Meet: Musicians, Producers and DJs Andy Lewis & Hugh Brooker, The Duo Behind Lewis Brooker

Musicians, producers and DJs Andy Lewis and Hugh Brooker started collaborating together last year and
issued ‘You Can’t Live Without Love’ an upbeat, danceable vocal version of Willis Jackson’s classic Nuther’N Like Thuther’N. Backseat Mafia caught up with the duo to learn more about the collaboration and their future.

Give us a potted history of the band

Lewis Brooker is fresh off the starting blocks this year with their debut Double A Side 7″ Vinyl release “She Just Wants To Be My Friend/ “You Can’t Live Without Love”, out now on Brighton-based indie label Suit Yourself Music. But Andy Lewis and Hugh Brooker have a long list of musical accomplishments between them.

They were both label-mates at Acid Jazz Records. Hugh was in highly influential acts The Night Trains and Humble Souls, Andy was a solo artist and producer with a couple of albums and a bona fide chart hit under his belt. Andy had been Blur’s tour DJ and was Paul Weller’s bass player for many years. Hugh had been playing in bands since the mid-80s and had collaborated, produced, written songs for and toured with artists as diverse as Africa Bambaatta, Jamiroquai, Norman Cook and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. 

Who inspired you to start making music

Brooker was inspired to make music by seeing The James Brown Revue live at The Hammersmith Odeon in his early teens. Jerry Dammers’ 2 Tone Records Movement and the punk funk band Pigbag were also formative influences. Lewis freaked his parents out by singing along to “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us” by Sparks when aged 4. This led to piano, cello, drum and singing lessons in an attempt to rein in an excess of glam rock sensibilities until he settled on bass guitar after hearing “Grooving With Mr Bloe” by Mr Bloe on a Radio One oldies show.

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

Brooker’s most inspirational record  is “Move On Up ” by Curtis Mayfield ..”the most positive uplifting record ever made ..”  “I can’t disagree with that”, says Lewis. “It’s a track that blew my mind with its energy when I first heard it, and it still does!”

What do you say if you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone who’s never heard you

”We sound like us, with a few drops of everything we have ever liked thrown in,” says Brooker. “Junkshop Funk, Oxfam Jazz and Poundland Pop,” says Lewis, “because those are the places we found the tracks we take most of our current musical cues from- I mean, you try finding a record shop on the average high street these days”.

Tell us about your new release

Our current release is a double A-side. “She Just Wants To Be My Friend” sounds like a big American marching band with Led Zeppelin’s rhythm section on a truck behind them, the madness of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” coupled with the refined style of an old 1970s TV theme and the cut and paste hipness of a track by The Go! Team thrown in for good measure. “You Can’t Live Without Love” is an uptempo jazz-dance groove with double bass, Hammond organ and a string and brass arrangement inspired by film soundtracks and early 60s pop music. The music was recorded in Lewis’s shed-based studio in the East Midlands using a mixture of genuine vintage instruments like a Victorian double bass, a Mellotron and an old Kurzweil sampling keyboard from the late 80s, and a drum kit pulled out of a skip. The vocals and horns were added in Brooker’s East London flat. Both tunes are aimed fairly and squarely at the dancefloor, in the manner of the records that inspired them.

Where can we get hold of it

The limited  7″ Vinyl Double A Single is available now direct from Suit Yourself Music at or any decent record store that stocks a good range of contemporary singles.  The tracks are also available on Spotify and most download sites. 

Tell us how you write

”As a full on multi instrumentalist Andy lays down the grooves and overdubs the parts and I come up with the lyrics and croons” says Brooker. “Sounds about right,” says Lewis. “Hugh’s got a great way with words and brings my old fuzzy warbles to life”. The intricate horn parts are added by Dave Priseman, a long-standing collaborator of Brooker’s from previous projects. “Dave is a revelation”, says Lewis, “he’s an outstanding trumpet and flugelhorn player who just gets it. You don’t have to explain anything to him. He generally nails it first take.”

Tell us about your live show What would be your dream gig

“We are hoping to take Lewis Brooker out later in the year,” says Hugh. “I’d love to do it with a massive band to re-create all the parts I’ve laid down”, says Lewis, “but it’s going to be a bit difficult getting everyone into an old Fiat Qubo, not to mention onto the stages of some of the places we’d be likely to play!”

What can we expect from you in the near future

We are currently recording our debut album and plan to release a follow-up 7″ double sider from this in the next couple of months. 

Tell us your favourite records that are rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo

Brooker’s favourite music…anything by James Brown, Curtis Mayfield or John Barry. Lewis is currently on tour in Italy playing guitar with an Anglo-Italian “mod scene supergroup”, “so I’m listening to a lot of the music the DJs are playing before and after our shows, new releases from Daptone, Colemine, Original Gravity and Karma Chief. Jalen Ngonda, Say She She, Rachael Maxann, Ghost Funk Orchestra, Khruangbin, that sort of stuff. I love it. I love how it blends in with the music of the past but isn’t nostalgic. It totally lives in the present day. Like we all should”.

Check out the duos track She Just Wants To Be My Friend, below:

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