• Take it away presents… Café Spice

    Last November, I was lucky enough to see Café Spice perform in East London and it was magical ✨. This band is made up of a wonderful trio of musicians from three corners of our small isles; Scotland, Ireland and Northern England.
    Now based in Manchester, Georgia, Eleanor and Niamh each bring their individual styles spanning from jazz to country, traditional folk to funk, resulting in a new sound woven from singing, harmony and clever songwriting. Recently joined by their drummer Sophie, they’re well on their way to shaping the ‘ultimate girl band of their childhood dreams’!
    “Sewn out of vocal harmonies so closely knit that the listener could curl-up under them like a blanket.”- Earthly Pleasures sums up their music perfectly. Hopefully their effortlessly subline harmonies will keep you grounded through the lockdown.
    Here’s Café Spice and all things nice!

    Interviewed by Sophie Ogunyemi 

    Let’s start from the top! Can you recall the moment you decided to pick up an instrument?
    • G: We had a piano in my house for as long as I can remember! I remember bashing about on it trying to play tunes – I think the first tune I learnt was Frère Jacques.
    • N: Luckily, I also grew up with a piano in our living room. I was inspired by the music of none other than Kylie Minogue and decided to have a go at playing the melody to “Can’t Get You Out of my Head” on our piano.
    • E: I don’t remember making the decision of learning the violin, but all I can say is: I’m sorry Mum and Dad, but thank you for your patience and support!

    Who was most influential in your musical education?
    • G: When I was very young, we would drive from Edinburgh to South Devon and all the way we’d play The Seekers –  a kind of turtle-neck wearing folk/pop harmony group from the 60s. I still love singing along to their songs today! After that, it was Elton John, Nancii Griffith, Travis and Dido.
    • N: I started violin lessons at the age of 10 with the most wonderful violin teacher, Niamh Crowley. She inspired me hugely and her style of teaching meant I had lots of fun playing violin growing up, both in our lessons and playing in the orchestra she directed. I also had a brilliant choir director, Emma Purcell who led the choir I joined as a teenager; that choir helped me gain a lot of confidence as a singer.
    • E: There were quite a few people in my late teens that really made an impact on me. One of them was my school’s jazz band leader and an incredible trumpeter, Paul Norman. There are a lot of things that he taught me that still ring in my ears today. Another was actually one of my dance teachers, Emily Campbell. Her choreography and methods introduced me to new ways of understanding music through movement.

    Café Spice sitting on a sofa writing together

    When did you write your first song/piece?
    • G: I distinctly remember being 8 years old at my grandparents house in the summer. I wrote a song that I can still vaguely remember, about someone saying goodbye. I think I’ve written the lyrics down somewhere… My Dad helped me. I got home from the holidays and sang it to my friend and she told me it was basically the Titanic theme song. I swear to this day that I hadn’t seen Titanic when I wrote it.
    • N: I wrote my first song aged 11 years old in the car with my Dad driving through the Peak District to visit my grandmother. It starts with the inspired line “Boring classes, boring teachers”, thank God my songwriting has improved since then! Having said that, my Dad still thinks it is a cracking song, (liar).
    • E: I distinctly remember writing a play when I was 8 with the intention for me and my friends to perform it. The moral of the story was conveyed through the feature song: ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’. Unfortunately, the play was never performed, but the song remains very much alive in my memory… I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes hum it to myself.

    Being in lock down has thrown into light what gives meaning and substance to my life; music is definitely one of those things. – Georgia

    I’m sure it has, but in what way do you think music has impacted your life? 
    • G: It sounds cheesy but music makes up a big part of my life. I’ve met some of my best friends and had some of my best times through music. Being in lock down has thrown into light what gives meaning and substance to my life; music is definitely one of those things.
    • N: Music has massively impacted my life, it’s my hobby, my job and the industry in which I’ve met the majority of my friends. Making music, especially singing, has brought me so much happiness and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say that I love going to work.
    • E: Music has 100% impacted my life. I probably had no chance of avoiding music since I was hearing my Mum sing on stage even in the womb! And though I’m not exactly following in her footsteps by being an opera singer, music is undoubtedly a major part of my life in that I perform, teach, listen, escape and relax to music.
    A white, feminine adult with medium length, brown hair in an arm chair playing the ukulele
    What piece of advice would you offer to aspiring musicians? 
    • G: Don’t wait around to be swept up by some serious music industry person in sunglasses desperate to give you a record deal, it probably won’t happen. Figure out which bit of music is your jam. Is it performing? Solo or in a band? Maybe you’re an instrumentalist? Maybe your playground should be totally online? If you can find what avenue you’re great at, add some brilliant ideas and creativity into the equation as well as some hard work and at least you’ll have a good time whilst climbing the ladder. If you want to make your income from music, bear in mind you have to be ready to wear your business hat quite a lot of the time.
    • N: My advice would be to work hard and play live as much as you can to build your confidence. Collaborations with other musicians are great fun and can inspire new ideas for your own music.

