Standing at the back of a Camden pub, I’m eagerly anticipating the final act to grace the small stage. In fact I’ve even crossed the river and taken along a couple of friends to Milly’s World, a regular live-music night, to see if The Stow really are as good as all the evidence seems to suggest. Gus starts playing the drums, Shi’s voice comes out all powerful, Haydn starts rapping, my friend turns to me and says, ‘They’re really good!” and I know the tube-ride was worth it.
The Stow are a London-based, five-piece, indie/hip-hop band with a difference. Firstly, they’re all talented musicians in their own right and they’re smart too – all members have some form of musical or business further education and they seem to gel well together as friends as well as a musical ensemble – no sugababes-style feuds here.
Singer Shi and bassist Dave both describe the group as being as close as a family, and frontman Haydn likes the fact that as a group they bounce off each others energy on stage and have each other to vibe with. He says, “ There are lots of rappers with bands, and when I first started the band I wanted us to be similar to The Roots. Gradually, everyone’s different style seeped into the sound and its only natural because the energy and feeling you get when working live is so different with instruments than with a backing track. For example, guitar shredding, I defy anyone to not want to put that sound into a song after they’ve heard it. As an artist, the more you listen to and appreciate different sounds, the more you want to incorporate them into your own music and make something fresh.”
Shi describes the bands sound as “A mash-up of all the music that we all like. We’re Pop. We’re indie. We have elements of soul and hip-hop, and also a rock edge, we don’t claim any genre.” “People might call what we do indie, I just call it music ” Haydn adds. The bands unique presence earned them the accolade Best Live Act 2010 from the Emerging Talent Awards in conjunction with the Camden Crawl, and also helped them to win a competition to support VV Brown on tour. They even played at Glastonbury 2010 and are currently gigging up and down the country as well as working on their new record, The Covers EP, due out at the end of May. The concept of the record is that they perform a cover of a popular song for just over a minute, but every cover acts as an intro and leads into one of their original tracks. You can check out my favourite cover of theirs here.
The other thing about the band, whose name is a shortening of ‘Walthamstow’ – the London area Haydn is from- is that they’re not try-hard or gimmicky, its clear that they’re all part of the group because they genuinely love music, and enjoy making it together. “We don’t want to be different for different sake, or some kind of false icon like Lady GaGa. We like music and we’re unashamedly pop” says Haydn, who is ridiculously quotable, “ we want to make pop songs but without selling our souls. The lyrics wont be so throwaway. We want to make an impact on pop culture because of the quality of our work, not anything else.”
It would seem, they’re well on their way to achieving that aim, especially considering the amount of success they’ve had just off their own backs. Their sheer tenacity is something to be admired, and as Haydn bluntly puts it, “you have to believe in yourself, your product and what your doing 100% because if you don’t who else is?” “You cant be afraid to challenge yourself” Shi chips in, “The only thing standing in the way of what you want is yourself. You need determination and drive. You have to think really hard about how much you want it and put your heart into it or it’s never gonna happen for you.”
Most importantly, “when it comes to chasing the dream, you have to enjoy the chase, and I’ve only recently started to do that” says Haydn, “ It took a long time to get here but right now, we’re happy doing us, if you wanna come along for the ride cool, but remember this is only the beginning, there’s lots more to come.”
Please leave comments below about our amazing week with The Stow. We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.
For gig information check out thestowonline.co.uk
Photo courtesy of www.Mariskeva.com