XOVA
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XOVA

Birmingham, England, United Kingdom | SELF

Birmingham, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Pop Reggae

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Aug
23
XOVA @ Shambala Festival

Northamptom, None, United Kingdom

Northamptom, None, United Kingdom

Aug
03
XOVA @ PEWSEY FESTIVAL

Pewsey, None, United Kingdom

Pewsey, None, United Kingdom

Jun
14
XOVA @ The Isle of Wight Festival

Isle of Wight, None, United Kingdom

Isle of Wight, None, United Kingdom

Music

Press


roots and branches / the beat
• Home ; record reviews march 2013 ; mike davies march 2013
• XOVA

• Not due out for a couple of months, let me say now X.O.V.A ’s debut album, Synchronise Your Leaders, is the best British reggae album since Signing Off and while the UB40 influence and comparisons may be obvious, both in the music and the political lyrics, the multi-ethnic, multi-generational seven piece has an identity firmly its own. Upholding reggae tradition, opening cut Chillout Maximum celebrates the ‘plant that grows out the earth’, but the track itself embraces not only brass driven reggae but also psychedelia, dub and a very tasty rock guitar solo exemplifying that, unlike the Yoobees, they aren’t afraid to think outside the genre box too. Indeed, both Lullaby and Yeah Yeah Yeah completely upend expectations by sounding like classy boy band ballads, the latter the sort of song that could give Take That a #1, and underlying the versatility and impressive vocal talent of singer Wayne Lawrence.

Featuring past singles Knife Crime City and 9 Lives, I’ll review the album in more detail when it’s released, but for now I should mention upcoming single Little Lion which again departs from the reggae sound in favour of lilting acoustic Celtic pop with orchestral stings and flute. Written about Lawrence’s sister Wendy, who suffers from Cronhs (an inflammatory bowel disease), it’s a terrific and swayingly melodic life-affirming inspirational anthem about support, courage and the refusal to accept the hand fate deals and its release is being backed by Crohn's and Colitis UK, the charity dedicated to helping those diagnosed with IDB. Given the Radio 2 support is deserves, it has the potential to be a massive success and is already one of my Top 10 songs of the year.'
- ROOTS AND BRANCHES THE BEAT by MIKE DAVIES


XOVA

Bringing together a mix of music from around the world with a strong reggae / ska spine running through much of the material, XOVA (pronounced cross over – well there is often the odd jar in this world of SMS typing – and that is the only negative comment I have to make about the band and I must say I prefer the ‘zova’ pronunciation that immediately comes to my minds eye) are strongly influenced by sounds from the past which shared a message in common – social and political unrest. They turn these themes and roots to grow a new sound, the sound of the second decade of the 21st Century with a multi-generational / multi-racial line-up to reflect on a world that is still churning in the same strife as ever.

What XOVA have been able to do with their mix of influences is to rewrite the ever grinding rage in to songs of hope and a spark for the future and it is this uplifting, but grounded message that resonates so well with those who touch their out-put. Received well in the festival circuit, they are set to play at The Isle Of Wight Festival, yet they remain something of a mystery to the mainstream, which to me is a good thing, but with their undoubted ability is possibly set to change in short order.

The songs are immediately engaging, danceable, and sing-alongable to, so they have, in addition to a sound that evidently captures the attention of those with an ear to the genuine, a ready accessibility for those who prefer their music on a poster. XOVA do from time to time flow into mainstream pop and here I must say I hit fast forward, but those is my issues, which as a regular reader you know well, not theirs.

Long may they continue to focus their sounds around the wrap of fusion reggae with their positivity which is deserving of credit on its own merit. - www.indibandsblog.com


Allow us to introduce you to Birmingham’s finest ‘indie-reggae fusiliers’…

Cheers for your time today. How are you doing? What’s happening in your world at the moment?

Well, we are in rehearsals as we’re about to play a local gig to launch our new EP ‘THE SOHO RD SESSIONS’. It should be a pretty good gig, loads of names and faces coming to check us out as its free such as Steel Pulse, The Beat, Musical Youth , Fuzzbox local heroes etc, will be awesome. The little venue holds 100 people and we have done 130 tickets without the guestlist so, as they say, it’s going to ram up!

For those unfamiliar with XOVA, how would you describe your sound and/or ethos?
It’s a collection of different genres and sounds that come together to make a unique sound: reggae, rock, pop fusion and maybe a new genre ROCGAE, hence the name XOVA [Pronounced cross over]. As we all come from different upbringings and backgrounds it was only ever going to be that way, also we are passionate about the Birmingham music scene and won’t compromise on our sound and ethics, we have a lot of stories and messages to talk and inspire people with as well as some good old Reggae N Roll!

How did you originally come together as XOVA?
A songwriter came amongst our midst, in the form of Wayne Lawrence. We had all been playing in various bands around, some had success and others none what so ever, and of all places we found ourselves on a covers gig in Lithuania where a TV show asked us to perform an original song. That was when Wayne said I got a trailer load of tunes…so we jammed it in the hotel and then performed it live on national TV that night, and of course blew everyone away, so when we got back to the UK that was it XOVA was formed and we started writing, rehearsing and recording and haven’t looked back. It’s so exciting seeing people singing your own tunes back to you…gold dust.

How do you feel that Birmingham has shaped and influenced you as a band?

Well, you really have to live there to understand fully. We are continuously overlooked for the likes of smaller towns like Manchester, Leeds and even London! Of course there is the stigma of the accent, so you develop a thick skin and a massive sense of humour…and get on with doing it all yourselve,s to such an extent most bands here end up starting their own labels and doing their own PR. It isn’t a coincidence that the bands who do break out, go on to become world famous not just in the UK – IE Black Sabbath, Duran Duran, UB40, ELO, Steve Winwood, Ocean Colour Scene, Steel Pulse for example.

