INTERVIEW: Smoove & Turrell | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Masters of music which marries Northern nostalgia with the most infectiously toe-tapping melodies, Smoove and Turrell have been an institution in modern day funk and soul in the region for over a decade. Their introduction to one another, described as something of a ‘happy accident’, lit a eureka-like flame in the brains of DJ and radio presenter Smoove and singer-songwriter John Turrell. “It’s so long ago that MySpace had just come out and I needed a demo for my band, The Stevies,” cites Turrell. “I had no musical background, and we duly turned up at his house with two crates of beer and proceeded to show him our music, growing in confidence but losing ability with every can. He showed me some tunes he was working on and I loved his sound, so I jumped at the chance to sing on one of them and that was that; Smoove & Turrell was born.”

Both hailing from Gateshead and expanding their various array of creative endeavours across the region, Smoove & Turrell’s roots bestow a noteworthy strength in their songwriting. Their last album, Crown Posada, was a reflection on past generations and celebrated local heroes, whilst their new release, Mount Pleasant, pays homage to their beloved Deckham stomping ground. Their experience growing up in a 70’s working class community fuelled the inspiration for A Deckham Love Song, an honest glimpse into their childhood. “At the time, it was a very well run council estate with a lot of hard working-class families trying to provide, mine being one of them. You honestly don’t realise you haven’t got a lot when everyone around you hasn’t either. It was only in the mid-eighties when there was a real downturn in the area; manufacturing jobs were being totally decimated by the Tory government. With this perfect storm of unrest and high unemployment, hard drugs became more prevalent, hitting many of the families I grew up with. By dedicating this album to the area, I wanted everyone to know how great a place it was, and how great it can still be.”

It’s division that will break us; music is about bringing people together

Captivated with the idea of keeping their heritage a priority alongside their art, Mount Pleasant is the second release of a trilogy planned by the pair, could their next release be a glimpse into the future of what the North East holds? “I hope it will be a vision of what we can achieve and strive to be. Our little plot on this tiny island is a truly beautiful place full of the best people. I’m no Rosie Lee so can’t look into the future, but we are a positive lot, we just need a government that sees us for who we are and uses our potential for the best!”

Following on from their political utopia, Smoove & Turrell’s passion for change is evident in their Hate Seeking Missile, written shortly after the passing of Labour MP, Jo Cox. “I was so shocked and gutted at the terrible news, and it seemed the only way to get my head around it. Since Brexit, politics has become so polarised and the news was so incredibly right wing that I honestly feel it’s an artist’s duty to spread another message. It’s division that will break us; music is about bringing people together.”

Smoove & Turrell launch Mount Pleasant at Wylam Brewery, Newcastle on Saturday 12th May.


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