INTERVIEW: Meet “doom jazz” band Aku! – Harry Weir talks about the DIY scene in Scotland, musical influences and their debut album ‘Blind Fury’ – it’s fantastic and pushes musical boundaries

 

Glaswegian outfit, AKU! drop their debut album Blind Fury – it draws on influences from bands such as Melt Yourself Down, Young Fathers and Kuti, along with influences from noise, punk and jazz – and it’s out on Worm Discs. Click here to read more about the label and Bristol jazz promoters Worm Disco Club.

AKU! are rapidly carving a niche for themselves as one of the UK’s most undefinable groups – sometimes described as “doom jazz”.

In 2019 they were nominated for “Best Band” at the Scottish Jazz Awards as well as gaining support from Rebecca Vasmant on her Worldwide FM show. They have also performed at Edinburgh Jazz Festival and shared stages with rapidly establishing UK-jazz acts such as Melt Yourself Down, Seed Ensemble and Maisha. In 2020, Harry Weir, the group’s bandleader, has been nominated for the “Rising Star Award” at the Scottish Jazz Awards.

WTM spoke to Harry.

WTM – What’s been happening in the jazz scene there? We hear loads about London, who are the incubators of the culture there?

“The scene has really come alive recently. It’s been really nice to see so many artists and bands starting up, especially given that when my colleagues and I were starting out there were little to no young jazz acts to speak of in Scotland.

“I love that everyone is doing something different up here, be it the jazzers, the DIY rock guys, the hip-hop heads and the folkies. We all tend to work with each other on various projects now, broadening our palettes along the way. This was always going to result in something special.

“I think this younger generation really kicked off when a bunch of talented graduates from Strathclyde Uni’s BA Applied Music course put together large ensemble Fat-Suit. As the first successful band of our generation, playing Love Supreme and BBC Jazz Nights at the Quay among other things, they really paved the way for what is happening now in my opinion.

“Around the same time, a lot of other killer musicians were graduating from the jazz course at RCS. Outside of those of us who studied in England that course has produced some of the leading lights on the scene right now.”

Harry on saxophone

Which other bands and artists should we look out for?

“Bands to watch right now are corto.alto, Graham Costello’s STRATA, Animal Society, Mezcla, Kubitaru, CROOQ, Popko Blink, Amara. There are definitely more I can’t remember off the top of my head but these guys are some of my personal faves.

What’s coming up for you and the scene, how have you been adapting lately?

“I think everyone’s just trying to prepare as much as possible for going back to normality, whenever that will be. Outside of writing music and rehearsing when the restrictions allow, a lot of folk have been live streaming, making acapella style split-screen videos and the odd single here or there.

“Personally, I have been focusing on the AKU! album of late. Having sat on it for a year or so it’s a relief to be releasing it and to have the backing of the guys at Worm Disco Club is even better. Releasing it on a label just feels like we’re really going somewhere.

”Aside from AKU! I have a brass ensemble that I am sorting a heap of music for. This is a recent project so I’m keen to get recording a bunch of stuff and get it out in 2021, which is really exciting. So watch out for Blue Boar Brass in 2021. I also can’t wait to see what Graham and Liam are going to do next with STRATA and corto, it’s really special to be making music with them and I can’t wait to get back on it!”

For more – Check out the Worm Discs artists and their Bandcamp.

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