3 Jan 2016


Bel Esprit are one of the more exciting indie bands in Southampton at the moment, which says a lot because the city genuinely has one of the best music scenes in the country. I caught up with Fahad Siddiqui, the lead guitarist to discuss McCartney, The Joiners, and the great city.

Do you feel there's a real scene happening in Southampton at the moment?
Absolutely, so many incredible bands out of Southampton. We were talking about this as a band the other day, what’s happening here is the stuff scenes are made of, I think in a few years we could have a lot of success stories.

Favourite bands from in and around the city?

My personal favourites are New Desert Blues, Wild Smiles, Dolomite Minor, The Rising, Science of Eight Limbs, Kassassin Street, Brother Goose, The Novatones, Fever, The Costellos, Cavaliers, Sahara, Howland and Elixir. As far as artists go, I really like Sean McGowan and Vicki Musselwhite. Seriously too many to mention, I’ve probably missed a couple! But I think the fact that there’s so many is a testament to the burgeoning scene down in the South at the moment.

Bel esprit are probably one of the biggest few bands of the Southampton scene, right? What's the biggest show you've played so far?
I don't know about biggest, we're one of the ones that have been going for the least amount of time so we haven't got as big a fan base as some of the others. but we're doing all right at the moment, we put a lot of work in to it. Biggest show we've ever played in terms of numbers was in Sheffield at a venue called the Plug. We played it to 350 people (sold out) supporting our mates in The Fontaines. Our biggest headline show was definitely Joiners in April, we had quite a big crowd (I can find a picture if you want).

What's your album of the year so far, and why?
I think i've got three. First is Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. I think he's consistently pushing the boundaries in hip hop and his lyrics and production on the album are amazing. Second is For All My Sisters by The Cribs. I worried their first album on a major might've been too commercial but The Cribs did what they do every time and put out an album of great songs start to finish. Then third, not sure if this counts because I've only heard it through a stream on The Guardian, but Leon Bridges' debut album is phenomenal. I don't think anyone's doing what he's doing better than he is right now and no one has done it that well for ages.

And what kinda material are you working on next?
We're planning to just improve songwriting and get bigger and better. We've been experimenting with different styles so a lot of the new stuff is completely different to some of the other new stuff, but we'll see what works best and put that out as soon as possible

What would be your absolute dream artist to open for?
Paul McCartney because we're all massive Beatles fans. If it was more opening for an indie band, probably The Strokes. They were one of the first modern indie bands that I fell in love with and that'd be incredible. 

And lastly, if you were put in charge of choosing the three headliners to a huge festival like Glastonbury, who would that be and why? 
My three Festival headliners was difficult, I had trouble putting it down to three. I decided on Radiohead, Paul McCartney and Chic for now but if you asked me tomorrow it’d probably be completely different. I think Chic put on a fantastic show and they’ve all these songs that nobody knows but everyone’s heard if that makes sense? Radiohead I think are probably the most innovative and inspiring bands of the last 20 years and Paul McCartney was in The Beatles, he’d have such a huge back catalogue and could play 3 hours of sing-a-longs if he wanted too.

Catch Fahad and the rest of Bel Esprit at the following dates in the future (although they're always about, so you should keep an eye out)

24th June – The Wheatsheaf, Oxford
25th July – Gabefest, Winchester
7th August – Wickham Festival, Wickham
8th August – Close Up Festival, Winchester
3rd October - Psychedelia Birthday Show, Southampton

Words: Calum Cashin