At the end of last year I sat down with Jacob Wheldon, the lead singer of acclaimed indie pop band Lo-Fi Culture Scene. After supporting the likes of Bloc Party and Foals as well as releasing two wellreceived singles, the band are currently on a touring break to finish writing their debut album.
Your last show was a year ago now at The Borderline supporting The Answering Machine, you’ve had some time off; can you tell us what’s been happening behind the scene for Lo-Fi Culture Scene?
Well we had to concentrate on GCSE’s, took a few months out to concentrate on those. Otherwise been concentrating on writing and developing our sound with a long term view to releasing an album I hope. Doing a lot of demos and working away at trying to write the best songs we can.
One of the new songs I got to hear was ‘Islands’, this definitely showed a new direction to your sound because before you were drawing from bands like Mystery Jets and The Kooks but this song shows much darker Lo-Fi Culture Scene, could you tell us about your influences for this?
It’s quite a broken down song, it layers up quite nicely. It actually started with a samba beat and was quite a dancy thing. Half way through we were sort of jamming with it and something came out of playing with ideas that we had from the original version of the track. We hadn’t really done a song that wasn’t full on pop, so we thought we would try doing something a bit different
More recently a lot of bands have found a new sound and decided split up then reformed under a new banner, Fear of Flying turned into White Lies for example, have you ever considered this with Lo-Fi Culture Scene?
We’ve thought about it just because, even though were 16 still, we’ve already been doing it for five years. And especially when you’re still at school, you’re really ambitious with the band but you know you can’t really go all out with it because you have other priorities. And it does start to feel a bit tiresome, so there is this idea of wanting a fresh start under a new name but whether we will do that we don’t know. But whatever name we do it under, for me it’s not really the point. I don’t really see why White Lies couldn’t have stayed exactly the same just change their entire image; it should really be about the music. But in this climate it’s very important to have a full round package.
So tonight has actually turned into a bit of a comeback show but it’s actually being self promoted by you and the band. Is that something you prefer? Having more control over the whole line up, ticket price etc?
I started promoting when I was 11 and I’ve been putting gigs on the whole time. The reason I like doing it with Lo-Fi is because, we went through the whole nitty-gritty process of playing for really crap promoters who don’t pay their bands properly and don’t take care of their bands as every band does. I’d like to think, having been in that position myself, i’m now able to welcome in new bands who are struggling to get seen by the right people and try and give them a little boost and being the promoter gives you a good position of power in regards to that. So yeah I do enjoy putting on these shows.
Although this isn’t your first experience in promoting, you’ve put on some quite high profile events that have included: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Does it offend You, yeah? What would you say has been your favourite show to work on? Line up, venue etc.
Well I love Bush Hall as a venue, it’s where I put on my first ever show with a band called Mumm-Ra who have now split up. They’re just really lovely people to work with and they really care about taking care of their acts, getting the best sound for their acts. They are a really good community team of people plus I really love the venue, it’s a really beautiful place. I think the Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip show was really good. They were really lovely to work with and Goodbooks, who have unfortunately split up, were really nice to work with. It was a sold out show and everything ran very smoothly. It was highly enjoyable which makes a change because it can be very stressful a lot of the time.
And what would you say have been the highs and lows of concert promotion? Raising money for teenage cancer must have been a high point. And getting to supports lots of cool bands
I always give 50% of any show profits to Teenage Cancer Trust, why that charity? I don’t know, I just feel somehow connected to it, can’t explain, why it’s just always been them. I also keep in touch with Teenage Cancer Trust because they take an interest in what i’m doing. And seeing that it’s having some kind of effect is really nice. And also seeing bands like Bombay Bicycle Club, who I worked with, seeing them in venues like Barfly and now seeing how big they are. Being part of the progression, it’s been really nice and I feel quite honoured to be part of it. The low points would be, we had this whole Underage scene in London, which was really exciting. And as with everything, all good things have to come to an end. It seems like the scene has become a bit stagnant . I mean there are still people who are trying to keep it alive but it’s not the natural, every single weekend, hundreds near thousands of teenagers. It being the main event, socially bringing everyone together. It’s kind of the same with all small venues and small bands, it’s getting harder and harder to break, not necessarily into the main stream but break through as it were. Just because there are less gigs and everyone’s in a difficult way financial wise. Gigs are necessarily top of their priority.
It got quite big at one point with Assembly doing show around the UK
Yeah it nearly went onto the national scale and I don’t know whether it worked or didn’t but in the end, it was unfortunate but it was nice while it lasted.
Waxwork Official Video:
Speaking of which, Lo-Fi Culture Scene have been lucky enough to support the likes of Bloc party, Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club, is there anyone left you would really like to support?
The thing is with the big bands who you think “oh my god i’d love to support them” like with Bloc Party. Obviously it was the most incredible thing ever but going on and just being totally overshadowed by the headline act is, I mean, it’s a great honour to be able to play with bands like Bloc Party and Bombay and Foals who are all really influential on our music but it’s not always the best shows. The best shows are usually your own headline show. So I hope over the next couple of years, we will be able to build up our fan base outside of London because in London we’re doing alright for ourselves, I think tonight is probably going to be sold out. So the headline shows are the best but if I had to choose one band to support, probably be, on behalf of the others in the band they’d go nuts over Radiohead, so I would just say them. I don’t know how I would feel going on before them knowing what was to come but yeah, they are very influential.
For me I do really like Radiohead but they don’t put on a magnificent show but the people who go to see them are so dedicated and the music more than makes up for it. They aren’t muse, they’re better but Muse are known to have like the big show with the UFO’s flying over or whatever. It’s all a bit Lady Gaga for me,
So just to round off, what can you expect from yourself or Lo-Fi Culture Scene in the near future? Will you be doing anymore promotion?
For Lo-fi, we’re really concentrating on writing which sounds really boring and like we’re not actually doing anything but it takes a long time when you’re at school 5 days a week. And taking A-levels which are a pain, so it’s going to take time for us to fully fill comfortable with our sound and get a good strong set of songs that we are happy with to put forward as an album but it really depends. You can’t really say how quickly it’s going to come, sometimes songs just click and you get them and you’ll get a month where you write 4 songs but then you’ll go on a 7 month period where you just have a complete creative blank. So it’s really hard to say but for the moment it’s just writing and hoping to release an album some point in maybe a year and a half or so.
I’d love to keep going with it but as I say, it’s getting harder and harder and there are less people who really want to go out to gigs, there are less younger bands that are coming through. There use to be wave after wave after wave and that’s kind of died out. I hope that it will somehow get revitalised but for the moment it is really hard work so we’ll see.
And Finally, anything you would like to add? Or any new music recommendations?
I have a really fickle music taste, so I end up liking music from all genres but the only guitar bands I really like are Animal Collective and Two Door Cinema Club. Other than that for me, it has to be Notorious B.I.G, unbelievable.
Thanks to Jacob Wheldon for the interview.
Lo-Fi Culture Scene are:
Angus Mayer – Bass
Tom MacColl – Drums
Callum Akass – Guitar
Tom Herzberg – Guitar
Jacob Wheldon – Vocals