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Mamilah at The Wardrobe (Leeds) - Interview

Ben was lucky enough to catch Leeds 7-piece funk and soul band Mamilah on Saturday night as they played at one of the 20-year anniversary events for The Wardrobe, supporting the esteemed selector Craig Charles in the packed-out venue.

Playing new unreleased songs as well as ones from their Moonlight Walking EP released back in August 2018, Mamilah started the night off with some soothing soul which featured Dan Coulthurst on trumpet with a brilliantly adept solo. 'Mosaic Beauty' allowed Lydia Kotsirea to illustrate the range her vocals can reach as her whole performance throughout was outstanding, providing power with her voice but also able to sing with tenderness when needed. The group introduced a gorgeous breakdown halfway through the set which seemed to signal their move to get the crowd to bop around even more. Matt Hill on the drums played some inventive grooves and fills before they launched into 'Moonlight Walking', a glorious feel-good song that everyone enjoyed. 'Luciferous' has a wonderful hook that induced the crowd to move their hips to even more as the whole band seemed to really relish playing.

Mamilah played a tremendously rousing set which fuelled the funk and soul juices of the audience, and Ben was able to grab a few minutes with them afterwards to hear about their busy summer and plans for the future.

Does the band have any pre-gig rituals, or anyone particularly hyping up everyone before a gig?

Freddie - "We used to do a shot every time we gigged, me and Poppy our trumpet player we had before. We were always quite poor when we were at uni, so sometimes we would go to different venues to go and buy the shot, like when we were gigging at Belgrave, we'd leave, walk for 5 minutes to find the cheapest shop and then do it, and then rush back to get on stage. Yeh it's a shame she's gone, but we're trying to bring it back. I think one of us has to be on time though."

Aisling - "We've been a lot better since."

Freddie - "Sometimes Ed has got us to do press-ups before a gig."

Aisling - "Or his mouse thing. You go down and get in a little huddle, and everyone puts their hands in and then we go 'MMMMMOOOOOOUUUUUUSSSSSEEEEE'. We also did a little cheesy one today where it was all hands in and on three, 'Mamilah!'."

You played at Boomtown, El Dorado, Tramlines and Virgo festivals in the summer - how did they go and has it given you a good taste for doing more?

Aisling - "Absolutely, next summer we want to smash it. I think just the festival atmosphere, everyone chilled out and the sunshine makes it, apart from at Boomtown where it was gale force winds."

How was it playing at those ones compared to playing at Salèmango in Leeds - do you prefer playing here or playing out of Leeds?

Freddie - "It's always nice to bring it to a new crowd when we go out of Leeds, we've played a lot here so it's nice to reach new people. However, Salèmango is quite the opposite of that because it's everyone back together again, everyone there is mainly a musician and it's nice to play again with your friends. Salèmango's great."

Aisling - "It's nice because even though you know all the bands, everyone's still getting so hyped by each other and you come on stage and there's just hugs everywhere. It's like a massive family affair. I think they plan on doing a field festival for it next year in 2020."

What do you find you love and hate about being a bigger group?

Freddie - "Organisation."

Aisling - "I hate trying to get everyone in one place at one time. Fitting in two cars, oh god, we can just about do it."

Freddie - "It's the least comfortable thing."

Aisling - "It's the opposite of luxury."

Freddie - "We went down to Exeter earlier in the summer for Virgo Festival, and then coming back on a bank holiday Monday with all the traffic, it was horrible."

Aisling - "I was very glad to be the driver because at least you get legroom."

Freddie - "When we were going down to Boomtown, there was a moment where we thought we weren't going to fit. "

Are you releasing new tunes soon?

Aisling - "We haven't started recording yet but we plan to release some songs soon."

Matt - "Recording is half the battle."

Freddie - "We have been recording demos though, we're just basically trying to record as much as we can as demos, and then try and fine-tune it and find what works, it's always good to just record even if we don't need to release it."

Are you going to be involved in the next Tight Lines compilation?

Aisling - "We're going to be on it! We haven't figured out which track we will do yet but they're doing recordings in November I think, which is exciting!"

Lastly, what are your guilty pleasures to listen to, or are there any you'd like to play live as a band?

Aisling - "I love to listen to Matt's other bands tunes, they're called VALA. But we also like Sly and The Family Stone's 'If You Want Me To Stay', that's a banging song. Our percussionist Dan Large, who has gone to India now sadly, he always wanted to play Stevie Wonder's 'Master Blaster' every gig."


Mamilah: Lydia Kotsirea (Vocals), Aisling Doherty (Keys), Freddie Ricketts (Bass), Ed Allen (Guitar), Matthew Alan Hill (Drums), Hannah Mae Birtwell (Saxophone), and Dan Coulthurst (Trumpet).

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