Could you tell us about L.E.A.P., and why it’s important to you?

Well, there are two charities we are connected with to be honest now. With Leap we got involved as our drummer’s son was murdered in a shooting a few years back as part of the stupid gang war up here, so during that period we gave a lot of support to our drummer Skins and used the band and music to keep his mind occupied. We even wrote a track called ‘KNIFE CRIME CITY’ that is featured on our album and on itunes already with various remixes. LEAP do an amazing job helping kids look for work and get off the streets, the other charity we are just starting to work closely with is the Crohns and Colitis Organisation who help Crohns disease sufferers and affects a lot of people in their 20's. Our singer’s sister Wendy developed it when she was 20 and is suffering badly with it and we have written a track called ‘LITTLE LION’ which we hope to release after Xmas to support that charity. It’s a beautiful song, a bit of a departure from where we are on stage normally, but appropriate to the cause.


You’ve played alongside legends like The Beat and the Skatalites – what have you learned from those experiences?
Hide your rider! Joking aside, although like most newer bands you think you are the dogs bollocks and that you are ready and know what you’re doing, working with these bands you have to show them total respect as even after such a long time in the business they bounce on to stage as if its their first gig. Also, the audience is king… you dont get to the top and stay there by relaxing, you have to work harder…and you can see in their preparation in soundcheck, it’s just not thrown together…everything is worked out perfectly, that’s something we have added into our rehearsals and soundchecks. It’s very important get the rehearsal and soundchecks work done with no joking around and then the show should be fun…

How did you find the experience of playing in the Olympic Park? Apparently you were the only Birmingham-based band playing?
It was really a great time, although we didn;t get into see any of the athletics etc. Just being there and seeing the throngs of people swanning around felt amazing, added to that people thought we were one of the best bands to perform made us feel gold medallists [ how cheesy does that sound! ]. But you know, the stage was shaped like a sharks mouth which was mental and the sound was - SUBBACULTURE


XOVA (pronounced Crossover) are an eclectic mashup of rock n roll and reggae, comprised of seasoned performers and newcomers alike.

BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson has already made it apparent he is fond of the collective, playing their music for three weeks in a row. Their track 9 Lives, which you can watch below, also opened the BBC WM Introducing show most recently.

The seven-strong group take experience from what they call the legends (The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix) but also contemporary songwriters like Paolo Nutini. We wanted to find out a little bit more about their songwriting style and how playing together works for XOVA. Check our what they had to say for themselves in this 30 seconds interview.

We first started writing music because…
I (Wayne Lawrence – lead vocals, guitar) had a head full of melodies and lyrics that started to shout out to be heard. I started with a song about rice and peas then went on to write about the usual things; girls, love and loss, and nowadays about issues that have affected people around us. In fact the first time we performed an original song as XOVA was in Lithuania when we were on tour and were asked to go on prime time Saturday night television as an international act had just cancelled. I said to the rest of the band, I’ve got a great track called All This Time and that we should perform that track, which we did. From there we returned to the UK and started to write our first album The Pressures Of Life.

We have been making music since…
I was 14 when I wrote my first song, but had been playing guitar since I was about eight or nine. The rest of the band have played in many groups over the years, have had some recording success and toured all over the world. So some of the band have seen it and done it while the others are fresh and hungry to show the world what we’re all about! The band have been doing their stuff as XOVA for the last few years.

Our music is…
Lyrical, musical and emotional, with melodies, hooks and killer rhythms. It’s a crossover (XOVA) of indie power pop/rock and reggae with a tight brass section that is instrumental to our sound.

You’ll like us if you listen to…
Your soul! Ha ha… But early Maroon 5, The Beatles, Bob Marley, No Doubt, Paulo Nutini, Mumford and Sons, Oasis… proper bands who kick it live and play what they want, not being afraid to try new sounds and styles or take an old sound, embrace it, put jump leads on and bring it to life, just like the Mumfords have done for folk.

Our favourite venue is…
Quite a few, like Islington Assembly Hall where we supported The Skatalites. Then there’s Muzikcentrum Straff in Leeuwarden, Holland, where we have played quite a few times. In fact, every gig abroad has been memorable, such as the Afro Latino Festival in Belgium (quality gig) where we supported Jimmy Cliff and Kymani Marley… Hopefully next week will see us find a new favourite venue as we’ll be playing Birmingham Town Hall for the first time when we support The Beat on 15 December.

Music is important because…
It’s how any person can really communicate something from a serious message to a love song, no matter who or where they are, from banging a drum in a desert, blowing some pipes on top of a mountain or thrashing a guitar in a dingy pub basement. It transcends all borders, colours and creed, which I know is a very stereotypical thing to say, but for once it’s true. Music knows no age, sex, religion, or fashion and the very best (in some cases worst) often outlives the writer and brings happiness to so many people.

It’s a connection that cannot have a price put on it, or in our case, it brought six people together who would normally only be close to each other if they were in the same job centre queue! Our ages, backgrounds and lives have all been so different. But once in a rehearsal room, studio or stage, we become family, as solid as blood and that’s solely down to the power and love of music.

Our biggest inspiration is…
The legends; Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. You will find influences of at least one of them in virtually any track made today, whether it’s the message of the song, the guitar lick, bass line, the harmonies, chorus, the passion, or the riff.

Our dream collaboration would be…
Paul McCartney from the legends obviously, as he knows his reggae as well, or Paulo Nutini as we all love his genuine vibe.

