More expansive and ambitious than ever before, Gengahr are a band reborn. A testament to going it alone, Sanctuary is the experimental North London alt-pop four-piece’s finest body of work to date, a DIY triumph which welcomes old friend Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club as producer, adding his distinct brand of symphonic sparkle to Gengahr’s complex, layered sound.
Born of an epic journey, the follow-up to their acclaimed 2015 debut A Dream Outside and 2018’s Where Wildness Grows sees songwriter Felix Bushe tapping into personal pain but coming out fighting. “I was picturing myself as Odysseus in this captive journey where I was just trying to get back to where I wanted to be in life,” he explains. After the release of the band’s second album things weren’t easy. Not only did he have to face the sudden passing of his mother, but then the woman who had become his rock returned home to Australia as her visa had run out. “My girlfriend had stopped me from going completely off the rails – then I suddenly found myself basically just on my own.” It was hard going, but Felix channelled his pain into more than 60 new songs. Yet at this stage he wasn’t sure where, what or even who this material was for. “I wrote a lot of that stuff thinking it would be a solo album,” reveals Felix, who, alongside bandmates John Victor, Hugh Schulte and Danny Ward, had no idea if Gengahr were going to get back in the studio. “I didn’t know what the other guys would want to do because the experience of the last album was quite rocky and turbulent.”
Of course it was impossible for any of them to say no to the prospect of doing it all again and while collaborating on the new tracks decided they were down to try something a bit different... Recorded without a label or management and with Gengahr paying for the sessions out of their own pocket, Sanctuary recaptures the magic that the four guys felt back when they were making their debut. It’s vibrant, intoxicating, intimate and alive; the product of friends having a good time and seizing control of their own destiny. As such, it’s also way more banging than anything that has gone before.
Kamran Khan began playing music at the age of 7, when he and his twin sister, Yasmin, took violin lessons together at primary school. Over the years, violins transformed into guitars and pre-teen dalliances with Scandinavian metal morphed into an obsession with British 80s alt-pop. Aged 13, and influenced by compilation CDs from older friends at the local skatepark, Khan formed his first band. Whilst this mainly consisted of playing covers of The Cure’s early singles, Khan also tried his hand at songwriting for the first time.
Fake Laugh first emerged in 2013 as a side-project to Khan’s main band at the time, eventually becoming his primary focus of creativity. Fake Laugh’s self-titled debut full-length arrived in 2017 as the delicate accumulation of years of experimentation. The album is a vivid rummage through the worlds of love, confusion and self-questioning.
Bessie Turner is a singer song writer based in East Anglia. Her style is an eclectic pastiche of her musical heroes; she is influenced as much by Lauryn Hill as she is Dionne Warwick. Yet it is her own uniqueness – in both her personality as well as her music - that sets her apart as an artist and performer. Her voice rings with a soulfulness that floats like a cloud; wistful, effortless and above all charming.
Bessie released her debut single Big Sleep on her own label in April 2017 to entirely unexpected acclaim; the song was viewed/streamed more than 10,000 times in the first 12 hours of her existence as a recording artist. With support from BBC Introducing and after performing a live session for BBC Introducing in Suffolk the single wound up with plays on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music. Six weeks into her career Bessie Turner was asked by BBC Introducing to appear at Latitude festival.