Review: Ciaran Austin & Cantaloupe Island @ Cavern

Think of Bon Iver, Kanye, Frank Ocean and 70s disco, all different genres, but imagine them in one song. In this budding age of music, it is hard to find anything original and unique. However, I discovered a new mix of authenticity when I went to see Ciaran Austin & Cantaloupe Island in Cavern.

This band is quite unlike any other typical student band. With Ciaran himself on the keyboard and vocals, Louis Brown on the drums, Pete Tillotson on bass, and Jamie White on the guitar; they all bring quirky aspects from both hip hop and alternative rock to their performance. On top of that, Felicity Hamilton on vocals and saxophone adds an even more jazzy richness to their sound.

Their performance was definitely out of the ordinary but also entertaining, and had the audience entranced. They provided us with a collection of their own original songs, ranging from rap to ballads; my personal favourite being “Stay Around” beautifully sung by Felicity. As well as singing their own songs, they did a dynamic cover of Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind ”, adding their own alternative tone to the original hip hop. Before the band came on stage, we were offered two up and coming supporting acts, Ben Gladman (studying his masters at Exeter University) and Sadie Horler (Still in college); who both performed very well. Overall, their performances provided a very enlightening glimpse into their optimistic futures in the modern world of music.

After the performance, I decided to interview Ciaran Austin to find out more about the formation of the band and their dreams for the future: Ciaran explained himself how he started getting interested in rap and electronic music before he left school. He developed this passion for music further whilst at university and started uploading his music online. He even signed up to sites such ‘BBC Introducing’, which apparently was very supportive in helping his dream become a reality. Ciaran used his contacts within Exeter University as well by emailing different music societies on campus, until he finally formed the Ciaran Austin & Cantaloupe Island.

Now being graduates, they all have more time to focus on their creativity, and on producing more music. Indeed, songwriting is equally as challenging as the actual performance and requires a lot of work. Ciaran told me that when writing a song, ideas are always flowing but, shaping them into music and making sure its new material every time can be a complex task. However, it is always worth it in the end.

As mentioned earlier, the band do have quite a quirky style. Ciaran himself describes their genre as an amalgamation of electronic and hip hop on many of their online productions but when playing live, they add more pop fusion and even some Jazz chords. This wide breadth of genre means that their audience is generally quite mixed, ranging from the students of Exeter to a more varied crowd. Gigging, too, is important to them and this year especially Ciaran Austin & Cantaloupe Island have spread their influence further. They recently had a very successful gig at Ronnie’s in London and are hoping for more opportunities to play on stage in the future. As well as gigs, they’re hoping to meet people within the music industry and to record in the studio this month, with the aim to produce an EP in March. At the same time they continue to release production online, via Youtube, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and Spotify. So if you’re looking for something different and not just an everyday shower playlist, definitely check these guys out.

Ciaran Austin & Cantaloupe Island should be an inspiration to students here at Exeter University. They have proven how with the right attitude and motivation, a hobby can turn into more than just a passion. Thanks to all the opportunities provided by the University, a regular student like Ciaran was able to develop his talent from behind his laptop to the main stage alongside his equally talented bandmates.

– by Katie Wells 


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