Introducing Interview: Queen Colobus

Having received support from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs, as well as Jazz FM and Soho Radio, South London based indie-jazz collective Queen Colobus have recently released their new EP Think Fast. Filled with blissful hooks, luscious swooning vocals and glistening laid-back beats, it showcases the band’s ability to fuse together an eclectic array of influences to create wonderfully woozy, musically rich euphoric soundscapes.

We caught up with Queen Colobus to find out more about the EP, what inspires them and what to expect from their live shows…

Hi Queen Colobus, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about the band?
Hiya! We’re a genre-bending 4-piece based in South London. We’ve been together for about three years and Beth (sax/vocals) and Jelly (guitar) live together in sunny Camberwell in a house full of musicians. Our name was derived from an Old World Monkey called King Colobus, which we thought reflected our wise and playful nature (but being a female-led band, Queen felt more apt). We all love marmite.

How did you initially all get together and start creating music?
Beth & Jelly met at a jam session in Southampton years ago and bonded over being the only female instrumentalists in the room. We forged an alliance and, upon realising how weird we both are following a raspberry-blowing-on-a-random-person’s-stomach incident, we roped in our frivolity-filled mates Will & Adam to create Queen Colobus. We thought the weirdness might seep into the music too and, sure enough, our music has been repeatedly described as wonky.

Your new EP Think Fast is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any specific themes running throughout the album?
Yes, we’re really proud of this one! It’s our second EP. Beth wrote the bare bones of most of these songs and then brought them to the band, so they’re fairly personal. The EP covers themes that are often not talked about in society; grief, mental health struggles and unrealistic body ideals. ‘Think Fast’, the title track, hits back at body ideals and their damaging effects on women, especially young women, whereas ‘5/9’ was written about Beth’s Dad’s relentless positivity as he underwent cancer treatment. The final track of the EP, ‘Old Friend’, was recorded live in one take and is a sweet song on learning how to be alone.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote and Arlo Parks, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
We’re lucky to all have such a wide spread of influences. For example, Beth always says that she sort of fell into jazz because she plays saxophone, but listens to so much indie and rock music that this weird amalgamation of them all comes out in her writing. Then when we come together, everyone brings their styles to create an even weirder combination that we often struggle to identify. We can feel a lot of the underground scene’s genre lines becoming blurred and us slowly moving into a post-genre music world, and we’re excited to be part of it. If we had to name one or two influences, Hiatus Kaiyote and Led Zeppelin are probably top of the list.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
As Beth & Jelly live in a house of musicians we were lucky to have a full band in the house over lockdown. As things started to open up but venues hadn’t yet, we would host jams for our community in our back garden, so we were really fortunate to still experience live music throughout the pandemic. Our music community is incredible – everyone is so supportive of each other. We see a lot of live music because we’re passionate about it but also because we want to support all our mates!

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
Lots of cathartic rage channelled through a saxophone, followed by sweet calming sounds soothed by Beth’s voice. Extreme guitar solos from Jelly via a concerningly un-grounded plethora of guitar pedals. Will’s head bobbing so furiously you feel his neck must be a slinky. An absurd rhythmic wizard named Adam via the medium of drums. Seriously, though, the audience are very much a part of our performance – we’re always so inspired by everyone’s energy in the room. We always try to create a space where everyone on and off stage feels like they can let go and be completely immersed in the moment.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Yes! We’re loving Holysseus Fly ‘Marigold’ and Stanlæy ‘omnibiguous’ – two singles released last month that are incredible. Shoutouts to Plumm ‘Flame to Flame’, Nina Fine ‘Little Lies’ and t l k ‘Frame Of Ted’. Also we became completely obsessed with Jessi Mac’s tune ‘Carry On’ last year. Excited for Marla Kether and China Bowls to drop their new music soon too.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It’s hard because the pandemic stopped so many artists’ trajectories in their tracks – it sort of felt like we were over-saturated as a scene as venues started to open up and bands released music they wrote over that time too. Having said this, the saturation is also super inspiring – everyone is creating and pushing boundaries with their art and it inspires us to do so too. There’s always an element of luck too which is impossible to predict.

Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Queen Colobus?
We’re working on some new music and will be back in the studio early 2023 – lots more weird sounds coming your way!

Think Fast, the new EP fro Queen Colobus is out now. Listen to / buy it on Bandcamp now.