An upcoming gig at a Swindon art gallery could be the type of thing that will make you uncomfortable, make you have an out of body experience, or make you feel like you’ve witnessed a car crash. It could also be the kind of event that Swindon needs right now.
Swindon’s music scene is undoubtedly on the rise, but it still hasn’t quite returned to the point of bringing in bands who were at the time vastly growing in popularity – in its hay day came along Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco, Boston Manor and The Wombats. But there has also been musicians and bands in their prime passing through such as XTC (who are from Swindon) Kings of Leon, Kasabian, The Kooks, Frank Turner, Pete Doherty, The Pigeon Detectives and Gaz Brookfield.
In time I believe the town will musically be back to this high point again, but whilst we wait for the tide to turn there’s one band – with a bassist who won’t quit – that’s not passively sitting around and killing the time.
“A strange yet wonderful combination of funk and soul meets disco pop, whilst taking punk rock by the balls and hammering it home” is how I last described SexJazz – a three-piece band from Swindon who are a force to be reckoned with. My point very much still stands, but one thing that is constantly changing is the way in which they push the barriers (if they do in fact have barriers at all!) of putting on gigs and challenging themselves musically.
This Saturday (July 20) a 12-hour “extravaganza” of music, art and ‘different’ entertainment is hitting one of Swindon’s longest running art institutes, Artsite. On the tin it sounds potentially average, but I’ve quickly learnt there is nothing average about SexJazz, – or what to expect from them – especially when they entitle the event ‘The Exceedingly Sensible Saturday’.
“Essentially, it’s a 12-hour long music event showcasing SexJazz, both as a band and as an adjective.,” says SexJaxx bassist, and tape label owner, Charlie Miles.
“More and more, I feel like the only rational response to the utterly mad world we’re currently living in is insanity and I think that informs what we do as a band quite a lot. I expect this event will likely be about as far as you can get most people’s definition of ‘sensible’ but, really, that’s the most sensible thing you can hope for sometimes.
“Originally, we had the stupid idea of trying to play a 12-hour long gig, but figured that would be probably less interesting for punters so we asked along a bunch of our favourite bands and best mates, all of whom we think really embody and understand the SexJazz ethos.”
Ethos is right. As well as being a gig, it’s a community event in a venue which promotes collaboration, experimentation and supporting artists within any medium. Charlie says it’s one of the reasons – as an artist, musician and loosely titled ‘promoter’ – that he keeps coming back to Artsite.
He says, “It’s a cool place! And the people who run it are really cool. They all genuinely want to see real art being made in a DIY fashion in Swindon, so we have that in common.
“There’s a long history of sound-art and experimental music in galleries and theatres that means it just makes sense as a place for me to do my thing. I usually want to put on music that is a bit left field, challenging or outside of the mainstream – the type of stuff that you can’t see just anywhere.
“Artsite have been so so supportive of my events in the best way possible – they’ve given me a venue and a platform and pretty much said ‘do what you like’.
“It’s really liberating as an artist and a ‘promoter’ to have the freedom to put on whatever we want and not have to worry about whether if the landlord thinks the music sucks, or if the regulars will hate it. It feels a lot more like putting on an exhibition or instillation than a gig night sometimes.”
So far the line-up consists of some of Swindon’s best known misfits including Grasslands, Spunking Octochoke, Robert Ridley-Shackleton, Fuzzy, Disco, Fort Boyard , Tempus Transmuto and Zero Gravity Tea Ceremony – a band of odd, yet incredibly perceptive brothers if you like. Despite the comradery to enhance Swindon’s creative scene, Charlie is open that the event is “likely to be a car crash” but he doesn’t have a seemingly negative tone – it sounds more like an experiment with no right or wrong outcome.
Charlie adds, “You’ll get to see some of the more, shall we say interesting, bands from Swindon – the ones who tend to split audiences or confuse people a little bit but will, if you give them a chance, show you something special.
“If you’re weird enough to be a fan of SexJazz, you’ll probably love all the other acts, and you’ll also get to hear some stuff from us that you haven’t heard before and maybe see us a little further out of our comfort zone.”
The Exceedingly Sensible Saturday takes place at Artsite, Swindon, Saturday July 20. Tickets are £4 in advance, and £5 on the door.
For further information visit www.facebook.com/events/195203214730320/
For tickets visit www.new.ents24.com/swindon-events/the-post-modern/sexjazz