To try us out listen to our song…
Chillout Maximum – it’s a bit rock, it’s a bit reggae, it’s a bit soul, it’s full of passion, drive and energy. We start our live set with it and it’s always great to see the crowd look at us, as we fall on to the stage, wondering what the hell! But by the end of that track they’re blown away, even if we say so ourselves, no one kicks it off like us…

In 10 years time we want to be…
Alive! Seriously that would be good news as the last few years we have been living a bit wild, throwing the management’s bed out of the hotel wi - M Magazine


'What a cracking voice and great sound, just love the tracks so much ive got to play them again NOW.' Adrian Goldberg Show, Prime time BBC RAdio UK.. listen to full interview and hear 2 live acoustic tracks from XOVA on podcast below - ADRIAN GOLDBERG SHOW BBC RADIO


' What a cracking song from Birmingham band XOVA what a great band , they are indie pop with some real reggae tunes in there as well

These guys have been all over Europe this year in Poland, Lithuania, Holland and Belgium, its a GREAT SOUND, VERY UNIQUE

We ( bbcwm) discovered them a few months ago and we play them quite a lot, one of our picks of the year, a great band , a real highlight for us and another one to keep your eye on , a local unsigned band on the cusp of making it in 2013'
Brett & Louise, -BBCWM - BBC RADIO INTRODUCING


Legend that is ROBIN VALK DJ and a great supporter of our band has just included us in his 2012 round up a couple of times, as he loved 9 LIVES - video and name checked us as ' having high hopes for XOVA in breaking thru in 2013' - RADIOTOGO LEADING UK BLOG BY ROBIN VALK


Xova first caught Born Music Online’s eye at the Yardbird’s Oxjam bash last September with their mightily impressive brassy rock guitar hybrid dancing-power Ska. Wisdom had the Town Hall stalls floor cleared of seating tonight so the atmosphere was relaxed and lent the options of both promenading freedom and mosh-pitting to the max.. 9 Lives’ their recent single was very satisfying with its growly guitar breaks whilst penultimate song ‘Don’t Want To Give You Up’ reveled in its romantic, rock-steady harmonies and infectious, witty licks and shifts. Big thanks went out to Rankin Roger for the support slot as last song ‘Tears’ celebrated guitar/vocalist, Wayne Lawrence’s lyric-rich trilling skat vocals building to a horn honking blistering crescendo - BORNMUSIC ONLINE


We love a bit of funk here at Seba Rashii Culture 'Zine and when it's mixed with reggae we like it even more. When it's mixed, like the best of the genre, with social commentary, it can be a potent musical beverage. XOVA's (Crossover) latest E.P. is one such example...

Taking an indie reggae approach, with a subtle hint of funk, the E.P opens with 9 Lives, a horn infused meditation on the blessings of life. It's a refreshing listen with a chorus that bounces along positively and holds a message that empowers the listener to live their lives in the spirit of having 'nine lives left to live before it's too late.' The positive vibe continues on the football anthem like Are You Ready, and unlike most football anthems it's possible to listen to it and not notice the team urging. Not a bad thing as the message of the song is one that can apply to everybody, of being able to do anything.

The single closes with a dub mix by G Corp of Our Generation. It's the most overly socially conscious of the collection, urging the return of the troops and a return to peace. It's good to hear a song with a message such as this now and again and reggae is perhaps the best vehicle for this, being the social catalyst that it is for both action and message. Over all it's a good listen, with the message loud and clear yet never overpowering the potent music.

Review by Sebastian Gahan. - Sebi Rashii Culture - online Culture Zine


its pronounced ' crossover' just in case you were wondering, but the main thing is, this Birmingham outfit Rock. Their music's a compelling mix of roots, reggae, ska and rock, topped by gloriously advanced pop sensibilities. 9 Lives could play on any contemporary rock station - look out America !, whilst Are You Ready sounds like a cross between 2 Tone, The Clash and Van Halen. The so called 3rd wave of ska has an exciting new member except such a narrow definition could never contain this band, not after they cook up such a heady brew of heavy dub and pacifism on Our Generation and strive to establish their own sound, rather than imitate whats already been done - ECHOES - UKS ESSENTIAL BLACK MUSIC MONTHLY


It's pronounced “crossover” just in case you are wondering, but the main thing is, this Birmingham outfit rock.Their music's a compelling mix of roots reggae, ska and rock topped by gloriously advanced pop sensibilities. 9 Lives could play on any contemporary rock station – look out America – whilst Are You Ready sounds like a cross between 2 Tone, the Clash and Van Halen. The so called Third wave of ska has an exciting new member except such a narrow definition could never contain this band, not after they cook up such a heady brew of heavy dub and pacifism on Our Generation and strive to establish their own sound, rather that imitate whats already been done. - Echoes Magazine


XOVA felt really privileged when they were invited to perform at the monumental Olympic Park on the Emerging Icons stage recently.
Alongside the euphoric buzz that is The Olympics, XOVA took to the stage and had the audience in the palm of their hands belting out a powerful and strong 40 minute set. Live favourites Chillout Maximum and Norze had the crowd on their feet and lead track 9 Lives, from their upcoming EP The Soho Road Sessions received a rapturous applause as the sun set over the iconic Olympic skyline.

The Olympics is a milestone in bringing the world together and the sense of spirit has definitely uplifted over the past two weeks which was really apparent during the gig. Lead singer Wayne Lawrence reeled “it was good to see that our music translates to all nations, this is what is so special about XOVA“.

