Ahead of their London visit, we caught up with Bandits on the Run to discuss their careers in NYC, how the trio came about, and how The Coffee Music Project has changed their lives.
To those who might not be familiar with you or your work – who are you and where are you from?
We are Bandits on the Run from Brooklyn, New York! We’re a trio consisting of Roy Dodger (aka Adrian Enscoe), Bonanza Jellyfish (aka Sydney Shepherd), and Clarissa (aka Regina Strayhorn).
It’s been 4 months since you won the Coffee Music Project New York 2017 competition. Tell us about the experience and any highlights since the finals…
Back in October of 2017, we were excited about creating an original song for the competition, taking it as a challenge to make it our most collaborative process to date — and that’s exactly what happened. Love in the Underground has such a special place in our Bandit hearts — it represents all of our styles tied together, and also tells the story of how two of the Bandits first met in the New York City Subway. But we won’t tell you which two — you’ll have to guess! Since the Finals, we’ve had the pleasure of doing some amazing interviews at Popdust, CloudChats, and SinisterGirlz Radio (where our debut album, the Criminal Record, won Album of the Year!) We’ve also gotten the chance to busk more! Playing Love in the Underground in the streets and subways feels great — and we can’t wait to play in London!
We kind of became a band by accident. All three of us moved to New York City to pursue careers in the arts […] Then all of a sudden we were playing shows. And writing songs. And recording an album. And winning Coffee Music Projects. And going to London!
What are you most looking forward to about your trip to London?
There’s so much to look forward to in London, none of us have ever been before! But the top things are: recording our song and playing at The London Coffee Festival, hanging out with Ruby Confue (the winners of last year’s London coffee music project — who we had the pleasure to meet and hang with during the NYC contest), and all the cool British slang we’re gonna learn!
What does the cause Project Waterfall mean to you?
Bandits love coffee — that’s a fact — and giving back to communities that offer so much to the world! Project Waterfall’s commitment to clean water, education, and sanitation contributes to realizing a vision of health and sustainability for everyone. And there’s nothing more Bandity than that!
If you were to meet someone who’s never heard your music before, how would you describe it?
Well, Not Another Millennial Blog said it best : “It’s not country. It’s not rock. It’s not pop. It’s not soul. It’s an awesome combination of all four genres, plus touches from a bunch more. And it’s what makes Bandits On The Run so special.”
When and why did you decide to venture into music?
We kind of became a band by accident. All three of us moved to New York City to pursue careers in the arts, mostly acting, and we started playing music together because it was a fun and kind of cathartic. Then all of a sudden we were playing shows. And writing songs. And recording an album. And winning Coffee Music Projects. And going to London! (Woah! See it all happens so fast.)
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing emerging musicians?
The hardest thing facing emerging musicians is that most opportunities come from who you know. Musicians who don’t start with that kind of access have to keep putting themselves out there, meeting as many people as possible, and simply be in the right place at the right time. And you can’t control that part, so of course it’s frustrating at times. But when your lighting strikes and you’re there and ready, it’s magic.
As a musician, what’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
We once ran into Amanda Palmer at a coffee shop when Bandits on the Run was first starting, and she said “Say yes to everything.” Now that we’ve been a band for about 4 years, we can be a bit more selective, but when we were first starting out, we learned so much by saying yes to every offer that came our way.
Name a few of your favourite acts right now…
You can’t go wrong with The Head & the Heart, Rubblebucket, Bahamas, Big Thief, Emily King, Buke & Gase, Johnny Flynn. Then there’s, these dusty old gems: The Roches, Labi Siffre, Connie Converse, Cab Calloway.
When can we expect new music from you?
Right now we’ve got our thumbs in a couple of different pies. We’re expecting a release of a live EP this summer and some new tunes recorded in an old barn in the fall! More music with every season!