Paco Peña embodies both authenticity and innovation in flamenco. As guitarist, composer, dramatist, producer and artistic mentor he has transformed perceptions of this archetypal Spanish art form.

Born in the Andalucian city of Córdoba, Paco Peña began learning guitar from his brother at the age of six and made his first professional appearance at the age of 12. In the late 1960s he left Spain for London, where his recitals of flamenco music captured the public imagination.

In 1981 he founded the Centro Flamenco Paco Peña in Cordoba, later becoming artistic director of the Córdoba International Guitar Festival. Plans are underway for a new educational initiative in Peña’s hometown, complementing his work as the world’s first Professor of Flamenco Guitar, a role established in 1985 at Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands.

In 2002 Paco Peña enjoyed the collaboration of the renowned theatre director Jude Kelly in what proved to be the spectacular show Voces y Ecos, which took the audience on a kind of journey through the history of flamenco and the most significant moments in its development – the show was hailed as the best flamenco show in years.

Other ambitious projects followed with Jude Kelly’s collaboration A Compás! was aimed at transmitting vividly to audiences the compelling nature of a range of flamenco rhythms; Flamenco sin Fronteras took a look at a group of flamenco forms that emerged at the turn of the 20th century as a result of Spanish musicians, singers and dancers arriving in South America to conduct tours of their shows and discovering a rich folklore that at times reminded them very strongly of their own musical traditions. This new group of styles was called ‘Cantes de Ida y Vuelta’, and the show sets out to combine the best of flamenco and its environment with Latin America and the great variety of music that exists there. The show was toured in the UK by Music Beyond Mainstream.

Paco Peña has been named Oficial de la Cruz de la Orden del Mérito Civil and awarded the Gold Medal in the Arts by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Both honours were bestowed by King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Paco Peña Website

Paloma Faith is proving to be one of the most innovative and creative female singers of her generation; never afraid to take risks or push boundaries. A captivating chanteuse, a rabblerousing entertainer and theatrical fashion chameleon, her debut album, ‘Do You Want the Truth, or Something Beautiful?’ remains a glossy collection of retro-referencing soul and sassy pop.

From the off Paloma has always been meticulous in mapping the visual imagery to accompany her music, be they videos, photographs or set design. Ever the film fan, Faith looks on this second record as the union of her first two loves: film and music. It’s the soundtrack to her life. “I wanted it to be a homage to film, for everything to look and feel and sound like it was part of a movie.”

Of course where these songs, and Paloma Faith, truly come alive is onstage. It’s before an audience that every aspect of her vision is fully realised. It’s in the live delivery that Faith connects with her audience.

A lot of people write songs because they want to record them in a studio, they want put their feelings out there,” she says. “I don’t write songs for that reason: I write songs so I can perform them.”

Paloma Faith Website

In 1972-73 Simon Jeffes was in the south of France. Food poisoning, a fever and a nightmare vision of a de-humanised near future led to the Penguin Café.

A different place to the harsh, loveless future of the dream Penguin Café was at the end of a dusty road where you would eventually find a ramshackle old building with noise and light pouring out into the dark. It’s a place you just fundamentally want to go into, and this is the Penguin Cafe. There are long tables and everyone sits together, and it’s very cheerfully chaotic. In the back, there is always a band playing music that you are sure you’ve heard somewhere but you have no idea where – and that is the Penguin Cafe Orchestra – they play this music.

Simon Jeffes woke and decided that he would write the music that would be played by the band from his dream. For 25 years he wrote and that is the world Penguin Café, led by Simon’s son Arthur, inhabits.

Founded in 2009 Penguin Café brought together a talented and disparate group of musicians from the likes of Suede, Gorillaz and Razorlight, initially to perform his father Simon Jeffes’ legacy of world renowned Penguin Cafe Orchestra music, ten years after his untimely death in 1997.

Arthur, a talented composer in his own right, quickly began to create new and unique genre-defying music, with the spellbinding philosophy of the Penguin Cafe always in his mind. The new work utilizes many different instruments and influences including elements of African, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Bluegrass, Classical, Avant-Garde & Minimalist music, using a variety of instruments from strings, pianos, harmoniums, slide guitars, cuatros, kalimbas, experimental sound loops, mathematical notations and more.

Penguin Cafe Website

Pere Ubu is a rock band that considers itself to be working within the mainstream of the genre.

Pere Ubu make a music that is a disorienting mix of midwestern groove rock, “found” sound, analog synthesizers, falling-apart song structures and careening vocals. It is a mix that has mesmerized critics, musicians and fans for decades.

The Pere Ubu project was supposed to be an end, not a beginning. Assembled in August 1975 to be the Crosby Stills Nash & Young of the Cleveland music underground, the plan was to record one, maybe two singles and exist no more. Within months, however, those first self-produced records were being snapped up in London, Paris, Manchester, New York and Minneapolis. Pere Ubu was changing the face of rock music.

Over the next four decades they defined the art of cult; refined the voice of the outsider; and inspired the likes of Joy Division, Pixies, Husker Du, Henry Rollins, REM, Sisters of Mercy, Thomas Dolby, Bauhaus, Julian Cope and countless others.

“Ubu are generally regarded as the missing link between the Velvets and punk. From the beginning they obviously understood the nuts and bolts of popular music, and then loosened them”. – Joe Cushley, MOJO.