The Emerging Icons stage stands in the grounds of the Olympic Park with a unmissable stage resurrected like a gigantic sharks mouth that alone will grab your attention. Being host to a variety of artists and bands, this stage has had a strong presence throughout the events and not only allows emerging artists to showcase their music but be part of something even larger. Running throughout the Olympic festivities the Emerging Icons stage has shown the likes of The Stowaways, who are set to be one of the latest sparks on the indie scene, and stunning female acts such as the powerful Elissa Franceschi, who performed a variety of dance and melodic tracks. Being host to a variety of artists and bands from all around the UK this stage has had a strong presence throughout the Games and not only allows new artists to showcase their music, but also be part of something even larger that has the attention of the whole world!

Despite a busy day XOVA took some time out to chat to Paul Franks from BBC West Midlands about the exciting day and to highlight the exciting fact they were the only Birmingham based band to be part of of this event. - Futureproof PR


X.O.V.A. are multi-racial, multi-generational masters of a vibrant and muscular roots sound that harks back to the sound and vision of the past, fired up by social and political unrest issues as well as affairs of the heart. But the septet are also the sound of 2012, fusing their reggae base with the breadth of the modern world – ska, rock, dubstep, blues, Motown and folk, infused with protest and pain, but also hope. Driving the band on is a very real tragedy that inspired ‘Knife Crime City’, the first single from the album: the shooting and killing of drummer Skin’s teenage son, a victim of Birmingham’s gun culture and gang wars. Not for nothing is their new album called Synchronise Your Leaders the leaders of gang factions and countries alike. “Until everyone is on the same wavelength, peace has got no chance,” says singer/ guitarist and spokesman Wayne Lawrence. XOVA have recently been confirmed to play at the 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS on July 30th as part of the Spectator Experience, and have had some terrific gigs in the East Midlands lately. They’re one of those rare bands that are passionate in delivering music with a message and purpose, we speak to Stuart to find out more.
How did you all meet and form X.O.V.A? What was the first practice like with all of you there?

We just kind of came together, some of us knew other members from previous bands and work we have done, some of us had never met before let alone played together. The first rehearsal was an interesting one, a lot of jamming and musical styles mixing around, wish we had recorded it now!

You’re breaking a few music journo heads with music from a wide variety of genres being fused into one, is that perhaps making things a little more difficult for you?

Yes I think it’s definitely a stumbling block for some of the industry and media as to where to put us compared with other artists, so it’s not such a logical move to add us to a certain gig or radio show, but this is a fault with the industry at the moment, they get too latched on to one sound and that’s the only thing that’s cool suddenly. Take the dub step movement for example, suddenly everything has that element to it we are hearing. The current ‘sound’ changes of course but what happens if you get more than one type at once? Hopefully we will find out…

On your blog you have the theory that everything goes in cycle’s music wise. You may well be right but it seems the music industry is in a bit of a muddle, what’s your take on it?

There is always a cycle to the current trend and we can all hear it, things do come back around but I think they need a twist to it to give it something fresh, I’m not sure the industry is in a muddle, rather it just gets hung up on what it thinks people find cool, then push anything of that genre even if its substandard.

Each generation seems to have had a genre of music with which it’s identifiable, such as Mods ‘n’ Rockers, Grunge and so on, do you think the current generation musically are lacking that identity of their own? Is that necessarily a bad thing?

I think those generations were at a time and place in the world where music spoke to the people, songs had real meanings and you could identify with exactly what the song was about. I’m sure currently people can label themselves as something but it’s not a movement and a life style like it used to be. I think music has lost a bit of its magic now as well, the internet has made it so easy to watch or listen to anything so it doesn’t have that “event” status anymore, and therefore doesn’t seem so special.

How tough is it to promote the message of the anti gang youth charity LEAP? What’s your view of R n B / Hip Hop / Rap artists who seemingly promote that lifestyle through their music and imagery?

It’s not tough to want to promote something that helps people to get out of bad situations like that. Personally I don’t have issues with people saying stuff in songs because it’s not real life, it’s not really my kind of music but you can’t say you did something because you heard it in a song, if you don’t have your own mind and self-awareness that’s more of a problem.

Is the anti gang culture message slightly less relevant to other EU countries, or do you find that they have exactly the same problems?

I think each country has its own issues, some maybe similar some not, or some less documented about. Personally I haven’t heard so much gang culture talk from other EU areas, but we always focus more on our own doorstep

Who writes your songs, is it a group effort, or is there a main songwriter?

It’s a bit of a mix and match, Wayne the main vocalist will usually write his lyrics and chords and come to rehearsals with some ideas, we play around with them and see what we come up with and where the song naturally flows to. I will hear a brass line in my head and get the others to play it…it’s like building a house, we use many trades that all come together as a whole.

With the ag - thejitty.com


From the early moments of The Soho Road Sessions, it is clear that there is something special about Midlands reggae rockers XOVA. Kicking off with 9 Lives, the British band bounce into life with an uber-tight horn section, an indescribably delicious bass tone and subtle yet complementary keyboard decoration. On top of this lies a sincerely soulful vocal performance that gives a strong front to XOVA’s highly developed sound and compositional competency. Beautifully layered horn parts and the perfection of the palm-muted guitar in the second verse are just two of the many understated elements that combine so effortlessly in what becomes a practically flawless start to the EP.
The Birmingham-based band’s ska/rock influences emerge in the group’s Euro 2012 song Are You Ready?, particularly with the driving guitar and its lead that blisters with energy after the first anthemic chorus. Despite the recording not possessing quite the same level of polish as its predecessor (especially noticeable in the choruses where the guitar blares in, yet lacks the overwhelming force that should blow you away), the upbeat vivacity works well and utilizes both the keyboards parts and the ensemble’s horn section effectively.

