The British Collective Pt.2

“…We’re doing it because there’s a movement across the world for this music, and because we know that the music’s been overshadowed. And because we know that with the style of music we’re doing, it may seem familiar to you because it’s us, but if you really check it, there ain’t a band out there that sounds like us! There ain’t nothing out there that sounds like The British Collective! That within itself is unique!” Junior Giscombe

“I think the questions and the answers that should be uppermost at the start of one’s career should be about learning the history. The history of where we came from, where we originate from. Going back in time and learning where music and the structure start from!” Leee John

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Individually their songs were never out of the charts during the eighties and nineties; with classic hits that resonated both with the underground and mainstream markets. Well, 2014 saw the formation of a UK Soul power-house collective, bringing together five unique voices behind some of the tunes that have been the soundtrack to many of our lives thus far. Don-e, Junior Giscombe, Omar Lye-fook, Leee John and Noel McKoy are The British Collective. A few days after having been an integral part of Tony Blackburn’s Radio London Soul Night out, Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards went into deep conversation with two of the more seasoned members of this newly formed, yet musically and industry astute band – Junior Giscombe and Leee John.

The Dood: Your first official single release from your forth-coming debut album as The British Collective is the fabulous two-step groove ‘Romantic’, which has been receiving major- league positive feedback from all quarters, radio, social media and audiences both home and abroad. You must be so happy about that?

Junior Giscombe: It’s great! It’s good to see that people are enjoying the record.

Leee John: It’s growing! It’s been growing; I’m getting lovely texts and e-mails. There’s a movement going on, because there is something lacking that’s not here now. I think what The British Collective has shown is that this is something that is meant to come; it’s meant to happen, the timing is right. And its natural is not being forced on you, were not reality stars.

The Dood: It’s organic.

Leee John: It’s organic, it has to be organic. With regards to the kids, because of all the reality TV programmes, they have been conditioned to that. It’s instant success; they don’t know about how we had to graft and build to become what we are. Our structure is not built on TV show…Our structure is built on solidness, it’s built on stone. Each man has got to be able to hold their own.

Junior Giscombe: That’s right; you’ve got to be able to hold your own. It’s like I want to bring somebody along, because I’ve got to do a remix for someone. I want to use a girl, so I decided to use a girl called Pam. People in Bristol are going crazy about her mix. She’s a new girl who wants to be a producer, who wants to mix records. Now, we can bring somebody like that long, because it’s the The British Collective, she can get nuff clout. So you’re bringing in someone new who you can influence and in turn she’s also giving you input from where she’s coming from. And if you can do that, that she can then do the same thing somebody else. What I’m saying is, now, as children, my fifteen year-old shouldn’t be talking about American artist; that means we still have a long way to go.

It’s the originators that we all need to understand were there and are there. But we keep getting is a watered-down version of everything original in our culture, to the point whereby we’ve assimilated beyond recognition. And that’s why I’m on a personal mission, because we don’t fully grasp the importance of our own strength as a unit together.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

The Dood: You all look to be having so much fun in the video, where and when was it recorded?

Junior Giscombe: Crystal Palace. It was a logistical challenge getting everybody together at the same time. But again it just shows everybody’s commitment to the project, making themselves available, changing things around to make sure that they can do The British Collective appointments. That’s beyond words for me.

The Dood: I’ve also heard snippets from two of the tracks on the album, namely ‘Piece of Heaven’ and She Ain’t Had None (Dr Love) which production-wise, lyrically and vocally sound ‘The Boom’. It must be a pure joy coming together as one mastermind team to produce this album?

Junior Giscombe: It’s good. Listen when we hear one another’s things, it inspires the others to do more themselves, or you want to harmonise with it, or you can hear another harmony. The whole project has been a very inspiring project; just the way it developed to where we’re at now! How far we’ve come with this; it’s been like a year and a bit in the making. Working from ‘Spiritual’ up to finishing this project, would most probably be about two years. It’s been the best two years that I’ve spent in a long time making a record – Just understanding its importance.

We can all be individuals and say that we’ve all tried to make a change… But this is a ‘Collective,’ and being a ‘Collective’ doesn’t mean that I need to write this contract that says I get half a percent, you get half a percent, you get this, and you get this. A true ‘Collective’ understands that everybody is working for everybody, regardless. So if you’re getting a penny, I’m getting a penny; if you get two, I get two; if you get three I get three. There’s nothing at all in this project from the producing, the writing, to how it’s all put together; there’s nothing here in this collection that deals with egos.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

That’s the key to this! We’ve had somebody come in, and after they’ve come in they’ve made quite clear, “Boy, Junior, you know what, blah, blah, blah!” But everybody understands, Junior, don’t rock like that, so Junior’s like, “Don wipe it! Bin it! Wipe it!” From the time you start to believe that you’re bigger than this project, then we wipe it. I’m not interested, I don’t care how great that piece was, there’s another man who will kill that piece – wipe it! It’s about the mindset of the individuals you’re working with. The British Collective is a vehicle for everyone; we welcome all comers, The British Collective s a vehicle for them.

The Dood: What is the aim of The British Collective? Is it to bring the feel good music vibe of the eighties and early nineties to a new generation or as a vehicle for conscious message music?

Junior Giscombe: I would say it’s a mixture, because the message will always be there. I think what will happen eventually The British Collective is that lyrically, it will become a lot deeper, because we are capable of writing what we need to say. At this present moment right now we just need you to recognise, and once you recognise then we can start educating.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Leee John: Remember music is an escape, and on a daily basis when you come home from work and you want to chill, there’s always that sort of music that you want to escape to. We’ve got to bring you into that realm. It’s those kinds of areas that I think need to be recognised as well.

