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Nubiyan Twist

Nubiyan Twist are a collective born from Leeds’ eclectic music scene with a unique sound that draws from jazz, hip hop, African styles, Latin, R’n’B, reggae and electronics.

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Nubiyan Twist are a collective born from Leeds’ eclectic music scene with a unique sound that draws from jazz, hip hop, African styles, Latin, R’n’B, reggae and electronics. Orchestrated by guitarist / producer Tom Excell, the band originally met at Leeds College Of Music. The band’s enigmatic vocalist Nubiya Brandon remembers: “We were on different courses but we all went out and partied together. It was only at the end of the course that we decided to get together to jam and it happened from there. Originally the band was a DJ, vocalist and sax set-up; I was more into writing lyrics and poetry than music at that time. The line-up quickly expanded; we used the name Ten Trick Pony because there were then 10 in the band but our eventual name came from a moment catching Lauryn Hill on the radio, talking about a hairstyle called the ‘Nubiyan Twist’.” Leeds’ wide-ranging music culture informed the band’s open-minded approach from the start. “There was such an exciting music scene in the city,” reflects baritone saxman Joe Henwood. “From a reggae night called ‘Sub Dub’ to venues playing whacked out jazz and funk at the Hi Fi Club. Leeds felt like a place where everyone was listening to or playing music.” Saxophonist Denis Scully continues, “You’ve got some of us who study jazz, some of us who produce jungle, dubstep… every genre is covered and everyone has their own obsessions.” The band line-up includes a powerful 4-piece horn section, Brazilian percussionist Pilo Adami and different vocalists stepping up from the band. Saxophonist Nick Richards, Adami and, of course, the timeless voice of Nubiya Brandon: “I am always trying to revive the romanticism of our mothers’ and fathers’ generation in music,” she explains. “I always fantasised about living in a different era of music, when composers helped shape the singer’s style and stage presence.” Important foundations for the band came with the creation of Henwood Studios in Oxfordshire, built from scratch by Joe Henwood. Nubiya remembers, “after college, Joe inherited some money and thought: ‘I really wanna make something of this’. He had never previously recorded or mixed a song, yet he built a studio out of a barn, with the best analogue and digital equipment, which was incredible.” Denis continues, “It would be fair to say that, without the studio, Nubiyan Twist wouldn’t be around right now. We just wouldn’t be able to afford some of the studio time that we get there.”

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