R Generation (G Corp dub) is a bold change in direction, putting the frivolous off-beats on hold for a more laid back reggae feel with electronic embellishments and almost psychedelic reverb-heavy horns. The group’s youth-against-conflict charity work is voiced well through the anti-violence lyrical content of the song and is smartly further enforced by the chilled out ambience. A welcome change of pace, but it doesn’t however allow the band to go out on a bang, as one may have come to expect given the exciting energy encapsulated in so much of their music.

Funky bass grooves and a delightfully tight horn section make XOVA’s The Soho Road Sessions a worthwhile investment for those seeking to invest in a promising band flourishing from their reggae roots. Leading track 9 Lives establishes an almost unmatchable standard and unfortunately does make the three tune release appear as little more than a single with accompanying bonus songs, rather than an EP boasting a trio of tracks of comparable strength. Do not let this act as a deterrent, though; The Soho Road Sessions is a laudable outing from the highly talented Birmingham troupe. - Room 13


Q. Tell us about your strangest experience in the music industry so far.

A. Well, of course being on the road leads it and us into some really strange places and countries; which is always exciting as we get to meet some weird and wonderful people, but as for strangest…we turned up for a live TV show in Lithuania and the drummer had left all his sticks back at the hotel, so we improvised as there was an interview with some Red Indians before hand and our Tour Manager borrowed some of the arrows!!! We quickly got rid of the feathers and used them. After our performance we heard the Indian guys going mad as two of their arrows were missing and they were really old and valuable. They wanted to know what had happened to them. We left through the back exit quietly…

Q. How does the band prepare for a concert/show/gig? Do you have any pre-show traditions?

A. We always ‘FIRMS UP’ each other, which is basically touching fists with each member, as if to say, “We are ready, we are together, we are firm. Let’s support each other and go and rock the place.” Then, periodically we have a few mad moments where we have an imaginary MOSHPIT area and we go crazy jumping around to random songs. It could be Electric 6, could be Thin Lizzy, could be the Birdy Song: whatever is totally inappropriate to the situation. It alleviates nerves and we all go on stage laughing, sometimes crying with laughter.

Q. How did you hear about MusicXray and what prompted you to join?

A. Our Manager has been checking all the music internet sites out for years and regularly attends all the trades fairs like Midem, and MusicXray stood out, and as such he saw it as a valuable tool to try and get our music and name in front of industry people. It obviously works and he obviously made a good decision.

Q. Whats next for X.O.V.A? What should we keep our ears out for?

A. The new EP is next called The Soho Road Sessions featuring 9 LIVES. A song called “Are You Ready,” which is a ska type track we also have done a little animation video for, was written for the England Football team who are playing at the Eurochampionships. Also, there will be a wicked Dub remix of one of tracks, “Our Generation.”

Then there is the album and film and further EPs. So lots is happening. As our music is getting stronger and stronger, peoples’ reactions to our music is getting better and better, and our sound, which is commercial but with a reggae twist, is catching on - Music X -Ray


“IF WE stand next to each other, it’s like a queue in a job centre! But it just works.”
This is how one of the members of Birmingham band X.O.V.A, pronounced crossover, describes the synergy among the multi-racial and inter-generational six-strong reggae group that is making waves in the city and the wider UK.

Fresh from their own version of Olympic glory where they were invited to play just outside the main stadium in the Spectator Experience, X.O.V.A is transcending boundaries, while not forgetting their roots.

Although there may be a wide age gap among members of the group, with some being old enough to be the fathers of the others – it has served as a positive source of strength rather than being a problem for the group.

Yet the group of reggae entertainers is kept even closer by life altering circumstances, each member’s being different. For instance the band’s drummer, known as Skins, lost his son Dimitri to Birmingham’s gun culture when he was shot dead four years ago.

It was a tragedy that pulled the band together and inspired their single Knife Crime City, which was part of their first album The Pressure of Life, released in 2010.

“We were playing in Holland when Dimitri was killed,” says Skins, who was originally part of reggae star Pato Banton’s band Reggae Revolution. “It really brought it home to me that this can happen to anyone. At the time the band was a great source of strength to me.”

Skins explained: “That’s why we want to get a message out through our music about important issues which affect the whole community.”

Conscience

When the older members spoke to The Voice, it was clear they all have a social conscience, possibly drawn from the vast experience developed by the many years spent on the road touring across the globe with household names, such as Sting and Peter Gabriel.

“We were the first reggae band to play at Sydney Opera House when we toured with Pato,” Skins, added proudly, with Mikey on keyboards and James on saxophone smiling and nodding in agreement.

For them one of the highlights of their many tours is giving free tickets to people in Brazil who had no chance of being able to buy their way into the gig.

“I remember dreaming for years of being on Top of the Pops,” said Skins. “But when I actually got on there it was all a bit of a letdown!”

According to the drummer, “sometimes you just get more out of helping others to enjoy your music like giving away tickets to people who are too poor buy them. They will have remembered that.”

Now managed by businessman Andy Cliff and Steve Hughes, the band has a new lease on life and is about to release their latest album Synchronise Your Leaders, which touches on the issues of gang warfare.

Andy, who runs the international artiste management firm Stratosphere Music Ltd, said: “You will not see six harder working musicians. They work really well together and it’s definitely their time to shine.”

In the meantime, XOVA will be shining during Birmingham’s ArtsFest in September.