    Notice, experience, feel, play, write, collaborate, practise, perform, record, upload, share. In no particular order. Eleanor

    Tell me about your favourite instrument – it’s often said to be an extension of you/ an extra limb… 
    • G: Mine is my fiddle. It’s a beautiful mahogany thing. My Grandpa played the fiddle and he had a small collection. One day he let me choose my favourite one and gave it to me! For that reason, it is very special and I would be devastated if anything should happen to it.
    • N: My favourite instrument is the piano in my parents’ house, it makes a beautiful sound. I spent many a late night writing songs on that piano as a teenager. Playing that piano is always the first thing I do when I fly home to Ireland and it’s one of the places where I feel most relaxed.
    • E: Probably the guitar. We had to teach ourselves some chords in Year 7 music class and I got completely swept up in learning how to play. Everyday after school I’d teach myself more and more chords by learning Beatles songs, whom I became equally as obsessed with! I was like a little 11 year old mod.
    A white, feminine adult in a music shop with a wall full of violins
    Do you think you have to study music to get into it?
    • G: If by study you mean A-levels and a degree then I think no, not at all. I did music at school but then did a Physics degree at uni. However, I would say that listening to a range of styles and genres opens up a world of inspiration. I like to listen to other artists and take the good bits that I like and mash them into my own, totally different creation.
    • N: Definitely not, music is all around us and there are so many success stories of well-known musicians who taught themselves. There are a lot of online resources including fantastic YouTube tutorials and luckily there are a wide range of music programmes that allow people to experiment with software & create music from their bedrooms. It is, of course, a privilege to be able to study music at university but in my opinion, it is often the experiences outside the lecture theatre that make you a better musician.
    • E: I think all you need to do to get into music is to listen. And explore. And create. I’m a big believer in instinct and while it can be great to understand what it is that you’re doing, why it makes sense etc., if you feel that something is right, then just play it.
    What effect do you want your music to have on your listeners?
    • G: I want it to bring them joy and relaxation and occasionally a bit of dancing around the bedroom.
    • N: I often get obsessed with a song and play it incessantly for days on end, it would be amazing if someone felt the same way about a song we had written!
    • E: I’d hope that our listeners are able to relate to our lyrics, and that our harmonies can make them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    For the musicians whose lives have been turned upside down, don’t lose sight of the vital role that the arts play in society, especially during a global crisis like this. Eleanor

    We’re always looking for recommendations! What’s your favourite track at the moment?
    And if you could do a collab with any artist, who would it be?
    • G: Ugh, AURORA (at the moment) for sure. Or whoever produced her latest album (if it wasn’t her). It’s a masterpiece.
    • N: Definitely Jacob Collier, I’m a bit obsessed with him at the moment. I watch his NPR Tiny Desk performance at least once a week and feel a little bit more inspired each time. His music is so joyful and creative, I think he’d be incredibly fun to collaborate with.
    • E: Christine and the Queens. I just want to sing and dance with her 🕺
    A band of 3 white, feminine adults performing on stage each with a guitar
    We can’t go without avoiding the elephant in the room – what tips can you share for supporting musicians like yourselves through the COVID-19 pandemic? 
    • G: Use this time to write and produce! It’s a gift! It’s a strange place, it’s as if time has frozen. We’ll all come out the other side of it very ready to go to gigs and live performances, make sure you’re there ready and waiting with a bunch of brilliant songs up your sleeve.
    • N: This is an incredibly difficult time for musicians, our income and future performance plans have been completely wiped and many are facing real financial hardship. My advice would be to try as best you can to use this time to create new music, finish that song you’ve been trying to finish for the last six months, work on your instrumental skills and do lots of listening to new music. That being said, the stress and worry that this crisis is bound to cause for musicians is undoubtedly going to affect the mental health of a lot of people. If you don’t have the mental energy to create, that’s ok. Many musicians are sharing their high productivity levels on social media which can be a huge pressure, everyone is doing their best and no one is expecting you to come out the other end of this crisis with a whole new album written!
    • E: For the musicians whose lives have been turned upside down, don’t lose sight of the vital role that the arts play in society, especially during a global crisis like this. Italy singing from its balconies, the explosion of streamed gigs on social media… and don’t forget that when this is all over, people will be craving shared social experiences. There’ll be an influx of visitors to art galleries, theatres, bars and restaurants. All these cultural places that we’ve been deprived of. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it certainly helps to remember that during this struggle. Also, while it’s important to stay in the loop, try to limit your time spent checking the news and social media. Maybe keep it to once a day?
    A white, feminine adult playing the guitar in a light spacious room with trees outside
    What would be your advice for young people just getting into music?
    • G: Instrument lessons are great but can be expensive and I think there are more fun ways to be introduced to music. You can start right at home! Sing songs with others, do some clapping games to work out rhythm and make instruments out of things you can find in your kitchen. Local groups like choirs, salsa bands etc. can be a good intro. Try as many styles/instruments as possible! You’ll know when you’ve found one you truly love, then it’s time to save up for some lessons.
    • N: If you have an interest in music, my best piece of advice is to get singing with a group like a choir. There are lots of different choirs out there and group singing is so much fun and a fantastic way to learn about music. Listening to as much music as possible around the house or on the go will help you find your favourite styles of music.
    • E: I love Georgia’s idea of making instruments. Singing along and playing songs with other people is a great start. My Dad used to quiz me on what music was playing in the car. I was probably better at recognising different artists back then than I am now!

    Playing that piano is always the first thing I do when I fly home to Ireland and it’s one of the places where I feel most relaxed. – Niamh

    Do you think a scheme like Take it Away is beneficial to young people interested in learning an instrument?
    • G: For sure! Music should not just be for those who can afford it. Learning to play an instrument can teach you a lot of lessons other than your do re mi. When I was growing up in Scotland, there were a lot of opportunities for free music lessons with instruments provided. I had free violin lessons for 10 years!
    • N: Absolutely, it really saddens me that many children don’t have access to musical instruments or instrumental lessons. I think the Take It Away scheme is wonderful and does great work to give each child an opportunity to realise their musical potential and enjoy the beauty of playing music.
    What’s next for Café Spice? What’s coming up in the next few months that we should watch out for?
    • G: We’re on track to release our 4th single; we’re in the midst of preparing for launch!
    • N: It’s our first release with our drummer Sophie and I can’t wait for our listeners to hear it!
    • E: I hope you love it as much as we do!
    Listen now on YouTube, Spotify or SoundCloud:  

    Keep an eye out for new music & gigs by following Café Spice on:
    You’re in for a treat!
    Three white, feminine adults running under railway bridge

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Seasonal Sounds | Spring ’20 Edition

    Seasonal Sounds | International Women’s Day 


    Finally, the days are getting longer (it might be freezing still, but at least it’s light)! We’re dedicating the Spring Edition of Seasonal Sounds to International Women’s Day, so here are five fabulous, female musicians hand-picked from across the UK. 
    Listen to them, watch their music videos, get to know them, and SHARE. Did you know that for one song play on Spotify, the artist only receives £0.0026…?
    If you’re enjoying the music you listen to on streaming platforms, we really encourage you to support musicians by being an active fan. Buy tickets to their shows, purchase records/CDs/digital releases, buy merch, and spread the word about them with your friends – whether that’s by word of mouth or on social media!

