We’ve reviewed a few songs from mUmbo over the past few months and felt it was high time we and our readers got to know the people behind this highly original dream-pop/ multi-genre trio. Read on to find out more;
mUmbo explore the permutations, atmosphere and textures of vocals, guitars and drums/percussion with a sonic pallette ranging from ethereal, chilled soundscapes to guitar-driven modern blues/rock and psychedelic progressive rock. Their influences encompass a diverse range incorporating soft rock, dream pop, indie folk, blues rock and jazz. Liked artists
include: Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Goldfrapp, Little Feat, Ry Cooder and Johnny Marr.
Who are the band members and what do they play?
Doug MacGowan – electric and acoustic guitars, bass and banjo. Emma Semple – vocals, viola and violin. Antonio Dale – drums and percussion.
We’ve been impressed with the tracks we’ve heard from you so far and the diversity of your music. Can you tell us a bit more about your influences?
The three of us have different backgrounds, both with the culture we grew up in and also in terms of our musical training and this is what we love about working together. Our greatest strength collectively is that we are all very much feel players and have good ears. We really listen to each other and play off what each other is doing. So in other words, our music is very much a collaborative creation and the song always comes first. Inevitably we often end up exploring a crossover and fusion of all sorts of musical ideas and this is what is so exciting to us.
Probably the chief influences we draw on are blues, folk, country, alt-rock and the fringes of dream pop. The way we put together lines and work compositionally is sometimes influenced by the structure of classical music too.
We also often find ourselves focusing on voicings, sensory tonalities and vibes, so artists that we like include Mazzy Star and Kelly Joe Phelps.
We’ve thought very much that your music would fit perfectly into TV or movie placements. Is this something you’ve explored?
It’s really pleasing and encouraging that you think that because it’s something that we’ve been talking a lot about for some time now. So many people that have heard our music comment on the emotional and cinematic qualities that it has. So yes, it’s something we are very keen to explore in the immediate future. Although our music isn’t particularly genre specific we feel that our vibe is very much about creating atmospheres, images and pictures and we hope that this means that it can be interpreted when and how people need it and in whatever context.
Describe your perfect gig!
Probably one in Lake Garda where our drummer Antonio lives. The most difficult part of our creative process is the physical distance between the three of us. Our ideal gig or series of gigs would be where we could tour together and meet people face-to-face and get caught up in the music of the moment.
Tell us about your target audience. Whom do you think you’ll reach with your music as you progress?
That’s a difficult question! Like lots of musicians we are not so great at the marketing side of things, although we know we should be and that is what we have to work on. To date we have had lots of interest from people who are real audio heads and are musicians themselves, this is across all ages and countries. What we really hope, is that as our music gets more exposure we will be able to connect with a wider audience. Having our music connective and accessible is really important to us.
Tell us about each of you individually as performers. What did you do before mUmbo?
Doug played guitar on the UK folk and blues scene in the late 90s into the early 2000s, touring and playing alongside such artists as Wizz Jones, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Robin Williamson and Kate Rusby. Emma a singer, violinist and viola player, trained classically with the renowned Hungarian virtuoso, Professor Nicholas Roth before going on to study Visual and Performing Arts in Brighton. Subsequent to that she played and wrote in a variety of bands and musical ensembles and composed music for theatrical productions. Antonio studied with high-profile drummers in Brescia and subsequently attended the CPM in Milan.. In 2004 he moved to Ireland, where he played in several bands, Play, Tom Hughes & The Reasons and Those Damned Junkie Deejays, before moving back to Italy where he now runs a recording studio. We see our varied musical backgrounds and experiences as being a huge asset to the music we create. We are all very intuitive ‘feel’ players. Both Emma and Antonio have collaborated with Doug previously on different projects. mUmbo is the first time the three of us have come together.
Tell us something we couldn’t possibly google about each of you!!
Doug trained at RADA and was an actor before his music career, his talent for accents is uncanny. Antonio has very beautiful retro bar furniture in the studio he is building in Italy and Emma has different-coloured eyes, like David Bowie!
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
Stay focused and keep going. Believe in yourself!
…and the worst?
Following trends is the most important thing.
Everyone has their own “worst gig” story. Can you share one?
Doug has one…
Back in the early 2000s I did 2 tours with the legendary acoustic guitarist and singer, Wizz Jones. We had some crazy adventures ( which I should probably write about) but undoubtedly the worst gig we had was when we drove a 900-mile round journey from London to Newcastle and back to play at a prestigious guitar club. When we got there we found that they hadn’t advertised the gig at all and all our posters were lying on the floor of the Box Office. As a result, we ended up playing to 4 people and a dog in a 500-seat venue.
What’s next for mUmbo in the next 12 months?
Going forward, it is continuing to write music and release our singles and videos. We already have 2 more singles lined up and our next release ‘Fringe Benefits’ is a rockier track with a strong retro vibe. We are also keen to play live in both our countries and as said before, we are very interested to open up our music to a much wider audience through television and film syncing.