread a certain someone listening to it. ‘She Loves and Leaves’ is one of those songs. I (Georgia) still cry almost every time I listen to the bridge and struggle to hold back the tears on stage. It’s possibly one of the most honest songs I’ve ever written, and although it is difficult for me to sing it, it expresses what I longed to say for so long in such few words that, with the pain, comes a huge sense of relief. Life is turbulent but at least it makes for good songwriting.
The Difference Between Us
We all have very different styles, ideas and musical tastes. Playing together has opened up a myriad of creative avenues within us that we never knew existed. Our differences bring out the best bits in each other. Where one of us can rattle out jazz standards, the other will sing you an old folk song. Where one loves to dance in the kitchen to the synth-poppy vibes of The Japanese House, the other will listen to Phoebe Bridgers until she’s truly understood every lyric and could recite them backwards. There are a million ways in which we are different, and that is partly what we think makes our style and genre slightly hard to pin down. We’ve each discovered whole new ways to listen to music, along with ways of singing and playing we didn’t know existed within us. It’s a great joy and privilege to take such an enriching musical journey with each-other.
‘She Loves and Leaves’ sees Café Spice release their first track in their full “girl band” outfit, and marks a turning point in their sound. Having crafted a reputation amongst the country’s key folk tastemakers, the trio hailing from England, Scotland and Ireland now push the boat out into the mellow waters of indie-pop.
The track opens with a serene a cappella rendition of the chorus, fast becoming a trademark of the group. Their alluring and interweaving melodies begin to colour a blank musical canvas before a delicate guitar rises from the harmonic haze. However, soon the band arrive in new sonic territory, as a series of effortless brush strokes introduce new drummer Sophie Wozencraft, elevating a beautiful acoustic with an elegant indie skip. The added percussion skims like a pebble, rippling the tranquil waters of what has gone before.
Take a listen below…
Existing fans should not be surprised by the turn, with an element of unpredictability always finding a way into Café Spice’s repertoire in one way or another. However, this particular introduction is a clear statement of intent from a band determined to turn more heads onto their well-seasoned sound.
The sonic is equalled by the trio’s reflective and contemplative lyricism. In the words of Café Spice: “How can you understand what you want when you’re twenty and so ready to love the world and everyone in it, so ready to lose yourself in somebody else? If you’ve ever been confused about love, nestle down and plug in your headphones – this song is for you.”
‘She Loves And Leaves’ demonstrates the potpourri of musical influences that pervade throughout the Café Spice songbook. At times they are reminiscent of The Mama’s & The Papa’s; on other occasions more attuned to indie-folk contemporaries HAIM or The Staves. Either way, ‘She Loves And Leaves’ is the latest testament to the collaborative songwriting that makes the music of Café Spice so unique.
After hitting the folk scene up and down the country, Café Spice have begun to cross over to more mainstream audiences. February saw the band support the high flying Sorcha Richardson as well as booking their debut appearance at leading UK Music Festival for emerging talent, Liverpool Sound City. The band have since been acknowledged by London Music Video Festival, receiving a nomination for the stunning video for their track ‘Bunnybird’.
These are just small steps in what is going to be a phenomenal year for the band as they set about to become, in their words, “the ultimate girl band of their childhood dreams.”