Though it was a bit of a cloudy day in Toronto, Luke Concannon of Nizlopi assured me it was a beautiful sunny day in Leamington Spa, UK as we chatted over the phone one afternoon. As we talked it became clear that, as obvious as it sounds, this musician truly loved music. While some folks in the music industry seem caught up in side projects like acting careers and clothing lines, Concannon seemed most eager to talk about his craft.
The duo that is Nizlopi shot to the top of the charts in the UK last year with their single the "JCB Song". But the story of Nizlopi's journey began years ago when Concannon and his friend John Parker began writing songs together at the age of 13. "Our friendship's always been based in music." Concannon says recalling swapping music with one another to try and absorb as much as possible. He says that the pair's musical chemistry came from, "years of growing up understanding this magical world of music", and he adds, "A deep knowledge of what we feel is good." Concannon's search for good music didn't end as a child, in fact he continues even asking me what I was listening to at the moment and jotting it down to listen to later.
Though they search for what is good in music they never discriminate against a certain type of music, "to be purists about a genre you'd have to be quite disciplined and close minded," Concannon says, and Nizlopi isn't purist by any means. Describing themselves as folk, hip hop, jazz, classical and soul Concannon says they gained these musical influences from being in different bands growing up, studying music and being exposed to music by their families. Concannon recalls playing in an Indo-Celtic fusion band with his father playing the Irish pipes, playing Indian weddings and watching Bollywood films together afterwards. Though he speaks fondly of this memory of his dad it's another childhood recollection of his father that brought the duo their first number one hit.
The "JCB Song" which was the first single off of Nizlopi's debut album Half These Songs Are About You is the simple story of a young Luke's day with his dad. As a child a dyslexic Concannon was teased by bullies at school, and his father would occasionally take his son out of school and take him to work and drive him around in his "big yellow digger" to escape his tormentors, "good parenting can be our first connection with something great in life," Concannon recalls.
His simple story of escaping with his dad into an imaginary magical world hit a chord with people from all over the UK and Concannon says it's because of the simple father child dynamic, "It's easier to relate to than most other archetypes or images," he says.
The response Nizlopi received at for the sentimental "JCB Song" at shows was began to spread with fans approaching the band after the show to share their own memories. But the single didn't really blow up until the release of the video. Premiered online at http://www.jcbsong.co.uk/ the sweet simple animated video spread like wildfire over the internet increasing the buzz over this nostalgic tune.
Though the video's received accolades from fans and critics alike Concannon says videos aren't something they really think about while writing songs, "We don't want to have to sell this stuff, we just want to write it and play it," he says, "we don't tend to think about that side of it."
What the lads from Leamington Spa do like to think about is their live shows. Prior to the whirlwind the "JCB Song" brought the duo played everywhere from people's living rooms and small festivals to busking on the street. With Concannon on guitar and vocals and Parker beatboxing and playing his double bass 'Stephanie' the duo tried to keep their shows fresh for both local audiences and their new international crowds, "we often write a piece of music backstage to open the gig with." Concannon says, "Every gig is different."
And he says they'll continue to change as they make their way across the pond. Headed for Toronto on July 19 around the time they release their album in North America on July 18. Though the thought of touring internationally is still a bit new for the duo that released their debut disc on a record label the boys and their family know the music will carry them through, "that's the thing with all music that's honest, from the heart," Concannon says, "it can be healing because it connects you to something deeper..."
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Writer: Michelle Garcia