A Chat With Local Musician Stacey McMullen
Stacey McMullen has been causing waves in the Nottingham music scene over the past couple of years, breaking traditional genre conventions with an eclectic and powerful mix of flamenco, folk and blues. We caught up with him his ahead of his EP release and gig at Nottingham Contemporary this weekend to discuss his work and the Nottingham music scene.
Good afternoon Stacey! Glad you could join us. Tell us a bit about your release this week…
Good afternoon Visit Nottinghamshire! Thanks for having me. This week I am releasing my debut EP which is called ‘I Wait’. The song is released on Wire & Wool Records, the sister label of I’m Not From London who are a rather prolific record label based in Nottingham. They hold some great gigs and events that are always worth checking out, and their director Will Robinson is locally known as one of the most friendly chaps you’ll ever meet!
What can we expect from the gig on Saturday?
So I’ll be playing at Nottingham Contemporary this Saturday 10th June at 8.30pm, with support from Benjamin Ziec and Girl & The Stone. Benjamin is an electronic producer who also goes by the name of Trekkah, and is mostly known for being part of a well-known band called The Afterdark Movement, but he’s having a go at more folky music currently. The Girl & The Stone is comprised of Will Jeffery who provides some smoky, folk vocals accompanied by lovely harmonies from Kymbles Bignell-Biscuit.
Your style is quite hard to pin down to one genre, how does this come about…
I’ve always messed around with all sorts of music, from my first ever gig dressed as Shirley Bassey singing Hey Big Spender at secondary school to electronic, dancehall, to irish folk, blues and everything in between. A few years ago I picked up the classical guitar and learnt a more flamenco finger style technique, so now I play a classical guitar but give it a bit of a contemporary sound influenced by anything from samba to blues to more folky stuff. It’s evolved from there really – to me music is all about mood and different genres reflect that so it’s always in the back of my head when writing.
You’re a Nottingham lad but you’ve only been back in the city for a few years, what did you do before you became a musician?
I’m quite a late comer to really performing music. I used to play the banjo in Irish session bands and a few ceilidhs, so I’ve always messed around with songs and instruments but as more of an entertainer than an ‘artiste’. I went to study politics at university of Glasgow, and was very lucky to be accepted there, where I lived for five years. Sadly my mum got very ill and passed away so that’s when I ended up coming back to Nottingham.
So what made you stick around in Nottingham?
I wanted to be around for my dad and thought I should make the best of it. I’d never got involved in the culture in Nottingham – that can be a curse of your home town – so I was rediscovering my own city when I came back. I went to a few open mics throughout the city and gradually got immersed in this interesting, vibrant musical underworld of gigs and events that I didn’t know existed here. It was really encouraging, and now here I am.
Where are your favourite venues in Nottingham to see live music?
I think nowhere is immune from being a good or bad venue – a venue is always made by the people in the audience and there’s some great little venues in Nottingham that really attract music lovers. The Maze on Mansfield Road is one – the manager Gaz really knows the local music scene and you’ll always catch some good local music or smaller bands touring there.
Of course there is Nottingham Contemporary, which is where I’m playing on Saturday. In there you have The Space, which is huge and can be a bit other worldly with video projections etc, and then you also have the CafeBar which is a more relaxed and informal space. The technical setup and sound at Contemporary is always great, they have a really varied, high quality programme of music and events and you can tell that they genuinely care about what they’re putting on. Whether it’s throughout the week and or on their regular Saturday night events, you know you’re going to watch an actual performance and there’s going to be something special about it.
Finally, what musicians in Nottingham should we be looking out for…
I like anything that really grabs you by the throat. I’m really into a band called 94 Gunships, who are a gravelly, desert blues type band also on Wire & Wool records – there’s no one else like them around at the moment. Also look out for Unknown Era, they’re a multi instrumental ska, soul, reggae fusion band who really know how to get a party going. They have their birthday gig coming up at The Maze later this month actually for their birthday, so that’ll be a fun one to check out.
Stacey McMullen releases his debut EP ‘I Wait’ on Friday 9th June on Wire & Wool Records and will be playing at Nottingham Contemporary on Saturday 10th June, 8.30pm, with support from The Girl & The Stone and Benjamin Ziec.