Ġenn on not playing Rebellion, Malta and a move to UK

Brighton’s Ġenn have been making waves recently, their recent single Duda Dance was one of the Highlights from the Rebellion Introducing Stage CD, so we wanted to find out what was happening.

Brighton based, but with roots in Malta, Ġenn were one of the stand out bands on a trawl around the annual Rebellion Introducing Stage CD for 2020.

Even with no festival this year, Rebellion released the CD anyway. And we’re glad they did. It’s a proper mish mash of a different set of styles and bands, but who all share a similar attitude.

As we said the other day, there wasn’t a great deal of point in attempting to review the CD, because it will mean different things to each listener.

But we picked out a few tracks that caught our ear and sought a chat with a few of the bands that made them.

Ġenn were happy to talk and we caught up with drummer, Sofia and bass player, Lea to find out what’s happening.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Sofia: We’re based in Brighton, we’re in lockdown. Usually, we would be touring, but with everything that’s going on we’re just chilling. We’ve written an EP. With being in different places, we did it all online and then managed to get into a studio as soon as it was open and record the new tracks. That’s been our main focus. Just to spend the time we’ve had recently, to get some new content ready for when everything kicks off again.

P3dro: That’s interesting – various people have dealt with lockdown in different ways. Some people have crawled into a corner and gently sobbed. Whereas others have been able to use it quite creatively.

Lea: I think we’ve done both to be fair. The first half was probably the sobbing. We were trying to write before lockdown, but things always got in the way with gigging and just life in general. And then all this happened, after being overwhelmed and thinking: “How are we gonna do this remotely?” Once we found a system, it just happened and then it feels like a fluke, almost.

Sofia: It’s been really nice to do it at a slower pace as well because you see everything piece together slowly, which was really interesting. It’s a different approach.

P3dro: So, August would have been Rebellion and you were booked for the Introducing Stage. Have you played Rebellion before?

Lea: No. It was a very big thing. We very much wanted to play last year. We’ve had our ambitions aimed at Rebellion for a while, but it didn’t happen until this year, which makes it sadder.

P3dro: Have you been to Rebellion before?

Lea: Sadly, not.

Sofia: I’ve known bands that have played, but it would have been a brand new thing for us.

Lea: There are a few people on my online circle that have been religiously and that’s where I first heard of it. To see them having such a good time. I wanna be there.

P3dro: Tell us a little bit about the band.

Lea: Ok, I’m gonna see how quickly I can go through this, because it’s like, 10 years worth of history. Although Sofia and I are the two who were not there at the beginning. The other two are [Leona and Janelle]. It started as a school project when they were 13. They were supposed to do a rendition of a poem and then they decided to carry on with it. They released some pop / rock type songs that did well within Malta. That went on a for a few years. When I joined, around 2016, we started to travel for, say 4 days at a time, usually doing [gigs in] UK or Spain. Not economical, but as a band we felt it was worth doing.

Then last year we decided and managed to move here in order to better integrate with the UK scene. For two years, we’d been planning it and that’s when Sofia came into the picture.

Sofia: I was found on the internet. I had a random message on Facebook. Usually I would probably be a bit more apprehensive than to trust a stranger, but something was telling me that she was telling the truth. I had a message to say “We’re looking for a drummer, we’re going on tour”. I was given a bunch of songs to learn.

So I [did] and went on tour, whilst the other three were still living in Malta. By the next year, when they relocated, I joined the band full time. That was a bit more of an abrupt thing in the scale of the 10 years it had taken them to get to this point.

Lea: Yeah, I would say there was a lot of slow burn. A lot of the history [of the band] is condensed into the last couple of years.

Genn

P3dro: Lockdown must have come at completely the wrong time for you. Your flame was starting to burn quite brightly. You were on the Glastonbury Emerging Stage list and things were happening for you.

Sofia: Yeah, definitely. Last year we were doing a lot of shows, but with the other guys moving here and the stresses of that, settling in to those changes. This year was going to be the year that we could focus on getting ourselves out there. So, it’s quite ironic the pandemic happened. But, of course, it’s affected everyone. I think we’ve handled it quite well, considering.

