Midnight Shoppers/Facebook

Having jammed for a long time before hitting the Cambridge student gig circuit, Midnight Shoppers are now wasting no time in making a name for themselves. Consisting of Matthew Earwaker (Guitar/Vocals), Leo Salem (Guitar/Keys/Vocals), Max Barysevich (Bass), and Ethan Lewis (Drums), look out for their debut release on Spotify soon.

Let’s start with introductions. Please could you tell me a little bit about your band and about who’s in it.

Our membership sticks to very strict quotas:

1) Half Philosophers, half chemical engineers (3rd years)

2) Half Jesuan, half non-Jesuan

3) Half facial haired, half-smoot

How did you meet?

Leo: It started when I was deeply impressed by Ethan’s performance of a piano composition of his at Jesus Chapel in first term of first year. By the end of first year we finally got round to having a jam where I showed him one of my songs and the creative dynamic was great.

In a hopeless state we resorted to asking anyone we could for band name suggestions – Midnight Shoppers was the best

Meanwhile Matt and I were jamming through lent term at his room in John’s (we wrote a song about pine-needles, and another about a bank robber… sadly nothing has come of those (yet)).

I worked over the summer to record a couple of songs (which are now ‘Fiction’ and ‘The Every Day’) as a pitch to try and win over Ethan and Matt to form a band. We jammed through second year but never quite managed to find the discipline to do a gig. By the end of the year though we were set on recording an EP, which we did in London over summer. We then acquired our excellent bassist, Max, and are now gigging at last.

How would you describe your style?

Leo: Bassline driven, rhythmical alternative rock. Although admittedly it can vary between punk and synthpop depending on our mood. When I was writing songs before coming to Cambridge they were often quite downbeat, moody and textural and reflected the sort of music I was listening to (Radiohead, Foals, Arcade Fire). I came to Cambridge, discovered the wonders of Cindies, Lolas and other inspiring nightclubs which suddenly awakened in me a desire to dance. And in this way some funkier bass-lines have made their way in to the songs. The first of our tracks (‘The Every Day’) is probably our most natural, with Arcade Fire/Blur influences. The second (‘Fiction’) has a more synthy, dancy, swung vibe to it. And our last (‘Colour’) is a bit bluesy and more acoustic, with a hint of The White Stripes to it.

I think coming up with a name for a band is really challenging – how did you come up with yours?

Ethan: We didn’t!

Leo: It is challenging. We went through some really quite awful ones. Maramlade Alarm. Then Alarmalade. And Things In Jars. And another one about Llamas?! Ultimately in such a hopeless state we resorted to asking anyone we could for suggestions – Midnight Shoppers was the best.

Could you tell me a little bit about the creative process behind your original songs?

The stares one gets from passing tourists as you nearly crash into them singing ‘Replay’ and playing guitar in a punt were worth it

Leo: The instrumental parts and melodies always come first. Of course, there’s got to be room for compromise with the melody during the lyrics-writing process, but I’ve always seen it being the music which plays the main role presenting the atmospheres and stories of a song; the lyrics then add support to that atmosphere, and give a literal voice to whatever it is the music’s expressing. I’ll present a song I’ve been working on to the group, and it will often be a bit of a mess at first. Ethan has a very good sense for structure and listenability, and helps get them into shape. Matt will then come out with a great guitar riff, and rock-up the vocals. Max and Ethan get a great bass/drum groove going together.

How easy do you find balancing your studies with writing and recording music?

Matt: “It’s easy to find time for the things you love”.

Ethan: The music video for our (tongue in cheek) rendition of Iyaz’ 2009 hit song ‘Replay’ took all of first term. The stares one gets from passing tourists as you nearly crash into them singing ‘Replay’ and playing guitar in a punt were worth it and we were overjoyed to publish it on YouTube before Christmas. It’s tricky, especially now we’re in third year. As a result writing and recording processes have taken place almost exclusively in the breaks so far for us. But it helps that our colleges have well equipped practice rooms for our rehearsals – it simply wouldn’t be possible be ready for gigs without these.


Mountain View

She Drew The Gun at The Portland Arms

Have you got any advice for people who want to start a band/start gigging?

Leo: Be quick about it! We spent a year jamming but didn’t get around to performing even once. Reliability is key when it comes to rehearsals. Look out for talent – there are so many great musicians in Cambridge.

Where can we listen to your music?

Ethan: Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud – just search for Midnight Shoppers! And we’ll be releasing our first EP (consisting of the three original tracks we’ve recorded so far) onto Spotify and other platforms very shortly, so keep an eye out on our Facebook page for that!

Anything exciting coming up that we should look out for?

Portland Arms on the 16th March! Spotify release!

Tickets for Midnight Shoppers at the Portland Arms can be purchased here

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