Folk Is Alive And Well: Brighton’s Chris T-T

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Chris T-T is said to be one of the most critically acclaimed underground artists of our generation. He has released 10 albums, toured relentlessly, written books and for magazines, and is now a radio DJ here in Brighton.

He is still only 41.

Chris T-T - May 2016 - pix 1 - Credit Sarita Tam
Chris has toured with the likes of Frank Turner, performed his own one man show at Edinburgh Fringe and started viral political jabs on Twitter. A varied career. Credit: Sarita Tam. 

Chris T-T may only be known by those who have heard of the likes of Frank Turner or Against Me!, his fellow label-mates on Xtra Mile Recordings, but this shouldn’t be the case. The work that Chris is doing here in Brighton stretches is truly amazing as he, as well as a lot of the TotallyRadio DJ’s, are pioneering new and local music from Brighton. They are pushing local talent to the forefront and giving it the exposure that it truly deserves.

Having moved to Brighton from London, Chris has taken a position at TotallyRadio as the mind behind Midnight Campfire, a ‘folk’ show. I say ‘folk’ as it by it’s own admission uses that term in it’s loosest sense; playing a number of cross genre tracks from a selection of different artists. There are upcoming stars, as well as artists that never quite reached the heights they maybe deserved, the “lost stars”. Being so involved in the music scene in Brighton, it is interesting to hear some of the recommendations that Chris has for artists in the city.

And, aside from radio duties, Chris has just released his latest album 9 Green Sons. Chris is notoriously political and this album is no different, supplying witty and sniping jabs at the #worstgovernmentever. His twitter has blown up many times due to his political satire, but his music is just as clever. I spoke to Chris about Brighton, Politics and his new album 9 Green Songs, and Chris gave me some informed and genuinely interesting answers and thoughts about the state of what we now call Britain. And, with all that is going on right now, maybe some campfire folk is what we all need.

Hi Chris, How is it going?  Hi Tom, I’m very well thank-you. It’s hectic but in a good way, lots of interesting stuff to do. Writing this in a hotel room in Cardiff, I’m here for a history conference.

That’s cool. So just to start off lightly,are you pissed off about the referendum?  Yes but probably less so than most of my friends (devastated Remainers mostly) because I’d already got so wound up by the whole screwed process before we even had the vote, the outcome was just more of the same meh. Also I know it’s terrible but long-term it’s still nothing compared to what’s around the corner from climate change, bad uses of technology, other global shit. For example I’m more frightened of how we’ve screwed up antibiotics than any outcomes of the Brexit vote.

9 studio albums later, Chris is still going.

I see, so politics does obviously influence a lot of what you do, what makes you so passionate about it? That’s a good question. Probably my Mum and Dad brought me up that way. Current affairs and opinions about the way the world operates were always a big part of our conversation growing up. They instilled very strongly in me a sense that other aspects of life were more important than accruing wealth.

Can you tell me a little bit about 9 Green Songs?  It’s an album rooted in despair at the ecological situation, though it has songs about government and refugees as well. It’s my 10th solo album and my fourth record for Xtra Mile. It’s also a sort of sequel to 9 Red Songs, a record I put out 11 years ago, which I think has stood the test of time.

So, How long have you been based in Brighton now?  13 years. Jesus, that’s SO long. Moved down in 2003.

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What made you relocate here?  We wanted to quit London and here was the only place we looked. It had the seaside, it’s creative and liberal – loads of young freethinkers who party hard. The tech industry was thriving, a Green vote meant something. It was a no brainer.

What makes it a good place to be involved with music?  Brighton has a pedigree and history of great, important music across different genres. So whatever you’re doing, there are people who’ve been here and laid a path, often there’s an independent infrastructure that doesn’t rely on national chains. I mean, it’s still tough as anywhere but it’s also big enough to host a variety of stuff and close enough to London that it’s within reach.

Chris T-T hosts a radio show: Chris T-T’s Midnight Campfire. Listen to the “broadest definition of folk” on TotallyRadio

TotallyRadio works hard to expose new bands, how difficult is it to get
noticed? It’s always going to be very difficult. There is more great music than ever; it’s far easier and quicker to record and release, so far more stuff gets thrown out there. Juice and TotallyRadio help a lot but there’s just so much. A very crowded pool..
What is the relationship between Sussex and Folk music at the moment? Same as ever, I think: we’ve got some classic bands and some great lost bands.

And what is next for you? I’m in residence at the Workhouse over summer doing my National Trust project. Then a lot of touring of 9 Green Songs in autumn, UK and Europe. But for now, sleep!

And finally, What Brighton artists should we be keeping an eye on for the
future? Dream Wife, Chuck SJ Hay, Ellie Ford, all totally different, all brilliant.

You can catch Chris at Together The People festival later this summer.



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