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"LIPA claim hat-trick at MBF Songwriting Awards"

Fables from LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) are the winners of the MBF Songwriting Award 2008. Their performance at the Showcase Final on Tuesday 25 November was the first ever by the five-piece band, formed by songwriter Michael Halls. Fables will be using the £5000 award to cover the costs of recording, promoting and touring two EPs of original music. Fables’ win marks a return to form for LIPA at the awards after wins in 2005 with The Wombats and in 2006 with Hannah Rei.

Six talented young songwriters were selected to perform at The Bedford in London for a world-class judging panel which was chaired by songwriting legend Joan Armatrading MBE. The finalists were shortlisted from applicants on pop and commercial music degree courses at universities and colleges across the UK.

Joan Armatrading was joined by platinum selling singer-songwriter Lucie Silvas and Nik Kershaw, musical icon of the 1980s and more recently a collaborator with artists including Ronan Keating, Lulu, Imogen Heap and Gary Barlow. The panel also included David Stark, Editor/Publisher of SongLink International magazine, and musician, presenter and Musical Director of The Bedford, Tony Moore.

Joan Armatrading said, ‘Fables were the unanimous winners, they are a fantastic band and they did a great job’. Lucie Silvas joined the praise saying, ‘They were the most unique and stood out, they were captivating to watch and the timing of the songs, the arrangement of the songs and the melodies were beautiful. It was really interesting and exciting and something we wanted to hear more of’. Nik Kershaw added, ‘Fables just had that little bit extra, they had huge potential and there are so many different directions that their music could go. It’s just such an interesting basis they’ve got for everything they do and the two songs were very impressive both lyrically and musically’.

On collecting their award Michael Halls from Fables said, ‘I am just speechless. It feels absolutely amazing. Thanks very much. It was our first gig as a band and it’s been amazing and I hope this award will be the first of many’.

"Band on the crest of a new wave"

FABLES, a five-piece band from Lipa, start 2009 in prime position as the line-up to follow former top students The Wombats to national recognition.
They’ve just snatched one of the UK’s top songwriting awards – the same prize taken by The Wombats in 2005.
But whatever the journey ahead, it will be different.
While The Wombats’ indie music/skinny jeans approach produced hits like Moving To New York, Fables – perhaps as the name suggests – plan to be more bookish, aiming at a 25-plus age group, already aligned to singers like Laura Marlin.
The result is unashamedly folksy, but with distinctive indigenous Mersey cross-rhythms and harmonies. There are also outside influences from the likes of Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake.
Founder and songwriter Michael Halls, from Huyton, explains: “Because the bottom has fallen out of much of the recording industry, the big future opportunities lie with live performances.
“Lipa makes you very business-aware. What’s happening now is almost a copy of the 50s and 60s, when side bands started taking over the main genre.
“With recession and recording piracy, a new wave of music is the hope.
“We want to create quality over quantity because selling things in bulk just isn’t viable any more.”
Eighties music icon Nik Kershaw, a member of the competition judging panel chaired by Joan Armatrading, says: “There are so many different directions that Fables’ music could go. The two songs we heard were impressive, both musically and lyrically.”

The songs came from a set of seven Michael wrote for a Lipa project last summer.

One, entitled Twenty Years From Now, is a tribute to his dad, who worked as a builder in London from 1987 to 2007, only returning home at weekends.

“We are all very close as a family, but he had to do it. And this is me saying I can’t believe how hard it was, and you did all that for us.

“The hook is him telling me how hard things could still be 20 years from now.”

Fables will now put the £5,000 prize-money towards recording and touring.

“I’d like to be earning a living from music this time next year,” says ex-Knowsley high pupil Michael, who’s been playing guitar (and mandolin) since he was eight.

“The name of the band is based on literature, stories and tales. Even the album is going to be packaged as a book.

“Most people aim for record deals, but what we want most is to be a great performing band.”

Helping Fables do just that will be promoter Will Steadman, also education director of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund.

All band members graduate from Lipa this summer. For Michael, it’s been the making of a dream come true that’s included masterclasses with Paul McCartney and Dionne Warwick, and regular tuition from guitar greats Steve Berry and Mike Walker.

Although gaining A-levels in physics, biology, computing and English literature at Carmel College, St Helens, Michael is in no doubt about his future: “I always planned to pursue music.

“This award is a fantastic springboard for the entire band.”

But last word to Lipa boss Mark Featherstone-Witty: “We’re delighted. Now it’s time for Fables to be embraced by all those who recognise quality.”

- Liverpool Echo

"Busy year for Fables"

IT has been a busy year for Kendalian band Fables, but with an upcoming tour their story has just begun.

Last week the band played their biggest gig to date supporting their friends Wild Beasts at a sold out homecoming gig at The Brewery.

The folk pop band - based in Liverpool - have been playing together for just over a year, but in that time they have released their first EP and won the Musicians Benevolent Fund Songwriting Awards impressing a judging panel that included Joan Armatrading, Nik Kershaw and Lucy Silvas.

“It was our first ever live performance and we won the award by unanimous decision,” said Kendal-born bassist Gareth.

“Joan Armatrading said we were unique and captivating.”

This month the band release their debut EP Thomas “Thomas has had a great reception so far,” said Gareth. “We're all very happy with the positive reactions.”

But it is the band’s support slot with Wild Beasts last week that Gareth cites as his highlight of the year.

Gareth played with Wild Beasts during their early years practicing at Kendal’s Mintsfleet Estate and his bass work can be heard on their first EP Wild Beasts.

“They are one of our favourite bands,” he said. “Tom Fleming - who took over bass duties once the band moved to Leeds - is one of my best friends and a musician who I had been in bands with when we were younger.

“It was great to play with a band that we respect so much in mine and Oliver's home town.

“We have worked really hard over the past 12 months, and this is a great way to end the year.”

Fables will set out on a UK tour next year. - The Westmorland Gazette


Thomas (EP)



Fables are a group of 5 young musicians whose enchanting melodies and descriptive lyrics tell stories that enthral and fascinate audiences in equal
measure. Inspired by a diverse mix of genres from folk to jazz and
drawing on an expansive range of influences from Death Cab to
Joni Mitchell, Fables borrow colours and rhythms from all
aspects of their musical experiences. Hailing exclusively from
the north of England, the members share a passion for gritty,
honest and heartfelt music.

Graduates of the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts, the band members are all established musicians in their own right. They consist of vocalist Eleanor Redhead, songwriter and guitarist/mandolinist Michael Halls, bassist Gareth Bullock, drummer Oliver Hardaker and keyboard player Louis Querelle. Shortly after forming in late 2008, Fables won the coveted MBF Songwriting Award on the strength of their first ever gig. Since then the band have recorded and released their first EP (entitled Thomas) and have been publising this release with a string of UK tour dates - including supporting Wild Beasts in December of 2009.