Southsea Bandstand gets ready for a global weekender of free music

The Bandstand season returned triumphant to Southsea last weekend after an enforced year off, showcasing some of our best local acts.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 6:00 am
Colectiva are playing at the Global Bandstand Weekend at Southsea Bandstand on Saturday, July 31. Picture by Natalja Safronova

This Saturday and Sunday there’s something special in store as it’s the turn of the Global Bandstand Weekender to takeover, with free music from 12.30pm to 6pm on both days. There will be African grooves, latin rhythms, eastern and Balkan melodies, psychedelic sounds, fusion vibes and everything else in between.

Put together by The People’s Lounge, Journeys Festival International and Portsmouth City Council it aims to reflect, champion and promote music, art, dance and cultures from around the world.

There will also be a crafts market, community stalls, and a workshop tent for dance, drumming, hip-hop, RnB and Afrobeats spoken word performances, as well as world food vendors.

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Flamingods will headline Saturday, while The Turbans top Sunday’s bill.

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In a weekend packed with potential highlights, Colectiva are up there. Playing at 3.20pm on Saturday, this all-female group takes Afro-latin and jazz music in bold new directions. They are, as the name suggests, a collective, currently revolving around seven core members.

Drummer Lya Reis Guerrero joined them in a couple of years ago, helping cement their latin rhythms.

Flamingods

‘It was really nice to see a bunch of girls playing that style.

‘Since I've been there, there's been a few people coming in and out, but that's the concept, it is a collective – there's no musical director as such.

‘Everyone puts in their ideas and we make it work somehow. It might take longer, but we blend everything together.’

While Colectiva doesn’t have a leader, it was originally the brainchild of trombonist/vocalist Viva Msimang, who had already played with several of the other members-to-be in various bands. As others joined Colectiva they began to build up a set.

The Turbans on stage at Wilderness Festival. Picture by Danny North.

‘I can remember the first gig in 2019,’ recalls Lya. ‘To play a set we only had covers – we didn't really have any original music. But after that we got booked for a bunch of festivals so we decided, right, we have to write our own music!‘Now we have a full repertoire of our own music.’

They released their debut single, Under The, with guest pianist Maria Graspa in March this year, and Lya promises more is to follow soon as she enthuses: ‘Wait until you hear the second one, we were mixing it yesterday – it's sounding really heavy!’

Originally from Venezuela, Lya moved to the UK in 2010 to further her music career, and has played with numerous other groups during the past decade.

‘I didn't know anyone when I came here. My country is very beautiful, but it's very messed up – it's very unsafe. Either I was going to get kidnapped, or have a heart attack, so it was like, right, I have to go!

‘I was going to go to Barcelona, but I thought if I made it in London, it would be cooler. People don't really pay attention to music out of Barcelona, but anything that comes out of London...

‘I met Viva in rehearsal with another project called Guerrera (an all-female salsa band), which is led by (Colectiva) percussionist Lilli (Elina). Viva was like: “I have this project, would you like to come down for a jam?”

‘I wasn't really expecting anything from it. I went with the flow and enjoyed it, and now we're all really good friends.’

The band features a wide mix of cultures and backgrounds – with members having roots in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Finland, Wales and England – as well as Lya’s own half-Venezuelan/half-Portuguese background.

But with only five per cent of jazz players being female, the group also represent female empowerment.

‘The concept of female representation in this genre is really hard to find.

‘I had a female indie-rock band back in Venezuela, which was really cool. I always liked latin music, but I really appreciate it more since I arrived in this country, because I miss it more and it was really nice to find people who played that.

‘You had specific rock bands with women in the past, and now it's more common, but with latin-jazz in particular, I feel like record labels will form these female bands just because of the way they look and not so much because of the sound.

‘We're not looking to sound like anyone but ourselves!

‘It's been hard to get our voice out, and get the support and be recognised. We had some recognition in 2019 with The Latin UK awards,’ they won Best Alternative Act, ‘and it was nice, but nothing really came after that.’

Lya came up with the term ‘experimental jazz tropicaliente’ to try and describe what they do.

‘We don't really want to be labelled, but it's such a fresh sound, we definitely have something with more spice than just afro-latin-jazz – there's an extra influence there. I was just joking but I think it could become a genre...’ she laughs.

Lya says they have the material to fill an album, but finding the funding, or a label, will be crucial. In the meantime they will probably release more singles.

Key to building their fanbase has been their live show. And after the pandemic-enforced break, they’re keen to build momentum again.

‘It's hard to expose yourself or the music we kind of do, because it's not so popular... yet. But every time people see us live, they really get it because I guess they weren't expecting the sound or what we do. The energy on the stage is completely different. It's what I like about playing with them – I haven't heard anything else quite like us before.

‘The mix we put in is really unique.’

The weekend is also backed by the charity Arms Around The Child, with support and funding from the Arts Council.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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