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Kikamora - Masquerade

Interview With Kikamora Lead Guitarist & Co-Founder Jimi Bessant

Kikamora are a hard-rock blues band based in Bristol in the the Southwest of England. Kikamora have released one EP to-date, 2016s ‘In The Henhouse’ and their 2nd EP ‘Masquerade’ has a release date for November 16th 2018.

Kikamora have been making huge noises on the music scene since their inception in 2015 and have played some huge festivals and gigs and are set to go far in the music world.

 

 

I had the immense pleasure of catching up with the bands co-founder and lead guitarist Jimi Bessant recently for a chat about all things Kikamora, the new line up, the new ‘polished’ sound, the new EP and the exciting revelation that a full length LP is in the works.

‘Wrong Place, Right Time’ Sample – Taken From New EP Masquerade 16.11.18

Jimi Bessant Interview

1. Hi Jimi, thank you for taking the time to have a chat me about you and your music, I know you are a busy guy. How has 2018 been for you so far? You’ve already have had some great gigs and festivals, what’s been your highlight so far?

Wow, that is a tricky one. Giants of Rock was up there, I also really enjoyed SOS Festival in Manchester. However, my highlight would have to be recording the new EP, the guys at Outhouse studio were so professional which made the recording process more relaxed. The whole process was smooth, all the guys were on point and I think that comes across in the finished product.

2. Great Stuff sounds like a blast. For the uninitiated, can you explain what Kikamora are all about and what people can expect from your music?

We are predominately a hard rock band, but we try and mix things up by not sticking to the tried and tested formulas. I draw a lot of influence from the blues and I think that comes across in some of the guitar riffs. We also have the addition of our saxophonist Frankie Povey and lead singer Wilf on the Harmonica which makes us stand out and gives us a very groovy bluesy swagger.

3. Kikamora is an interesting name, can you explain what it means and how the name fits the band?

A Kikamora is a legendary creature, a mischievous female house spirit in Slavic mythology. I wouldn’t read into it too much, it was one of those things that just sounded cool and different when we were discussing band names way back.

4. You’ve just finished recording your new EP ‘Masquerade’, what can we expect from this release and can we expect anything different on the record compared to your other music?

You can expect to hear the best material we have ever recorded, we are all so pleased with how it sounds. The songs are some of the strongest we have written. I would say that it is still very much us although our sound has developed into something a bit different on Masquerade.

5. Your music is entirely independent and self-released, what are the main challenges you face with this approach compared to having a big label or publicist behind you and how have you overcome them?

We overcome them by working extremely hard. To be honest I wish we could work harder but unfortunately with the way the music business is in 2018 we are not making enough money to quit our jobs and make the band our main focus.

6. Your girlfriend Frankie appears on the EP on ‘Wrong Place, Right Time’ and at least once on ‘In The Henhouse’. How did this come about? Saxophone isn’t the most common/obvious of instruments when is comes to hard rock and metal band.

When we started the band we didn’t have that much material and we would occasionally play this cover by Slashes Snake Pit “ Ain’t Life Grand” the song has a sax solo and we decided to get Frankie to jam with. The cover had such a great reaction when we tried it out at some shows that we decided to write a few of our own songs with added Sax sections.

7. Wow, I’d love to hear you play that live some day, [hint, hint]. The sax certainly fits in with the more bluesy numbers you do such as ‘Half Rats’ on ‘Henhouse’ and ‘Wrong Place’ on the new EP. I’ve seen you guys live a number of times and Frankie certainly fits in with the look and style of the band, not least the long hair (Rob aside, he’s gotta sort that out man) but she has got that whole rock-chick look nailed.

Yeah, we are forever telling Rob to grow his hair. And yeah, she does, we are currently writing more music for what will eventually become the album. There will be more saxophone than on our previous efforts, so you’ll be seeing more of her.

8. You’ve had a couple of line-up changes recently with Rich (Drums) and Daniel (Rhythm Guitar) leaving, both being replaced by Adam & Chris respectively. How are they both fitting in and have they brought anything new to the band?

They are both fitting in extremely well. It was sad to see Rich go and I don’t think he wanted to leave but he is moving on with his job and tying the knot with his partner this year so it’s a busy one for him. Andy is a fantastic drummer, we had demos for some of the tracks before he joined he band but he really took the demos and made the songs his own adding some amazing fills that get me every time I hear him smash out the songs. Chris has also been a fantastic addition to the band, his knowledge of guitar equipment, sounds, and theory is mind-blowing. He had some great ideas in the studio to give the songs more texture which made the guitars come alive. Even his presence on stage and interaction with other members has been astonishing from the first show he played with us.

9. How easy/hard was it going through this transition?

It’s always hard but both guys made the transition easy. I think this is a line up we will be sticking with for a very long time.

10. You’ve mentioned recently to me that you have a new and more polished sound these days. This is certainly evident on the new EP which is 5 tracks of sheer hard-hitting, hard-riffing, in-your-face hard rock with blistering guitar solos and an element of blues. Have the new members contributed to this new sound or is it the natural progression of the band?

Everyone has contributed to the overall sound and I also think the studio played a big part in it. Chris has more experience in mixing, so he was able to take a step back and suggest ways to improve the finals masters. I also think that everyone gave 110% in the studio which obviously helps.

11. Masquerade is the bands 2nd ep, following on from 2016s EP ‘In The Henhouse’. Are there any plans for a full-length album any time soon or are you going to keep teasing us with EP releases for the time being? I for one as a Kikamora fan would love to see a LP in the not too distant future. As much as I love the new EP  [huge thanks for sending me over a copy Jimi] there is one big disappointment with it for me, only 5 songs!