    By Sophie Ogunyemi & Renée Jackson 

    1 | ARLO PARKS

    We first saw Arlo perform when she was supporting Jordan Rakei on his Origin Tour, and wow, did she smash it!! Her debut song ‘Cola’ “fizzes with original confessional lyrics mixed with a smooth funky groove and a dash of jazz for good measure.” We were hooked from then on out!

    Catch her on her UK tour this month.


    Saxophonist, singer, producer, and writer; Laura is a woman of many talents. We last saw her perform whilst she was supporting Alfa Mist’s last tour in 2019, and she filled the stage with dazzling energy. The video below is part three of a film trilogy called ‘Lonely City’, which encompasses improvised live performances, including instrumentation recorded on a rooftop!

    3 | JUBA

    Juba is a British-Nigerian DJ and radio host, as well as co-founder of London’s Boko! Boko! collective. 2019 created quite a buzz for Juba, and her Boiler Room debut was a perfect blend of afrobeats, Gqom, kuduro, afro house and highlife music. Now based in Berlin, Juba is going to be gracing London’s Jazz Cafe this Friday, 6th March, so do what you can to be there and get dancing!! 

    The video below is a documentary about obstacles faced by female DJs in Nigeria and beyond, and their defiant navigation around these issues. Featuring Sensei Lo, Dj Yin and DJ Ayizan. Check out her music on SoundCloud


    Isata is an incredibly talented pianist and, at only 23, has already had a No. 1 album in the UK classical charts – oh, and it just happens to be her debut album! She’s still studying as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music, but is currently on tour – check out her 2020 tour dates around the UK and get ready for those goosebump moments!  

    She makes it look so effortless… 

    5 | EGO ELLA MAY

    Ego (pronounced ‘eh-go’) is a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist from London with the richest, soulful, calming voice that you can just sink into. Check out our interview with Ego where we chatted about music inspiration, manoeuvring the music industry as a woman, and the importance of investing in a decent instrument.

    Her beautiful video for ‘Girls don’t always sing about boys’ below. We can’t wait for her upcoming album ‘Honey for Wounds’ and to catch her performing live in May – get your tickets here

    Can’t get enough of these five artists? Neither can we!

    Listen to our Seasonal Sounds | Spring ’20 Edition playlist on Spotify now.

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitaway 
  • Take it away presents… DAP The Contract

    DAP The Contract is one of those frustratingly talented people; he raps, produces, sings, has his ABRSM diploma piano, and on top of that is studying law… yeah, we know.

    Born in Lagos, Nigeria, DAP has lived in London, just finished a short stint in Amsterdam, and is now based in New York. You can hear influences from all over in his music.

    His most recent accolades include opening for Skepta and Burna Boy at the first annual Nativeland Festival, and has since been asked to perform again, as well as featuring on the song “Be Nice” in the recent Disney soundtrack for film Noelle. And on top of that, he recently featured in our Winter Edition of Seasonal Sounds!

    Interviewed by Sophie Ogunyemi 

    Can you remember the moment you first decided to pick up an instrument?

    I don’t remember it specifically, but my mum is a pianist (my sister and brother play too) so it must have been just one day that she showed me properly. I do remember starting other new instruments though, like the flute and viola, which were less popular but meant I could play in orchestras and have a better chance of getting a music scholarship to a school in the UK!

    Who was the most influential in your musical education?

    My piano teachers! They were hands down my favourite teachers throughout school.

    All of them understood that kids need extra curricular activities and a change of pace from super academic work, as well as how hard it is to balance music and other school work. I found that music wasn’t emphasised or prioritised within school, really.

    My piano teachers were also the people who I could tell about things going on in my life. They have a different level of understanding and seemed to care more about me than my academic teachers. Those pianos classes were my chance to unwind a bit; to come out of my shell and be more myself. 

    Maybe they had this different level of understanding because music is emotional, so to learn and perform it you need to be emotionally aware.

    That’s one of the main values of the arts: it makes you think differently which I think helps you mature/grow up quicker.

    Which artists have since influenced you and your music?

    I had a big pivot in highschool from Classical music to an overwhelming amount of Hip-Hop music. But my favourite artist ever is Kanye West because of his versatility and also, I guess, because of having similar influences growing up with things like church every Sunday. I love gospel choirs, harmonies, organs etc. and sampling old school music that I knew growing up. 

    Apart from Kanye, there’s a whole host of other rappers that have influenced me, but then I never stopped loving Rachmaninoff and Schubert, Mozart, Copland etc. Something about the emotions in classical music speaks to me in the same way that hip-hop and rap music does.

    So, do you think having an understanding of classical music has improved your understanding or appreciation of other music?

    Absolutely. Having the understanding of the classical background gives me the ability to break down any genre and put it back together however I want, which makes genre bending more fun and interesting!

    A black, masculine adult with short, black hair and wearing a suit is leaning against a table.
    Do you think you have to study music to get in to it?

