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The UK has found its sound!

Still going strong: the male trio (l-r) Simon Bartholomew, Jan Kincaid and Andrew Levy, with their best-known vocalist N’Dea Davenport

BEING able to boast a 20-year career in the music industry is a feat some failed musicians could only dream of.

But for UK group the Brand New Heavies, striving for longevity has been at the heart of their journey.

Rising to prominence in the early ‘90s with hits including Dream On Dreamer and Midnight At The Oasis, the acid jazz group, comprised of Jan Kincaid, Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew, will release their 10th album next year, (although the content of it is a closely guarded secret).

Having been fronted by numerous vocalists over the years, including US songstress N'Dea Davenport, the British trio is secure in the knowledge that the UK is the place for music right now.

“We [the UK] have our own kind of sound now,” said drummer Kincaid, who was taking care of the group’s interview duties that day. “Before, we had low self-esteem in terms of our musical heritage and what we represented. Back then, we thought we weren’t good enough. But what’s refreshing is we know our talent now.”

Excited by the possibility of working with up and coming young British hip-hop artists on the new album, he reflected on the evolution that the UK music scene has undergone since the late ‘80s.

“I would love to work with some of the younger UK hip-hop guys; there are a lot of interesting people around now. 10 years ago, UK hip-hop was in the wilderness; for a while we were riding on the coat tails of the US in terms of our urban music scene. But now, it has crossed over into the mainstream’s consciousness. You’ve got TV pushing it in a big way and we need to be proud of that here.”

A lot can happen in two decades, especially in the music industry. Kincaid believes technological advances have led to a new era of music, where audiences are a lot less segregated.

“There are always things that get reinvented for a modern age, the way that house music was disco music for a modern age and hip-hop revitalised funk. With the internet being so strong now, you get kids listening to all types of music.

“Back in the day we were more purists about what we listened to, you were either into soul or rock or reggae. Now you get people who are into everything. It’s freer and I like that.”

Jan explains that the group’s as-yet unnamed new album, due out next year, will be an exploration of the spirit of music.

“As a musician, you constantly want to do new things. We want to be a band that tries to be progressive and keep a fresh outlook on things. If you churn out the same old stuff you just become a heritage act and if you’re playing the same songs for 25 years, it can get boring.”

Though Kincaid doesn’t deny the significance of the band’s previous songs, he admits he finds it a bit tedious when he hears their old tracks being played.

“It is an honour to still hear the music that was made 20 years ago still being played. It shows they are classics and they still resonate with people. But it’s also kind of cringe worthy,” he laughs. “Sometimes you think ‘oh no, not that again!’”

The Brand New Heavies will perform at Under The Bridge, Fulham Road, London SW6 on December 13 and 14. For more information, visit www.underthebridge.co.uk

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