They will be on stage at 4 p.m. in the city’s Chamberlain Square on Sunday 9 September. - The Voice


XOVA is actually pronounced ‘Crossover’, and the good news is that this text speak is actually the worst thing about the band, who manage to step outside the badly worn ska template by taking on more reggae influences, plus a little bit of modern hip-hop thinking, producing a horn heavy sound that still sounds fresh. They’re releasing the ‘Soho Road Sessions’, including the track 9 Lives (streaming below), and it has summer hit written all over it… so it’s a shame it’s October really, but they’ll give you some bounce to see you through to next year. - Superjam


XOVA is actually pronounced ‘Crossover’, and the good news is that this text speak is actually the worst thing about the band, who manage to step outside the badly worn ska template by taking on more reggae influences, plus a little bit of modern hip-hop thinking, producing a horn heavy sound that still sounds fresh. They’re releasing the ‘Soho Road Sessions’, including the track 9 Lives (streaming below), and it has summer hit written all over it… so it’s a shame it’s October really, but they’ll give you some bounce to see you through to next year. - Superjam


By Asking me to review this CD Reckless has not removed me from my comfort zone but positively thrown me out of it. Apart from owning an Eddie Grant CD ( the most random present my mother has ever given me) i’m not a big fan of Reggae, and don’t get me started on R&B or i’ll be burning my feminist bra within seconds. however these are the main categories this CD falls into, and as this is a magazine supporting local music (added to the fact Reckless asked me to cover it) i approached it with an open mind like the professional i am. XOVA (pronounced crossover of course) are a Birmingham band with a more than impressive portfolio behind them. The fact that their gig list for the summer includes not just local dates and festivals but also gigs in Amsterdam, Belgium and even Poland, is a clear credit to what they have achieved within their genre. they have a string and loyal following, and this seven man band take the credit for writing and arranging their own material.‘The Pressures Of Life’ CD has just been released, and i was itching to get a red pen to the track listing, which suggests the issues faced by inner city life and communicated street style. With a deep breath i pressed the play button and listened. ‘Battle Scene Into’ sets the scene for what is to come, an hour of the pressures of life.This then blends into ‘R generation’ which has a positive message for change set on a gentle reggae beat. ‘The 14th floor’ is empathic towards the struggles faced by single mothers and is communicated through a beautiful soft R&B vibe. ‘Make It Wiv Out U’ is filled with potential for radio airplay with its catchy beat and easy lyrics. ‘Kinife Crime City’ suggested influences of the specials with the brass complementing a reggae beat, however the CD ends with a lullaby of a track ‘Serenity’ which was my favourite for its pure simplicity. The opinions of a society at war with gripes and pain, yet hopes and promise of change are combined with a pleasing mix of R&B ballads and Reggae tunes making this 14 track CD very listenable and though provoking. There is the occasional love theme thrown in notably ’ All This Time’ which is very mood setting and mellow. The vocals throughout are consistently strong, the lyrics are convincing, and the musicians display high levels of talent and diversity. Whilst this is not my genre range, i enjoyed the experience and it has relaxed my previous conceptions of such a style of music.
Expand your mind you will be glad you did. - Review By Mel of Ryans Gig Guides


''This is one of the Tightest bands i’ve heard in a long time, wonderful sharp playing – beautifully recorded" – Tom Robinson'' - BBC


Xova played with The Skatalites earlier this year and are supporting The Beat on a selection of gigs leading up to Christmas to promote the EP which is getting support from BBC Radio 2, BBC WM, Leicester & others along with press coverage in Echos Magazine, The Voice, Itz Caribbean & others.
They were also the only band to represent Birmingham in the Olympic Park by playing at the Emerging Icons stage during the games and have done some great live sessions for BBC Radio. They have an explosive live set that includes a full horn section + a great batch of songs.

On the subject of giving back, they work alongside youth against conflict charity L.E.A.P fighting knife crime and other social injustices (see attached press release for more info) - Focus Entertainment Blog


Following a soft release of the single Knife Crime City, which gained support from BBC Radio 2, Echoes Magazine and others, Birmingham’s indie reggae fusiliers X.O.V.A. now release the single 9 Lives as a package that includes Bonus Tracks Are You Ready, their tribute to the Euro 2012 tournament and a superb G Corp dub of R Generation.
The track 9 Lives with its strident groove is an undeniable summer vibe which channels ska energies alongside guitar licks that can only begin to hin at the musicianship and songwriting talents within the band. Lyrically, the song acts as a confessional for leadvocalist Wayne Lawrence as he laments about the trials and tribulations that come about with love and other relationships.

Their prowess can also be heard in bonus track Are You Ready which was recorded for this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament and features a infectious chant-a-long chorus amidst raucous guitar chords that is destined to become a fan favourite. Third and final track is a superb dub mix of a firm favourite with X.O.V.A.‘s live audience; R Generation by Birmingham’s G Corp (part of the original Electribe101 line-up). The release is marked by a string of gigs that see the band showcasing their unique sound in a live setting to which they are most accustomed to. Here they’ll show the crowd what they’re capable of, as former live audiences can attest to.

