Interview: Joe Fleming | Easy Stride Band
Joe Fleming aka Joe Fleming Band has performed multiple times at AIDA - from our first music project, the original Summer Sessions, to the more recent Live Sessions video series. As we’ve developed so has he, from one man and a loop pedal, to a collective of musicians translating his upbeat Reggae and Soul-infused acoustic sound: the newly christened 'Easy Stride Band'.
After a quick (and very entertaining) shoot around Shoreditch, we sat down with Joe to talk new line-ups and old inspirations.
How would you describe Easy Stride Band to someone who'd never heard your music or seen you perform live?
Put some upbeat reggae, wicked bass and big beats into a firework and add in some tight vocal harmonies and lyrics. Now set it off above a field of people ready to party. That’s the music we play.
You're at the start of a new phase: tell us about your latest work as Easy Stride Band -
The year is shaping up to be an exciting and progressive year for me personally, and for Easy Stride Band. As an artist I’m focusing directly on lyrical content, melodies and the feel of a beat. Living in the city is inspiring me everyday - it’s such a vibrant environment. The lyrics I’m writing are a reflection of this. Our sound as a band is also evolving with the newest addition, Noah Burton (Musician/Producer).
An addition to the line up - introduce us to the other band members -
The newest addition is Noah Burton (Extra Curricular). Noah’s production, arrangement and writing experience add new dynamics and sounds to the music. The freedom of his synth playing combined with heavy beats from the MPC is inspiring old and new tracks to grow and develop.
Taking care of the big sounding bass lines and sat right back in the groove is bassist Benny Brooke. Benny has the ability to create melodic and rhythmical bass lines that support the original guitar style and rhythm of the music. This new combination is pushing us into sonic territory! We’re now operating as a three piece with features from guest musicians including Beatboxer BALL-ZEE. The sound we are creating is bigger – it has more depth and more charisma.
What's the hardest thing about working as a freelance musician?
Being a freelance musician is challenging, but it is also the best fun and definitely possible. Playing gigs, especially in the city, can be a little soul-less at times. Venue promoters have their own agenda - some think about the cash alone and not the music or the artist. You have to work out who’s who.
The most important thing is to stay passionate about the music and not get disheartened, disillusioned or sidetracked. We surround ourselves with like-minded, passionate people and this helps us to stay positive and inspired. One of these people is Tommy Sturt (The 500 Festival). Working with Tommy is helping us push ourselves further as a band – he understands us and has our best interests at heart. With that kind of support it’s easier to envision the path to bigger and greater things.
How do you deal with creative block - does inspiration come easily for new music?
New music comes in waves, sometimes I can write two songs in one day or nothing in a whole six months. I tend not to push it and just let it happen naturally. At present I work a lot with a loop pedal to create ideas and write material - it means you can instantly record an idea and then play it back. I like to constantly keep pushing forward and experimenting with melody, harmony and rhythm. Now, working in a new three piece the creativity is richer and so the ideas are coming thick and fast.
What are your plans for this year? Where can we expect to see you?
Expect new videos, new songs, and a bigger sound. And hopefully we will all be skanking together in a field somewhere this summer in the UK!
What's the most important part of performing for you? How do you feel going on stage?
Playing my music is the best thing I can do, and for me the most important part of performing is being surrounded by people who like, appreciate and understand what I do. To see a crowd having an amazing time, smiling, dancing and enjoying music you’ve written… that’s what it’s all about.
How do you deal with criticism? Are you self critical with your work?
Criticism is incredibly valuable. I've realised most of the time people prefer to be nice and polite instead of telling you what they really think. The truth is you really want and need to know what they think so you can grow and evolve. Criticism for me is a great help.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in music?
Think about it, make sure you’re passionate about it and if you are, try it. Start small, be realistic and see what grows.
How aware are you of other musicians on the scene, what they're doing and how they're progressing? Do you feel a sense of pressure to reach a certain level with your music?
I listen to other artists’ music all the time. I listen to lots of different artists but never weigh myself up against them; I don’t feel the pressure or need to. The only pressure I feel is from myself and from the passing of time. I often want to run before I can walk - I get excited and want things to happen right away. I guess there are pros and cons to this way of being.
What's the most important thing about music to you? How important is it to you to pursue your dreams and ambitions with your music?
I’m happiest when I'm surrounded by my friends, playing the music we have all created together for an audience of dancing people. The most important thing for me it to make this moment happen as much as possible.
Find out more about Easy Stride Band on Their official website HERE
Watch Joe's AIDA Live Session video HERE
The band worked with our stylist Rowan for the photo shoot, wearing items from AIDA Menswear. Shop Menswear HERE