Where are you from?
Originally from the North East of England although I spent last year in Saudi Arabia and now live in Bahrain in the Middle East.
Name of band:
The Belly of Paris (I'm also the singer in UK art-rock band By Toutatis, who are on hiatus while I'm here).
Who else is in your band?
The Belly of Paris has managed to get musicians from all over the world. There are currently six of us: myself, guitarist Robert Prest (UK), organist and vocalist Yasmin Sharabi (US/Bahrain), drummer Sumit Sharma from India, Argentine bassist Carlos Villarroel and Szabolcs Nigo, a trumpeter and bassoon player from Hungary. Bahrain's a very small island so the musicians huddle together. It was easy to meet people.
How would you describe yourselves and your music?
Originally it wasn't a million miles away from the baroque art-rock stuff I was doing in the UK, but working with people from around the world changes the way things sound. We're recording our debut album at the moment and it's still got a smoky barfly element but is a bit more rhythmic and unusual.
Who are your main influences musically?
I come at it from a folky background, I started over here doing that kind of thing. Saltburn-by-the-Sea is where the old band were based so there's a maritime/folklore edge to it, but also PJ Harvey, Shilpa Ray (we play similar instruments so it has a bit of that in there), Tindersticks...etc. Plus the rest of the guys bring their own influences. Sumit was in a post-punk band, Szabi is more classical. It's an interesting mix.
What do you hope to achieve in music?
We love to play, opportunities in the Middle East are limited so we aim to branch out to the UK and India from time to time. At the moment it's Bahrain, Dubai. The debut album is written and recording is under way; I'd like to see where it takes us.
What has been the highlight of your career so far, and why?
We're just beginning but we had one of our songs featured on a BBC radio documentary recently. Before this band I had music featured in the Sound it Out documentary and at mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art). I've been lucky enough to play shows with a lot of my favourite artists: RM Hubbert, Eliza Carthy, Richard Dawson, The Lake Poets, but the topper was playing on the same stage as Public Enemy at a festival last summer.
And what’s the moment you want to forget?
Leaving the UK just as the By Toutatis debut album came out was a sterling piece of timing. We couldn't promote it properly and I felt really bad for the rest of the band. We managed to turn a profit for the label - a really cool independent called Tiny Lights, but it could've done a lot more I suppose. I wasn't really thinking clearly at the time.
If you had to pick just one of your songs to represent your music, what would it be and why?
We've only released a couple as we're currently recording The Belly of Paris debut album. That's due in summer. That said There Was No Snake is a good early summation of what we do.
Where can we listen to it?
It's at soundcloud.com/bellyofparis
Where can we find out more about your music?
Our Facebook is facebook.com/bellyofparis / twitter is @thebellyofparis and Instagram is @bellyofparis