Tour diary | Sophie Jamieson in Europe (part 2)

FFS’s favourite alt-folkers Sophie Jamieson are on a European Tour taking in much of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Hotly tipped left right and centre as ‘ones to watch’ in 2014, Sophie, Liam and Alex have recently been joined by ex-Fanfarlo drummer Amos Memon.On this two-week jaunt across the channel, the band’s guitarist Liam Hoflay has been keeping a tour diary, which he’s kindly allowed us to serialise. Here’s your sneak peak into the inner world of a band on the rise.

Day Six – The Swiss Music Scene

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Today we left Germany and made for Switzerland. The Swiss do not drive like the Germans do. The no-limits autobahn and ‘everyone get out of the way’, gentlemanly attitude, is replaced with strict speed limits and a general decorum of hogging the fast lane; much like England. It does, however, boast some amazing sights. Today I finally got the see the Alps from ground view. Even from a distance, they are something to behold.

Nyon is a fairly small city, but unlike the places in Germany we have visited so far, it is a Roman town and is picturesque, even at night. It was too dark to see the lake Geneva from the hill, but I am very excited to see it tomorrow.

The promoter/manager of the venue tonight, La Parenthése, was most generous with his treatment of us. For him, music is important and he wants to treat every musician who comes through Nyon, to the highest standard. He took us to a local restaurant (which served the best, locally-sourced, fish I have ever, EVER tasted!) where we spoke about what the music scene was like in Nyon. It was sad to hear that there is almost no local scene at all. La Parenthése is the only small, independent venue in the city and it cost a lot of money to set it up. I asked Ben, our host, and Jean-Luke, our sound guy, what being a musician in the city was like. Where London has a vast array of venues and practice rooms, Nyon boasts hardly any. There is nowhere for an artist to develop their sound and live act. The local authorities also make it harder by only sponsoring larger venues and skilled musicians, leaving the main core of the music scene; the small venues and bands, to fend for themselves. Only real commitment and backing will see any Swiss bands make it successfully, and even then its still tough.

I hope people like Ben; that are willing to put money into supporting the music scene and bringing in good foreign bands to kick start some local interest in music, get the support they deserve. It all has to start somewhere and from talking to Ben tonight, for Nyon at least, I believe it will.

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Day Seven – “What’s Your WiFi Password?”

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Apart from Alex; who has paid for the privilege of having mobile data abroad, the rest of us are reliant on venues’ WiFi to keep up to date with the rest of the world. The first two things we ask when we arrive are “Where are your toilets?” and “What’s your WiFi password?” It goes to show the reliance on technology we have in this day and age. It keeps us occupied, it connects us with friends and family and it helps us keep on top of admin. We may be on tour, but emails still need replying to.

Tonight is the first night where our host has no internet. They have made a conscious decision not to have internet or TV in the house. Their argument is that they spend all day at work on the computer and their home is a refuge from technology. Instead, they have art on the walls and a vinyl collection of over 3000; constantly playing throughout the house. This is a guy whose priority is music above all things. Maybe he has the right idea.

Tonights gig was for Baden’s One of a Million festival. We were the openers for the next eight days of music; including Temples, who headline tonight, and Poliça. The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone who attended and volunteered at the event were really enthusiastic. As a running theme with is tour, they made us feel right at home and we partied late into the night with them.

Tonights lineup was entirely British bands. Temples, mentioned earlier, and The Slow Show. It was great to chat about our own experiences of gigging both the UK and Europe. We all agreed that the enthusiasm for music on the continent is a reason bands will keep returning to play. That and the food.

Day Eight – Detroit House Music

We entered Austria today; the third country of the tour. Apparently this winter is much milder than usual so there is no snow; except on the top of the Alps, which are much closer to us today.

We stay in a hotel tonight. It’s the nicest place so far. Well decorated rooms with doors adjoining them; that kind of thing. And we finally have access to WiFi again!

It’s come at the right point on the tour where we are starting to flag and would rather not have conversations with our hosts at 3am. Some time for ourselves, which is rather important when you’re stuck in a van for up to 6 hours a day with 3 other people. It keeps you sane.

Tonight’s gig is the second of 2 gigs with The Slow Show. These Manchurians have toured Europe many times over the last year and a half. They have had the same experience with audiences we have. They helped us out immensely by lending us one of their guitars as we were having sound issues with Sophie’s acoustic. This was the first gig we’ve done totally electric! Hopefully we will get to play another gig with them soon.

