TRCH Dracula

Alfa Mist Talks Antiphon and Touring Following The Bodega Gig in Notts

23 April 18 interview: Ashwin Balu

On Wednesday 18 April, Alfa Mist touched down in Nottingham at The Bodega so we grabbed a couple of words from him...

How are the live shows going?
Nottingham was the first date of of the UK tour. I’ve been doing some shows around Europe on and off since last November and it’s been really good, but with the UK shows I like to make a run out of it so for April it’s Nottingham, then Bristol tomorrow, then York and Manchester.

I had two gigs in Italy over the weekend which was amazing. People out there knowing my stuff feels so surreal. When I’m in London I feel like, because I live there, more people would know my stuff, but people in Rome or Perugia humming along to melodies is just crazy to me. The Nottingham show was really good though! It was packed out and the venue had a good vibe.

How has Antiphon done since you released it?
When I put it out in March last year, I had no idea what it would do and I wasn’t really bothered, but it’s been ridiculous and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I just wanted to put out something I wanted to do and I didn’t care who liked it but it just took off. It’s done really well online. It’s had a lot of hits on Spotify and there’s a YouTube video with over 4million plays.

It’s mad though because Antiphon has been more in rotation with seventies jazz records and albums by Madlib online recently. Because I’m from London, people mention me among acts like Moses Boyd and Yussef Kamaal, but when I dig online for music, I’ve started to see this release among more old-school astral jazz records and that’s when it started to do really well. A lot of the London jazz scene make really expressive music like me. I know Yussef well, we play together and we have a project coming out together but I do think my stuff is in a slightly different vein to other London jazz acts.

It’s interesting to think how online algorithms are shaping your fan base…
Absolutely, back in the sixties and seventies it was the media who did that. It’s crazy to me but now algorithms are becoming tastemakers, almost. You can’t control them really, there’s no one out there stringing suggested albums together like “this one, then this one”. I like that there are different platforms where people can listen to my album so it doesn’t get stuck in one pigeonhole.

It’s a double-edged sword, but the internet in general has made things more accessible for people that wouldn’t have listened to it. Antiphon has been mentioned around hip hop albums and live music, so it makes people who listen to beat tapes listen to live music and think “What’s this?” I’ve had my brother say “This is a good beat, what beat’s this?” and I’d just be playing him jazz stuff, so it’s great that this album has helped introduce people to the genre who otherwise wouldn’t listen to it.

The crowd tonight looked very young. Would you say that there was a jazz renaissance in the UK at the moment?
In the UK, definitely. There are so many good bands who are doing their thing at the moment. What I think is that the increased acknowledgement of it has brought it into the limelight more. When you see people up and down the UK forming bands and creating stuff on their own, there’s more of a story to it. You need that so people on a higher level can see it.

You don’t need to all be in a collective, but if people see that a group of people in a certain area are doing something, they’ll pay attention. I think it’s important to have that because it creates a snowball effect. Then, if you do your research, you can see that this person plays in that band and so on and that’s how new music gets discovered. It can only be a good thing, you know?

Everything always seems to be about London, but it’s not just London. You go out to places and you kind of forget it’s up, down, everywhere, there really is a renaissance. The music is really good right now.

Alfa Mist played The Bodega on Wednesday 18 April 2018

The Bodega website

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