London, Britain (UK)
Graffiti6 release their debut album 'Colours'
Heres what the critics are saying:
"Debut album sparkles with invention and throbs with emotion that, come December, will be on many Year's Best lists" - The Independent. 5 out of 5
"Every so often you come across an album that is so perfectly crafted that it changes your life a little bit, Colours is a strong contender for our album of the year and we doubt we’re going to hear better before the year’s out." - Entertainment Focus.
"Latterday psych-soul nuggets, all phased vocals and sunshine melodies given the warp factor, organ twirls and keyboard effects whooshing in and out of the mix". The Guardian.
"Full of bright and shiny pop tunes, 'Free' is a blast of soaring vocals that tug at your Heart strings" - Mail On Sunday.
"I don't think anything else really sounds like that out there. A different slant - really, really nice!" - Fearne Cotton, Radio1.
"I'm lost in those harmonies" Dermot O'Leary, Radio2
"A massive melodic slab of glorious classic songs and seamlessly blended sounds" - Music Week
Often, the best ideas come when you rip up the rulebook and follow what feels good. Just ask Graffiti6. The unlikely pairing of producer TommyD and singer/songwriter Jamie Scott began 18 months ago as an experiment neither thought would work and has grown in a pop project so refreshingly rule-free a sense of adventure seeps from every song.
Try to categorise Graffiti6 and you’re in trouble. You’ll certainly spot vintage soul influences, the pair’s shared love of Hendrix, folk and funk. You’ll hear house and hip hop beats destined to fill dancefloors. At the heart of the songs are pop melodies you could sit down with a guitar and strum. But Graffiti6 don’t make music to be analysed. From the moment they named their band by flicking through pages of their favourite books and calling out the first words their eyes fell on – Lionel Stingray and Suitcase Unannounced were close contenders – the pair’s main aim has been to have fun.
“What we love about this band is that we’ve never had a plan,” says Tommy, an established writer, producer, dj and arranger, who has worked with everyone from Jay-Z and Kanye West to Kylie and Janet Jackson. (He also produced Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, a bona fide pop classic that topped the charts in 20 countries.) “When we start a song, we’ve no idea where it’s going to end up. As long as it makes us feel good, we go with it.”
“The fundamental part of this project is that we enjoy ourselves,” adds Jamie, whose two solo albums to date (as Jamie Scott & The Town) have won him an army of fans across Europe and Asia and seen him tour with Alicia Keys. “We go in to the studio and indulge ourselves by making music we find exciting. That it always comes out sounding commercial is almost accidental.”
“I’m afraid we’re both blessed with pop genes,” laughs Tommy. “There’s not much we can do about it.”
Their first session spawned a groovy slab of psychedelic pop with dance beats and distorted vocals, Stare In To The Sun had the feel-good factor that has become the band’s trademark. Last summer, it also – accidentally - became Graffiti6’s first single and debut hit, after it was chosen to soundtrack a TV ad campaign for The Sun. At the time, the pair weren’t looking to release a record as the project was only in its infancy. Tommy’s publisher, Sony ATV, however, had put the song forward for the advert and James Murdoch himself had insisted on using it, the first time the paper had ever worked with an unsigned act.
The exposure encouraged the pair to knuckle down in the studio and get to work on new songs. Previously, they had been splitting their time on Graffiti6 with other projects – Jamie touring his solo album across Asia, Tommy writing and producing for other artists. In the final six months of last year, they wrote and recorded a further 14 songs, from the shimmering soul-pop of Annie and spine-tingling, surefire future hit Free to the throbbing, hypnotic Stone In My Heart, now the lead track on the band’s new EP.
When Graffiti6 say they don’t stick to a formula, they’re not kidding. Some songs begin with a guitar riff, others a melody played on piano, a few on computer or drum machine. Stone In My Heart was a song that didn’t sound quite right until, one day, just for fun, Jamie decided to see what would happen if he put 16 layers of vocals on it.
“We never force a song in to a certain style or sound,” adds Tommy. “We might speed them up or slow them down or try them with a 1000 different drum beats. Some just come from jamming. We both play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums – whichever of us is nearest an instrument picks it up. All the songs you could strip down and play acoustically.
When record companies came knocking, Graffiti6 initially assumed they would sign a deal. But as they sat in their umpteenth meeting with label bosses, being told what they should do with their songs, it dawned on both that they would be happier releasing the music themselves. An initial wave of funding came from a friend in the City, who had long been looking to back Jamie. Within weeks, he was oversubscribed with enough investment for the pair to launch their own label.
“We can set our own budgets and find our own people to work with. It’s much better to live – and die, though we hope not – by your own sword.”
As anyone who has seen the superb, cartoon video for Stare In To The Sun will know, the look of Grafitti6 is as inspired as the songs. For their striking, colourful artwork and playful visuals at their live shows, the band rely on official third member, pop artist Jimi Crayon.
“We discovered Jimi just after we formed the band,” says Jamie. “Someone suggested we check him out and soon as we saw his work, we knew he was perfect for us. We tracked him down, played him what songs we had and asked if he’d come on board. Luckily, he loved our sound and instantly understood we were aiming to do.
“I’ve fronted bands for eight years and I wanted this to be different - very visual and a little leftfield. The music sounds like nothing I’ve done before. It had to be the same with the shows.”
Graffiti6 have only recently started gigging, but have already set up their own, monthly club night at the Vibe Bar in East London. The plan is to put on an electric line-up of performers – Live, Graffiti6 expand to a six-piece, though they didn’t know that when they picked the name.
“Everything about this band is a happy accident,” says Tommy. “Even now, we’re trying to plan as little as we can. It has to stay fresh
“To me, Graffiti6 is party music. We make songs for people to play when they’re dolling themselves up for a night out, to get down on dancefloors to and to rave around their front room to when they roll back drunk. It’s music we genuinely believe will make people feel good about themselves. That has to start from us having fun. When we’re not, we’ll stop.”