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"Just chilling with the folks"

Urban fok group Mendicant say they are indifferent to fame and the spotlight, Rosanna Alam met with band members Barnaby Cole and Jakob Kaye

Thye art gallery in Antenna Studio, Crystal Palace, absorbs bright beams of sunshine through its windows as Barnaby and Jakob rehearsae their latest songs.
The two are watched eagerly by friends sitting on the gallery floor soaking up the creative atmosphere.
The jamming session reaches its pinnacle when Barnaby's three-year-old son Felix decides to pick up Jakob's bow and show them how it should be done.
Barnaby plays a song on the guitar, while Felix experiments on the cello and pulls off a rather enchanting little tune, which falls naturally into place.
But this is exactly how Mendicant operates when it comes to inspiration.
"Some people write diaries, I write songs," says Barnaby. "Its something that I have to do and in some ways its catharthic."
Barnaby is Mendicant's main songwriter and has known the band's cellist, Jakob for at least five years - they used to be in aband called Teapot.
The rest of the band, which includes Simone on vocals, Helena on violin and Mike on percussion, were unable to make rehearsal today.
But both Barnaby and Jakob seem to keep the band's spirit alive - they seem intently lost in their music when they play.
What is more unusual is there is no particular way of describing their sound, it really is unique.
"All our songs are acoustic based, and that is why we are described as folk," says Jakob.
"The idea is that we can carry on playing if the electricity goes out."
The songs themselves are story based with a mixture of jazz, hip-hop and classical influences and the band hope to use their music visually.
"Because of the story essence of our songs, we are toying with the idea of combining our music with performance art and film," says Jakob.
The name Mendicant derives from a Groo Comic and signifies a religeous form of a begging by monks solely for alms.
This sums up the modest bohemian energy between the band, as sincerely seem to be about the music.
"It's a pleasure to be able to play for people, but the whole fame thing seems to be a testosterone kick," says Barnaby.
"I think it should just be about how and what you manage to communicate with people." - Croydon Advertiser


1. Album 'M'
2. 'Story' Album
3. 'Mud' Album
-all self produced and self released.

Airplayed tracks have been 'Walk' and 'Pass That Whiskey'. (XFM) from the 'M' Album.



The fact that Mendicant stick exclusively to acoustic instruments draws initial comparisons to the likes of Tom Waits and Nick Drake, a welcome branding that is dispelled almost as immediately as it is cast. A wider sphere of influence is clearly audible, with acts such as Mogwai also present in the music.

Listeners have frequently commented that the bands eclectic mix of reference points has developed into something coherent and new, which is what makes them so interesting. Its hardly surprising when you consider their complete immersion in music and the arts. Anyone who's visited the labyrinth that is Antenna Studios (London) is made instantly aware that they live and breathe creativity. Indeed, its their livelihood, with Antenna operating to offer a home to professional designers, musicians, artists, dancers and whatever other creative minds pop their heads in for a space in which to work (and possibly live).

The studios function a bit like a buzzing undercurrent of the arts set against Crystal Palaces gritty backdrop. But don't think Pete Doherty and those other pricks harping on about a quasi-Bohemia sound tracked by a sleep-inducing commentary on drugs and how life's so unfair. That would be off-putting! Consider these guys and gals more as a bunch of people who have forged a respected career from working with the cream of London's talent as well as that of further afield.

Having not long ago been filtered through over 2000 bands to enter the finals of the UK nationwide competition by 3 mobile 'The next big thing in music' shows how intruiging and cutting edge the band are. Their fast spreading popularity will undoubtedly tip over the edge into being a new sound and possibly a new genre from the UK.