Preview: St Lô @ Fallow Café, Manchester

Later this month, one of the continent’s most intriguing bands will be bringing its ‘dark, electronic, cinematic soul’ to Manchester.

St Lô, a French digital urban blues outfit fronted by New Yorker and veteran MC Hanifah Walidah, will perform at Fallow Café on Friday October 30.

And they showcase their talent as part of the Oui Love tour, a celebration of some of the most exciting French artists touring the UK.

The band, who will perform along with dreampop band Acre Tarn and French Electronica group Saycet, are a four-piece featuring three musicians from Lorient, France and Hanifah Walidah, a militant poetess, MC and vocalist. 

The group’s debut album Room 414 was released in 2014, and next year a follow up will be released entitled Whatnots which promises addictive ‘electro-rap grooves’ and ‘fearsome energy.’

Speaking to MM, St Lô’s Hanifah Walidah said the four-piece, who have attracted attention across the continent, cannot wait to visit the UK. 

She told MM: “I’m going to try to find the words to express how excited we are.

“We’ve been playing France, China and even South America and reaction is bananas.

“But I, especially, am still aware that people aren’t getting the full experience of the music because of the language barrier.

“My approach to performing in front of a non-English crowd is different than how I would talk otherwise. So performing in the UK means complete freedom performance wise.”

On the influence British music has had on herself and the group, Hanifah said: “British music has just as hard an impact on me as American soul, hip hop or rock. 

“All the way from artists like Bowie and Queen to the Factory line up in Manchester.”

The band’s sound is a kaleidoscope of styles and influences, and has acquired the working-label of ‘digital urban blues’.

Hanifah explained however that the band’s music is to there to be experienced rather than placed neatly in a box.

“Call it what you want, but don’t call it anything unless you experience the show.

“At the end of the day we are all trying to make soul music. But like blues, we as a band have been able to capture musically the beauty found in darkness.

“More plainly said, its dark electronic, almost cinematic dub soul,” she said.

The band’s sound hasn’t just captured imaginations worldwide but Hanifah’s lyrical style too, with politics, conflict and raw emotion at the heart of the New Yorker’s story-telling.

“The dark cinematic sounds of St.Lo’s music really support the stories I’m trying to tell through my song-writing. I don’t talk about politics from a didactic stance.

“I always try to find where love lives and argues. That’s the story. That’s the song.

“What is not love? Whether by whatever means you are giving or seeking it. Love has everything to do with our music,” she said.

On what those attending the gig should expect of St Lô, Hanifah told MM: 

“Well, I do a little tap dancing and then we have this kinda circus de soliel thing going on… only kidding.

“Our only job as musicians is to be present on stage and keep the bullshit at bay. If the crowd understands this as well then the ride is unlimited.

“But I am a theatre head so I don’t just step to the mic, I step into a story and take the next 60 minutes or so to tell it with my brothers at my side. Said, another way, we play hard and deep with our eyes wide open.”

The Oui Love was launched in 2009 to showcase the best of French music to UK audiences.

This year’s tour will stop off at London, Newcastle and Glasgow before landing in Fallowfield, Manchester at 8pm on October 30.

Entry will cost £5.

Image courtesy of St Lô Music via. Youtube, with thanks.

Related Articles