Unapologetic 'trans-national, genre- blending' GENN are a deep breath under the breeze of the promenade, bringing a sea of colour to all the greyness. "Firstly, that is the most flattering interview opening I’ve ever heard, thank you!" bassist Leanne graciously declares as we catch up, but it is refreshingly true in appearance and output. Originally born over a decade ago on the sunny shores of Malta, the band claimed a different name stemming from a lifelong friendship and a school project of Leona (vox) and Janelle (guitarist).
Leanne dissects the history further, "After which I eventually stumbled in after being a friend and fan for two years. Sofia did after we were stuck drummerless with a UK tour within the month, and she (somehow) accepted to take on the job of learning an entire album’s worth of songs and going on tour with a random bunch who approached her on Facebook through a group!" Despite having only met in person at their first gig, they worked together harmoniously, which pushed the four to glide upwards ever since that very day.
Their unshakable bond ever-present, she thinks of each member and what their role is within the group: "Leona is our vocalist, an impassioned character and lover of the arts and aestheticism who serves as a strong influence to our visual voice. Janelle is our guitarist, a methodical powerhouse who was our acting manager and is responsible for a lot of our momentum over the years. If you want something done well, you hire her."
She goes on with affection, "Sofia is our drummer, a grounded force with an ability to read people, and an eye for the stylistic that comes through on our socials (also our taxi driver). I’m Leanne, our bassist (and kind of secretary), and I make funny jokes sometimes."
The laughter provider estimates what it means to reside in Brighton and what that means as an artist, born in bread or welcomed to the area of vibrancy. "It is honestly such a cool city to be in as a creative! Naturally, it’s not perfect or anything, but it being the home of so much talent is an inspiration (both musical and otherwise) in itself to me. It’s a little tricky to put into words, but the character of the town is so particular - sometimes to the point of eccentricity."
Moving on to the stamping of sound, I wonder if there is a 'best fit' for GENN. Do they consciously rebel filling a jello mould, or is it a natural occurrence? "Trying to pin genre down is always a bit tricky - it’s always been a question of just jumping into it and following through with whichever ideas come to life. Considering how many genre influences we have combined, a lot of them come through in some form, though I think the most common would be some nature of punk and post-punk, psych rock, and some cheeky implications of funk." She wonders if she has forgotten something, "There’s a lot!"
Single Mackerel's Funky Mission, out Friday, March 12th, has a cheeky, playful aural and is rather danceable and sexy, with the production reminiscent of an intimate venue. I ask if it is a non-negotiable to bring that funk, or is this track an expression of how they felt at a particular moment? "I love the funk!! Speaking as half of the rhythm section, in particular, it’s a style that lends so much to what bass and drums are capable of as instruments. Whilst not every song will show distinct elements of it, I think we all love it enough that the funk will certainly make some kind of return."
A Debbie Harry badass rap style is adopted by the number of groove. Our bassist thinks of its message and if the chosen technique enforces this."The song tells the story of a mackerel who's in a funk (pun intended) that is determined to swim from the UK to Malta, despite external discouragement." Without explaining it too literally, "I think the narrative associates with a handful of themes that tie closely with our general story, as well as our headspace during the first lockdown of 2020. I love the use of spoken word in the context of this nature of narrative, as it draws attention to lyrical detail, which I think is a standout element of this song."
EP Liminal knocks at the door on March 30th. We wrap up our cute natter with Leanne sharing a nugget of what we can expect and wisely making no firm statements about what the future hold tour and gig wise. "I’d say that the name Liminal is fairly apt in both of those contexts - stylistically and lyrically detailing multiple elements of being in a state of transition into something, somewhere that is yet to be revealed." She would like to think that it shows love for multiple genre inspirations while reflecting their movement in strengthening the musical voice of GENN.
"I’d feel bad making any promises we end up being unable to keep. However, we have some hope of getting something of the sort organised late in the year - fingers crossed!"
Article by Beverley Knight