GIGsoup sat down with Necktr, a nine-piece neo-soul band from Leeds who are making waves locally with their bright, eclectic groove music. With a new EP on the way, Max (Trombone), Greg (Drums), Poppy (Trumpet), Esme (Vocals) and Seb (Guitar) gave us their thoughts on their journey as a group and the scene they inhabit.

Hey guys! How did you all meet?

Poppy: We met at Leeds College of Music, we’re all on the jazz course. It’s really easy there to just get chatting to other people and get people on-board with any project you might have. Everyone in Necktr overlaps in terms of the music we’re into so we all sort of bonded!

Max: When we first got together and started writing it was very much a soul focused project. But as things have gone on I would actually say that we’ve drifted away from soul music and into other styles and genres.

Seb: If you come and see us live you’ll hear dirty funk breakdowns and rhythmic African sounds.. all sorts of stuff. But sometimes we’ll break off into little ambient pastures too. A Necktr song will definitely go through a range of different dynamics. ‘Tracing Paper’, the song that we put out first, is definitely more soul influenced track and was designed to test the waters. If you see us live there’s a lot of other stuff going on to.

Do you think that the Leeds groove scene has influenced the way you make your music?

Poppy: Definitely, in terms of the shows we put on it’s really helpful to be part of that scene.

Max: It’s interesting, a lot of our friends who perform live who do different styles of music to us and are excellent musicians won’t get as many people coming to their shows,  just because the groove stuff is so massively popular at the moment.

Seb: We’re hitting the groove stuff at the right time when it’s popular. It’s interesting because Leeds is quite unique in it’s love for groove music. Manchester has a few venues but not that many that play that kind of music. There are big bands coming through but on the small scale there really arent that many regular groove nights there.

Max: Sheffield does have a bit of a groove scene, you have bands like K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade. I don’t really know why Leeds is the place at the moment. It might be that Leeds had one of the first college jazz courses in the north. In fact it’s the only place to study jazz in the north really. That and it rubs up next to a very successful popular music course.

Seb: There are a number of cool little music movements going on too.Tight Lines who put out our live sessions are flying the flag for groove music at the moment. They have a really D.I.Y application toward music which is usually twinned with punk and genres like that. Up here it’s linked with jazz or funk music. It’s the same sort of attitude applied in a different context.

Max: Yeah, that D.I.Y attitude really carries through up here.

Are you planning to put the eclectic side of you into your next EP. Is there a plan to show that off?

Poppy: We’re in the process of finishing off the EP now. A few of the tracks on there which we’ve had since the beginning. Tracks like ‘Choose to Stay’ have a huge surge of us all playing together. Its one of those songs which is highly structured.

Max: I think that ‘Tracing Paper’ isn’t complete representation of our horn section live. I think a lot of the newer stuff is much more interactive, in terms of the band jamming together.

Seb: The tunes on the EP break away from the verse, chorus, bridge popular song structure. There’s a tune on there called ‘Something’s Happening’ that has a jazz form to it, with our keyboardist spitting bars over it. We don’t want to recycle song structures that we use; we want to keep it fresh in structural terms.

Greg: We recorded ‘Tracing Paper’ over a year ago. I was talking to a friend who was saying that a photograph is like a snapshot in time; you’ve changed since then. In the same way, the stuff we’re going to be releasing now will be different. It will be nice to see where we go in the next few years.

Max: Yeah it’s really nice, we feel like quite a dynamic band. At every gig we’ll usually play a new song. And at shows we’ll always psych each other up to play better or more interestingly.

Do you think because theres so many of you it actually makes you change and develop more quickly?

Seb: 100%.There are so many different backgrounds here musically that it all just mixes into one when we approach our music.

Poppy: We’ve all come so far and you can really hear how much everyone progressed, it’s amazing.

Max: In our EP we’re really trying to push the boundaries of what is easy to play and what’s a bit challenging for us.

Seb: For us, it’s about finding the right balance of keeping it really inclusive for everyone but interesting to listen to still.

You can see Necktr at…

13th May 2018: Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds – Main support for Afriquoi

30th June 2018: Alesford Music Festival, Winchester – Main support for Nubiyan Twist

29th June – 1st July 2018: El Dorado Festival, Herefordshire

22nd of July- Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

21st September 2018 – Small Seeds, Huddersfield

You can catch Necktr in the following venues and festivals this summer! ‘Tracing Paper’ is available on all major streaming platforms.