Caulbearers are a Manchester-based collective of musicians, but with contributors also hailing from around the UK and Europe.
Based on the songs of producer and vocalist Damien Mahoney, their sound has been described as “archaic funk fables and soul migrations… bittersweet songs of the self, soul and society” and “roots music from the rainy city… psychedelic soul with poetic, social observation.”
The 8-piece ensemble weave together elements of hip-hop, funk, dub, soul and jazz, with plenty of grit and discord in the mix. Caulbearers’ rhythms, arrangements and soundscapes are hugely inspired by many forms of electronic music but are solely channelled through the use of live instruments.
The lyrics and sound worlds invite the listener to explore the frailties and contradictions of our minds, the difficulties of the societies we create and inherit, yet also the celebration of this existence, of each other and what it can mean and feel like to be human. This music reflects Manchester’s melting pot of culture and unashamedly draws from that rich heritage, but its influences and inspirations extend out globally.
With previous releases via Jack To Phono Records and Single Cell Collective, brand new material is due out in 2020 with a full album to follow in 2021. Incredible singer Ruth Blake joins Damien on vocals throughout the album, which also features appearances from members of Cinematic Orchestra, The Breath, GoGo Penguin, Homelife, The Earlies, Cherry Ghost & Beats & Pieces Big Band, amongst others.
Music As Medicine
Caulbearers are part of the Music As Medicine family, a mainly Manchester-based collective who’ve been curating expansive, communal and diverse musical experiences since 2016.
The intention behind the Music As Medicine events is to bring together artists, audiences and communities to explore the transformational, unifying and healing powers of sound, encouraging collaboration and improvisation between artists.
The Caulbearers Collective
Damien is a vocalist, songwriter, percussionist and producer based in Manchester with a passion for community and collaborative projects. The driving force behind Caulbearers, he was a co-founder of Single Cell Collective, a group of artists, activists and musicians from a housing estate in Hulme, MCR, from which the band emerged. Damien is the founder of Music As Medicine, curating and sometimes performing at these events. This includes playing with the live improvisation trio, The Order Of Love. His creative output and collaborations span funk, soul and reggae, to acid house, and Balearic dub with Indian and Afrobeat influences along the way. Commercial releases range from remixing a major R+B artist for EMI through to underground DIY collective projects, with credits on international compilations and radio documentary soundtracks. Damien is a trained Natural Voice Practitioner and has facilitated communal singing groups in a variety of scenarios, from his regular ‘Soul Sounds’ sessions and nature retreats to specialised work with lung health patients, social workers and prison inmates.
Singer-songwriter-guitarist, empowerment advocate and lover of laughter, Ruth Blake has released two studio albums of multi-faceted and poignant contemporary folk, each uniquely rich with powerful symbol and story-telling. She has various new recordings underway, including a collaboration with Caulbearers’ Damien Mahoney as producer. Her captivating voice appears on several albums within the conscious music scene, and when schedules allow she performs live with Caulbearer’s off-shoot improv band, The Order of Love. Her love of learning has taken her down many paths in life and she is currently studying Italian, psychotherapy, equine psychology and falconry, and is in the early stages of writing a book.
Anton is a guitarist, improviser and composer living in Manchester. He leads the 11-piece Article XI band as well as his own trio. Also on-going is a duo with baritone saxophonist Cath Roberts called Ripsaw Catfish, Cath’s quintet Sloth Racket, the improvising trio Beck Hunters, Beats & Pieces Big Band and a myriad of other different ensembles, ad hoc and otherwise. Improvisation is at the heart of everything he does, and he can be found being outraged on Twitter at @HunterAnton.
Gavin is a multi-percussionist drawing his influences from across the globe whilst on his travels. Hailing from Derry, Ireland and now living in Manchester, he has been playing percussion on the Manchester Music scene for many years. He was an integral part of The Single Cell Collective and is a founding member of Music As Medicine’s improv band, The Order of Love, who can regularly be seen lifting the vibration of dancefloors and festivals across the UK. Gavin has played & recorded with The Mouse Outfit, Duncan Prestbury (Jazz Defectors), and Up North to name a few, and loves nothing more than dancing in a field with the grass between his toes and the sun on his face.
Stefan has played the cello since childhood and enjoys collaborating with musicians across a variety of styles and genres. He was a founding member of the Single Cell Collective and Caulbearers whilst living in Manchester. He now lives at LILAC in Leeds, a pioneering ecological co-housing community. In his day job he is an associate professor of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Leeds, where he teaches and writes about religion and ecological activism.
Nicholas Malin is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. His primary instrument is the bass guitar, and his deep funk grooves and layers of atmospheric fx have been heard in numerous acts in the underground Bristol and Manchester scenes in recent years. His explorations of dissonance and different time signatures have a perfect creative outlet with The Order of Love; an improvisation trio making live, expansive and eclectic soundtracks for the dancefloor, born out of the Music As Medicine collective which Nicholas is a key part of. In addition to playing classical guitar, and various percussion instruments, Nicholas is a singer-songwriter whose unique combination of warm, sensitive songs & spoken word are much inspired by poetry, rhythm and spirituality.
Will Lenton is a tenor and bass saxophonist based in West Yorkshire. He is the Band Leader and Musical Director of Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, a New Orleans style brass band that have performed throughout the UK and Europe. Mr Wilson’s have collaborated and performed with acts like 808 State and the vocalist Melanie Williams. Will has worked in the outdoor arts sector for 10 years, enjoying both local grassroots community music projects as well as national and international touring. Living in Manchester from 2003-10, Will studied music and was a founding member of the Single Cell Collective and Caulbearers.