It’s been a while since I wrote a portrait and I decided to give it a more regular aspect since these interviews are always so inspiring.
So let’s get a little musical with this Belgian band. What I like about them?
The fact that they are super international, coming from different backgrounds and mixing various genres. All this with a touch of craziness! Oh and the guitarist is my brother ;)
So here is a little presentation. Hope you like it!
Answers of Jérémy (guitar), Francois(French singer) and Martin (Drums) all mixed up together except when their names are quoted.
François-Xavier: Singer (English) + guitar
Manu: chanteur (Italien) + scratch
François: chanteur (Français)
Tell us about you: When did you start playing together? How did you meet?
We are basically 6 friends playing together since 2008. All of us were playing music before and the group is kind of a reunion of friends of friends that got to know each other. We wanted to mix different styles with Manu and Francois who were part of a rap band before, then came Francois-Xavier kind of a romantic singer (smile) and the musicians Ed (Bass), Martin (drums) and Jérémy (guitar). All this allows us to differentiate ourselves from a typical hip hop band.
Which one of you composes your songs? Is it just one of you or all together? Any uninspired moments?
Most of the time it starts with unfinished sounds and brief compositions that we all work on during repetitions since our influences are very diversified, and we try to add our final “Ghetto Blast Band” touch to it. Our strength is also our weakness since we are quite international and multicultural it’s sometimes not easy to play with all these inspirations. Writing hip hop lyrics is quite different from classic rock but being able to use several languages helps a lot.
One of us brings an idea or a style and we all try to add some structure to the song by working together (musicians and singers) but a song can be improved and worked on during weeks or months sometimes!
How would you define your style, what makes you unique?
We all have different styles and get inspired by our city (Brussels), by visiting exhibitions or seeing other concerts since it’s a real melting pot here. We are trying to find our own defined style. The objective is that people recognize us right away! We all come from different backgrounds, have different jobs but in the end, we are all like a big family and this speaks to the public.
And our uniqueness definitely comes from our multilingual lyrics and a mix of hip hop with a more rock instrumental part.
What do you like the most about what you do?
Sharing what we do with our public even if sometimes people are having a hard time putting us in a special category since we are a mix of 2 genres. But being able to do all that with friends the good and the bad moments, is a great feeling. When playing during a live show, the public’s reactions are great and it’s the best way to get discovered and to connect with a lot of people who share our passion. And we love to try to make more noise than Jedi’s (aka Jérémy) guitar!
A question a lot of people ask themselves about musicians: Do you have stage fright?
Martin (drums): More excitement than stage fright.
Jérémy (Guitar): Always a little, but as soon as you’re on stage it all goes away. And this is part of the game. A little nervousness allows you to go beyond your limits.
Francois (French singer): Not really, more like impatience to see the public’s reactions. We always share a great moment on stage and people see that.
A funny memory to tell us?
Jérémy : We were playing at a festival along with several artists (painters, dancers, concerts…) and while on stage (we were supposed to play around 10 songs), a guy comes on stage after a few songs and unplugs our instruments and thanks us for coming like if it was planned. Not sure the guy really listened to our demo before booking us. And the cherry on the cake, while we were backstage, someone comes to us a hands us a broom. They thought we were part of the cleaning team! (smile)
Francois: At each concert something special happens since we have a lot of freedom there on stage. Someone starts a song that wasn’t planned, a technical bug leading to spontaneous unpublished unplugged songs or people coming on stage. I will always remember 2 moments: Ed falling of the stage during a concert and Jedi going crazy during a competition where he broke one of his cords and tried to repair it backstage.
Martin : The worst concerts are always the funniest. We had a lot of horrible concerts where we had to play in precarious settings, but this just makes us appreciate the professional ones even more!
You all have a day job as well, how do you manage to always evolve and to find some time to play?
The fact that we cannot live from our music yet kind of obliges everyone to have a day job but we have a fixed schedule to play all together. Sometimes the singers meet separately and the musicians on their side as well. But it’s not always easy to combine both. When we have concerts on the other side of the country or have to set up everything during the day, we might have to take a day off. But the important thing is to give yourself the means to succeed in what we do, play, work, get inspired. If you want to evolve you need to keep on going!
Some of us have even sacrificed gym sessions to play with the group! (Smile)
Would you stop everything to be a full time musician?
Unanimous response: Of course!
The craziness of tours, concerts, travelling and spending time with your friends. We’re in !
Who were your idols/inspirations when you were a teen? And what about now?
Jérémy : The grunge wave (Nirvana, Pearl Jam) then punk (Lagwagon, NOFX, no use for a name), and then more indie rock (Radiohead, Mogwai, Foals), jazz, classic music, some the big names (Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Michael Jackson, Chuck Berry, etc.) and some hip hop (IAM, the Streets, Wu Tang, Beastie Boys, The Roots, etc.)
Some great rock inspirations are also: Iron Maiden, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Joe Cocker, Doors, les Stones, The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash, and the Guns… Oh man we were inspired by a very large range of musicians!
Francois: IAM, Sages Poetes, Busta Flex, Saian Supa Crew, Lunatic, Oxmo, Tribe called quest, Jurrasic 5, Wu Tang, Pharcydc, Mos Def, Madlib.
And now: Veence Hanao,Noza, Kalo, Sika, Teme Tan
Martin: Incubus, Foo Fighters, Blink 182 , IAM, Jay z, Roots, Hocus Pocus and some Jazz ( Coltrane, Davis, Glasper)
Where can we see one of your concerts?
Until now we played exclusively in Belgium but are currently trying to extend J We played with IAM and had several concerts in December. 2014 is also quite booked, so stay tuned.
Check out the latest updates about Ghetto Blast Band on their Facebook page.
(All photos courtesy of Ghetto Blast Band)