Since their meteoritic rise to the top of the dance charts, Kosheen, consisting of singer Sian Evans, Darren ‘Decoder’ Beal and Markee ‘Substance’ Morrison has toured the world, playing hundreds of gigs to thousands of people. Their incredible live shows have wowed audiences and their releases impressed critics on all the major continents of the globe. The name Kosheen is, according to Morrison is a mutated version of Cochise, and also means ‘Old’ and ‘New’ in Japanese. That’s an apt description, because Kosheen has been around for a while now, and yet still manages to stay fresh and relevant in the demanding dance music scene.
Both Beal and Morrison grew up on a healthy diet of punk and brit pop. “As a teenager, I was listening to The Jam, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays,” confesses Morrison, but both grew into the burgeoning Bristol drum and bass scene, along side seminal dnb DJ Roni Size. They met at a nightclub where Morrison DJed, Ruffneck Thing. They also met Evans there, and the trio hit it off. With a view to make actual songs with a beginning, middle and end, rather than little loops and quirky vocals, they took the world by storm with Hide U, which charted in Top 30s around the world.
On the back of this success, the trio began taking their show on the road. “I think we’ve played nearly everywhere in the world except Outer Mongolia and Ecuador!” laughs Morrison. “In Asia we’ve played China, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand. I love that part of the world!!” Travelling for such a long time and to so many places was “exhausting though”, he adds. “Especially at first as we didn’t get home for 3 months. We’re more selective now and space our touring out a bit to stay sane!”
Morrison relates on of his favourite on the road stories from when they toured Serbia in 2001. “Just after the Nato bombing!” he exclaims “We were kinda worried that they were gonna lynch us or something! All the bridges were destroyed and still sticking out of the river and stuff. When we got on stage and started our first song Catch, the entire crowd went mad and 20,000 people were all singing along. Me and Sian looked at each other like ‘Huh?!?’ Apparently our tracks were all over the radio! And when we went to the airport they were selling ‘our album’ at the airport, but it wasn’t even out yet!! And when you asked for it and they went in the back to burn it off and photocopy the cover!! Apparently we sold 50,000, but we never saw a penny though,” he laments.
The last album Kokopelli was seen by many to be darker than their debut Resist, and heralded the start of dnb producers using guitars. I asked Morrison if he has noticed the increase in guitars in dnb from the likes of Pendulum, and what he thinks this means. “Well I can only speak for myself, but the guitar was my first instrument and I write a lot with the guitar. But as kids of the electronic age we’ve experimented and fused the best elements of guitar with electronic production. I think on our new album we’ve reached the apex.” The new album Window on the World is long overdue, being held up with lawyers and contracts and the like, but is out early 2006 through Universal. “It’s the best thing we’ve done,” revels Morrison. “It’s more electronic, and the sound is awesome, it’s the kind of place we’ve been heading to and now we’ve reached it. It’s different to anything else out there, but unique quality music that people will appreciate.”