As the brainchild of original hip hop heads Rob Mac and Matt Smooth, the Speeka project has taken many guises over the last seven years or so. What started out, at the turn of the century, as an extension of their Scratch club night, albeit on a more soulful and quirky tip (featuring vocalists such as Alison David and Valerie Perkins) has grown into something more organic – ‘folky’ even - culminating in the release of ‘Bonfire’ in 2007.
Speeka sprung into the public consciousness with the LP ‘Bespoke’ in 2001, and their performances at Glastonbury, and a cover of The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ that followed only strengthened their fan base. Sadly, major record label complications ensued, and a change of direction was sought, both in terms of sound, and line-up. The introduction of folk singer Polly Paulusma (One Little Indian) and her friend Ben Parker (a vocalist who had gained much success with his band Ben and Jason) set the stage for the first embers of ‘Bonfire’ – a collection of warm, wholesome, and frankly quite immediate songs, offset with trademark quirky lyricism and a whole heap of soul and jazz.
The core members of the band have pretty much remained the same though, with Matt Smooth on drums, Rob Mac on guitar, bass and keys, Jamie Norton on Rhodes, Sarah Wilson on Cello, and Lucy Wilkins on Violin. ‘Bonfire’ maybe viewed as the new Zero 7 for grown-ups, it maybe the next step in the new folk revolution, but above all that it’s a classic selection of ‘proper’ songs.