Wrap Up And Watch Out: The Stow
Introducing The Stow, a five-piece band from Walthamstow made up of vocalists Haydn and Shi, drummer Gus, guitarist Matt and Dave on bass. Their unique fusion of hip-hop, indie, pop, soul and rock music make them stick out from your typical indie outfit...
In an exclusive chat with The Wrap Up’s Stephen Almond, Haydn – who is the frontman of the band – talks about their new single, 'Give A Damn', hitting the road with VV Brown, why the UK indie hip-hop scene needs to pull together and much, much more...
The Wrap Up: Hi Haydn! Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us today. Could you start by telling us a bit about The Stow?
Haydn: We’re made up of five members: myself vocals/songwriter, Shi vocals/songwriter, Dave on bass, Gus on drums and Matt on guitar. The band came together because I used to be a solo artist rapper called, Esteem. I was a cliché rapper, who would talk about the usual stuff like girls and bling, and it wasn’t me. I loved live music and I was working alongside a saxophonist, Yolanda Brown, and our former drummer, Will, when the idea to create a band came about.
TWU: How would you describe The Stow’s sound?
Haydn: For me, personally, I think we make pop music because we fuse together so many different genres. Other people say there is no such thing as pop music, so we often get described as ‘indie hip-hop.’ We’ve been called ‘the British N.E.R.D’ quite a lot of times, so I’m happy to go with that.
TWU: ‘Give A Damn’ is the lead single from your excellent EP, ‘The Covers.’ Tell us a bit about the track...
Haydn: ‘Give A Damn’ comes from people asking us what we’re actually all about. We’ve just got to the stage where we just want to make good music, still enjoy what we are doing and for people to enjoy our music. The track is just our way of saying, ‘This is who we are and this is what we do. If you enjoy it, then come along.’ I write about 95% of our tracks and everything we say in them is normally based on real things that have happened to us. At one point, someone who was trying to manage us told me that I was the worst singer in the band, so I was thinking, ‘Wow! Thanks for that.’ I don’t mind things like that because you can always take positives and negatives from things. I disagreed with most of what he said, but there were parts that made me think, ‘Well, yeah, I can take that on-board and learn from it.’ You can always learn from everything, so that’s what the track is based on.
TWU: You write your own music, but do you produce your own tracks as well?
Haydn: Yeah. Our band is funny because we can’t beg, steal or borrow anyone to come in and do anything for us, so I do pretty much everything: producing, writing, promoting us and other stuff. We’ve been unable to find anyone to produce for us, so we do everything. I’m very strict, though. I want everything to be live. 99% of ‘Give A Damn’ is live. We haven’t been able to find anyone who wants to get involved with the project. People only want to work with you when they think you’re a movement, rather than wanting to build a movement to breakthrough, which is sad. Indie hip-hop bands all need to work together to create a movement that is so powerful that record labels wouldn’t be able to reject us. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to work like that and they just want to do their own thing, which is fair enough and you can’t knock them for that, but sometimes they need to look at the bigger picture.
TWU: You have already had the opportunity to support VV Brown on her UK tour in 2009. What was she like?
Haydn: Yeah, she’s sound. VV’s cool. I still speak to her little sister, Jade, who is a singer/songwriter. She’s really good and I speak to her all the time. She’s a lot different to VV; her music is more of that Bob Dylan kinda stuff. VV is obviously up and down the country and all around the world, so we don’t hear from her as much as her sister. We actually saw her at a gig the other day and she showed us love and was as nice to us, as always. She’s really cool. During the tour, she always went out of her way to get us to go and chill with her and her band.
TWU: Which current artists do you rate highly?
Haydn: I love Ed Sheeran! I’m more for the smaller artists, though. There’s a rapper called Big Ben, who I love. There’s Lyracis – who is going to be crazy and I’ve heard some of his stuff and it’s beyond a joke – I think he’s going to be huge. He’s got a great team around him, too. Wretch 32 is my hero. Rizzle Kicks came from nowhere and I’m loving their vibe.
TWU: Finally, what can we expect from The Stow for the rest of this year?
Haydn: The idea is to release another two videos. There’ll definitely be another one before the end of the year. Hopefully there’ll be a couple of remixes of the songs. I’ve already done one of ‘Angels’ and I’m doing one of ‘Lifeline’ with Big Ben and hopefully Rodney P. We’re also working on new material because we want to put out a new EP in January. We will hopefully be going on a support tour by the end of the year. We’re just going to keep working and keep things moving.
Stay up to date with The Stow on Twitter – www.twitter.com/TheStow
Words: Stephen Almond (@LFCSteAL)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)