GoGo Penguin is three piece acoustic, electronica, jazz outfit band from Manchester, UK, featuring pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner.
They're on a UK tour throughout March 2015 and we thought we'd catch up with the guys to chat about guest musicians, social media and penguins, here's how we got on....
Please can you describe the band and your music in one sentence?
Acoustic trio with jazz instrumentation, influenced by electronica beats combined with our own individual experiences of music.
You recently played the 'TSF jazz Concert' at the Olympia in Paris, how does your music go down in France compared to the UK?
It’s too early to say as we’ve only played there twice so far but we’ve been fortunate enough to get great responses from both places.
Your sound incorporates slices of electronica, trip-hop, jazz, rock and classical music, do you all enjoy each genre or is it more a fusion of your combined tastes?
We’re interested in all areas of creativity and that’s not necessarily just limited to music. Obviously we’re three individuals but generally we all like the facets of music that have influenced our sound. Also when you’re in a band you tend to influence each other.
What's the best advice you ever received about the music industry and who gave it to you?
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.” - Hunter S. Thompson
Give us 3 words to best describe you as a trio
Piano, bass, drums.
If you could have a guest musician perform live with you (anyone in the world, dead or alive) who would it be and why them?
Thom Yorke, Bjork, Miles Davis. They’re artists who seem to be searching for new realms and aren’t afraid to explore.
Who (musically) are you listening to at the moment?
Queens of the Stone Age, Machinedrum, Portico, Death Grips, Slugabed, Jon Hopkins, Thom Yorke, Benjamin Britten.
What's the best live music venue in Manchester right now?
We’ve had some really nice gigs at Band on the Wall. They’ve got a good setup there plus a nice piano which really makes a difference.
How do the old school traditional 'jazz hounds' take to your music?
It really depends on the individual. Some people will like it and some people won’t. The important thing is that we’ve never stated that we’re a jazz band. People are obsessed with attaching labels to music and once you define it as something you’re limited to the confines of that style. Also people have preconceptions as to what jazz is. It’s taken so much under it’s wing it’s difficult to know what it is. If you have a preconceived notion of how something should be then you could be frequently disappointed. We have jazz instrumentation and subsequently jazz timbres in our music. There is also improvisation in GoGo Penguin when we think it serves the music but not always in every piece.
Do you own an album that you're not proud of? (I found a Haddaway CD in my collection recently....how it got there I'll never know!)
How do Go Go Penguin relax after a live show?
We rinse the rider.
Social media is pretty much a way of life for most bands these days, which platform has helped you the most to get your music out there?
For connecting with radio stations, other artists, Djs, labels, etc it’s probably Twitter as in many cases they tend to be run by the person themselves. For connecting with fans I'd say Facebook.
The name 'GoGo Penguin' sounds a little like a 60's Japanese cartoon hero, where did the name actually derive from?
Originally there wasn’t an intention to go out and gig it was simply to get together and write music that we liked but then we got offered a last minute gig by a friend who runs a night in Manchester and we didn’t have a name. Where we were rehearsing there was a paper mache penguin, which was actually supposed to be a magpie but looked more like a penguin hanging from the ceiling. Someone said ‘how about penguin’ then ‘go penguin’ and finally GoGo Penguin.
Your album v2.0 was nominated for the 2014 mercury prize, you were up against some very stiff competition, how did it make you feel when you found out?
It was amazing. We were really pleased that v2.0 got recognised as we’re all proud of the album and it’s been really good to the music out to a wider audience.
Do any of the band play other instruments? If so, have you considered including them in your music?
Rob plays some piano, Chris plays some bass and Nick plays some guitar. We could do it that way but we’d probably need a drummer.
What's your favourite Saturday night and Sunday morning album?
Saturday night: Ill Communication - Beastie Boys
Sunday morning: Dial ‘M’ For Monkey - Bonobo
I watched a YouTube video of you performing at the 'Mostly Jazz Festival' in 2013 and it appears to be snowing yet there are people with T-Shirts on, what was that all about?
Yeah...that was one of those rare scorching summer days in England. In fact it was actually the same day that Andy Murray won Wimbledon. In Moseley Park there seemed to be an abundance of those things, I’m not sure what they’re called, some kind of blossom. It was a beautiful day and it’s a really great festival.
Did your approach for recording 'v2.0' differ greatly from when you recorded 'Fanfares'?
Yes, we had Joe Reiser our live sound engineer who is also the band’s fourth member plus Brendon Williams recording and co-producing it. Having the two of them working on v2.0 was a real game changer. We also had a larger budget than we did for Fanfares.
What was the last book you read?
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.
You're arranging a dinner party and can invite 3 people (alive/dead/fictional) who's going to be eating with you?
Iain Banks, Alan Watts, Nicholas Cage.
Which festivals did you enjoy playing in 2014 and what plans have you got for 2015 so far?
We really enjoyed playing at Dimensions Festival in Croatia. It was really nice to play a gig on the beach in the sun. We also loved going back to Überjazz Festival in Hamburg for the second year running. It's such a great, well run festival.
Before we parted company, we thought it would be good to fire a few quickfire questions their way....
Wine or Beer?
Festivals or normal gigs?
Aphex Twin or Massive Attack?
City or United?
Car or Motorbike?
GoGo Penguin are touring throughout early 2015, for more information including dates, venues and ticket links, please click HERE or see the list of dates/venues below
We'll be covering the show at The Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre (part of the Vibraphonic Festival) on March 25th, for tickets, click HERE
07/02/15 MANCHESTER RNCM United Kingdom
26/02/15 Liverpool The Kazimier United Kingdom
05/03/15 Sunderland Independent United Kingdom
06/03/15 Edinburgh Electric Circus United Kingdom
07/03/15 Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut United Kingdom
12/03/15 Gloucester Gloucester Guildhall United Kingdom
13/03/15 Birmingham Hare & Hounds United Kingdom
14/03/15 Southampton Turner Sims United Kingdom
25/03/15 Exeter Exeter Phoenix United Kingdom
26/03/15 Bristol The Old Crown Courts United Kingdom
27/03/15 London Union Chapel – SOLD OUT United Kingdom
12/06/15 London Koko United Kingdom