One benefit of this tour is that while you are being looked after, often by locals, you get chance to visit places tourists won’t know about. In Darmstadt it was a little basement club open just once a month, and tonight it was the back of a cafe that converts into a small club playing nothing but Detroit house. The whole situation was surreal. Amos, our host Johannes, half of The Slow Show and myself waited sheepishly outside this cafe and had to wait for the coast to be clear before the owner let us in, and even then it was at his digression. Unlike most clubs in London, the vibe in this place was pleasant. As big as a living room, and mainly just bar area, it’s the last place open in Feldkirch at 4am. Due to its unofficial status, people know and respect the venue otherwise they will loose the privilege of going there. We got back to the hotel at 6. Luckily tomorrow is a day off, I will sleep then.

Day Nine – #crewlove

We had our only day off today. It came at the right time. We have gigged every day for the last eight, now we could relax and take in some sights. We had every intention of casually walking around Feldkirch in the morning, but we decided to try and see it from the surrounding hills. We failed miserably. Before we knew it we were at the boarder of Lichtenstein. Oh well, better continue to Switzerland then.

Although Zurich is not a city we are playing this tour, Amos suggested we at least visit as we were driving past it anyway. He knew of a place by the lake that we could sit by and take in the views. It was called Rote Fabrik; a small area that was once part of the silk industry, now a centre for art an music culture. There are about four venues all adjacent to each other, street art adorning the walls and sculptures dotted around. It was like the Swiss Hackney Wick.

imageLubomyr Melnyk

We returned to One Of A Million festival as we had been invited back to hang out and watch the other bands. It’s nice to not have to worry about load in and stage times. We were greeted by some familiar, friendly faces at the location of the first gig of the day; a small building on the grounds of a country house. A fine location for who we were about to see. It was, Ukrainian pianist, Lubomyr Melnyk. I won’t fully describe what we witnessed as I don’t think I would do it any justice. I have, and probably never will, hear a piano played like that again. It was a very special, intimate performance.

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The best bit about returning to somewhere you’ve only been two days before, is that its like you’ve never been away. Not too much has changed so you don’t feel like you’ve missed out. It was great to see everyone again, share some drinks and watch Poliça together. Give the festival organisers their due, even with all the things they have to do, they always seemed on top of things and still had the energy to party at the first given opportunity. It’s like one big family at OOAM and we’re honoured to be part of it.

The hash tag in the title of this post was created by Patrick in production. I think it pretty much sums up today. #crewlove

 

Day Ten – Hauskonzerte

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Photo by Amos Memon

Tonight’s gig was put on by Hauskonzerte, a similar concept to Bedroomdisco, but Munich based. We turned up to their studio to record a video session. Sophie was very excited to find out Johnny Flynn was filmed just a week before. They have had an impressive roster of artists performing for them in the past, so we were in good company.

After filming ‘I Don’t’ (in one take) and ‘Waterloo’, (almost in one take), we made our way to the venue. Stef, our host and promoter, had told us that they had over 250 subscribers to the event, but could only find a location large enough for 120; an office round the corner from his house. After helping empty the venue of Macs and tables and lighting a few candles for ambience, the office was actually quite a good space for an intimate gig.

I’m going to take a moment to mention the food. I know I normally go on about how good the food has been, but last night, OH MY GOD! The best chickpea curry I reckon I will ever have. Sally, if you’re reading this, c’était magnifique.

Every so often you play a gig and something special happens. Everything fell into place last night; great sound, great atmosphere, packed room and as a band we played our best so far. We were part of the way through ‘Waterloo’, when Alex and I clocked Stef singing the chorus. This set us off laughing because we’re not used to it, and in turn the audience started laughing. Sophie was unaware of this, and almost stopped playing. After motioning her to continue, we got to the last chorus and the whole venue erupted into the chorus: “Where are we going to? Where are we going?”. Sophie was so taken back that she stopped singing. Amazing experience.

After the show, as we were packing down, a couple of girls approached me to ask me for a photo. After obliging, it turned out it was because I resembled one of their friends. Not quite One Direction just yet.

 

Part 3 coming soon… 

Sophie Jamieson Tour

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