Light-hearted in comparison to former difficulties, from their history its clear X.O.V.A. are no strangers to conflict and tragedy – family illness, friends killed in war and the shooting of drummer Skins’ son have all left their mark. But sob stories don’t figure in this band’s attitude, instead, experience has afforded them a resilience and social conscience that shines through in the music and spurs on their involvement with anti-gang youth charity ‘LEAP’

With seven members spanning several decades in age, wildly varied backgrounds and raised on everything from Bhangra to The Beatles, X.O.V.A. were always going to defy convention and genre. Many bands fall apart due to ‘artistic differences’; but it is exactly that which the band uses to their advantage. As their name suggests, ‘crossing over’ is clearly no challenge to them and they’ll do everything in their power to make the transition to global success. Judging by their rate of overcoming obstacles, I wouldn’t bet against it. - Caribbean UK Connection


Following a soft release of the single Knife Crime City, which gained support from BBC Radio 2, Echoes Magazine and others, Birmingham’s indie reggae fusiliers X.O.V.A. now release the single 9 Lives as a package that includes Bonus Tracks Are You Ready, their tribute to the Euro 2012 tournament and a superb G Corp dub of R Generation.
The track 9 Lives with its strident groove is an undeniable summer vibe which channels ska energies alongside guitar licks that can only begin to hin at the musicianship and songwriting talents within the band. Lyrically, the song acts as a confessional for leadvocalist Wayne Lawrence as he laments about the trials and tribulations that come about with love and other relationships.

Their prowess can also be heard in bonus track Are You Ready which was recorded for this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament and features a infectious chant-a-long chorus amidst raucous guitar chords that is destined to become a fan favourite. Third and final track is a superb dub mix of a firm favourite with X.O.V.A.‘s live audience; R Generation by Birmingham’s G Corp (part of the original Electribe101 line-up). The release is marked by a string of gigs that see the band showcasing their unique sound in a live setting to which they are most accustomed to. Here they’ll show the crowd what they’re capable of, as former live audiences can attest to.

Light-hearted in comparison to former difficulties, from their history its clear X.O.V.A. are no strangers to conflict and tragedy – family illness, friends killed in war and the shooting of drummer Skins’ son have all left their mark. But sob stories don’t figure in this band’s attitude, instead, experience has afforded them a resilience and social conscience that shines through in the music and spurs on their involvement with anti-gang youth charity ‘LEAP’

With seven members spanning several decades in age, wildly varied backgrounds and raised on everything from Bhangra to The Beatles, X.O.V.A. were always going to defy convention and genre. Many bands fall apart due to ‘artistic differences’; but it is exactly that which the band uses to their advantage. As their name suggests, ‘crossing over’ is clearly no challenge to them and they’ll do everything in their power to make the transition to global success. Judging by their rate of overcoming obstacles, I wouldn’t bet against it. - Caribbean UK Connection


When G Corp aren't busy touring Overproof, their studio is home to a wide range of bands (covered on this blog in a previous post).

Here's one of the latest productions, with Xova, who embody yet another facet of Birmingham's 3rd Reggae Generation; their management are currently working on a documentary covering the Birmingham reggae tradition.

knife crime city embedded along with jpeg of x.o.v.a - RADIO TO GO - ROBIN VALK - WORLDWIDE MASSIVE RADIO BLOG


Recalling the early days of UB40, multi-racial, multi-generational Birmingham reggae based septet X.O.V.A. have released debut single Knife Crime City (J2B Music), in association with the youth crime organisation Leap, in a bid to fight against gang crime, drummer Skin having lost his son to the city’s gun culture

A slow burn number with mournful sax (the brass section also features trombone and trumpet) and a heavy dub feel (particularly with its extended play out) with singer Wayne Lawrence sounding not unlike Ali Campbell of One In Ten days, it’s taken from forthcoming album Synchronise Your Leaders which should show the band also working with ska, rock, dubstep, blues, Motown and folk. Hence the name- think about it!

Soulful r&b ballad Yeah Yeah Yeah and the skanking Just Wanna Be Famous from an earlier EP are testament to their well honed and experienced musicianship and, with the yoobies apparently no heading off into country territory to round up the Charlie Landsborough market, the time could well be right for this lots to be signing on as their successors. - BRUMBEAT -


X.O.V.A hail from birmingham which make comparions to early UB40 inevitable since their music is steeped in late seventies reggae and has similar ingredients - namely a horn section, earnest white boy vocals, conscious lyrics and a dub-fuelled mix.

Whilst thier sound is nothing new , the lyrics are only too relevant, since they call for an end to Knife Crime thats breaking hearts in communities all over England. their drummers teenage son was a victim of Birminghams gang wars, which lends their message even greater resonance. This single has been released in conjunction with Uk Youth charity Leap who like X.O.V.A themselves are trying to make a difference RESPECT IS DUE - ECHOES MAGAZINE


Home What's On / Rock & Pop
Music Local Heroes: Xova
Dec 4 2009

Name: Wayne Lawrence (lead vocals and guitar), age 27.
Home: Chelmsley Wood.
Band: Xova.
Other members: Skins (drums), Boot (bass), Andy Harris (trumpet), Stuart Hasslehaugh (trombone), James Renford (sax), Mikey Nanton (keys).
Band history: I came from unsigned rock band Farside, while the others are musicans who have played with Pato Banton, Apache Indian, Musical Youth, Mumbai Brass and The Brassketeers. We all met when we played together with Johnny 2 Bad. We decided to write and record our own album when we were asked to perform live on Lithuanian TV after having a minor hit there with a re-recording of the old track My Girl Lollipop.
Type of music: Indie/Reggae.
Influences: Aswad, Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley.
Current favourite band: Muse.
Record deal? Album released on our own label J2b Music in association with Gotham records and available on iTunes.
Current release: Debut album, The Pressures of Life, officially released today, as well as new single R Generation.
Musical highlight: Singing our own track All This Time live on Lithuanian TV to millions of people on the prime time Saturday night Eurovision Selection show. Scary but a great feeling.
Musical lowpoint: Getting a nasty throat infection just before going on stage in Poland. Although it was a struggle the show still went on.
Ambition: To let the world hear Xova and see Xova live and show that a lad from Chelmsley Wood can be up there with the best of them.
Next Midland gig: Tonight, Actress and Bishop, Ludgate Hill, Birmingham.
Website: www.xovalive.com.
- BIRMINGHAM EVENING MAIL


Although the day had been going great at the festival with some excellent acts, fantastic weather and a really chilled out vibe.... The best was yet to come and what a surprise it was....Xova I admit I hadnt heard of before and were billed as being one of the best up and coming live acts in the Uk ,featuring seasoned musicians who have played with World stars Pato Banton, Apache Indian and even the Pass the Detuchies guys Musical Youth, they also included some of the newest and freshest talent around today, they, mix reggae with RnB ...