The Dood: Do you believe that being part of the golden age of British Soul music gave you a platform to be independent and think outside the box?

Leee John: We’ve always been like this; for instance with Imagination we wrote all our own songs.

Junior Giscombe: Imagination has always been thinking outside the box; my music has always been outside of the box. If my music wasn’t outside the box then Bone, Thugs ‘n’ Harmony wouldn’t touch it; Mariah Carey wouldn’t touch it; Heavy D wouldn’t touch it. I could go on and on. So the music has been influential all the way down the line. There’s various artist I’ve written for – You turnaround and you write for the Lighthouse family, you turnaround and you write for Sheena Easton, you turnaround and you write for Imagination, you turnaround and you write Ruby Turner.

What I’m saying is you can write for all of these people and get across something that you want to get across, but when you’re doing it as an artist on behalf of a whole, now you can speak – To be able to have that in this combo, knowing the mindset of the individuals within it, and what they are truly thinking and feeling. To be able to take this project to another project for me would be amazing, because lyrically it would not be anything like what you heard on the first. It would not be this slow, it would not be romantic, and it would not be the sweeter part of what we all are. I think by that time we would have gotten to where we feel the edge of who we are coming through.

Leee John: I think when you have a movement like this, and it’s a brand, you have to let it grow and let it grow, and let it get to that level. We’re talking about quite heavy topics, but we still have to get it out to the legions of people out there.

The Dood: A strong sense of camaraderie comes across in your videos and live performance thus far, is the atmosphere is relaxed and easy-going in the studio, but is it the case that you have ‘Serious Fun’ when recording?

Junior Giscombe: We always have fun! It’s like anything, when you’re in the studio with people and you’re working, after a while you can get frustrated with yourself, they get frustrated themselves, as the normality of working in the studio. The reality is we got the job done and it was fun getting the job done! We had a good laugh! (Both Laugh)

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Leee John: People have said to me, what about the egos? We don’t come from the mindset… We all eat plantain and chicken and rice!! (Laughs)

The Dood: Recently high-profile US singer edified the 80s UK Soul scene/artists as being a major influence on catalyst to him, and many of his peers and I believe the name checked Junior during the interview. Do you think that the mainstream UK music media and even many of the fans don’t realise the magnitude and influence of black British music around the world?

Junior Giscombe: Totally! I can’t add more to it! They don’t accept it.

Leee John: That’s one of the reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing. What I always say as well, we’re too busy getting on doing it to even bother with that. When you’re too busy doing it and enjoying it, who’s in that mindset of being bothered about what the mainstream media say? If we get invited someplace then we get invited someplace, but we’re not running after that kind of thing, were too old for that now.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

The Dood: Do you have any views on the X factor/The voice in such programs as a vehicle for creating pop stars given the fact that you all traversed from bars to festivals to nightclubs clubs honing your craft on the live circuit?
Junior Giscombe: When I was a kid they had ‘Opportunity Knocks,’ and ‘New Faces’. At that time it was a TV programme, now it is an industry!

The Dood: Rolling on from that, given your combined years in the ‘music business’, what advice would you give young aspiring creative artists starting out in the music industry nowadays?

Leee John: The thing is with a new artist today it’s very different, very different, but you have to be true to yourself as an individual, and keep educating yourself. I think the questions and the answers that should be uppermost at the start of one’s career should be about learning the history. The history of where we came from, where we originate from. Going back in time and learning where music and the structure start from! Learn the music, whether it’s an instrument, whether it’s a vocal, learn the whole thing about it – don’t fast-track it! Be a turtle not a rabbit; carry that house on your back, but gradually get to it, slowly but surely. And that’s when you’ll know and believe, and you’ll have that belief in yourself. I always say, “If you believe in yourself others will believe in you!”

The Dood: Is there a name for the new album and what is the release date?

Junior Giscombe: Just ‘The British Collective Volume 1’. Hopefully we’ll be looking to release around March, April 2015.

The Dood: What are your goals for 2015 regarding touring? Are you looking to take the message across Europe and further afield?

Junior Giscombe: That’s what we’re after, we’re not doing it just to highlight Britain, we’re doing it because there’s a movement across the world for this music, and because we know that the music’s been overshadowed. And because we know that with the style of music we’re doing, it may seem familiar to you because it’s us, but if you really check it, there ain’t a band out there that sounds like us! There ain’t nothing out there that sounds like The British Collective! That within itself is unique!

The Dood: A final message please to the UK vibe readership and also The British Collective fans around the globe?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Junior Giscombe: Keep supporting and keep the faith!

Leee John: Keep the faith and check out the website.

The Dood: Thank you so much for your time guys. As a music fan first, it is an honour and a pleasure to be sitting here putting questions to you on behalf of the many thousands of ‘Real Music’ fans who have grown up listening to your music and those still being introduced to your music via mediums such as YouTube, Social Media and internet/FM radio. I’m so humbled to be alive to witness the next exciting chapter in your legacies. Big up The British Collective!

Michael J Edwards

You can find part one of our interview here

Essential Website: Essential Website: http://www.thebritishcollective.com/

Essential single: Romantic

Essential Album: The British Collective Vol. 1 (March 2015)

A Big Mike and ukvibe thank you to Diane at RM2 Music for arranging the link up.

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