For the second instalment of our newly inaugurated FOCUS Nottingham feature, we sit down with Jaque and Myles from Kaleidø to discuss the band dynamic, future hopes and the power of unity.
The pure essence of instrumental marksmanship, comradeship, brotherhood and the plethora of descriptive terms comprehending the connection that British bands have possessed have been deeply embedded into the quilted fabric of British rock music for the better part of half a century. Oasis would have this essence bound by blood, The Libertines would document their vehement scuffles for years, yet when the dust settled they reached for what seemed most natural: each other.
The charade of the darkened troubadour, all sweeping shadow and baritone husk, is an appealing image for many musicians, but after years on the open road, the journey gets that little bit longer and the glory tastes a little less sweeter without having anyone to share it with. It’s a familiar story for a host of both legendary artists and new talent, none more so than for Jaque Seviour, a confident spark of energy embedded within Nottingham’s vibrant acoustic scene. ‘I do a lot of solo acoustic gigs, and it’s so, not lonely…but boring, waiting to go and you’re sat in the corner with a beer,’ he says frankly. ‘I love it when I’m playing but the waiting to go up is tedious. When you’re in a band with your mates you can just get the point across a lot better with the songs. My sound with Kaleidø sounds a hundred times better. They take the songs that I wrote on an acoustic guitar and made them sound fucking awesome,’ Seviour nods, a faint smile forming on his lips.
The Secret Garden in Nottingham is just one of many treasure troves the city has to offer, with its relaxing patio-styled layout and rickety ledges to recuperate on. Draped in lights, fabric tassels and ornaments, the bar offers an idyllic environment for hipster crowds to gather and recline at, and acts as a chic location to dissect Kaleidø, with the help of its two songwriters, bassist Myles Graham and Seviour himself. As the charismatic frontman of the Nottingham four-piece, Jaque Seviour speaks with an air of enthusiasm as he sits down to discuss the story of the band. ‘I used to play at [now defunct bar] Filthy’s and I met Niall our guitarist and then through him I met Myles,’ he recalls. ‘Davide shortly joined afterwards…he was on cajon…we’d never heard him play drums until we took him to [rehearsal space] The Octave Rooms. From October 2017 onwards we just went on from there.’
Group dynamics have an important role for most rock outfits and maintaining a balance of personalities can be a difficult challenge, but one that Kaleidø seem to naturally have under control. Whilst Seviour emits an aura of confidence that you’d expect from a leading frontman, his songwriting partner emits a gentler persona. Originally from Baseford but now based in Salford to study popular music and recording at university, Myles Graham is very much a musician’s musician, a passionate expression forming on his brow at the precise moment a band he admires is mentioned. Luckily for Kaleidø, he’s also an inscrutable workaholic, forever on the move, always striving to dig-up new creative avenues from a deep well of inspiration. ‘Myles can amazingly just bring a song to the table, and we can go into a rehearsal room in Nottingham or Manchester and within a couple of hours we’ll sort of have the ground basis for a song,’ beams Seviour.
'The way I see [Xenophobia], it’s us in that embryonic stage because it’s nice to be quite harsh and raw and honest with what we can do' Myles Graham
The primary seed of Graham’s creativity blossomed in full form for the first time earlier this year with the release of Kaleidø’s debut single Xenophobia, a track that the bassist relays had been floating around for a while. ‘I wrote it just because I was learning guitar having just finished college. It’s gone through different guises and different versions and then when I met Jaque it had the correct voice on it, I finally had a decent bass to play it on and then when we got it recorded, everything gelled together. It didn’t feel regimented or forced.’
As the dusk settles and dust clears within Xenophobia’s slaughtering opening ten seconds, a hysteria-filled anticipation reaches boiling point as the chainsaw-rugged guitars swipe incisive-incisions into its listener, and Nottingham’s rock landscape opened to accept another name into the community of sharp, guitar-wielding monoliths. It is rock in its primal infancy, bereft of flashy production and stripped to its carnal roots with its ever-evolving drum pattern and a gleam of mischief shining through Seviour’s vocals. A roughened first offering that arguably might lack poise and precision in its production, Xenophobia’s compounded ferocity and tongue-wagging riff carries a plenitude of potential, ruffling the feathers of the East Midlands rock scene in the process.
Written as a homage to the indie rock bands of the last decade, Graham says ‘it shaked around all the angry, offensive riffs that I heard from back in 2013,’ with the singer adding in ‘the first time I heard that song was at Niall's house…I was hit by that riff and knew we needed to do something with it.’ Yet for all its bludgeoning impact, Graham believes the single is but only a stepping stone from which to leap off, the baby that first got the machine rolling and the parts clicking into place. ‘The way I see [Xenophobia], it’s us in that embryonic stage because it’s nice to be quite harsh and raw and honest with what we can do, but then the next single we released [It’s Not You It’s Me] showed the progression that we’ve made,’ explains the bassist. ‘It shows different depths to what we can do, highlighting a maturity as well, especially in the production.’
Formed from the spirit of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Magnet, running parallel with its syncopation and guitar embellishments, It’s Not You It’s Me is a more cohesive offering from the four-piece; compact and concise, highlighting that even in their infancy Kaleidø are a band capable of producing tracks of anthemic quality. The grinding, off-beat syncopation that characterises the track’s guitar arrangement gives further freedom of rhythm to each of its sequential parts, enriched by the boisterous songwriting combination of Seviour and Graham.
