Some of you may, or may not, have heard about Commuinon which is both a record label and club night which is getting a lot of attention right now. The label are about to release a compilation album which we recently featured in a mix. The artists that feature on the album have a massive creative force that, for me at least, places Communion in a spotlight. Pining down what Communion is is not so easy. It is a sum of all parts. The Label owners, the club night organisers, the artists and the fans. All these elements work together to create the magic.
There is no obvious ego present and what works well is their Collective mindset. They help eachother and appreciate the part they all play in Communion. I was given the opportunity to talk with Kevin Jones, one of the head honchos at Communion and member of Cherbourg.
An idea like this has to start somewhere, the driving force may be to provide new entertainment or to grant artists a chance of greater exposure. The club night is collectively run by Kevin, Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons and producer Ian Grimble. “We set it up as a platform for upcoming bands on the London circuit, as a place for musicians to meet and generally somewhere fun to go in West London. The inspiration was simply the bands around us and a desire to give them exposure”.
Communion has been going for three years now, which I was intrigued by, how can something that is so exposed now, have kept so low key for so long. Was it by design? “In some ways it was in some ways it wasn’t. We kind of like Communion the way it is is, still very friendly and hopefully unpretentious. It’s about trying to provide a support network to musicians and fans and too much exposure could well have made that more difficult to achieve. We have had lots of offers to expand to bigger venues over the years but always elected to keep it small and intimate, we’re also not into overly aggressive promoting, and hope that the bands we book speak for themselves in many ways”.
It seemed to me on first impression that Communion had almost become a fundamental link or conduit for the underground folk scene in the UK or maybe it was excitement over the whole concept blinding me. “I don’t know if we see ourselves like that. I guess there are some pretty undeniable folk associations and we are proud of those, obviously Ben is in Mumford and Sons and I was in Cherbourg and am now playing with Marcus Foster which are all folk related bands, but if you take an average Communion line up there are as many indie or alternative acts as there are folk, we’ve had all sorts of stuff over the years, hip-hop, rock, spoken work, electro, you name it. Our booking policy is pretty broad – we like to treat audiences intelligently. We aren’t into just one type of music and neither are the crowd that attends”.
Mumford and Son have been getting a lot more exposure and airplay on mainstream radio where would this leave Communion and where is it all going? “I don’t think it will change the scene as such, but i do hope it gives it more longevity. I mean even as long as a year ago I started to hear Mumford and Sons influence in other artists, it’s only natural that people are inspired by the music around them but that’s only the same as being influenced by any other given artist. But yes, if it continues to serve the trend towards thoughtful lyrics and a more real attitude to music then i hope that is there to stay”.
“…I’ve noticed a few bands around recently that seem to be emulating a more classic era of music, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Eagles – a more American take on folk i guess, so it will be interesting to see how those bands develop. Past that I hope it just keeps nuturing singer songwriters and the musicians that play with them. I think the movement is still gathering pace and it’s very exciting to feel part of that, even if it only a small part”.
So there is a collective passion? “I think a collective passion is a good way to describe it. I think that also there is a genuine feeling of everyone wanting to help each other out. London is a very competitive place and indie bands I used to play in for example, were all very ego driven and I think in general they have that sort of arrogant swagger, where as the folk movement seems to be very inclusive, people are always playing on each others records, offering advice and collaborating. I think that makes it a lot stronger than the sum of it’s parts”.
Trying to describe a Communion club night in words is never going to easy but they seem to get up to all sorts…”We did an all dayer a few summers back, and we turfed the arts club which was pretty fun, although i’m not sure the management were too happy with us! We had a snowball fight in the club this time last year when it snowed, that was pretty fun…”
It’s all about “Good and varied music, a friendly atmosphere, some nice people and a few beers!”
So what of the future for Communion? “We have just started a record label which we are very excited about. Our first release is a compilation featuring some of our favourite artists in the nu-folk scene. We’re launching the label on February the 28th which should be a lot of fun too. We are also now running nights in Leeds, Brighton and Sydney, Australia and are hoping to set up camp in Dublin and Bristol later on this year. Really this next year for us is about putting out records, most of which we are producing too, so that’s very exciting for us”.
So there you have it, was I right be excited about this Collective movement? Even more so now I know they’re planning on coming to our nearby city…Bristol!