Interview: Esper Scout and Finding Inspiration in Female Artists

Esper ScoutIt's pretty common for bands to give themselves off-the-wall names. The weirder the name, the more memorable the band. It's more unusual for that name to really mean something. For band members Sarah, Kirsty, Rebecca and Abbi, Esper Scout is a "gang who are connected through something you can't quite put your finger on" - profound stuff. Broken down, Esper means a person with extra sensory perception, and we all remember the scouts from our school days. The two words put together represent a connection through music, not just for the band members, but for their followers as well.

Esper Scout might be a relatively new name on the music scene, but they're bond goes back years. Kirsty (guitar) and Sarah (vocals and guitar) have maintained a solid friendship since their school years in Manchester. After a relocation to Leeds - and, of course, the addition of bassist Rebecca and drummer Abbi - Esper Scout was formed.

"When we were around [in Manchester] there wasn't a huge scene we were into," explains Rebecca. "I wasn't passionately inspired by the lack of female bands." Manchester is famous for its music scene, and today's artists frequently cite bands like Oasis, Joy Division, The Smiths - possibly even Take That depending on the genre - as their primary inspirations. But looking at that list, you realise that Esper Scout are right; where are all the girls?! "I don’t think as an all-female teenage band we were really respected or had a place in Manchester like we do in Leeds." 

2015 has been Esper Scout's biggest year so far. The four-piece got to tour with The Cribs, which, it has to be said, is very, very cool. As for the audience reaction to the band's 'cleverly provocative' (according to 24 Our Music) sound, Rebecca says: "I was totally made up to see so many people down at the shows so early to see us, and especially so many young non-male faces. It made me think about the times when I was a wee bairn and looked up to all the kick arse women I saw on TV or heard on the radio. Madonna, Annie Lennox, Tina Arena, Soul II Soul, Chaka Kahn, Toni Braxton, Eddie Reader. I mean at the time I didn’t know the names of all these people but their music is engrained in to me as really positive influences about the power of people beyond masculine figures."

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The idea of there being a power 'beyond masculine figures' is key here, because it is definitely still the case that today's music industry is dominated by men. Being a girl in a band is still a talking point, rather than a norm. In a similar vein to bands like Haim and Au Revoir Simone - and more recently, The Big Moon - Esper Scout are challenging the gender bias that has existed in the industry for far too long. The statement they make isn't overly explicit in their lyrics, it's made simply by their presence and their refusal to be ignored.

Although politics and social issues do play a role in the band's songwriting process, they're influences extend beyond that. However, a positive attitude is pretty imperative: "It's mostly the attitude of people making music which encourage us, rather than a specific sound or style. It feels quite innate, what we play, coming from a love for powerful, dynamic songs and hooks. Melodic rock and punk which place meaning and hope at its root," explains Sarah, "Artists with substance and positive statements of intent such as Alexisonfire and Kate Tempest give us some sort of understanding about ourselves."

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What's next for Esper Scout? Just last week they released their new split single with ZoZo via the non-profit organisation Come Play With Me. Aside from that: "We are cracking on with sometime in the rehearsal room to connect over some song writing for an album. We have a few special things coming up in June, but we can’t announce anything yet, keep your peepers peeled for that!" 

Separate from their own band, Sarah and Rebecca run their own in-house label Bomb the Twist and are in the process of putting together a tribute tape for their late friend and member of Delta 5, Kelvin Knight. "He helped us connect with Kill Rock Stars, a dream come true, but sadly passed away last year. We got lots of people who knew Kelvin and our friends to cover their favourite Delta 5 track and we released it on tape recently. If you wanna check it out visit our Bandcamp page, all the tracks are streamable or you can get a limited edition green tape for just £5 at BandCamp.

Listen to and download Esper Scout's latest single "Gaps in the Border Fence" here.

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