Cagedbaby. A name, and a catchy one at that, being passed around pop and dance circles this summer as an outfit to watch.
Masterminded by Tom Gandey, the Brighton quartet have made a splash with their debut album Will See You Now.
All of which got musicOMH on the phone to Tom. But first it was necessary to go back. Way back – to World War II, when Tom’s musical heritage seems to have begun…”My great grandfather Clive Parsons was first violinist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” Tom explains, “and he then became conductor for another couple of years. At the same time my other great grandfather was conducting the National Philharmonic. As they were ‘Queen’s registered’ in World War Two they had to go out to India and perform.”
Gandey himself had something of a classical upbringing, but not quite on their scale. “To tell the truth I did learn piano from the age of four and reached grade eight at twelve or so. I then went over to jazz, then twelve bar blues, then punk and then rock n’ roll! The only really classical thing I did properly was a morning workshop at the Royal Academy of Music, doing modern jazz”. All of which explains the diversity of styles on the album. “Yeah, absolutely” enthuses the singer, “it’s all played on (keyboards) and there’s bits that are classical, bits more electronic, more rock…you name it!”
Gandey’s husky vocals and electronically sourced material – particularly in the album’s opening track Hello There – have secured a “new Royksopp tag from the press. “It’s kind of mad, that”, puzzles Tom, “I think it’s because a lot of the production thing I’m on is kind of akin to them, we do stuff on old analogue synthesizers and they’re influenced by the same kind of gear I was.”
– Cagedbaby’s Tom Gandey describes the group’s sound.
When I observe his Scandinavian features from the band’s website, he laughs. “Well my Dad’s Dutch, so I guess I’ve got a touch of Nordic edge. I’ve done quite a lot of gigs around Malmo and Copenhagen lately, and a few clubs as well; I travel out there a lot. It’s funny actually cos I don’t think the new album from Royksopp has gone down as well, whereas Melody AM is among the top ten of all time for me – perhaps the big studio and less time have been a factor. I think it’s a big thing that the man’s not on it (that’ll be Erlend Oye) – they’ve had people in to do vocals but they’ve tried to copy the style rather than find their own”.
Despite this Gandey’s pretty good buddies with the duo. “Well it was really cool the other day as we were travelling back from Japan and happened to sit next to them randomly. They’re really nice guys. With lots of people saying we’re the new Royksopp we’ve just landed a twelve date tour with the Chemical Brothers, and that’s more my edge, what I’m after.”
Cagedbaby have wasted no time infiltrating the festival circuit. “Yeah, we’ve been playing at quite a lot, and we’ve got a mad weekend coming up with the band doing the main stage at Creamfields, prior to Basement Jaxx. It’s a big gig, I’m kind of not sure how we landed that! Then we’re doing the Get Loaded festival at Clapham Common, and then I’m DJing at the Notting Hill carnival.
“The band’s just come back from Portugal, and we’ve also played Manumission in Ibiza this summer. That was cool, although it’s tricky cos we’re just trying to cover costs at the moment. We’re not really known, and we’re trying to get through to as many people as we can. I was also very keen not to do a tour playing to a backing track.”
What was that like? “It meant rehearsing for ages but it was well worth it. The band’s playing out tons now, it’s really good practice for us, and we have a lot of new tracks that I’ve just created that aren’t on the album, which will be specifically for the band, and our second album.”
– Tom Gandey on those Royksopp comparasions.
I mention Mylo as a possible catalyst for dance music’s higher profile recently, and although Tom agrees to a point he’s keen to stress that “Mylo’s not fully live, he’s playing to a backing track, but then I guess it’s difficult when you’re totally electronica based and using all samples and stuff. Also, although he broke through last year, my album was all done by early 2004, but the time since has been taken up waiting for the label to release it! I think now though there’s some good acts and producers being recognised, it feels like there’s a lot coming through. At the moment I really like LCD Soundsystem, I think they’re a top, top band.”
And what of the smoking vicars on the album’s cover? “The guys on the album cover were a shot taken by my good friend Paul Misso at the first ever Glastonbury – in fact all of the album artwork comes from the first Glastonbury. I don’t smoke!”
Another common opinion from the press is that he remains a hippy, but Gandey prefers something a little more mysterious: “I’m more a tecnohippy. I’m not a hippy, more a metrosexual. Not sure really where that came from, probably because of my upbringing. And on being the latest South Coast export, Tom comments, “I think coming from Brighton has exposed me to a whole load of great music. And the thriving club scene has definitely inspired it, Audio and Concorde 2 are killer clubs!”
Tom’s demeanour is reflected by his assertion that “I’m really enjoying everything at the moment, it’s really hard work but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.” It’s an infectious enthusiasm, and given that his follow-up is well on the way we can expect to hear a lot more from Cagedbaby over the next year or so.