‘As an artist, I’ve got hundreds of songs but only three or four will see the light of day. You’re just so critical of what you do.’ Jaque Seviour
There’s a certain amour propre in the way Graham unravels the inner-workings of the single, an amiable impetus forging on the furrow of his brow. ‘In the production, we wanted it to be closer to something you’d want to hear in a bigger venue, the sound is bigger and a bit closer to that radio sound we were looking for,’ he affirms. ‘I wanted it to have more of a groove to it, bit more of a dancier feel to it as opposed to just a straight up mosh pit, drop-kick your grandma sort of thing!’
Whilst the safety of all grandmothers might suddenly be an immediate concern, the impulsion behind that statement is comprehensible. There lies a shape-shifting quality within the Kaleidø dynamic, a frenzied productivity that skitters sporadically, a characteristic that rests ubiquitously within Graham, yet manifests occasionally within Seviour as well throughout the evening, none more so than when expressing his hopes for the band’s genre-defying sound. ‘From day one, we’ve always been about not being defined by a genre,’ he says, not for the first time in the evening.
'Unity is the way forward as IDLES would say!' Jaque Seviour
Delving into the band’s future music plans, it’s surprising to see Seviour’s statement ring true. One current work in progression, titled Hangman, taps into the same relentless vein as IDLES, complete with throat-testing growls. ‘I think we’re trying to essentially portray multiple personality disorder within a band!’ laughs Graham, with Seviour explaining ‘we just want to get as many people interested as possible, so if you’ve got a little bit of everything for everyone then that’s sick…we don’t want to be predicable,’ he says, before lightening the mood with an off the cuff ‘Maybe we’ll do a bit of K-Pop as well, why not!’
In an age of digital streaming and shortening attention spans, it’s a savvy move from the songwriting duo to want to broaden their sound base, but their ambitions expand further than just music. ‘I really want to create more than just a band, but a brand now,’ proclaims Graham. ‘Even the merchandise we’re doing, we want to make it stylish in a way that it doesn’t just seem like it’s supporting a band, but can also be a fashion statement in a way.’
Despite having a range of music and a brand to focus on in the distant future, the duo came from humble beginnings in Nottingham, Seviour growing up on an era-spanning collection of artists, ranging from The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eminem, Tame Impala, and most importantly Oasis: ‘Noel Gallagher was the guy that made me pick up a guitar. He made me realise that if a guy from a council estate can do it, then someone similar can do it as well.’ Seviour held onto Gallagher’s songs with dear life, because there was such dear life within them, whilst Graham, on the other hand, took a more bohemian approach to music as a youngster. ‘I grew up on The Spice Girls and Boyzone and shit like that,’ he chuckles. Having later been introduced by a friend to classic rock bands like Chicago, Toto, Yes and Boston which got him into heavier music, the help of 'television shows like The Inbetweeners with the indie stuff that you could hear,’ offered further solace and inspiration.
‘I think we’re trying to essentially portray multiple personality disorder within a band!’ Myles Graham
Whilst Graham’s initiative is sprawled across Kaleidø’s two vibrant singles, the band relay the message that collaboration is key. ‘We all write collectively in the band,’ Seviour adds. ‘I find that quite important as no one has the weight of the world on their shoulders.’ The gregarious frontman is tasked with the challenge of transmitting his visions into the four-piece dynamic, steadying the ship’s course for an important next six months. One planned release, Submarine, described as a Britpop revivalist single, has been bouncing around for over four years now, documenting the journey of the frontman after a ‘nasty breakup’ which spirals down a path of over-indulgence before coming out of the other side on a better path.
Seviour explicates the metamorphosis of the band’s sound further. ‘Xenophobia is punchy, laddish rock and after Submarine we want to mellow it down with Silent Worriers which is like a mental health anthem. It’s a more personal track to me, just how I feel about my head and all that.’ Does he feel nervy speaking about that topic? ‘Urm I’m always like that…that’s me,’ he says cagily. ‘Writing that song meant a lot to me, and then hearing the band play it is something. When it’s played live…it just sounds so good,’ buzzes the singer, who highlights the body of work he has amassed from his days as a solo raconteur. ‘As an artist, I’ve got hundreds of songs but only three or four will see the light of day. You’re just so critical of what you do.’ Will those songs ever be revisited? ‘Yeah, some of them I do. I’ve recently had a spark come back into the writing process because the band is doing something and I feel I need to bring something to the table, so I’ve gone back to the lyric book.’
Seviour and Graham both exude charisma and vitality, offering gracious company whilst traversing topics including IDLES (‘there’s not been a band like that since The Smiths that can write songs that are a fuck you to modern culture’), Morrissey (‘I always feel ashamed when I play a Smiths song’) and saxophones (‘I always thought the sound of a saxophone was really pervy! Until I heard Johnny’s [local singer-songwriter Johnny Olley] set and he made it really classy’).
The mention of another Nottingham artist sparks conversation of the city’s vivacious music scene, a scene the band hope to hone in on and support. ‘Everyone sticks together, everyone supports one another,’ Seviour expresses, his face crinkling into an all-over grin. ‘That’s the way it is. Unity is the way forward as IDLES would say! There’s no point putting bands down unless they’re dickheads…but there’s so many great bands that need support and if you’re a band that can help another band, do it.’
The esprit de corps that permeates the band’s collective mind is rarely seen in such a concentrated dose, flowing freely through the veins of the band’s two main songwriters. Unity is key, and Kaleidø’s connection has the ability to suppress the hurdles that may come their way. The essence of the band lives on. The indisputable bond, the quintessential tie separating four sprawled-out men on a stage from the hoard of outsiders gathered, half-drunk and semi-conscious yet equally passionate to bask in the sense of occasion and the power of unity. In the words of one of Britain’s most treasured twenty-first century frontmen Liam Fray, ‘God bless the band, they’re doing all they can.’