Some members of Soft Crunchy Landing at Girton's Spring Ball TOBIA NAVA WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

On a drizzly evening in March, tucked away in a corner outside the staple Cambridge haunt of The Eagle, I sat down with some of the members of Soft Crunchy Landing (SCL). We started by discussing how SCL has established its resolute permanence on the Cambridge gigging circuit and how they provide the “crunchiest” of basslines for their audience. There was a particular irony in Felix Asare’s (one of the band’s organisers, and a central figure in the Cambridge music scene, also being a member of Quasar) snack of choice while we were chatting: crunchy sweet chilli flavoured crisps.

“The Cambridge music scene is more creative and more chaotic than Oxford”

If you haven’t seen the Peep Show clip the band takes its name from, I would urge you to find it. Pleasingly, the band also had an offshoot band: Big Suze; another delightful reference to Peep Show.

Formed in the heady days of 2017, the band has naturally been through different iterations, and has seen different band members over the years. However, Jamie Scott, the band’s trombonist, has been there from the start. Self-described as a band “who found a calling in funk”, their seemingly relaxed demeanour is effervescent, which may be the result of their groove in playing and funk covers. I raised the topic of the band’s longevity, and how it has managed to not only endure for five years, but also survive a pandemic: evolving from funk to pop covers and taking on talented individuals is at the heart of the band’s regeneration.

Felix Asare performing with the band TOBIA NAVA WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

The band is bursting at the seams with such talent (as seemingly most bands in Cambridge are). One of its newest members (and vocalists), Maya Moh (of Daniel Daley Sextet fame), recently supported Stormzy at the BRITS on the violin. The other vocalist, Alice Markham, is herself a notable singer and songwriter. Bassist Luke Smith was prompted by Felix to sheepishly note that having come across from the ‘other place’ after his undergraduate degree, he has found the Cambridge music scene to be “more creative and more chaotic”: indeed, this arguably defines the University to its very core. The band’s full line-up also includes Mallory Beechey on drums, Gabriel Margolis on keys, Finlay Waugh on trumpet, Niklas Freund on alto sax, and George Withers on tenor sax.

Highlights for SCL have included performing before the headliner at John’s May Ball last year, playing the Varsity ski trip, as well as arguably being part of the winning Cambridge team for the ‘funk’ Varsity earlier in Lent. It seems that there is rarely an event that the band hasn’t played at. SCL are also going continental by playing at a wedding in Germany this summer; it will be interesting to see whether their German cover of Stevie Wonder makes it back to the UK for Michaelmas.

“The band members have stamina beyond the lung capacity needed for playing the trombone”

Naturally, the topic of perhaps the most anticipated week in the Cambridge calendar arose: May Week. There was an unspoken, shared feeling around the table that the feat they were going to undertake in June would be Herculean. As the most booked student band in Cambridge, it is clear that the band members have stamina beyond the lung capacity needed for playing the trombone.


Mountain View

Quasar: The brightest band in the Cambridge Galaxy

A wry smile was shared between Felix and Jamie when discussing last year’s May Week, naturally due to playing all days and nights of the week (and the toll this takes on a musician); it is unsurprising that by the end of the week tensions may have been a little heightened. This year, SCL’s May Week appears to be taking on similar sentiment, if you are attending any event in May Week you will no doubt hear the band’s fabulous rendition of Proud Mary, and be able to groove along with them accordingly.

Permanence can lead a band to become a little tired and weathered; however, SCL are outliers: their establishment within the Cambridge scene allows them to perform with ease and provide a jolly good time. If you are at any May Ball, SCL are guaranteed to supply you with some jazzed and sexed-up classics to keep you motivated to make it to any survivors’ photo.