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In Conversation With Sam Duckworth and Dele Sosimi

Its rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame may be smaller than that of Liverpool or Carnaby Street… but Southend has a musical history far more storied than you might imagine. Aside from being home to Ruark HQ, Southend-on-Sea is the stomping ground of Sam Duckworth (AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.) – and growing up in the seaside town has had an enormous influence on his music.

His latest album is a collaboration with celebrated Afrobeat musician Dele Sosimi, whose music blends complex funk grooves, traditional Nigerian music, African percussion, jazz horns, and rhythmical singing might seem miles away from the folksier outfits you’d expect from the South-East coast – but as Duckworth explains, it couldn’t be a better place to work:

“When you know the history of Southend, it’s actually quite natural,” he says over a video call from his colourful Essex studio (which is, needless to say, decked out with our beautiful MR1 stereo speakers).

“Over the last few years, I’ve really begun to realise the impact of how much music has come from quite a small city… I didn’t realise how much it was in the water I suppose, for want of a better expression”, he explains, citing the Bakelite radios produced in the area in the 1930s and beyond.

Sam Duckworth in his studio in Southend on Sea

Southend is where the River Thames meets the North Sea – and just as those bodies of water mingle in the Thames Estuary, the new album is the product of two musical heavyweights coming together to create something new.

“We had this idea of two rivers meeting at that point and that being a nice metaphor for how we all came together on this project,” says Duckworth. “It’s a genuine meeting of both of our musical worlds.”

Aside from providing a source of inspiration, working out of the Southend studio has revitalised the creative process for Duckworth:

“We’ve got a bunch of room here, so we can make a record with 10 people in the band and it’s not a problem. It also allows you to work on instinct, collaboratively - you don’t get hung up on standing around a computer, which I think makes you bolder,” he explains.

That was certainly a necessity for the new album, which was created in the spirit of impulse and collaboration with Sosimi and a host of distinguished musicians.

“I was a fan of Dele’s for a long time,” Duckworth admits.

And of Afrobeat music, we ask? He nods. “Sonically, I love the groove. I love the sound of it. I love that the politics of it can be super confrontational.”

“It’s a blessing to be able to work with somebody who’s an actual professor [Sosimi is a visiting lecturer at London Metropolitan University], who was there headlining Glastonbury on the Pyramid stage in 84 and has flown the Afrobeat flag ever since – it’s an opportunity to learn every day.”

Sam Duckworth’s studio in Southend on Sea

The feeling is most definitely mutual, as Sosimi explains:

“The main thing is mutual respect. It’s a gift - having that instantaneous chemistry the first time we actually did something musical together.”

Blending both artists’ musical styles and approaches was, in Sosimi’s words, “easy-peasy lemon squeezy”.

“We’re just pouring out artistic creativity, as we feel in the moment. No preconceptions. No pretences. Just pure luck. Let’s just make this artistic statement over this blank canvas.”

For Duckworth and Sosimi, being back in the studio after the strain of the pandemic has brought a sense of hope that can be felt in every track of the new album.

Dele Sosimi & the Estuary 21 – The Confluence

“Every song has a connotation around the fact that anything can happen at any time - and so you live life to the fullest with a lot of love and a lot of appreciation for what’s right there in front of you,” says Sosimi.

It’s not a lockdown record, though, as Duckworth is quick to add. “It’s about what’s on the other side after the world takes a really strange turn - where your frustrations lie and where your hope lies.”

So, what can fans of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. expect from the new album?

“Put it this way… there are not too many acoustic guitars in sight, which is, you know, a result after 17 years,” says Duckworth.

The Confluence Volume 1 is out now on Wah Wah 45s.