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Femi from Ezra Collective on why jazz could cheer London up

Oliver Keens

Andy Parsons

In need of some sunny inspiration during chilly months? Femi from London jazz group Ezra Collective reveals the things that make him giddy with joy. 

I’ve always loved drumming. And I’m mad attracted to music that puts me in a happy place.’

I started early. Apparently when I was three, my parents would give me a pot and two wooden spoons. Then I studied jazz at uni. It was quite a judgemental place. There are elements of ‘Whiplash’ which aren’t that fake.’

But I had a coping strategy. I’d switch on an Usher track, play along, close my eyes and pretend I was at Wembley.’

I enjoy the process of practising. It becomes quite meditative and is fun as hell. You wanna always keep the tools sharp.’

People think we can’t see faces when we’re on stage. We totally can. You can always see the people who are vibing. I have full-blown conversations with [Femi’s brother and Ezra bassist] TJ on stage. It will look like we’re talking about something technical but he’ll be like ‘Bro, do you remember Darren from school? He’s in the front row, fam!’

That crowd roar at the end of a drum solo is beautiful, when the band crashes back in. You can be in your own musical world when you’re soloing. But you know they’re there with you.’

Church is my happy place. I’m on drums there this Sunday. The Twelve Pins pub in Finsbury Park makes me happy too. You know that point where you can go into a pub on your own and someone will say ‘All right Femi’? I’m almost there with it.’

Ezra Collective play Dreamland, Margate on Sat May 30.

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