A VENUE legendary across the North-West, with bands gracing its hallowed boards at least since a stage was installed 90 or so years ago (when it was The George & Dragon), Band on the Wall, up at the top of the Northern Quarter, is branching out with its own label, launching a singles club next month – now why did nobody over there think of that before?
And the honour of numero uno in the new imprint’s nascent catalogue goes to the rising Manchester jazz and future soul talent Mali Hayes, whose lush “Forgive You” is the A of the first release.
You can watch the video for that below; it’s luxurious, graceful, cautionary lyrics delivered with husk and whisper and honey; it draws, for me, on a lineage of hugely verdant soul that stretches back to the brilliant Rotary Connection anad up through Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others.
Mali’s been quietly working within the Manchester jazz scene for a while – and doesn’t Manchester always do better when it’s got its back resolutely turned to London, is getting on with its own glorious business?
Her first single, “Jump”, picked up national airplay with its meditative cool jazz back in 2016; since when she’s been involved with Gilles Peterson and Brownswood Music’s Future Bubblers collective. Therein she met producers Cult Architect and Medikul, collaborated on the ice-cool glitch-R&B of “Are You” – found a chemistry.
“We felt like we worked so well together, and so when the boys sent over another track they had been working on, I instantly connected with it,” says Mali of “Forgive You”.
“I wrote the lyrics that same night and recorded it over the next week; we all loved it. I really enjoy working with the both of them as they really let me take full rein of the lyrics and melody; they just work so well around whatever I do.”
“I wrote it after the ending of a chapter in my life,” she reveals of the lyrical depth she brings to the song. “I was feeling a lot of different emotions at the time and ultimately, I knew that I needed to put all of the self-love I had been practising into play.
“The lyrics are about realising that I hadn’t been setting a good example of how I deserve to be loved and knowing that I can overcome my low moments, because I’ve done so before.”
That A-side comes with “Come Closer” on the flip, which sees just Mali and a guitar and a wistful, free melody.
Mali Hayes’ “Forgive You”/”Come Closer” will be released digitally on July 2nd, and on 7″ by Band on the Wall Singles Club on July 17th; there’s also a vinyl and t-shirt bundle available. You can get your order in pronto at the venue’s website.