It’s barely believable that Saffron Records is just two years old, given the huge impact they’ve had on Bristol’s music scene since taking up residence in Colston Hall in 2015.
Nevertheless, awaiting us in Mr Wolf’s back room earlier this September were cakes, candles and a tightly packed crowd of friends and fans of the all-female youth label – all there to wish Saffron a very happy 2nd birthday.
Saffron Record’s first signing and all-round Bristol favourite China Bowls brought the chattering to an abrupt stop as she stepped up on stage with her trademark red guitar and bare feet.
The neo-soul, jazzful solo artist released her debut EP Talk on Saffron Records last year. Her mighty, dripping-with-charisma voice combined with a major appreciation for music of all kinds has helped her carve out her unique sound – it’s hard to draw a comparison between China Bowls and any other artist on the scene.
it’s hard to draw a comparison between China Bowls and any other artist on the scene
R&B influences glide playfully into her tracks, taking a verse from TLC’s No Scrubs for her Can’t Find the Words, and other times her love for modern hip hop sees her smooth-flowing vocals slow down to a near rap.
Although she gives a powerful solo performance, China Bowls is known to enjoy a good collaboration or two, and was joined on stage throughout the evening by a few friends, including Bristol vocalist Juliet Tempko and UK slam poetry champion and Sounds of Harlowe front man, Solomon O.B.
Between sets, we were treated to some DJ action from one of our favourite up-and-coming producers from Bristol, L U C Y
Between sets, we were treated to some DJ action from one of our favourite up-and-coming producers from Bristol, L U C Y (who you can look out for in our Local Talent spotlight feature in the new issue of Nitelife), whose unique blend of grime, dubstep and bass has been dominating our Soundcloud plays.
Next up was Brighton four-piece Kudu Blue. They completely blew us away, despite being very new to the scene – so new, in fact, that calls for ‘One more song!’ were met with an admission that they didn’t have any.
Their stage set up looked like that of a typical band, but what followed was a dancefloor-igniting set, where flawless live production meets the siren call of vocalist Clementine.
Within vast James Blakeian soundscapes, the electronic outfit combine influences from old school R&B to the 80s synth pop and cosmic funk that can be found somewhere between the lines of artists like Jamiroquai and Thundercat.
Within vast James Blakeian soundscapes, the electronic outfit combine influences from old school R&B to 80s synth pop and cosmic funk
Despite the incredible vocal capabilities of Clementine, her work on the microphone never distracts from the grooving electronic sounds being produced by her bandmates, with a more perfectly weighted balance between the two than I’ve seen before. This is not an electronic band with a vocalist or vice versa, Kudu Blue come as a package – and we can’t wait to hear more from them.
Weeknight abiding, we had to wave our goodbyes not long after their set, while the party continued on until 4am with sets from Eva Lazarus Afronaught and Konichiwahgwarn Records-signed Bristol artist Ngaio, and more.
Photos by Lee Ramsey