The band Bounced on the stage and got the crowd jumping straight away, their show like there music was infectious, the lead vocals and front man Wayne Lawrence is a true star in the making and the brass section unbelieveable, these guys just dont play...they dance and run around the stage at top speed, which believe me has to be seen to be believed, The rythem section was hard and heavy and never missed a bit all set, dynamite

Stand out tracks included Our Generation about the iraq war and New Revolution about these changing times aswell as the deeply moving tracks Serenity and 14th floor...

As I said a surprise package, as none of us had heard of them before but sang along to their tunes and trust me, we wont forget them...5 Stars, Gerry Coleman, Musical Editor - MUSIC REVIEW TIMES MUSICMONTHLY



FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2009 WWW.REGGAEFESTIVALGUIDE.COM

EVERY NOW AND AGAIN SOMETHING SPECIAL LANDS ON OUR DESK, SOMETHING UNIQUE, SOMETHING THAT COULD BE HUGE...SOMETHING I WANT TO SEE AND LISTEN TO...
THIS MORNING THAT RARE EVENT HAPPENED... A SIMPLE CD USUAL RED GOLD AND GREEN COLOURS FOR A LOGO, BUT NOTHING SIMPLE ABOUT THE MUSIC...XOVA DELIVER REGGAE IN THE SWEETEST FORM, YET LYRICALLY TELL THE STORY OF OUR LIVES TODAY IN URBAN SOCIETY.

THEY ARE SO FRESH YOU CAN SMELL THE SWEAT THEY TOILED MAKING THIS RECORD, YOU CAN FEEL THE LOVE THEY HAVE PUT INTO ITS CREATION AND YES YOU CAN SEE THE SHOW THAT THEY WILL DELIVER WITH THEIR SING ALONG HOOKS AND MEANINGFUL TALES THAT WE ALL RELATE TO

10 OUT OF 10, NO HIGHER !
Sam Jukes

- WAR Monthly MAGAZINE FOR WORLD ASIAN & REGGAE MUSIC


Discography

9 lives ( officlal Video ) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Loa5cEGrXms
Soho Road Sessions EP - out NOv 15th 2012
Little LIon Video out Dec 15th 2012
Tears EP due out Feb 1st 2013
Synchronise your Leaders Album due out March 15th 2013
Knife Crime City (Official Video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEc0JhcCZ3Q
Knife Crime City (Soundcloud Link) - http://soundcloud.com/xova/knife-crime-city-mix-25-10-11

Photos

Bio

When the first thrilling wave of racially diverse roots-reggae and ska bands burst out of the Midlands in the late 1970s and revolutionised Britain’s musical and cultural landscape, the country was facing economic depression, massive social unrest, a lack of faith in the political system and, come 1982, an overseas crisis and a pointless war in The Falklands.

It seems that little has changed in the interim.

Enter X.O.V.A.

From Birmingham, numbering six in their ranks, X.O.V.A. are multi-racial, multi-generational masters of a vibrant and muscular rocking-roots sound that harks back to the sound and vision of the past, fired up by social and political unrest issues as well as affairs of the heart. But they are also the sound of 2013, fusing their rock-reggae base with the breadth of the modern world - ska, pop, dubstep, blues, Motown and folk, infused with protest and pain, but also hope.

The band have had headline and festival dates lined up throughout 2012, booked and rebooked by promoters following sell out and roof-raising shows including some prestigious support slots with legendary bands like The Skatellites and a home town Birmingham Town Hall Xmas gig with The Beat, who they are now working on a collaboration track for release in 2013

2013 see’s them heading off to the USA, as NBC TV NEW YORK flew into film them in December 2012 for filming early 2013, and more UK support slots with The Spin Doctors and The Selector confirmed in between there own dates, . They also in Feb 2013 are embarking on a FACEBOOK FAN tour where they will run up at there fans homes, works or bars and play for them an impromptu set

They have also just completed filming a movie based on the infamous NO11 Bus route and the many musical influences that have inspired the band along the route. The film features cameos from the likes of UB40, THE BEAT, WONDERSTUFF, FUZZBOX, MUSICAL YOUTH and many more, this will be released early in 2013 and accompanied by 11 webisodes on the bands website

The latest release THE SOHO RD SESSIONS ,came out on Itunes Nov 28th and has the lead track of 9 LIVES which is accompanied by a quality video directed by Alex Kyrou [ Tim Burton asst ] this has helped get the band NATIONAL UK RADIO on BBC 2 [ Alex Lester ] and BBC6 [ Tom Robinson ] where Tom commented ‘ This Is one of the tightest bands I have heard in a very Long time ‘

Regional Radio’s such as BBC INTRODUCING, ‘ Q RADIO’ SCRATCH and many others now coming on board to support including some great press from the likes of ECHOES MUSIC MAGAZINE [ UKs Essential Black music monthly } who rave about the band .
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Debut album Synchronise Your Leader’s is due to released in the spring 2013 .