    Definitely not. Music is a universal language. It speaks differently to different people. 

    I would say studying it is definitely helpful though! It’s an important life lesson to understand something without jumping into it head first. I think studying music gives you a deeper understanding and freedom to interpret it how you like. Practising, mastering and doing research, in the way you do when learning music, is such a valuable life lesson. 

    Learning an instrument taught me about not giving up. I saw lots of my friends give up their instruments because there just wasn’t any emphasis on it compared to sports and school work, and it wasn’t “cool” (especially classical music).

    How do you think music has impacted your life? 

    I can’t imagine life without music! I listen to and make music more hours in the day than anything else. My morning alarm is a song, I listen to music in the shower, keep listening when I leave the house and throughout the day! Music has been the biggest influence in my life. It’s such a passion and I’ve always known that this is what I want to do, I have just had to work out how to do it on my own terms and make a living from it.

    Let’s talk about your music. When did you write your first piece?

    No one has ever asked me this! It was 2008 – I know this because all my beats are numbered with the number, date, keyboard name (I name my keyboards) and software. I’m a nerd!  So my first beat was called: 1st 02/06/09 Harrow (LOGIC)(MMH)

    A black adult is playing the piano
    How has your music evolved over the past few years into the sound you’re making now?

    I let go a little bit. I realised that I didn’t need to keep all of my music complex and get into the nitty gritty. Sometimes music can be too niche, so I sort of came out of making music that was strictly hip-hop or house or afrobeat and tried to create based on energy. I’m focusing now on how the song feels rather than how technically elaborate this song is. It’s getting a better understanding of people. I ask myself, what can I do to make someone connect with this so they can hear what I’m saying?

    That leads to my next question – what do you want your listeners to get out of your music?

    If I have to boil it down:

    1. To get to know me – music has always been therapeutic to me and a way of expressing thoughts and ideas.
    2. To learn about themselves – that means we all learn about each other.

    That’s the communal aspect of music. Relating to each other is so important. It’s to inform people too, and encourage conversation to make people think for themselves.

    What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in the music industry so far?

    Great question. I’d say trust. I’ve turned down a lot of opportunities because of things feeling like a trick. The commercialisation of the music industry hasn’t helped it’s reputation, so I’ve found it hard to trust with dodgy contract clauses; there’s a lack of transparency that, without any help and experience, it’s very difficult to navigate. 

    How are you working around it?

    Maybe I have to let go a bit and take a leap of faith. I guess you learn through failing! But also I can negotiate more and be more firm on my terms.

    An close up of a black, masculine adult with short, black hair and beard and is wearing a suit.
    Collaboration with any artist – who would it be?

    Santi – I love his intentionality and his visuals are amazing!

    What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

    The freedom to create and do things on my own terms.

    Favourite track right now?

    Summer Walker – Fun Girl

    Reason: my favourite song of all time is Prototype by André 3000/OutKast, because I think it’s the most simple perfect love song and I think Fun Girl has that same beautiful simplicity. You also hear a motorcycle drive by as she was doing a little run, which is so by chance but timed so perfectly. It could have been taken out, but it’s still there!

    What’s your advice for young musicians?
    1. Don’t stop – this is the most important thing. I hear so many people say ‘I wish I hadn’t stop playing my instrument’.
    2. Work hard and work smart. Find different ways to do things and get yourself out there.
    Do you think Take it away is beneficial to young people?

    Absolutely. The emphasis on music education and giving more people access to it is so important. You never know who’s going to take to music and whose life it is going to change. Opportunity is key.

    What’s next for you and your music?

    2020 is going to be very different for me. I’ll be graduating from law school and becoming a full time lawyer. My goal for the next 6 months is to do both work and music. I’ve actually just put out some new music which I’ll be performing in the US in the Spring. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I do know I’m not going to quit music! 


    Watch DAP’s “GoodBye For Never 5yr” Live Album Documentary now:


    Listen now on SoundCloud or Spotify:

    Keep an eye out for his upcoming gigs by following DAP on:
    You’re in for a treat!

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Seasonal Sounds | Winter Edition

    The temperature has dropped and people keep talking about 2020, so we thought it was about time we presented you with the 2019 Winter Edition of Seasonal Sounds! This quarter’s handpicked musicians range from DJs to an indie-folk trio. Some you may already know, others you may not, but we’re sure their music will keep you going over the winter months, especially when you need a break from the endless loop of Christmas music!

    By Renée Jackson & Sophie Ogunyemi

    1 | KOKOROKO

    Every time we see Kokoroko perform, we leave on a high. Whether playing an intimate show or one of their headliners, the jazz-influenced Afrobeat Collective never fail to bring the good vibes accompanied by soulful sounds and vibrant voyages. Their self-titled EP plays the beautiful underlying sounds of West African roots and draws from personal experiences. Outside the collective, the majority of the group embark on numerous individual musical adventures. They are definitely a MUST-SEE!

    Follow them on Bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram and Twitter

    P.S. Click here for a peak of them performing live

    2 | DAP The Contract

    DAP is one of those frustratingly talented people; he raps, produces, sings, has his ABRSM piano Diploma, and on top of that he is studying law… yeah, we know. Born in Lagos Nigeria, DAP has lived in London and is now based in New York so has had a wealth of inspiration. You can clearly hear influences from hip-hop and R&B to jazz and classical in his music. He recently opened for Skepta and Burna Boy at the first annual Nativeland Festival. DAP has just released some new music so get listening quick! CT III is now out on Spotify.

    Follow him on Spotify, SoundCloud, Instagram and Twitter.

