The story goes, that three years ago, on a magical hill set in Hoofer Doofer festival in Bangor, a small ember between four musicians began to burn… and they say the rest is history. Now probably one of the largest bands in the North West (eleven members to be exact), The Fire Beneath the Sea are going from strength to strength and are slowly muddying the waters all around the city and beyond. So, Ashley Manning caught up with The Fire Beneath The Sea before they head down to Lancashire’s Beat-herder this weekend to see what’s been going on!
Their sets have a vibrant and energetic vibe that forces people to dance around manically, gyrating away all their cares in the world. This colourfully creative team of musicians eclectically mixes hip-hip, funk, jazz, ska, and dnb to make productions beyond description that effortlessly uplifts the crowds. The group comprises of five vocalists/MC’s (Armen Starfish, Llerraf Zafgir, Terra Byte, The Gerbil and Lady Lea) and six instrumentalists (Captain Morgan, Barkerchop, Rojo Fyr Fox, Barry Exanthematicus, Wraith of the Woods and Doorag Jesus).
I imagine you’re all very proud of your last EP which was such a hit with your fans! How does it feel to have it now being produced on vinyl, especially with the new bespoke sleeves?
Vinyl played a huge part in the birth and growth of hip hop as a culture, so it is really amazing to have our music out there in that format, as there are lots of people out there that are dedicated to vinyl and hopefully they’ll fancy adding Phuxubtlety to their collections! In terms of the artwork, we’ve had lots of different artists designing sleeves, all with license to bring whatever they want to the table and the results have been AWESOME!
You’re a band whose genre is very difficult to categorise, but who are your main influences?
Oooh.. We have 11 people, all with eclectic tastes in music and we all add our bits of flavour to the pot, so the band doesn’t really have any particular influences. We just try to make interesting music and we bring in elements of lots of different styles and try to make them work together.
You’ve been hailed as a band whose audience is unable to stand still when you’re performing. How would you handle it in the event that no one responded to your musical charms?
We go out and do our thing regardless, if there is a massive crowd, we play hard and dance our legs off. If there is an empty dance floor, we just treat it like a rehearsal in a different environment to our practice room, but we still play hard and dance our legs off! But yes, we’ve been lucky enough so far to generally get people moving!
Your lyrics are quite unusual in the sense that they don’t often seem to openly explore any negative emotion- why is that?
A lot of music that is fed to people through the mainstream, particularly in hip hop and rap is negative and egocentric for whatever reason. The world itself is also full of negative messages in the media, it is rammed down peoples throats, fear is a major tool of our downfall as humans. Positivity is ever present in the world but doesn’t get transmitted through the popular channels that much, but definitely a valid balance is needed. We’re all pretty positive people and so that’s what we put out, to do anything else wouldn’t be true if we’re expressing ourselves. Having said that, we’re not entirely focused on just positive emotions, if you listen to the lyrics, quite a lot of The Phuxubtlety EP delves into various troubled mind sets and pressures of the human condition. Poor Little Fishy is entirely about feelings of being overcome/drowned in microcosms of life, Phuxubtlety touches on that too.
You’ve got six festivals this summer- do you prefer the larger scale sets to the more intimate venues?
We like playing to people to spread our music and to hopefully give them a memorable and enjoyable experience. Obviously, with a bigger venue, you can have more people there and thus, potentially an amazing atmosphere. Then again, on the flip side, 200 people in an intimate venue can create a wonderful vibe. We like playing anywhere with enough space to move around with a good sound system and a lively crowd.
You’re performing at Beat-herder this weekend so what should we expect from your set?
We’ve got pretty much all-new set from last year, with a couple of older favourites kept in there. We’ve also been working to make the set even more dynamic, interesting and tight, so we can’t wait to get there and get on it! We’ll also be busking around the site before our gig (10pm, Friday night, Smokey Tentacles stage), so look out for us and join in!
What is next for The Fire Beneath the Sea?
Well, our 2nd EP (name TBC) is NEARLY there – we’ve got a couple of extra bits to record, then it’s off to be mixed, mastered, loved, rubbed and eventually released! We’ve got the vinyl release of our first EP, The Phuxubtlety EP, coming soon as well, with LOADS of bespoke, one-of-a-kind sleeve artwork by friends, fans and generally amazing people – we can’t WAIT for people to see them, they’re amazing and really capture the spirit of our music. After that – more gigs, hopefully tours, more recordings and the murmurings of a full-length album have started to surface….so, watch the waters!
The Fire Beneath the Sea are performing at festivals all around the country this summer so make sure you get over to one of them to catch a glimpse of their sets. The EP is also currently available and can be found on their self-titled website.