Kicking off 2014 in fine style, our featured local up and coming musician for January is SAVAGE JAW (aka. Harry Westall).
Only Harry himself knows how he conceived the name for his one man project, but it’s certainly a name that isn’t forgotten easily. Neither are his live shows, which seem to be embedded in the memory long after the final sample has been phased out and the curtain has fallen. I can vouch for that personally, after watching one of the most incredible local live performances of 2013.
On a cold clear Autumn evening at the Sixth Form College, a sparse audience witnessed a jaw (excuse the pun) dropping statement of a performance from young Harry and one that will probably live with most of us that were there that evening for a long time. It was most definitely heartwarming and, more so, controversial and very unexpected.
Savage Jaw was performing as part of a launch night at the college for the Oxjam event, along with several other local artists. And it was that finale of a performance that left us open mouthed and quite literally shocked! But I was also impressed too. Very. Not only had Savage Jaw delivered a wicked dark electro-filled extravaganza of experimental sound, but at the end of the incredible set he delivered what looked like the final blow to his no doubt very expensive array of equipment, as he overturned the table on which his gear was perched, leaving it flickering away on the stage floor and left the auditorium in stunned silence. I’d say it was a result. It took me back to the days of watching The Damned at Eric’s in Liverpool, when Rat Scabies demolished his drum kit with Captain Sensible’s bass guitar. After an eerie silence came the applause, with each person in the small crowd wondering just where Harry had disappeared to. It was certainly a topic of conversation on the night and for days to come. Savage Jaw had arrived and left his mark.
Luckily, the equipment remained intact and Savage Jaw had cemented a reputation as an artist to be reckoned with and one that must be seen and listened to. The Fylde Coast doesn’t have another musical artist like this. He stands alone, but he stands proud. And so he should. Harry certainly isn’t afraid of creating a sound that may not suit every taste, but it is unique and well thought out and gives the listener a journey into his mind and how it works. With a cacophony of sampled beats, swirling heavy bass lines and ethereal electro layers combined with heavy use of reverb on the mic, Savage Jaw deliver an experience and something just that little bit different from the norm.
I caught up with Harry and he told me, “I started in late January 2013 as part of a college project I was completing. It was all about trying something you had never tried before, exploring a new idea, or something that interested you. For a while I had been in a metal band and I the thought process became a little dull.”
So, what prompted him to take the electro direction?
“Songwriting had to be ‘metal’ specific terminology, for example death, murder, anger etc and it was like I was stuck in this routine with no change in sight. So I felt this was the perfect time to try something completely different. My main influence was Grimes and she showed me that you can still be an effective musician with the DIY solo approach and since I’m a bit of a control freak, it was just what I was looking for. So I began researching equipment and after a week of buying a synth, my first song was born called Inside Eyes.”
I asked how it had progressed from there.
“Well, I created a YouTube channel and began uploading future music to the page, and then started gigging,” added Harry.
And your influences?
“It’s hard to narrow influences down really. I suppose the main one for me is Grimes, but there are also countless others from countless different genres. Crystal Castles, Majical Cloudz, Blue Hawaii, Hot Chip, Bjork, New Order, Joy Division, Gary Numan, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Lady Gaga, Metronomy, The XX, Slayer, Sex Pistols, Deftones, The Cure, Public Image Ltd, Lana del Rey… the list could go on.”
So, what makes you different and how would you describe your sound?
“I try to give an alternate approach to music as I find a lot of it clichéd and boring. I describe myself as Ambient Noise Pop, because I make that kind of music. Or ‘Uncomfortable Electro’ because not a lot of people seem comfortable listening to me! I’ve been described as ‘Post Modern Ironic Impressionist Experimentalism’ too.”
Savage Jaw released his first video last month to a track entitled Guns and if you want something leftfield, interestingly brave and creative, then I do suggest you catch Savage Jaw live when you can, because it is an experience you won’t forget too quickly. I really enjoyed the sound and the visual element incorporated into the performance. It kept me hooked and attentive, so I guess Savage Jaw have found a formula that works. Long may that continue, because here we have yet another young and talented artist looking at a very productive and successful 2014.
I shall be watching with bated breath.
SAVAGE JAW Live dates for January:
21st- MANCHESTER – The Thirsty Scholar.
22nd- LONDON – Dublin Castle.
23rd- PORTSMOUTH – The RMA Tavern.
25th- BLACKPOOL – The Blue Room.
31st- SALFORD – The Eagle Inn.
Photos courtesy of Harry Westall & Salford Music Festival 2013
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