Speak Easy Circus – Interview

Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (

PD: What type of artist are you?

SEC: We would best describe our music as experimental indie/funk. But when people first listen to our music the initial thing we would like them to think is that this is something different and unique, something that they might not have heard before. We want to make music that we would listen to, and the music that we listen to is eclectic, exciting, meaningful and doesn’t take itself too seriously all at the same time, so if people went away from our music thinking anything like that then we would take that as a win! 


PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.

SEC: We all started playing music at an early age, be it piano lessons or saxophone lessons and music was an incredibly important part of all of our lives. Jon (saxophone) ended up studying Jazz and popular music at Hull University, Chats (bass) started his musical career in Malawi and has played virtually every genre of music including a Blues Brothers tribute act at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I  (Jack – guitar/vocals) and Frazer (drums) played in rock and indie bands (and I once played in a Radiohead tribute act) – until eventually we all ended up in Glasgow at the same time and decided to start playing songs together that had originally been written as a Jack solo act called Speak Easy Circus. And thus the full band was formed.


PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

SEC: All of us come from very different musical backgrounds so our influences are incredibly varied, it could be jazz, funk, soul, rock etc. The same could be said for each of us in general, we all like very different tv shows, books, films etc.

What tends to remain the same is that these influences inevitably find themselves translated into music. Music is such an important part of all of our lives that for all of us it has become second nature to express ourselves this way. Whenever we see a band play an amazing set, we want to write music. When we feel down, we want to write music. When we have a good night out, we want to write music. When we see a good film, we want to write music.

That being said, here are some artists that we have been listening to a lot recently:

Vulfpeck, Sons of Kemet, corto.alto, Joesef, guitariccadelafuente, Snarky Puppy, Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, Phoebe Bridgers, Hinds, Lucia and the Best Boys, Nathan Somevi, D’Angelo, Rosalía, Marina Rolink, Marika Hackman, Frank Ocean 


PD: What are your dreams and goals?

SEC: We have many dreams, some ridiculously ambitious and some more realistic! Really we would like to be able to keep developing as a band, playing bigger shows and hopefully reaching more people.

That, and we would love to play Madison Square Gardens, but one step at a time.


PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?

SEC: The band started as a solo project so most of the songs originate from myself, and then once they are brought to the band everyone brings their own musical influences together and that is what creates the final product. Everyone thinks that the song needs more of their own instrument, and then we compromise until we are all happy.

Most of the songs are written about things that I have experienced or observed. For example the inspiration for our latest single ‘Lions Should Hunt’ came after I saw an advert featuring a busty blonde model seductively selling something and I was annoyed that this was what people thought would be an effective advertising technique, and annoyed by the fact that it probably was effective! I took that further to think about how men are taught to think about sex, the effect that concepts of masculinity have on us etc. It all sounds very serious or preachy but we try to make sure it isn’t! I think that it is important to discuss these topics but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it in a tongue-in-cheek way.


PD: How do you promote your band and shows?

SEC: At the moment we haven’t been able to play any shows due to the pandemic that is currently halting most, if not all, live music. We tried to use this as an opportunity to be creative and during the quarantine we started a video series called ‘Quarantunes’, which started through necessity. We made videos using whatever we had around the flat, including but not limited to a cajón, a sofa cushion, a GoPro and an envelope. It has given us a unique creative outlet despite we have been stuck in the flat. We also realised that it wasn’t just us stuck inside, so we decided to reach out to other musicians in similar situations, for example Vol 3 features a Spanish rapper Mario Rodriguez.

We have always had a DIY attitude, which we benefited from during the lockdown, and in our partnership with The Animal Farm we still take an active role in all of our promotion/recording/production etc.


PD: What do you think about downloading music online?

SEC: I think that for better or for worse online music is the only realistic way to consume music nowadays. However I think that there should definitely be a change in the streaming culture/system that we have in place at the moment. This could be a change back to the more traditional ‘downloads’ that we had in the past, or more likely, a changing of the current streaming system and the laws behind it. Streaming is too convenient and useful to truly disappear at this stage, so we need to make sure that it is actually a viable option for musicians of all levels.

Chats (bass) also has a hot take: “In countries that don’t have such a developed infrastructure (such as my home country of Malawi), pirating still exists as the only option to get a lot of music, so until a more convenient method arises (for example streaming), pirating will continue to happen”


PD: What song do you wish you had written and why?

SEC: I think my favourite song of all time is ‘Skinny Love’ by Bon Iver, so I guess that is a song I wish I had written, even though I never write songs in that style. It was such a significant song at such an important time of my life and introduced me to Bon Iver, one of my favourite artists.

Chats wishes he had written ‘Sir Duke’, because it is, in his words “a universal banger”


PD: What are some of your pet peeves?

SEC: People that display guitars in glass cases or any situation in which they can’t be reached, they should be getting played, it’s what they would have wanted.

To be honest we are a fairly easy going band so we don’t have too many pet peeves.


PD: What is your proudest moment in music?

SEC: Chats’ proudest moment was figuring out that the major scale and the minor scale were the same, just played in different places. It was a mind blowing moment.

I would say seeing my song on Spotify for the first time. Maybe not a grand moment, but after spending so long working on it myself in my bedroom it felt surreal to have created something that actually existed and wasn’t just an idea.


PD: So what are you working on at the moment?

SEC: Our new single is coming out, ‘Lions Should Hunt’, which we are very excited about. We have some more singles lined up for 2021 and potentially an EP is in the works.

In terms of live shows we are going with the flow, we would love to play some festivals and shows in Scotland and further afield, but given the current situation we will play it by ear and take whatever we can!


PD: What music have you available online and where can we hear it?

SEC: You can find us on Spotify and all other major streaming sites and all the usual social media sites.

So far we have an EP available, ‘Bravo Tango Charlie’, which we released in 2019, and our follow up single ‘Neon in Daylight’, released in 2020.

Our most recent single ‘Lions Should Hunt’ will also be available from the 22nd of January!

Speak Easy Circus links:
Band/Artist location – Glasgow Scotland
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