Saturday Night at The Howff with Bemz, Ben Seal and Adam Stafford
howff /haʊf/. A favourite meeting place or haunt, especially a pub.
This week at The Howff, Bella Caledonia welcomes Adam Stafford, Ben Seal and Bemz.
DEATH & MORE is the new album from Fife’s Queer-Dad Poly-Plum-Producer Ben Seal. Hot off the back of four powerful singles; DEATH, TRUTH, C U AROUND & GLORY, comes Ben’s first album under their own name. DEATH & MORE is an eccentric pop record, which handles hefty concepts and profound ideas with elegance and eloquence, bolstered by catchy melodies and stand out production. The album is rife with existential angst, opening with the track DEATH and ending on EVERYTHING, a track about Ben’s mother’s lifelong illness. It is clear that they are a musician comfortable with sombre subject matter, but as GLORY proves – a swan through the night with a transvestite owl and the subsequent dawn sex – not fixed to it. Ben Seal has spent the last fifteen years producing music and has been working out of the Piggery studio in Fife for seven. They say ‘The bucolic atmos and general bonhomie of the countryside is very appealing in lockdown and has spurred this outburst’. DEATH & MORE is a triumph of the creativity that ennui can engender, with a delightfully playful feel.
Adam Stafford’s experience of lockdown has been one of renewal, revolving around the discovery of a little red book hidden beneath some tupperware in a cardboard box. Full of old lyrics and memories, this book was a snapshot of a past life, providing the possibility for reassessment, wholly embraced by Stafford as the world collectively paused to take a breath. Armed with his box of cassette tapes, packed with hundreds of demos, he decided to re-learn some songs, take fragmented ideas from the past ten years and chop, re-write and re-sculpt until an entirely new album was born. Diamonds of a Horse Famine is the result, and in nine songs, Stafford cements his reputation as one of Scotland’s finest arrangers of cinematic soundscapes, tied together, as ever, with versatile instrumentation and cathartic, affecting vocals. This new record is ultimately a step towards nostalgia; the unearthing of forgotten stories and past mistakes told from differing perspectives, its focus on introspection certifying it as the quintessential lockdown soundtrack.
At the age of 26, Jubemi Iyiku has a maturity that many rappers would only be beginning to work towards. Under the moniker Bemz, his sound and lyricism is honest, raw and commanding but having been involved in music on and off for almost a decade, he’s not a totally new face in Scotland’s hip hop scene. With the release of his new EP Saint of Lost Causes this month, he’s also not one that is likely to remain unknown for much longer.
Saint of Lost Causes is Bemz’s return to music following his Life EP in 2018, with six tracks that explore where he has been and where his potential next steps will take him, both personally and professionally. Working with people like Axor, Cold North and Kobi Onyame, who features on the track ‘Suddenly’, Bemz takes on a number of styles, emphasising his strengths as well as his desire to grow and progress as an artist. Ahead of the release, we caught up with Bemz to chat about the EP as well as his thoughts on hip hop in Scotland and his future plans.