On the last day of the Love Supreme Festival, I popped to the Artists area to sit on a bench outside, sun shining on and interview the great duo that is Binker & Moses. The talent that they combine is unmistakably huge: prizes, gigs (venues big and small), an iconic first album “Dem Ones” on Gearbox Records, this is only a short summary of what Binker Golding (sax) and Moses Boyd (drums) have achieved and can do.
Their compositions shake the inner core, they move, they vibrate. It is the best jazz I have personally heard for a long time.
So we sit for a little while and chat about music, the future AND relaxation…
EY: Since “Dem Ones” you have been collecting a string of awards, has this been life-changing for you? How’s that felt?
(Moses) it is all good , it’s nice to be appreciated, nice to have recognition
boosted profile, especially on social media. (Binker) It makes easier to negotiate with people to win an award you don’t get money. it’s great to get an award but then you got to think how to turn that into money. People think “oh, they have won 4 awards”, but in a way, it makes it hard to explain to people that we also need paying…People think they (us) must have fast cards or big house, we don’t have that. (People will ask) we want you to do a gig for x and y and we have to say well then the fee needs to be this. There is a lot of negotiating of all the time.
EY: Do you find this negotiating a bit tricky or it is getting better with experience and status?
(Binker) It gets a bit easier, but I would say to anyone that’s reading this: “Be prepared in your mind to walk away with nothing, as it can be like that and it makes it easier (being prepared) in that respect in a way, it will make one stronger”.
EY: “Dem Ones” is on Gearbox Records, the great vinyl label based in North London. How did you get to that album, what inspired you?
(Moses) We don’t really hide behind the fact that I am influenced by Elvin Jones, John Coltrane, Jo Henderson, the list is rather endless. We weren’t trying to do anything too “ground-breaking” (says Moses in a rather modest way), we wanted to make a statement more along the lines of the “duo” format. This hadn’t been explored too much before. Archie Sheep and Max Roach is a duo that comes to mind; again, we weren’t trying to be too innovative, if you like, we enjoy playing in this format, we wanted to do it this way. A good saxophonist will look for a good relationship between him/her and a drummer. We thought, why not isolate these two (instruments) and then make a performance out of it, maybe the world can take another due like ours (for sure it can, I add!).
EY: This year you played Jazz Cafe in London then Love Supreme Festival (which is in Glynde in East Sussex) . Do you guys have a fav venue at all?
(Binker) i think there is a favourite venue for different things, I have favourite promoters for example, for Jazz Refreshed (the people that run that are great and we like working with them). but, say, for another band maybe that set up would not work. Different clubs have different emotions and vibes too. I like Ronnie Scott’s a lot. Right now I am wearing my ripped jeans and t-shirt and trainers so if we were playing at Ronnies that kind of look would not work, it would need a specific one.
But you want one name of one venue, I guess. Well, I tell you which is favourite venue then, which is not a jazz venue though, it is the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, in London. I love how it’s set out, it has great programming, great singers, the orchestra is great. I think it is the strongest venue in the UK, it has great ticket prices, too, so for example someone like me can afford going… (chuckles all around, but Binker has a point. Too many venues forget that accessibility at ALL levels is crucially important for allowing especially young people to continue in the music industry).
Although we are in the Artsts’ area, someone else steps in, in the middle of the interview, to congratulate both guys. This is just common practice for a duo that exudes talent aplenty and is so down-to-earth when out and about.
The “intruder” having realised the “interruption” is quickly forgiven (by me) and the chat moves on to talk about the performance on the Arena stage at the Festival.
EY: How did you guys prepare for the Arena stage then?
We have a lose structure, we improvise although it’s not totally random. We did briefly speak about it. I don’t like adding unnecessary stress to music (says Moses), we very rarely have disagreement on how the music should go, in fact hardly any. To be honest, we just treated it like any other gigs, a great gig indeed, huge crowd, but we went in there very much stress-free and very aware it was just like any another gig, although a very big one.
EY: what next for you two?
(Moses) Yeah, there is material for a new album, there will be some surprise collaborations, too and it will be on Gearbox again. (Binker) It will be a very different work from the first one, a bit more ambitious!
EY: And finally, how do you relax? (A question I ask everyone, but a truly revealing one, every single time)
(Moses) Yes, when I get a moment, I prefer no wi-fi and no phone signal, we are so connected to everything these days, being cut off from everything is good! (Binker) I very rarely relax and when all emails and practice are done I usually start composing which could mean from 10.30pm till about 2.30am (very much a night-animal, I comment to which Binker agrees) and if I am really relaxing, I i will probably watch movies like the old 1940s’ b&w movies (James Cagney and co).
I bid farewell to the boys, thank them again for the time granted and remind them I will catch them at a later date to discuss the new album, which, personally, I cannot wait for!
Words: Erminia Yardley