Well in that case you will be happy to know we are already writing and planning a full length for next year.

12. Fantastic news, please keep me in the loop with the developments. What inspires your song-writing, is there one driving force behind the songs or it is a more collaborative process?

With this line-up it will be more collaborative. As I mentioned we had demoed most of the tracks before the new members had joined, they still made changes and had their input, but the core bones of the tracks were already in place. For the album we will be getting together in a hot sweaty rehearsal room and doing it the old school way.

13. What’s next for Kikamora? I know the EP is released on the 16th November with a launch party at The Exchange in Bristol on the 30th. Will the launch still go ahead as there is a threat of (yet another in Bristol) venue closure. What can you tell us about that?

I don’t really have any inside information to be honest, but I can tell you the venue will still be there for our EP launch. I have been in contact with the venue and they assure me they are not going anywhere yet.

14. With all the closures and threats of closure, how have you seen the music scene change in around Bristol and indeed the other areas of the UK you play in?

I have seen and change since I have been in bands. I remember when Bristol was full of original rock bands and now it seems to be full of tribute acts, but I don’t think it will ever stop the original bands doing what they do.

15. As much as I’d love to talk about Kikamora, music and the music industry I’d really love to find out more about Jimi Bessant, the person, the guitarist. I am a huge hard rock and blues fan and have my list of my favourite guitarists, both past and present. There is such a wealth of new music coming out these days and some truly great guitarists emerging, and I have to say that you are up there on that list and my list of names to look out for. How did you get into guitar and what makes you the guitarist you are today?

Wow I’m blushing, thanks man. I started playing quite late, around 14, wish I had started sooner to be honest. I was listening to music from an early age. My parents, particularly my dad had a big influence on the music I listen to. He took me so many gigs from an early age including the Black Sabbath reunion in 1997 a family friend gave my sister Jodie a guitar which I borrowed while she was out one day, my dad saw me playing it and went straight to the music shop and brought me a beginner’s book and told me if finished the book he would pay for some lessons. So, you can thank him because without him encouraging me it probably wouldn’t have gone very far.

16. Father Bessant, the music world will forever be in your debt. We all have our influences and people we admire in our field and it doesn’t take a genius to work out who your main influence is but, who has influenced you and the way you play?

As I previously said I love blues music, a few years ago I attended a Blues guitar workshop (another present from my parents) and that was a turning point for me and my playing. I love blues guitar and I think that why I love Slash as a guitarist. I tend to prefer guitar players with more soulful playing.

17. I also like to find out about the gear people use. You are a Les Paul and a Marshall guy and don’t really seem to use many other effects. You seem like a plug and play guitarist and you let your playing speak for itself, can you tell us about any other gear and pedals you use?

You are right, I use a Marshall JVM which has four channels, so I have most of what I need from the amp. I also have a 1978 Marshall JMP at home which I really love but I’m too scared to gig with it. I don’t really use many effects just some reverb and delays really. I also have a Dunlop Cry baby which I occasionally use on some of my solos and leads licks but that’s about it.

18. If given the opportunity, who would you be your dream player to collaborate with, dead or alive.

Oh man that’s a tough one but I would have to say Randy Rhoads.

19. Oh great choice, Randy Rhoads, what a player! Dream guitar to own or get your hands on and play?

59’ Les Paul for sure.

20. When on stage, you have so much fun and clearly love what you do. Your energy is infectious, but I can’t comprehend how you can play the way you do whilst running around on stage, interacting with the other guys and pulling the shapes you do. Are you conscious of your activity on stage or are you so much in the zone and loving what you do that it just comes naturally and you’re not aware of what you are getting up to? For me, I think it’s because you are simply a phenomenal guitarist!

Thanks man. As a band we want to audience to have fun, entertaining the crowd is important to us. As you said we are having so much fun up there and to be honest we are just being ourselves, we are playing music we love so it comes naturally. If I was in the crowd watching a band I loved I would be going crazy too.

21. What’s your favourite part about touring and being on the road? Any crazy stories you can share or does what happen on tour stay on tour?

Well it’s not sitting on the motorway. And yeah, I have a few but I don’t want to get in trouble with Wilf.

22. Jimi, man, it’s been great to talk to you and gain a few insights into you and the band. Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to MNPR Magazine. Is their anything you would like to add or say to our readers?

I would like to thank you personally for supporting the band since we have been going, thanks to all your readers and if you choose to check out our new EP I really hope you enjoy it. Thanks again

Masquerade EP Launch Party

Masquerade is released on 16th November 2018 and can be pre-ordered via the bands Pledgemusic Campaign. A special launch party is to be held in the bands hometown of Bristol at The Exchange on November 30th; tickets and more info here. MNPR Magazine will of course be there to capture the evening it all it’s hard rocking glory so if you can’t make it, look out for a full review and images from the evening in the magazine.

Kikamora EP Launch Bristol

Find Kikamora on the web and all the usual social media channels:

Website:       https://kikamoraband.com/
Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/Kikamoraband/
Twitter:         https://www.twitter.com/kikamoraband
YouTube:     https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrTnsPcmv4UMQPTs7lIwPVw
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/kikamora_band/

About Richard Bolwell

Richard Bolwell is a freelance concert and tour photographer and co-founder and Editor in Chief of MNPR Magazine. Richard can more often than not be found in the photo pit at gig and on the seldom occasion seen without a camera, he is simply enjoying the music and soaking up the atmosphere with his friends and colleagues.

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