Words by Angelika May
Photography by Anya Rose
Emanating from the depths of the MABGATE pub’s basement, MABGATE (formerly known as The Mabgate Organ Trio) comprised of the adept Ed Allen (guitarist/producer), Nico Widdowson (organist/pianist) and Richard Moulton (drummer) congregated at We Out Here to give us a taste of the vibrant Leeds Jazz scene.
Their sound is a cinematic amalgamation of analogue 70’s funk, moody ethio-jazz and a melange of worldwide groove music, I caught MABGATE after their set to discuss the Leeds Jazz scene, rogue festival scran and spooky jazz.
The North tends to be saturated with a lot of indie bands, how would you describe the Leeds jazz scene?
Nico - Noisy.
Richard - Very left-field right now, the scene tends to go in waves from acid jazz to neo-soul etc. At the minute there is a heavy focus on improvised, noise-based music.
Ed - The Leeds scene is very busy, it’s such an exciting play to be for high-quality jazz and there are always so many new bands coming up.
Richard - After London it's the most represented city for jazz.
Which are the most notorious venues?
N - Hyde Park Book Club.
R - That’s the biggest one for jazz, you can see an eclectic mix of styles from very experimental, such as Fergus Quill doing some crazy shit, to trad jazz. The venue is split into multiple rooms that offer different sounds.
What’s the craziest shit you’ve seen at Hyde Park Book Club?
N - He’s once placed microphones on the floor and had amps swinging above them, it’s called pendulum music.
E - Or, Big Band, where everyone plays an instrument that they don’t play.
N - I played sax once.
R - I played the trumpet, I did hit some notes…I mean they were the wrong notes, but they were notes.
How did you guys meet?
N - We lived and played together whilst we were at Leeds College of Music. Our first record came out of us spending lockdown together, we lived in an old converted pub and had a basement that was completely kitted out so we recorded our first album and Ed (who does all of the producing) produced our record. We basically did it because we had all of the gear and nothing else to do.
Your sound is incredibly cinematic, if you could have scored a film, which film would that have been?
N - It would have to be something dark.
R - When we have to describe our music very concisely to people who aren't too au fait with genres, spooky jazz is a term that tends to come up, so I guess something fairly spooky.
E - I was going to go with Indiana Jones
N - I was going along the lines of David Lynch but okay sure Indian Jones is cool.
Maybe Indiana Jones Directed by David Lynch.
R- I was thinking Tim Burton meets Christopher Nolan.
What is the roguest festival scran you have brought with you?
R - I’ve got four room-temperature scotch eggs from ASDA.
E - He has some sausage roll chasers too.
N - Sausage meat on sausage meat.
R - I thought I’d get it down me “fazz”.
Oh fast, I thought “fazz” was some new Northern lingo for “gob” I hadn’t caught onto yet.
R - Fast, get it down me fast.
Who are you looking forward to seeing play over the weekend?
E - SunRa Arkestra, they’re always a good time.
R - Black Midi.
N - We’ve got lots of friends playing here too, we have; Jasmine Myra, b-ahwe, Plantfood, Mangorata, and Mikoudi play this afternoon, they were great.
You’re all incredibly talented, multi-instrumentalists, what’s your process of building a tapestry to create such a unique sound?
E - We always begin with the three of us, Richard on drums, Nico on keys and me on guitar and from there we add whatever we feel is necessary.
N - Once we have the core chords from the three of us, it’s only if it feels natural to do so that we will bring someone else in. We don’t usually plan to add extras.
Are you happy with your set?
E - Yeah it was great, so much fun.
R - Really fun, it was so hot, probably the hottest set I’ve ever played. I was trying to hold onto my sticks but they were very slippy.
E - I could feel my fingers slipping off in the first tune, I was holding on for dear life.
Gig-wise, what does your calendar look like for the rest of the year?
N - We have a headline in Leeds at the Hyde Park Book Club on the 13th of December.
R - On the 27th of August we are playing the Shacklewell arms with an ex-Leeds band Joshua Zero.
E- Aside from gigs, we're going to start on EP number three!
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