    3 | DJ Tash LC

    Whenever you hear that Tash LC on a line-up, be prepared to DANCE! We’re not talking about a two-step, we’re talking serious moves. The 24-year-old is behind Club Yeke, a label and club night, and also one of the three faces of Boko! Boko!. When she’s not bringing the fire on Worldwide FM or BBC 1Xtra, you can catch her throwing down future sounds from all over in a Boiler Room set. The urge to dance will definitely keep you warm this winter.

    Follow her on Spotify, Instagram and Twitter.


    There are quite a few phenomenal videos surfing the web of this young guitar prodigy. You may recognise him from trio Yussef Kamaal but now on a solo journey, Brown is most certainly a force to be reckoned with. He has lit up the music scene with his undeniable talent, and since releasing an amazing first solo project ‘Shiroi‘ last year and his effortless, sold out performance at Corsica Studios in October, there is no doubt as to why he is one of our ones to watch for 2020.

    Follow him on Bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram and Twitter

    5 | CAFÉ SPICE

    Café Spice is a trio who create heavenly warming winter harmonies reminiscent of Mamas & Papas, whilst also sitting with the effortlessly sublime indie-folk of contemporaries such as HAIM or The Staves. The trio come from different corners: England, Ireland and Scotland, but are now based in Manchester together. 2019 has been a good year for the trio. Fresh off the back of their first two singles, they’ve been travelling up and down the country in Niamh’s tiny car, playing gigs in a myriad of venues and places. Be sure to follow them and catch them at their next gig!

    Here’s a Christmassy winter warmer: Café Spice – Silent Night (Unplugged) you’re welcome ❄

    Follow them on Spotify, SoundCloud, Instagram and Twitter.

    Can’t get enough of these five artists? Neither can we!


    Listen to our Seasonal Sounds | Winter 19 Edition playlist on Spotify now.


    Tell us what you think: @Takeitaway 
  • Take it away presents… cktrl

    Clarinetist, saxophonist as well as a producer and DJ. It’s fair to say Bradley a.k.a cktrl is a man of many talents. 
    cktrl might be known best for his producing and DJ’ing, but what you might not know is that his musical education started aged eight in Saturday sessions at Lewisham Music Service, complete with theory class, concert band and instrumental lessons. Since then, cktrl’s music has evolved into – well we’re not quite sure, but we love it with its influences of grime, R&B, reggae, garage and more!
    We talked to Bradley about his journey as cktrl and the importance of having music in young people’s education. 


    Interviewed by Sophie Ogunyemi & Renée Jackson 

    What was your first introduction to playing a musical instrument?

    I was in year 4. I remember I’d just got my first hi-fi and had two CDs which were by Bob Marley and Michael Jackson – two really different albums. From listening to them I knew that I wanted to make some kind of sound in some way. 

    Then a music teacher came and showed us some instruments at school and I had the opportunity to start playing. We were shown the flute and oboe (which I thought was really cool at the time because it reminded me of snake charmers) but the clarinet was the sound that I liked the best. The oboe sounded really duck-y to me haha. But yeah, the teacher made the clarinet sound cool and it looked cool when he did it so I was sold really!

    The teacher was young and just out of uni, and he was the one who told me about the Saturday music school in Lewisham as he also taught there. The whole team at the music centre were so dedicated and involved which made it easy to get stuck in. They obviously really cared. We got involved with other things, like recording music for a radio station advert and playing in different countries in old peoples homes which was great – they always gave us cake!

    Who inspired you along your musical journey?

    No one in particular really. My dad had a big record collection but the reason I kept playing after the music service closed down was for me. Working full time was stressful, so playing for myself was like a therapy. I find playing really personal, so even performing feels like a lot. Music is a type of self – expression; some people get that release from crying in the bath, but I cry/let it out whilst I’m playing. Even now playing in public, I feel quite exposed. It’s very personal. 

    How did you move and evolve into your current style of music-making?

    When I was about 16, all the changes happened at the music service and you had to start paying monthly, so everyone pretty much left, including the teachers. After that – well I was making beats from year 7, so as I continued I started playing over the top of what I was creating. I guess it evolved from there.

    How did you move from your previous job to being a full-time musician?

    I’ve only been a full-time musician for a year and a half. I basically had the opportunity to leave my old job as they were restructuring, which made it easy for me to leave. I used to have to use my annual leave and work flexi hours to fit in performances and just make it work! 

    What effect do you want your music to have on your listeners?

    To feel something. Whatever that emotion is.

    What has been the hardest thing to overcome in the music industry so far? 

    I suppose the hardest thing to overcome is yourself, actually. It’s nothing to do with other people – there’s always going to be trends, fads, things happening or whatever, but you just need to know what you’re saying and believe in it. I think with the industry, social media and all the pressures of life you can lose sight and it’s easy to be discouraged or despondent. You just need to need to know what you’re doing and do it.

    A black, masculine adult playing the clarinet behind the scenes
    What do you enjoy most about being a professional musician?

    I guess it’s freedom. I’ve got my own time to put things together and do my own thing. I don’t think I’ve had that properly since I was 18 – so yeah, it’s good. My biggest fear is having to go back to a ‘normal’ job.

    What impact has music had in your life?

    Like I said, it’s always been more of a therapy and an escape for me. I’ve set up my room so I only really need to leave for food! My daily routine always has time in it to either practise my instruments, practise DJ’ing or making beats.

    Do you think Take it away is beneficial to young people wanting to learn an instrument?

    Yes, I do think it’s beneficial for young people because access is important. I was incredibly fortunate that I got to learn and play for free through the music service. Take it away is great because it’s making it easier for all young people to play.

    Make a scene around what you’re doing. Create your cult. Find your tribe and build it. 

    Community music was obviously a huge part of your musical development. What would you say to the government to try and prevent more cuts to musical education?

    Growing up, you don’t know your options so you’re not sure what careers are actually careers and what could actually make money.

