In the first of our interviews with the acts who will be playing this year's StrangeForms Festival, Stewart from Bad Owl Presents chatted with Imi from Leeds' dreampop act Lenin.
BAD OWL PRESENTS: We know that you guys came together at Leeds College Of Music - can you tell us a little more about the formation of the band and what influences, musically or otherwise, helped draw you all towards one another?
LENIN: Jacob, Adam and I have lived with each other for the past 2 years and have known each other for the past 3, though we never formally practiced as a band. Jacob and I met Rob through the 'Unfinished Arcade Fire' project at college, where he was our designated bassist. We found mutual interest in a band called Squrl, and Jacob and Rob found common ground in the math-rock music scene they both grew up with. We'd wanted to start a band for a while, so we invited Rob to be our bassist and started working on the EP I had been writing as part of my college submission. It so happens that our name actually derived from this encounter as well, as the song we chose to interpret was 'Lenin'.
BOP: You played your very first gig in December last year - how are you enjoying playing live as a band and have you been happy with how Lenin have been received?
LENIN: For me, this is the first proper band I've been a part of so it's all been so exciting, but I think even for the guys who are all in their own different bands, they've really enjoyed playing some awesome shows with some really great bands. We had the pleasure of supporting TE Morris of Her Name is Calla at our first gig and are really excited that we'll be playing alongside the full band at the festival in April. We're also supporting Vision Fortune this week (Wednesday 4th March at The Library), which we are really looking forward to, as they have recently become one of our favourite bands.
BOP: There's been a lot written in the press recently about the lack of females in bands and the music business. Whilst it's not perfect, Leeds does seem to have a higher than average ratio of females involved in (and doing great things in) the DIY music scene. What are your own thoughts and do you think it's something that needs addressed?
LENIN: It's not really anything we've considered to be a real problem to be honest, because naturally there seems to be more men wanting to make music than women. I would be slightly concerned if there were no women making music, but I think the fact there are more men in the industry isn't surprising. The male to female ratio at Leeds College of Music is ridiculously outnumbered on the male side, but it's never really bothered us. We don't see ourselves as a band with a female in, we think of us as a band of like-minded individuals with a passion for making music.
BOP: Lenin will be playing on the Saturday at StrangeForms - are you planning on sticking around for the day or weekend and, if so, who are you looking forward to seeing?
LENIN: Yes, we're going to try and see as much as we can, especially Her Name is Calla and &U&I. We're not familiar with that many of the other bands but are really looking forward to hearing some new music and soaking up the atmosphere of the weekend.
BOP: Lenin are asked to curate their own gig - what four bands, past or present, would you have on the bill?
LENIN: Wild Beasts, Squrl, Slowdive & The Cure
Wild Beasts are one of our collective favourites. We've nearly seen them so many times but unfortunately circumstances have not allowed it. They'd be the perfect opener setting up a chilled but intense vibe at LeninFest2015.
Jacob and I first discovered Squrl in an early screening of the film 'Only Lovers Left Alive', which Squrl co-wrote the soundtrack for. Jacob spent the next few months purely listening to their EPs on repeat. They've had quite a large influence in shaping the band's attitude and approach to making music. Seeing them live would be quite a crazy, surreal thing for us.
Slowdive don't really need any explanation, I'm sure there's thousands of bands that cite them as a reference or inspiration. They're just pretty great really.
The Cure are the single biggest influence on us. They've got so many amazing albums that no matter what mood you're in, you can always find something to fit. I think it's only right that they end up headlining our show. Robert Smith's hair is more than enough to win that accolade... Kinda want to go to this gig now...
BOP: And finally, other than StrangeForms, what are Lenin's plans for the rest of 2015?
LENIN: Just to keep up the momentum we've got really, and to continue supporting bands we love. We're hoping to release some new material soon, though we're not sure whether this will be in the form of a single or EP. We'd love to release a vinyl, but we're all poor students so we'll just have to see.
Lenin will be playing StrangeForms at 3pm on Saturday 4th of April.
Weekend tickets cost £15 and can be purchased from Jumbo Records, Wharf Chambers or online at https://badowlpresents.bandcamp.com/merch
Day tickets cost £9 and can be purchased online at https://www.wegottickets.com/f/8765