But we’re getting ready to go harder when it all gets back.

P3dro: When might we see the EP coming out?

Lea: We’re still deciding. With all of this [pandemic] it’s posed another question as to how to best plan putting music out for everyone. Normally we would gig to hell and back, because that’s just how we do these things. But we have to re-think how to get stuff out to people – new listeners.

We’re thinking of releasing a couple of singles before the end of the year, so, that’s something and then the EP will probably be early next year.

P3dro: What about gigs? I know you had some coming up with bands like Hands Off Gretel, Menstrual Cramps, Sløtface, Maid of Ace.

Lea: Yeah, it’s a cruel irony.

Sofia: Nothing’s actually confirmed for any gigs this year. We had a couple that were re-scheduled for October, but now, they’re not going ahead. Everything is just up in the air with the live music industry. Pubs are open and there are people flooding out and socialising anyway. But we don’t have any real idea of when we’ll gig again.

Lea: If we do get a gig, it’ll probably be a kind of last minute thing.

Genn

P3dro: What’s the music scene like in Brighton at the moment? How do you think venues are holding up?

Sofia: It’s tough because we do have quite a lot of independent venues in Brighton. When I was living here a few years ago, the punk scene was really thriving. I’ve noticed over the last few year its really diversified, which I like in a lot of ways, although I don’t know if there’s a lot more going on, or whether I’ve just started to notice the different scenes emerging in Brighton.

P3dro: I’m from Liverpool and a few of our small venues have already closed down. What do you think about Brighton? Are venues going to survive?

Sofia: I’m not sure. At the moment, I know a lot of the smaller venues have reached out for help. Hope and Ruin have quite a lot of live music. I’ve not heard of any actually shutting down yet.

Lea: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve heard of anywhere actually closing yet. There have been calls for fundraising. I’d like to hope that the scene is so closely engaged that we can keep them afloat, at least for a little longer.

Sofia: I also think it’s important to [recognise] that Brighton is quite small, so there is a sense of community [here]. A lot of the live venues are also pubs, so at the moment, the community is still in Brighton. In a way that is keeping those places alive. People are going out. Places like Hope and Ruin are selling food, doing the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, so that’s helping a few venues as well.

Pipeline also is doing food. Because [Brighton] is smaller and a bit more condensed, probably we’re not affected as much as places like London.

P3dro: You mentioned the punk scene in Brighton, is that how you label yourselves? Are you a punk band?

Lea: Yes. I suppose. I would like to think we fit in with the punk scene in terms of people and stylistically, as well. We’d also say, if we’re speaking strictly genre-wise, there’s a lot of bending so it’s worth drawing attention to us. I remember from a Manchester [gig] where we played a show and someone [in the audience] said: “These girls aren’t punk – what’s going on?”

Sofia: I think we have some songs that are very raw and have that punk attitude, but generally, it’s quite hard to pin point us. We are a bit Bendy Wendy.

Lea: A big Bendy Wendy!

When you’re trying to come up with new genre names to exemplify things, it makes it a bit more ambiguous than it does actually help you get at what the band is trying to say.

Sofia: It’s rock.

Lea: A fancy umbrella.

P3dro: Can you recommend a band or an album that you think we should be listening to right now?

Sofia: I’d say: Austerity, they’re a Brighton based band. They have an album called Anarcho Punk Dance Party which came out last year. Probably my favourite band in Brighton. They’re really punk, but it’s their genre that they’ve almost labelled themselves dance punk. It’s very rowdy! It’s fun. They’re a great band.

Lea: I feel they have the same energy that we go for. We get along great when we gig together. I have been listening to the new Psychedelic Porn Crumpets song. I like how they mix things up. You [wonder] what are they doing?

P3dro: Anyting else to tell us?

Sofia: Oh. We’re coming.

Lea: We’ll be there.

Sofia: Don’t know when we’ll be there, but we’ll be there.

Lea: We are inevitable.

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