    There’s so many jobs out there music-related, like making music for adverts or soundscapes. It’s not just being a pop star, but you don’t know that without exposure to these options which comes from learning about music from a young age.

    If you minimise what’s accessible to the younger generations, you’re doing a massive disservice as you’re not allowing them to work out their own potential and what they can do. It effects their quality of life too. 

    We’ll also lose a whole generation of diverse people in the music industry, which is such an important part of our culture. 

    What is your favourite track at the moment?

    Trending by Squash

    If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

    Beyoncé 👑

    A bald. black, masculine adult that is wearing a blue jacket and blue trousers is holding a clarient.
    Do you think you need to study music to be successful in it?

    Nope!  I did all my grades and I studied music at college but that put me off to be honest, but I’m sure it also depends on what teachers you have. Sometimes the set of rules you’re taught in a traditional setting can be restricting.

    I got into the Royal Academy/Trinity and Goldsmiths, but I decided that path wasn’t for me…

    Finally, what piece of advice would you give to young people starting out in music?

    Hone in on your sound and know what you want to say; first impressions are really important. You want to keep you trajectory going up so you need to keep building on that.

    Try and do things in a community, so work with friends when you can and support each other, whether that’s by being on a track or helping out with a show.

    Make a scene around what you’re doing. Create your cult. Find your tribe and build it. 

    Listen now on SoundCloud or Spotify:

    Keep an eye out for his upcoming gigs by following cktrl on:
    You’re in for a treat!

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Take it away presents… Ego Ella May

    This month, we were super excited to interview Ego Ella May a.k.a our London Soul Queen!
    Singer, guitarist and song-writer, Ego, had a rich picking of music inspiration growing up, which has translated into her effortlessly rich, neo-soul/jazz compositions and voice. 
    We sat down in the sun to chat music inspiration, manoeuvring the music industry as a woman and the importance of investing in a decent instrument. 
    Her long awaited album ‘So Far’ dropped on Wednesday and it’s lived up to all our expectations!

    Interviewed by Renée Jackson & Sophie Ogunyemi

    A black, feminine person singing in front of a microphone with a group of people accompanying them.
    So, can you recall the moment you decided to pick up an instrument? 

    YES! I was 18, which was pretty late, but I started doing more gigs and I had to rely on other musicians to be available. If they weren’t available, I’d have to turn down the gig because I wasn’t going to sing acapella or do a PA set. So, I think I did it out of sheer frustration as I didn’t want to be so dependent on other people or be missing out on opportunities and money. 

    I then started to think about what would be the most accessible instrument to carry around. I first thought of learning the ukulele because it was smaller and easier to carry around, but then decided on guitar as it’s more adaptable.

    What drew you to learning the guitar particularly?

    Lauryn Hill’s ‘Unplugged’ album was probably the thing that sold it to me, because I realised I could just sit here and play songs and they don’t have to be perfect. I started to listen to other singer-songwriters who also played guitar like Lianne La Havas and Corinne Bailey Rae, and really thought, maybe I can do this.

    My biggest thing is honesty in my music. I’d like people to be inspired by that.

    Were there any other artists that inspired you to start making music? 

    Stevie Wonder. I grew up on a lot of jazz music – Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina SimoneIn school it was Destiny’s Child, Brandy, Mary J Blige and 90s RnB. I’ve gone through a lot of different phases, I had an Indie phase where I was into The Kooks but to start it was definitely Stevie Wonder and a lot of old school Jazz that inspired me the most.

    Such a great selection! When did you write your first song?

    My earliest memory was when I was in year 5/6 and I wrote a love song to this guy I had a crush on. I could have written it as a little note, but instead I wrote a song and gave him the lyrics, haha! So then I figured, maybe I have a thing here. It was kind of in the style of Madonna’s ‘Crazy for you’. I might still have the lyrics somewhere…

    What affect do you want your music to have on your listeners?

    I’d say my biggest thing is honesty in my music. I’d like people to be inspired by that.

    A part of me wants to let people know that you can be a musician without actually being a ‘yes girl’, and liking all the other stuff that comes with it. You can be introverted and you can still be just about making music. All the other stuff should be secondary – ignore people saying that the visuals are important too. You shouldn’t have to been seen to ‘look like this’ and ‘wearing that’, or go to every single networking opportunity. I like to talk about this in the music and lyrics I write.

    A black, feminine adult with short, black hair and wearing a black and white stripy top is playing a black electric guitar.
    What’s been the hardest thing to overcome in your experience in the music industry? 

    Everything that isn’t singing, to be honest. I only like singing and a lot of the time it makes me question whether I should be a musician because so much of it is not to do with the actual music. There are so many other things that I am not as experienced in that I have to prioritise over my actual music.

    What some people don’t realise is that a lot of people don’t take you seriously if you try to book yourself, especially as a woman.

    How have you worked around that? 

    I’ve kept singing and been able to vent. I keep people around me that are really encouraging in the sense that they tell me that I can do it, so why not. It is a gift to be able to sing and make music and share yourself in a vulnerable way with everybody. So I think if I think about it in that way and don’t focus so much on all the other stuff, then I’m okay. There are other people who can take care of that stuff like a manager, booking agent and promoter, who I’m lucky to have help with these things.

    When did it get to the point that you got help from a manager, booking agent or someone else?

    I recently got a manager this year but I’ve had a booking agent for quite a while. They’ve helped me book my gigs etc. What some people don’t realise is that a lot of people don’t take you seriously if you try to book yourself, especially as a woman. Having that representation makes you look more serious and legit. It’s something I’ve had to factor in even though it’s annoying and shouldn’t necessarily be that way.

    Music is really healing. Music is a form of expression and it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the beauty of it.

