BooHooHoo on their plans for 2018

As they prepare to play King Tut's New Year's Revolution festival, Glasgow's BooHooHoo chart their rise so far and share some tips and resolutions for 2018

Feature by Jonathan Rimmer | 03 Jan 2018

There’s much about Glasgow noisemakers BooHooHoo that’s immediately refreshing. It’s not just that they’re openly influenced by the likes of Phil Collins and Prince, or even the fact they bear a name so onomatopoeic it sounds like a Super Mario character. Rather, it’s their funk-fuelled, sparkly synth-led singles and flamboyant festival performances that are winning them new fans across Scotland.

Glasgow has long had a reputation for churning out dour indie rockers by the bulk, but BooHooHoo refuse to conform and aren’t laying down their instruments for the dark winter months. Having seen off 2017 with a Christmas party in Edinburgh, they kick off this year with a headline slot at King Tut’s now annual New Year's Revolution showcase; “It’s the venue where we first got noticed,” says singer and multi-instrumentalist Reggie House. “We played there for the Summer Nights festival in 2016 and it was the first time where it felt like ‘Yes, we’re not just practising anymore – we’re comfortable and this is the direction we want to go in’.

“It felt right. Ricky [Richardson], our bassist, and I had played in guitar bands since we were about 15. I guess we broke away because we wanted to make music that was more poppy and electronic. We have a bit of an aversion to guitars at this point because there are so many of those bands in Glasgow. We’re more turned on by a big synth pad these days.”

Despite their proclivity for 80s electro, to describe them as another pop group in the mould of CHVRCHES or Prides would be misleading. The band’s DebutHooHoo EP in late 2016 presented a group with just as much love for shrieking vocoder, spiky syncopated grooves and expertly placed jazz flute interludes. As if that wasn’t enough, they quite literally hooked in listeners by presenting the album on limited edition coloured USB slap wristbands.

But the band didn’t embrace the funk overnight – the wheels only started moving after they discovered flautist, vocalist and synth player Liz Kyoko, who had placed an advert on the online classifieds site Gumtree. Listing bands like Passion Pit, Röyksopp and Chromeo under her favourite acts, she was invited into the band after the briefest of auditions. “I think we just met and got smashed in a pub,” says Kyoko. “I was in the band before we even heard each other, so it was kind of blind faith on their part.

"It came at the right time. I had been studying classical music and was really losing inspiration. I always loved pop music so didn’t see the harm in putting a cheeky post online. It’s funny what I wrote – I hardly listen to those bands now – but I loved playing with the guys straight away. It’s a type of music where you can’t stay still on stage.”

2017 saw the band perform as a quartet, albeit with a “revolving door of drummers”, playing Belladrum, Bute Fest, Northern Roots and other bespoke festivals for emerging Scottish acts. Looking ahead to their King Tut’s show, though, they admit they didn't keep many of their 2017 new year's resolutions. “We had a whole release plan for the year,” says House. “We’re sitting on a big collection of songs – an album’s worth, really. We had six or seven singles we wanted to get out, but we only put out the track Fire in April. We thought it was wiser to bide our time.

“There were a few life lessons in there too I suppose – like not partying hard and drinking too much for three days at a festival if your slot is on the last day! We’ll learn from that this year. We also definitely want to put out a new single early in the year. We’ll play it by ear from there – we know there are people who want to hear new music."

As for making use of Kyoko's jazz flute abilities? "It’s hilarious," says House, "she originally just had a fifteen second solo in one of our tracks (Mould Me) but now people know us as ‘the flute band’. I suppose our resolution for this year will be to make more use of it, but we won’t overdo it.”

BooHooHoo’s bands to watch in 2018

“We obviously like some of the bands on the funkier end of the spectrum like WHITE and of course The Vegan Leather – they’re awesome people with awesome music. We like Ava Love a lot and think they’ll do well this year; we’re biased as we played our Christmas party with them and their drummer plays with us sometimes. They have a similar love for 80s classics and Phil Collins, things like that. By that, we mean cheesy pop Phil Collins as opposed to proggy Genesis Phil Collins. For us, the more cheese, the better! There’s a few bands at the moment riding a small buzz who have that kind of synth edge. I think that when you’re in that genre, you can express a bit more freedom and personality.

“Other than that, we’re really into some of the artists on Last Night From Glasgow (a not-for-profit label that started up in 2016). Medicine Men are great and Emme Woods is a really talented singer-songwriter. There’s also Moonlight Zoo who we played with at Bute Fest. To be honest, Scottish music is really exciting at the minute.”

BooHooHoo play King Tut's New Year's Revolution at King Tut's, Glasgow, 12 Jan