In 2014, Pere Ubu renounced its ‘US citizenship’ and applied for creative asylum in Leeds, England, after a cabal of the American Federation of Musicians and a clique of government clerks in a small town in Vermont determined that Pere Ubu was unworthy of being granted permission to perform in America.

If you really want to understand Pere Ubu click here.


Pere Ubu Website

Portico Quartet still sound like nothing you ever heard before. The Mercury nominated, East London-based outfit’s unique brand of hypnotic minimalism has expanded to embrace new sonic territories. Drawing on the inspiration of electronica, ambient, classical and dance music, they take their strange, beautiful, cinematic, future music to exciting new vistas where the inspiration of Burial, Mount Kimbie and Flying Lotus rubs shoulders with the textures of Arve Henriksen and Bon Iver and echoes of Steve Reich and Max Richter. But all underpinned by a shared joy in collective music making as the band push their inimitable music into the future.

Their journey over the last five years has seen them rise from gritty street performances on London’s Southbank to countless international shows from Berlin to Paris, London to New York and beyond. Their self-produced debut album Knee Deep In The North Sea was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Music Prize (alongside Radiohead, Robert Plant and Elbow), and they subsequently signed to Peter Gabriel’s Real World label.

Expanding their sound to embrace electronics was a natural progression in an age where integrating effects, real time looping and samples is second nature to many musicians. In the process Portico Quartet maintain an authentic acoustic core sound that’s magnified through skilled electronic manipulation.

Portico Quartet Website

Denny is recognized for her pivotal involvement with the British folk rock movement, a sound she was instrumental in creating. She has the distinction of being the only guest vocalist on a Led Zeppelin album, performing the duet ‘The Battle of Evermore’ with Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin IV. In a short 13-year career Sandy Denny left behind an extensive legacy that has seen her reputation continue to grow.

In the years since her tragic death in 1978, folk icon Sandy Denny is now widely regarded by musicians and critics alike as Britain’s finest female singer songwriter and one of the greatest singers this country has ever produced. Her signature song Who Knows Where the Time Goes has been recorded by a diverse range of artists including Cat Power, 10,000 Maniacs, Eva Cassidy, Nina Simone, and most famously Judy Collins. The song was voted “Favourite Folk Track of All Time” by listeners of BBC Radio 2 and is also played at the close of Jez Butterworth’s Award Winning play Jerusalem.

The comprehensive re-issue of all Denny’s recordings in recent years, has seen her reputation continue to grow, at a time when more and more of today’s rising stars are acknowledging Sandy Denny’s contribution and significance as both a singer and songwriter: artists such as Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, Florence Welch and the Unthanks.

Sandy Denny Website

Youngest son of the late, great Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti is a true ambassador of the the afrobeat movement.

The young Seun took over the reins of his fathers legacy in 1997 as leader of his father’s band Egypt 80 after Fela’s untimely death, having performed with the band from the young age of 9.

Ever since, Seun has followed the political and social ethos of his father. Along the way digging deeper into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures.

About three-quarters of the current Egypt 80 line-up consists of musicians that not only played with Fela Kuti, but often were arrested and harassed alongside the founder of the Afrobeat movement.

Connecting his roots in Indian music with a bold, progressive attitude, Soumik Datta is considered ‘one of the biggest new music talents in Britain’ (Vogue). Soumik has collaborated with Beyonce, Jay Z, Bill Bailey, Nitin Sawhney, Anoushka Shankar, Talvin Singh and Joss Stone bringing the ancient Sarod (fretless lute) into a global arena.

Soumik has performed in over 40 countries as a soloist. He has released seven albums and scored three film soundtracks. In 2017, Channel 4 broadcast Soumik’s television debut, a six series titled ‘Tuning 2 You: Lost Musicians of India’ on the fading traditions of folk music in rural India (available to watch on 4OD). The British Film Institute has commissioned him to compose new music for film to celebrate 70 years of Indian Independence. Presently, Soumik is developing his first opera in partnership with Royal Opera House exploring bridges between vocal traditions in India and the West.

Soumik is supported by a board of trustees that form Soumik Datta Arts – a charity formed to support his creation of innovate, new work.

Soumik Datta Website

Tindersticks released their first album in 1993, an audacious seventy-nine minute sprawling double album that paid little if no attention to the prevailing musical scene. Self-produced, it broke many supposed rules of how albums should be made. It was released to huge critical acclaim and established the band on a path of musical adventure that they are still feeling their way down today. Success for Tindersticks has never been about swimming in the mainstream of trend.

Original and distinctive then, Tindersticks craft songs that are rich and multi-layered both musically and lyrically. “Atmospheric”, “brooding”, “nicotine-stained”, “melancholic” give us some sense of the Tindersticks vibe but really you just have to listen to know what they sound like. As Pitchfork would have it, “the group filtered the dark romanticism of Leonard Cohen, Ian Curtis, and Scott Walker through the bizarre pop songcraft of Lee Hazlewood and the aesthetics of indie rock”.

Their work has scored TV and film from pivotal scenes on The Sopranos to whole scores for French art-house filmmaker Claire Denis.  In 2016 Tindersticks turned the music and film process on its head and handed 11 songs from The Waiting Room album to acclaimed filmmakers as the inspiration for short films, as Stuart Staples put it, “with the idea of creating visual spaces for the music of the album to inhabit – To commission films, not to try and describe the songs but to ‘hold’ them.”

Music Beyond Mainstream admires Tindersticks for their originality, restlessness experimenting and the possibility of creating immersive experiences with live music and cinematic scale projection.

Tindersticks Website