    Do you think a scheme like the Take it away is beneficial to young people interested in learning an instrument? Would you use it?

    I 100% would have used Take it away if I knew about it then. I think I would have started playing before I was 18 had I known there was a cost effective way of getting a new and decent instrument. Music equipment is expensive, but once you have it, you save a lot of time. It’s an investment.

    The reality is that not everyone can go to a music shop on Denmark Street and buy a good guitar, and will instead take the other option of buying a cheap beginners guitar of, say, Argos, but that’s not going to help you. The thing about those cheap guitars is that you’ll then be playing and think you’re bad and maybe give up as you’ll think you’re not getting it or that the strings are hurting your fingers, but really it’s the instrument. You could be improving but it won’t reflect in the music you’re making because of the instrument itself. 

    That actually happened with my first guitar and I was getting really frustrated. I then invested in a good guitar and the difference in the tone was amazing. I felt more inspired to play, as I realised I was improving and wasn’t actually that bad!! So yes, I would have loved to have used this scheme to buy a good quality, decent instrument when I was younger. 

    A black, feminine adult with short, black hair and wearing a white top and blue jeans is posing in front of a camera
    In your opinion, what are the benefits of having music in your life?

    Music can be like a meditation. I find it really calming and there’s so many different types of music that can either make you happy, make you sad or inspire you. I have a playlist called ‘Songs to cry to’ which gives me the release of not being in my own head which I think is such a good thing. 

    Music is really healing. Music is a form of expression and it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the beauty of it. 

    Do you think you have to study music to get into it?

    I actually did study music; I went to music college then I did a music degree. BUT, I don’t think you need to study to get into it. I’ve learnt so much from other people, asking friends, and YouTube tutorials! 

    What’s your favourite track at the moment? 

    Jacob Collier – Lua feat. MARO

    It’s the most beautiful song, it’s so soothing. Check out his Tiny Desk Concert too, it’s incredible! 

    And finally, what piece of advice would you offer to aspiring musicians? 

    Keep releasing music. Don’t wait till it’s perfect because people love to see you grow.

    Also, just see it as an outlet. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘make it’. The focus should be on your music rather than making that perfect song for the radio. It can lose its essence if that’s your sole aim.

    I got approached by my booking agent because I was putting myself, and my music, out there. Release and share your music online otherwise no one will know what you do or how they can help you!


    📢 Ego Ella May’s new album ‘So far’ is out now.

    “‘So Far’ as in what I’ve released into the world so far; who I have shown myself to be; whom I have encountered telling me how much these songs mean to them (though I could never understand). I’m really excited to re-release these songs tomorrow, and I’m sorry they were gone for so long! From here on out, it’s onwards and upwards with NEW music- and so think of this album as my final shedding of my old self, and a thank you to everyone who has stood patiently by my side (and online) whilst I navigate this music thing. ‘So Far’ is out on ALL streaming platforms tomorrow, with lots and lots of love and gratitude ❤️

    Listen now on Spotify or Bandcamp:

    Keep an eye out for her upcoming gigs
    by following her on:
    You’re in for a treat!
    Tell us what you think: @Takeitaway 
  • Seasonal Sounds | Autumn Edition

    With Autumn fast approaching, we’ve handpicked 5 musicians for you to get to know and listen to over the next few months. These diverse artists all bring something slightly different to the line-up and range from well established to on the verge of break-through. We are truly spoilt for choice with the new music that’s set to emerge by the end of the year. If you don’t know them already, you will do by the time you’ve finished reading!

    By Renée Jackson


    The Steamdown artist collective will definitely have you up on the dancefloor. The talented group create a vibrant, jazzy, Afrofuturistic sound and have hit the ground running within the music scene. Join them at their weekly event – SD Weekly at Matchstick Piehouse playing the wickedest tunes. This group is on an upward spiral to success!

    That sax solo at 3’35 ????


    Inspired and intrigued by African culture, Sudan Archives, a self-taught musician, brings a rich and uplifting sound; an experience one can’t help but enjoy. Each song brings a new feel with the amazing use of musical instruments you’ve probably not heard before. She produces, plays and writes all of her music. 

    We really love how she uses her violin in such different ways! Have a listen out for it in her song ‘Nont For Sale’ from her latest project ‘Sink’.

    3 | ALFA MIST

    The London jazz scene is not to be underestimated! Alfa Mist’s latest project Structuralism proves this, easing you on a journey into nostalgia. The pianist/rapper/producer started his musical journey as a hip hop producer but has not limited himself by any means. If you ever get the chance to see him live, we guarantee you won’t regret it.

    Check out our latest interview with Alfa here: Take it away presents… Alfa Mist

    4 | LEMZI

    Lemzi is an artist who inspires others through the power of music. As well as giving us an amazing project ‘Leki’, The East London Hip-Hop lyricist also hosts two other events: IN-FACTS and Hidden Gems Live. Both are fantastic platforms for artists to showcase their talents. We previously spoke to Lemzi about his experience of delivering rap workshops in schools, and he continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. We can’t wait to hear his next project!

    5 | RASiDA 

    After seeing RASiDA perform at the Music For Youth Proms 2018 we were in awe. Although young, she seems to have the soul of some of our greatest jazz legends living through her. The singer-songwriter and pianist has undeniable talent which shouldn’t be slept on, and luckily she’s just released her debut single! Listen to ‘Sorry for wasting your time’ on YouTube or Spotify.  It’s only a matter of time before she’ll be selling out arenas.

    Check out her live session at East London Arts and Music sixth-form.

    Can’t get enough of these five musicians? Neither can we!

    Listen to our Seasonal Sounds | Autumn Edition playlist on Spotify now.


