Ross Godfrey and Skye Edwards of Morcheeba

Ross Godfrey and Skye Edwards of Morcheeba.

03-07-2021Michelle Hayward

The multitalented musician Ross Godfrey and sensational vocalist Skye Edwards, who front the British band Morcheeba, cannot wait to land in Palma on Sunday morning ahead of their concert at the Mallorca Live Festival in Magalluf.

Ross, who hails from Hythe, Kent, was the co-founder of the electronic band in the mid-1990s, and Morcheeba are still going strong today. In May, they released their latest studio album Blackest Blue and they are now one of only a very few British bands on the road outside of the United Kingdom. In fact, tonight will be only their second live performance overseas since Covid restrictions began being lifted in the UK and travel has been reopened to certain destinations.

Their first overseas concert was the week before last in Madrid. “It was great, an amazing experience. We’ve performed a few gigs in the UK, but to be able to travel again and reconnect with our fans abroad was such a breath of fresh air.”

The only problem is that mainland Spain is still on the amber list, which meant that he and the rest of the band had to quarantine on their return to the UK. Their self-isolation ends this morning and they will be flying straight out to Palma for tonight’s concert.

While I was talking to Ross, midway through the interview he had to take another call - it was his track and tracer. “Sometimes they call or sometimes they just turn up at the house to make sure we’re self-isolating. If you’re not there or don’t answer, you face a massive fine,” he said.

However, and despite the travel rules and regulations, Morcheeba were determined to get back on the European road as soon as possible, but they are one of only a lucky few. “The combination of the pandemic and Brexit has hit the music industry in the UK extremely hard. Brexit more than the pandemic because we are now restricted by the 90-day rule and that has more or less killed the music industry because it is making touring virtually impossible, certainly not financially viable; performing live shows is how we make the bulk of our money. With all the live streaming platforms today, the royalties are next to nothing.

“Fortunately, we’ve got a very big catalogue of music so we’ve got good royalties coming in and we didn’t waste any time during the pandemic. Over the years, the key members of the band have often been based all over the world. There was a time I was in California, my brother in France and Skye in London, so we were used to recording in our studios at home, sharing it all via social media and then finally getting into a recording studio. That is what we did for our latest album.

“Being able to work, to have a project to focus on during the pandemic, apart from home schooling my two young boys - it’s not easy trying to lay down a track while teaching maths at the same time - was a life saver. It was therapeutic in a way because when we had finished I still had a few months on my hands and it was only then I really started to think about the rest of society.

“That was when it really hit home. The fact that millions of people had been locked away for months on end with nothing to do, nothing to focus on, that’s extremely disturbing. Yes, in the new album we do reflect on what we’ve all gone through over the past 18 months. In no way do we remind people of the terrible time we’ve had and continue to have, but there was no way of ignoring what has happened and the impact it’s had on our lives and relationships at all levels.

“Before I start on Brexit, we’ve all been double jabbed but still have these diplomatically influenced restrictions placed on our travel movements, and I guess we will for a while yet because the situation in the UK right now is not really where we wanted to be, with cases back on the rise. I can’t honestly see Freedom Day being as planned later this month, it’s far too fragile at the moment.

“But as we do move out of the pandemic, like I said, some of the British bands are travelling abroad, although we are the only band from our agency to have done so. We’re getting calls from other bands asking how we’ve managed to do it. Well, with a great deal of hard work. Three days at the Spanish consulate in London with enough paperwork to fill an old telephone book-plus, then 1,000 pounds for an entry visa into the EU zone.

“Most bands can't afford it. We’ve all lost money during the pandemic and for young people thinking about a career in the industry, they’ve given up. It’s not viable under the new 90-day rule. It’s easier to get a visa to go and tour in the US than head to Europe.

“What we’re going to have is a lost generation of young and extremely talented musicians. Yes, people are still writing, but will those songs ever get played? The best musicians and songwriters have traditionally come from working-class backgrounds, but now we are back in the realms of only kids from rich families being able afford to start a band. We don’t want a market place flooded with posh indie bands who have nothing to really say for themselves.

Brexit was a shambles. It’s not just that we were lied to during the campaigning, nobody put the cards on the table and presented us with what the future would look like, such as the 90-day rule, which has not only hit the music industry but business as a whole, not to mention people who own property overseas. It’s a shambles and, as a band, all that we hope is that we can stay out of the UK performing for as long as possible because, with how things are looking right now with regard to Covid, once we return, who knows what the restrictions will be and when we will be allowed out again.

“After a few days in Mallorca, which I love - I’ve spent some great holidays in Mallorca and Minorca and love both of the islands - we’re off to perform in Barcelona then a festival in Zermatt and after that we will remain in Europe. We have a winter tour of Russia planned for October but who knows what the situation is going to be like come the autumn.

“I desperately want to get down to Hythe and see the family and jump in the sea but it’s very difficult to make any concrete plans. In the meantime, I’m going to make the best of the beaches and the sea in Mallorca. We all can’t wait to get out of self-isolation and out to the island.

“I know there’s a campaign being led by Elton John to try and resolve the 90-day issue for musicians, but it appears to be falling on deaf ears in Westminster. And I’m not just talking about musicians. When it comes to roadies, gaffers, electricians, stage builders and concert designers, the UK has the best in the world. When all the big stadium bands from the States used to come to tour Europe, they would hire their road crews in the UK, sometimes hundreds of professionals. But now, that’s all over and a number of large concert producers have gone to the wall or are struggling to stay alive at best.

“After everything we’ve all been through, we all need to let our hair down, go to live concerts, whatever your tastes in music may be, and dance, have some fun. That’s a key part of returning to normal, but the government doesn’t seem to care and it’s a crying shame when you look at all the great talent out there in the UK.

“Unless things change, it will all go to waste.”

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