Interview/Premiere: MABGATE

It’s been a few years since we last heard from Leeds-based band MABGATE.

The trio of drummer Richard Moulton, organist/pianist Nico Widdowson and guitarist/producer Ed Allen were formed against the backdrop of the pandemic. The trio started making music together while living in a converted pub that became their creative hub.

Formerly known as The Mabgate Organ Trio they return with a new offering, ‘I Asked’. A slightly more imposing and brooding sound with a new sense of freedom in their work. Although it still manages to hold onto the warm sonics we’ve heard from the trio.

The track’s theme is inspired by James Blake’s take on love on ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’. Through the tension and euphoric releases of the choruses, we can sense the push and pull of longing for reciprocated effort in friendships.

The upcoming EP, titled ‘MABGATE,’ is their first project recorded outside of the constraints of lockdown. It finds them widening their scope and creative approach and shedding the confines of being an organ trio.

Click play and listen to the ethio-jazz and desert-blues inspired ‘I Asked’ below.

With the single dropping tomorrow, we chatted with MABGATE about their musical influences, their creative process and more.

So, how did MABGATE start?

It started in the basement of the old pub the three of us lived in on Mabgate in Leeds. We’d been in various projects with different Leeds musicians, so we’d been playing together for years. Then in the midst of it all COVID hit and it was just the three of us. We decided to write and record an EP and the band has just grown from there. We dedicate our beginnings to the pub, so named the band MABGATE.


Let us in on the creative process for your latest single, ‘I Asked’.

At the time of writing, we were listening to James Blakes’ ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’, which has a real different take on writing about love. James Blake is always a big reference sonically with MABGATE so it was super interesting to be influenced thematically with this track. It all started with the bass line that loops through most of the track and grew from there. It’s broody and leaves a lot unsaid, until the chorus which is pretty explosive. We always record the base of the track with the three of us live and then workshop what we think it needs on top. We invited Joel Stedman in to play bass clarinet and he brings so much angular energy, his solo really captures the vibe of the track perfectly.


From a sound perspective, how does ‘I Asked’ differ from your debut release, From the Mabgate Basement?

We were pretty limited in the basement so this project has definitely let us stretch ourselves creatively. It’s grander for sure. I think we’ve all grown a little older and somewhat wiser since our debut EP; it’s nice to see when a project of yours matures and grows with you, which we feel the new stuff has done.


There is a distinct level of experimentation in your music. How do you balance the different elements in your music?

It’s not so conscious to be honest, the music we make is pretty organic as a collection of each of our musical sensibilities. We’re all into a pretty wide range of music so we all just say what we like to say individually and the blend of those voices is what’s interesting and inspiring to work with. Joel brings a lot of the heat in this track though. He’s in a bunch of experimental projects in Leeds: ‘Ancient Infinity Orchestra’, ‘Mu Quintet’ ‘Ferg’s Imaginary Big Band’. He’s a beautiful player on all sorts of instruments, people should check him out.


If all of you had to choose just one influence on your music, who would it be? 

El Michels Affair. They’re a New York outfit who make a lot of retro soul, hip hop, instrumental funk. Leon Michels is involved with so many great projects and runs Big Crown Records which put out a lot of music that has influenced this recent project.


How has Leeds shaped your sound? 

The breadth of music coming out of that city I think is what’s shaped us most. Leeds is a city full of musical freedom. That’s just endlessly inspiring. And the community that surrounds it all is so beautiful and nurturing.


Could you give us a sneak peek and share details about your upcoming EP?

It’s seven tracks long and full of the music we’re most proud of to date. We’ve got some guest features which we’re super excited to announce in the coming weeks. It’s dark and groovy, we can’t wait to share it!


What’s been your favourite or most memorable MABGATE experience so far?

We love our time creating and experimenting in the studio, but supporting Steam Down was definitely a highlight, alongside fellow Leeds band 2/22. Steam Down have cultivated such a strong community down in London and it was great to meet them and be a part of that night.


Do you have any final words for the Twistedsoul community?

Just thank you for making the effort to listen and support new music! Without communities like yours we could’t do what we do, so we really appreciate it.


MABGATE EP is released on 19th May.

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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