    Tell us what you think: @Takeitaway 
  • Take it away presents… Alfa Mist

    A jazz pianist, producer and sometime rapper, Alfa Mist has recently been described as ‘a shining light of the London jazz scene’ and it’s not hard to see why. Alfa’s music speaks to many; especially the rising number of young fans sparking a UK jazz renaissance.

    Self-taught by sheer ‘stubbornness’, Alfa came to learn the piano quite late in the game aged 18, but he modestly puts his obvious talent down to just having too much time on his hands!

    Fresh from a sold out show at Southbank’s Meltdown Festival (curated by Nile Rodgers), we caught up with Alfa to chat music education, the highs and lows of the music industry, and top tips for aspiring musicians…

    Interviewed by Sophie Ogunyemi & Renée Jackson

    So, what made up the moment you decided to start music and pick up an instrument? 

    Basically, I was making beats in secondary school which was just part of our culture; everyone at that time was rapping and making beats. I used to sample other songs to make my  own hip hop beats and it was by looking for samples that I discovered other genres. 

    I realised I quite liked the indie, classical and jazz music I was coming across but found I didn’t really understand what these musicians were doing within the music. So, I decided to pick up an instrument so that I could fully understand the music.

    So yeah, I started taking piano seriously when I decided I wanted to understand this whole range of music I was discovering. I liked what I was hearing but I didn’t really know what was going on which made me determined to work it out and learn.

    You don’t need to be a Beyoncé or Adele to live off being a musician or even to be seen as having a successful career.

    It sounds like it was a very determined decision for you to learn but who was most influential in your musical education?

    There wasn’t anyone really. There’s no musicians in my family and I didn’t have a specific music teacher. There were some cool more general A-level teachers but no particularly tangible musical role models. I did look up to artists and songs and that but yeah, mainly my own determination!

    Do you think it would have been easier if you did?

    It definitely would have been easier but now that I’m here, I prefer the way I did it. It was hard though and it definitely would have been easier to have other people around to push each other to get better.

    It was great that I had my mates doing hip-hop stuff and making music that way but in terms of learning my instrument, my stubbornness definitely pushed me through. 

    A group of people are watching a pianist and a singer perform

    Alfa Mist performing at Village Underground, London

    Do you think you have to study music to get into it?

    No way. At college, I didn’t do A-level music so I wasn’t allowed music lessons for free which I found frustrating. But this meant I actively chose to teach myself how to play piano. I learnt by ear so listened to a lot of songs and recreated what I heard.

    By the time it got to the point that I could have afforded to pay for music lessons, I was already so used to teaching myself that I was happy with my own way of doing things and it didn’t really matter.

    I didn’t want to go to uni but you know, African household = I had to! I studied a music composition course which I knew I would be happy doing for three years but I don’t think it was that useful for me. I didn’t know about conservatoires at the time which I wish I had known about as I think they are really useful in terms of setting you up to be a musician.

    What does it mean to you to be a contemporary musician in the world today? 

    It’s my work! It’s how I make a living. Yes it’s hard work, but there are different levels of success – you don’t need to be a Beyoncé or Adele to live off being a musician or to be seen as having a successful career. I think a lot of people are mistaken about this – you can definitely have a career in music and be largely unknown.

    There’s a lot of luck involved in the music world but I like being in control of my destiny as cliché as it sounds!

    What’s been the hardest thing to overcome, in your experience, in the music industry and how have you worked round it?

    I’ve largely done most things myself thanks to the internet. This has been up to a certain point though. You either need some sort of external push to get further or else you find there’s companies/corporations that won’t let a singular artist break through. 

    The hardest thing is progressing and understanding that you are progressing and not feeling like you’re stagnant. I have to keep reminding myself that every step I take is a step forward. 

    What do you enjoy most about being a professional musician?

    I like the ball being in my court. I can mostly pick when I work and everything is on my terms. If I don’t do well, it’s largely because I didn’t work hard enough or there were things that I could have done to progress. 

    I like taking responsibility for myself. There’s a lot of luck involved in the music world but I like being in control of my destiny, as cliché as it sounds! 

    A black, masculine adult wearing a baseball cap and a grey top is playing a grand piano.

    Alfa Mist performing at Blue Note Japan

    What would you say to the government to prevent further cuts in musical education? 

    You shouldn’t have cut anything to do with music and the arts in the first place! Young people need options available to them and they shouldn’t be deprived of music as they won’t necessarily come and look for it. People don’t know they like singing until you give them the opportunity to sing. Give everyone the choice.

    Creativity is one of the most sought after skills in all sectors so if you take away these options at a young age you’ll be stifling this. Give people the space to express themselves. You don’t know what you don’t know or can’t see.

    Do you think a scheme like Take it Away is beneficial to young people interested in learning an instrument? 

    I 100% think it’s beneficial and definitely a good option to have. I wouldn’t have even looked twice at a £1,000 instrument when I was younger because I just thought it was out of my reach.

    It’s a great way to get access to a good instrument, especially when you need a new instrument that isn’t one that’s just been passed on to you or rented. 

    Do you think music has impacted your life? If so, in what way?

    Put it this way, I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing music. Music is such a huge part of my existence! 

    What’s your favourite track at the moment?

    Can I look at my phone? Yes, you’re allowed! That’s probably the hardest question in the world! But one I’m really loving at the moment is Night Song by Noel Pointer.

    And finally, what piece of advice would you offer to aspiring musicians? 

    Make something and put it on the internet! It might be simple but you don’t know how something is going to pan out unless you put it out there. There’s never going to be a perfect scenario so just go for it, put something out there. Don’t wait around! 

    Listen to Alfa’s latest album:

    Or listen on Spotify:

    Keep an eye out for his upcoming gigs
    by following him on:
    You’re in for a treat!

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitaway