Stop Look Listen is a live music event held every month in London.
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Venue address: The Finsbury, 336 Green Lanes, N4 1BY. (View on map)
Live Music for Music Lovers
For an in-depth look at what it’s all about check out this inteview:
Zoe Konez and Will Connor run Stop Look Listen, a monthly live music night. We caught up with them to ask a few probing questions about what lies behind Stop Look Listen.
We got chatting to them about their lives as musicians, discussed the merits of working within a creative collective, and found out about the perils of getting locked inside your own house just before a gig.
NT: Hi guys, let’s talk a bit about Stop Look Listen. Where did the idea come from?
Will: It has evolved, more-or-less, from Listen Acoustic night which took one band from the local area and one band from out of town or on tour and put them together for a great night of live music hosted by Zoe.
NT: Is that the format for Stop Look Listen too?
Zoe: It’s a similar format. We have at least one London-based act and at least one from another town or from abroad – we think it’s quite important to have the mix. Stop Look Listen is bigger than its predecessor with 4 or 5 bands at each show and it’s got more emphasis on bands adapting their set exclusively for the night.
NT: Adapting their set? How?
Will: It could be a re-interpretation of their songs, or collaborating with another artist or musician they don’t normally work with, or changing the instrumentation around. In these days of a billion genres it’s increasingly difficult to classify styles of music and put bands into neat little boxes, so in our small way we’re celebrating this cross-fertilisation.
NT: And what’s your story? I mean, what’s your background as musicians?
Zoe: We’ve played in bands a long time, toured quite a bit, and have done all sorts of gigs. We play together in the band called ‘Zoe Konez’ – we’re a 2-piece band influenced by a wide variety of genres which is probably why we enjoy hosting such a diverse range of bands.
Will: Zoe writes edgy lyrics and great catchy melodies. She uses altered tunings and irregular rhythms quite often. I play a variety of percussive setups ranging from full drum kit to busking kit to odd percussion like a particularly musical camping kettle.
Zoe: We moved to London last year from the south coast after recording the Home From Home album, although we spent quite a big chunk of last year on tour in Australia and various places.
NT: How has your past experience playing gigs shaped your vision for Stop Look Listen?
Will: Aha..! Well, as a band it’s amazing what a mixed set of experiences you have going from gig to gig, in terms of the way you get treated by the promoter and the venue. We’ve certainly noticed how much better we play when we feel welcomed and wanted. And that positive vibe rubs off on the audience too.
Zoe: Yes it’s really important that everyone, band and audience, feels engaged and up for it. So with Stop Look Listen, we are taking all the positive experiences we’ve had as gigging musicians and injecting those into making the night a great thing for bands to play and a brilliant night of entertainment for the audience too.
NT: Cool. So talking about the audience, what kind of people come to Stop Look Listen?
Zoe: I guess the crowd is always going to be an eclectic mix of people. We have purposefully left the definition of the genre of music quite loose – we didn’t want to label Stop Look Listen as an acoustic night. I’d say most people who come to the shows are fairly weary of labels and genres, but open-minded to hearing bands in a format they probably won’t hear anywhere else. I think we expected to attract mainly other musicians and arty-types, but it turns out people from all walks of life come to the shows.
NT: And what about the bands – how do you go about booking them?
Will: Erm, well, to be honest, we haven’t got a rigid system. It’s a combination of knowing and liking a band so we approach them, or us being approached by bands who want to play. For the headline acts it’s all about them being the kind of band that doesn’t always play an unplugged or ‘acoustic’ set.
NT: I noticed you’ve talked about putting on a show rather than describing Stop Look Listen as a gig. Is that intentional?
Will: I hadn’t meant to do that on purpose. We don’t want what we’re doing to come across as pretentious – because it’s not – it’s a lovely relaxed and entertaining gig. Although having said that, yes, I guess we do have certain production values we want to convey. So, thinking of Stop Look Listen as a show gives the night a sense of unity and conveys the fact that a lot of thought has gone into programming the acts on the line-up. It’s not just a random gig.
NT: I see – that’s great! Turning the question around then, how do you see it developing as a show?
Zoe: In future Stop Look Listens we’d like to draw a bit more out of the ‘Look’ part of the name – and get visual artists involved in some of the performances. Actually, we have already been doing this… At the first Stop Look Listen night we had the wonderful shadow puppetry of Matthew Robins projected onto the walls behind the stage whilst Matthew and his band played.
Will: The walls of Native Tongue seem to lend themselves rather well to having projectors pointed at them! We’re not talking crazy light shows or trippy art videos – I don’t think that would gel with the ‘unplugged’ vibe. Artists and animators interested in perhaps showing a short film or doing something creative in collaboration with one of the bands should get in touch with us…
NT: How do bands and artists get in touch with you?
Will: The best place to start is to visit our website or Facebook page and get connected to the Collective. We like it when bands come down to a Stop Look Listen night and introduce themselves to us personally and do it the old-fashioned way, handing us a CD and having a chat.
NT: Does it have to be a band that doesn’t usually play acoustic?
Zoe: That’s for the headliners at least. The support bands are likely to be acoustic acts – soloists or duos. The headline band can be quite the opposite of what you’d expect to hear at an acoustic or mellow gig – any band can put themselves forward to play Stop Look Listen as long as they are seeing the potential for them to strip their usual setup to play an unplugged or near-acoustic set.
NT: Why choose Native Tongue as the venue for Stop Look Listen?
Zoe: We love that Native Tongue is run as a collective - the team is fantastic. And the space inside is very decent size yet it retains an intimate feel. There’s a great stage and sound setup. What more could we want?
NT: You mentioned the word ‘collective’ a couple of times. I know you guys are the main organisers of the night, but who else is involved in the collective?
Will: We have a whole cast of collaborators who are involved in the many tasks involved in putting on the night.
Zoe: Jennifer Boulter designed artwork and posters, we have a DJ playing between sets, help with promoting and publicity, and an extended network of artists and musicians. Will and I work on the bulk of booking, liasing, and organising, beyond this we see Native Tongue, the audience and the acts all as equally important segments of the collective which come together to make the event such a successful and enjoyable night.
NT: Have there been any funny stories or rock ‘n roll misadventures you can spill the beans about?
Will: Nothing terribly crazy we can reveal any juicy gossip about, unfortunately, no. There was a slight mis-hap on the very first Stop Look Listen night when immediately before setting off from home there was a major front-door malfunction and Zoe got locked inside the house! That added to the excitement for the first show. It went supremely well as it turned out.
NT: Yes – it sure did. I love the atmosphere at Stop Look Listen.
Will: It’s a great atmosphere. It’s the right balance of a sit-down-and-watch show combined with a friendly informal and relaxed gig.
Zoe: I think the audience gets that. We do want people to listen and watch whilst the acts are on stage but it happens automatically rather than having to be imposed or enforced.
NT: I guess the name of the night Stop Look Listen implies that it’s the kind of gig where the audience should, err, stop look and listen…
Zoe: Yes for sure! That’s pretty much sums up what it’s all about.
NT: Excellent… I think it’s a brilliant idea and a great format. Thanks for coming down to tell us more about it.
STOP LOOK LISTEN is held on the first Thursday of every month. Check out the Stop Look Listen website for details of the next event, view archives from past shows, and buy tickets for future events – www.stop-look-listen.co.uk. For more information about Zoe Konez see www.zoekonez.co.uk.
Reviews / Press coverage
"Stop Look and Listen is a musical treat …and the incessant chatter that you hear at so many gigs, didn’t seem to exist… People were actually sitting and listening to and enjoying the music."
London Is Cool http://londoniscool.com/stop-look-and-listen-%E2%80%93-live-music-at-the-native-tongue
"Rhythm Circus’ verdict: Stop, Look, Go, Listen."
Rhythm Circus http://www.rhythmcircus.co.uk/music/stop-look-listen-music-stripped-bare/
"Verdict: do Stop, Look and Listen."
A Blogger Blogs http://www.abloggerblogs.org/2012/06/zoe-konez-presents-stop-look-listen.html