Alcuna Wilds have kept their fingers on the Pulse

Their sound may draw on trip-hop, but Alcuna Wilds are no mere ’90s revivalists.

By Chris Broom
Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 3:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:39 pm
Alcuna Wilds play at The Edge of The Wedge, Southsesa on January 29
Alcuna Wilds play at The Edge of The Wedge, Southsesa on January 29

The Anglo-Dutch group were formed through a mutual love of the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack, but they bring their own modern take to the sound, with driving beats, strong melodic riffs, and rich, melancholic vocals.

Guitarist and co-founder Pete Barnes is originally from Bath, but after finishing his studies at the University of Portsmouth, he returned home before deciding to up sticks for the Netherlands.

‘I thought I could stay around there and have a good life, and play music and work, but I thought I want to take a risk and learn a new language. So I decided to move to the Netherlands and learn Dutch. All of my family and friends thought I was completely crazy.

‘The rest is history! I met some people in Utrecht online through a music forum, got a job, learned the language, and I’ve been here more than 10 years now. Our singer, Nadja had a kind of similar story – she left the UK around the same time.’

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    Pete and Nadja Freeman met around five years ago: ‘She’s a translator and she interviewed me in my old band. We did a live acoustic session in The Hague and she was part of that. We got talking and found we had a love for the same kind of music – that sort of ’90s trip-hop stuff. The band I was in and the band she was in weren’t doing that kind of thing, so we thought, why don’t we start a new project? We started practising a few weeks later and that was four and a half years ago now.

    ‘Jordy the bassist and synth player came a few months after that. He’s very musical and he really bought the electronic side to the band - I’m a guitarist, my roots are more rock and pop and prog. He’s amazing, and that’s really helped us.’

    Sjaak van Dam completes the line-up on drums and samples.

    There had initially been talks of Alcuna Wilds appearing here as part of this weekend’s Icebreaker Festival, but when they couldn’t make it work, one of that event’s organisers put them in touch with Sam Mason Bell of local promoters Trash Arts, who are putting on the gig – which marks the start of their UK tour.

    Their new EP, their third, Nothing is Nothing, including led single Pulse,was released last week.

    And Pete admits their perfectionist streak has kept their quality control high, but their output low.

    ‘It costs a lot of time to write and finish the songs. We want them to be perfect before we play them live or before we record them. That’s quite a long process and I think that’s one of the reasons why we haven’t recorded an album yet!

    ‘Because of the length of time it takes, it’s easier to put out three or four songs than 10.

    ‘And with the way the music industry has been going, and the trend towards disposable music, it’s important to put new stuff our regularly, rather than every two or three years, because otherwise people forget, especially when you’re at our level.

    ‘You need to put out a new video every six months or so, or people won’t be interested in booking you. The knock on effect of that, is that we have to work our socks off to finish songs, book shows and record. We do everything ourselves

    ‘Sometimes it’s a logistical nightmare, and can mean we’ve got a full-time job doing this, next to our day jobs. But at this point in time, it’s still fun and we’re all fully committed to the band and want to keep pushing forward.

    The visual aspect is also very important to the band.

    ‘Nadja is very creative and she does all the artwork, the posters and social media. She’s very keen on making it very vivid and abstract when we’re doing videos and artwork.

    ‘Every song we’ve put out has had a video and that helps create a different atmosphere for the song and we’ve been lucky enough to work with some really interesting filmmakers here in the Netherlands.’

    Alcuna Wilds

    The Edge of The Wedge, Southsea

    Tuesday, January 29