Hocus pocus sounds from Brighton | Esben and the Witch

Thomas Fisher from UK-based, US-signed Esben and the Witch speaks to us the band’s upcoming gig as part of the Nil by Mouth Sessions at V-Gen, Paceville, and the inspiration behind the three-piece’s varied, atmospheric sound.

Thomas Fisher (right).
Thomas Fisher (right).

Your sound is far from raw - in fact, it's quite atmospheric. Do you draw inspirations from other art forms when you're putting your songs together and if not, how does the song-writing process usually start?

The music is inspired by all manner of things. All three of us draw upon cinema, art, literature and our own experiences as well as other forms of music when writing. Personally, I have found that the touring we have done over the past year or so has really inspired me, in particular long drives through the Nevada Desert in the United States. I found myself thinking a lot about that place when playing guitar and trying to write in a way that I felt suited it. In that sense that landscape was a direct influence on the song-writing process.

You are the only British band to be featured on Matador records. How did you end up signed with them, and are you honoured to form part of their roster?

I do feel honoured to be signed to Matador. It is a good feeling to know that you are working with people who have helped release records by Sonic Youth, Mogwai, Interpol and others in the past. The actual process of our signing came about quite simply. They came to some of our shows and liked the CD we made ourselves and so they approached us off the back of that.

What would you say are some of your proudest achievements as musicians so far?

I'm not sure I would describe it as something I'm proud of necessarily, but I'm certainly glad that it has given me the opportunity to travel so widely. I really enjoy touring - not just the shows themselves but the life that comes with it. I feel most content when on tour, I like the way each day feels so focused towards a clear goal.

How would you describe the Brighton music scene, particularly within the genre you operate in?

I don't feel like we fit in with any particular music scene in Brighton. There are some great bands based here but it doesn't feel like there is a great deal of citywide camaraderie. Maybe there is, though and I'm just totally unaware of it. We all went to a great show last weekend though, it was an album launch for a band called Speak Galactic. They're from Brighton and are a really fine live proposition.

Are you looking forward to playing in Malta? Is there a particular vibe that you expect from the island?

I am very much looking forward to playing in Malta. It will be the first time we play certain songs from our second record live. I must confess to not knowing what to expect but we have arranged our flights so that we can spend a few days after the show exploring the island.

Esben and the Witch will perform on October 6 along with local acts The Areola Treat and Carrie Haber. The Nil by Mouth Sessions will also be taking place on October 5, with UK acts Tall Ships and Joe Gideon and the Shark taking to the stage with support by local band The Violent Violets. Tickets at €18 (both days) and €12 (each day) are available online or by calling 99 846382/79 861473.