The Kaptivators – “original underground Hip Hop is breaking into the mainstream”



We caught up with The Kaptivators who are currently competing in the Headlander Festival Battle Of The Bands

Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves for those that have never heard of you before?
We are a 5 piece Manchester based band fronted by a Brother and Sister Team. We are what you’d call a hybrid of many different Urban Styles mainly rooted in Hip Hop, which many elements ranging from Funk, Soul, R&B, Motown, to even Dub Reggae, Drum and Bass, and UK Garage.

How did you get started, how did you all meet?
Well the Band was mainly Kevin’s idea (The main MC). He once did a thing for the BBC as King Kev. He did a song called Kaptivatin’, and since then the name has stuck. He then thought to form a Band, of course Susie had a more musical background, and has studied at BIMM, and everything else formed in place. I can tell you how we met each other currently, I (Jamal Lewis-Service) met Kevin and Susie when I answered an ad on Gumtree, I wasn’t expecting too much from it, and just went with the flow. What attracted me was that they were looking to form a hip hop band, which I’m rooted in playing. I checked Kev’s video’s before, and I was 70/30 about the tunes, but wanted to see what I can add to the group. This was in October/November of Last year. But over time I got to know them and quickly grew a liking to them, and I think through doing the photo shoot and the Music videos, I decided that “This is it. this is the band I wanna be with full time.

Later on, we acquired the talents of Jack Flett (Bass) and Alex Brickmann (Guitar), who I’ve gigged with before as part of the Streetles (A busking Beatles tribute group). We’ve pretty much formed a friendship from that and really wanted them in the group. And with this lineup, we’ve been the most productive since we’ve started out. I help arrange the songs, Alex helps with the Production and Mixes, and Jack really helps with the groundwork. Plus Kev is very business smart, and Susie is our “Secret weapon”.

There is so much music out there what do you do to stand out, what makes you different?
Well, there’s a number of things. First off, we have a style that pretty much everyone can get into. With the current state of mainstream hip hop, a lot of Underground Hip Hop has now been more of a purists’ thing, kind of how Jazz is nowadays. I believe that we can venture in both the mainstream/commercial and underground. This was proven on 2 occasions, the First case was when we did Pit Hop at the Jackson’s Pit in Oldham. We had people like Xplicit, a young local MC with some deep lyrics, again a model underground MC, when we did our set he gave us a good nod and shout out, and that really meant a lot to us, also there was a hip hop outfit known as the Mothership Connection, another up and coming Manchester outfit consisting of some old friends from the days of Freestyle Mondays (Legion and Dubblo to be exact), and the whole night we got so much positive feedback.

kaptivatorsThe Second was at Band on The Wall on May 26th. It was part of a hip hop night. We were headlining and we managed to get everyone moving, even some of the acts came out to see our set which was absolutely humbling to see. I remember one of the promoters saying that our band were a “crowd stopper”. And being able to rock Band on the Wall is no small order at all, again proving that we can hold our own alongside Hip Hop Heavyweight such as Mothership Connection and Mistah Oscar. I should also mention that Mistah Oscar was on the same bill as us as part of Lucy Mae and the Tom Cats (A Jazz Soul with a great horn section, and 2 guest MCs My name is B and Mistah Oscar, who also smashed it).

But from an objective point of view, We have a Brother and Sister duo at the core of the Band. Of course we’re still growing as an outfit, but they are pretty much the heart of it all, and their Rapper/Soul Singer combination does provide a winning formula. We also got a quote off one of Kev’s Friends saying that we’re “Catchy without being cheesy”. And lastly we have a diverse range of songs, from Club tracks (JagerBomb), Somewhat Political (The People), dark and demonic (Doomsday Killa) Old school (Kaptivatin), to Boom Bap (Lost your Focus). And we have a range of different genres such as Drum and Bass (Midnight Sunshine), Reggae (Clouded By The Mist), to Disco Funk (She’s Calling Me). I feel that we can cover almost every areas.

What has been you most memorable moment as a band so far?

I guess the most memorable for me (I can’t speak for the rest of the Band members), was the gig at April 12th at DeBees. It was the most stressful and intense gig we did to date. Because the story was that our previous guitarist and bassists were beginning to become flaky in terms of commitments and availability. This forced us to get other musicians to dep for us. Then came the day of the gig, and our guitarist then really let us down let minute, so we went up and down trying to find a replacement guitarist, luckily we found a friend of our current guitarist, called Shane. He literally learned 90 minutes worth of songs in the space of 2 1/2 hours. Once it came to gig time, we were on it and seeing that crowd react the way they did, was such a rewarding and vindicating experience and it served to boost my faith in this band even further.

Could you tell us a bit about the recording of your music video (your entry to the competition)?Kevin had a friend called Nathan Codrington, who did photography and filming. We did our Photo shoots with him and was really pleased with his work so we agreed to do Midnight Sunshine in around the Cheadle Hulme area. It was actually a november that we filmed this and it was fortunately only a days worth of work, the done side being that we had to made out as if it was summer in the middle of November which wasn’t easy on anybody, add to that the fact that it started to rain and get dark near the end of the shoot. But Nathan did such a good job editing and producing, He also did a lot of our promo videos on Youtube.

the kaptivatorsWhat is your favourite festival memory?I don’t have that much festival experience music wise, but the most memorable festival for me was a biennial Theatre event known as Contacting the World in 2010. The idea was that 12 different companies from around the world come together in Manchester for a week of theatre, and being a part of that was a feeling of euphoria and exhaustion at the same time as it was a non-stop party for 7 straight days. And there was a lot of love in the air, in many senses of the word…ahem. But the great thing about it was learning so much about different cultures and how you could relate to them.

How do people find out more about you?

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