“I saw the Monsters playing a Shooglenifty/Peatbog Fearies style late night show [at Towersey] and loved it, about 8 hours later I’m calling for them at a ceilidh and they play beautiful, traditional yet funky Borders dance music to a delighted crowd. They’re … monsterous!”
Gordon Potts (UK ceilidh calling extraordinaire)
Monster Ceilidh Band are 4 full-time professional musicians with extraordinary credentials: accordion maestro Amy Thatcher (Kathryn Tickell Band, The Shee) and the Scottish Borders fiddler Carly Blain (Border Fiddles) blaze their way through traditional and modern tunes underpinned by the unique rhythms of Kieran Szifris on mandocello and the dub-heavy electric bass of David de la Haye (Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies). They’ve entertained generations new and old all over the world, from the fields of Glastonbury to 8000 people at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo, with their cross-genre ceilidh music. Augmented by fifth element ‘The Touch‘ on drums/laptop, they’re now on a mission to inject Traditional music of the British Isles with the UK’s other great musical exponent – Drum ‘n’ Bass… Hold tight.
“Outrageously foot-stomping tunes from this Newcastle based group, mixing quirky tunes with beats and attitude. Elegant traditional playing versus raucous rave-like rhythms reveal arrangements to ignite the dance floor.”WOMEX
Monstery in the UK!
A quick look at UK electronic folk with Tyneside electro folk pioneers Monster Ceilidh Band, who unveil their new video – a reworking of a D’n'B classic soon to be heard live at festivals across the UK this summer.
It seems nothing can escape Folk’s gluttonous, greedy fingers when it come to incorporating new sounds into its ever-expanding back catalogue. This is especially evident in 2012 when folk music’s reputation has finally lurched passed Luddite views of be-sandaled, cardigan-wearing “neck beards”, focusing instead on the lovely, smooth, shiny face of pop folk stars like Seth Lakeman or the bearded, broody and bald folk power trio Lau. Follicle dependence and preference aside there’s no doubting Folk’s resurgence in popularity in recent years, finally appreciated on TV and radio. Folk now unashamedly takes the stage on “Later with Jools Holland” next to the biggest names in UK music. Look deeper though and you’ll see there is so much more exciting folk music waiting to be discovered in the electronic crossover scene.
Monster Ceilidh Band is by no means an exception to the progressive rule, working triumphantly as they do in the field of electronic crossover – a developing scene fuelled by music slowly filtered down from Scottish visionaries like Martyn Bennet and Shooglenifty. Scotland has always supported its traditional music; you can see its legacy at festivals like Celtic Connections in Glasgow. This year the festival ran a spectacular event called “The Beat Bothy” which showcased Scotland’s hottest new electro acts combining (psy/hard) trance with pipes, or electronica with live fiddle and accordion.
On the English side of the border MCB make their on contribution to the emergence of this new style by paying homage in their latest track to Shimon and ‘The Governor’ DJ Andy C. MCB have intertwined their own new tunes and their trademark outlandish riffs in a reworking of D’n’B classic “Body Rock”. A preview video of the track is available now at monsterceilidhband.co.uk. Bassist/electronic composer David de la Haye and DJ The Touch are responsible for this new collaboration. Here’s what they have to say:
What excites you about the prospect of electronic crossover in folk music?
David: I’m excited about all music that pulls the carpet from under my feet. The
ability to experiment, make strange connections and be wonderfully
surprised at the final outcome is great! There are many groups out there
who claim to be mixing it up with ‘Folk’ music but in the Monster’s we’re
lucky enough to have some top traditional Folk musicians who really know
Joe: Yeah, and it’s a way of opening up the fantastic energy of folk dance music to a wider audience.
What do you think peoples reactions will be on hearing this folk reworking of a D’n’B classic?
Joe: I think it’ll take them by surprise – to many people the two genres may seem unlikely bedfellows, but they go together so well!
David: Exactly! At the end of the day we’re a Dance band and as a D’n’B Producer I want the tracks to feel good to dance to. This is the whole point of both ceilidh music and Drum and
Do you worry about the denigration of either of the genres involved?
Joe: To me the whole point of Drum and Bass, and any other electronica, is denigration of the genre by all means possible.
David: …and we pay particularly close attention to each genre’s stylistic
qualities when we integrate them. We haven’t just put two genres together
without thinking how they work in context.
Joe: …creating a party and getting people dancing by any means. Mixing this in with the folk element will remove some of the subtlety and class that our quality musicians produce, but it isn’t half fun!
Is this ‘crossover’ music just a gimmick, like the various pop Irish/paddy/Guiness tunes that have been released over the years?
David: No. As I said, I’m interested in various styles of music and would love nothing more than to play an eclectic set of heavy basslines to a mad audience.
Joe: This is the genuine collision of two worlds of music over a period of years, it wasn’t planned to create publicity, it is only happening because we think it works. It seems plenty of people out there think it works too.
David: The thing is … things sound gimmicky if they’re not approached with conviction and I think we play every note like we mean it!
Monster Ceilidh Band delivers England’s answer to a Scottish dominance in the electronic crossover market. Monsters combine a D’n’B producer, an avant garde electronic composer and instrumental virtuosity to produce a sound with a deep understanding of the nature of integrated crossover. MCB’s first 2011 electronica debut ‘Mechanical Monster’ was a big leap of faith. Its critical reception highlights a marked step change in the attitude towards instrumental folk music in the UK.
There is high expectation for more innovation by Monster Ceilidh Band with instrumental folk and electronica and each new experimentation garners the band support and a high profile at mainstream dance events. This year MCB will be appearing at dedicated folkfestivals like Sidmouth and Broadstairs but also at modern dance festivals like Secret Garden Party, Glade, Bearded Theory, Sunrise Celebration, Standon Calling, Wilderness amongst many others (details about these appearances are available at monsterceilidhband.co.uk/tour-dates).
- London International Festival of Exploratory Music (LIFEM), London (UK)
- Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo (Malaysia)
- St Patrick’s Day Festival, Moscow (Russia)
- Hay Festival (UK)
- Tochka Club, St Petersburg (Russia)
- GLUV Club, Moscow (Russia)
- National Forest Folk Festival (UK)
- Grassington Festival (UK)
- Sage Gateshead (UK)
- BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (UK)
- Towersey Festival (UK)
- Kings Place Festival, London (UK)
- “Mechanical Monster” (2011) The latest, double-album!
- “St Patrick’s Day Festival” (2010 Russia) Various Artists
- “British Music at WOMEX” (2010) Various Artists
- “Make Me A Dancer”, (2009)