Downstairs, All Ages
DOORS: 7:00 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM
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Sunday March 17, 2019
The story of Ten Fé is a love story, of sorts. For the songwriters at the centre of it – Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan – the band is the eventual realisation of two respective careers spent navigating the bumpy terrain of the music industry. Both have been in bands before, some successful, some less so, until in each-other they finally found a musical partnership built on a deeper understanding.
As they prepare to release their second album, the pair are reflecting on where they’re at and how they’ve got there. Leo is from the Black Country. He grew up in Walsall, an industrial town north-west of Birmingham – a place regularly voted “the armpit of England”, he adds, beaming with pride. He describes his household as “Catholic-socialist”, all about inclusion, and steeped in a tradition of folk singing passed down through his Irish family. Ben on the other hand, originally from East London, found his musical feet in school – picking up a guitar, and moving through Britpop into psychedelia and then jazz as he progressed through his teenage years.
Separated by 150 miles, the pair both spent their formative years writing songs and playing shows. On leaving school Ben made for the Royal Academy of Music, where he focused on jazz guitar. Leo spent a brief spell in London, before crossing the Irish Sea for Dublin from where his family hail originally, to try and earn a living from music there. Their first meeting came about in 2005 through a mutual friend who was also studying at the RAM. “It was a musician’s party,” Ben remembers. “People were jamming and we started playing an old rock and roll song on stage together.” While this meeting left an impression on them both, it wasn’t until 2008, while Ben was beginning to enjoy success playing bass in indie outfit Golden Silvers, that the pair reconnected and decided to try their luck busking as a duo.
It’s a decision that has come to define their relationship. During the past decade the pair have spent countless hours crammed onto the District Line
during rush hour, dodging the police; being handed punches, £50 notes and everything in between. As respective bands came and went, the nights
spent living under the city’s fingernails, trying to make ends meet, remained a constant. In this respect, busking is integral to understanding
Ten Fé: who they are and where they’ve come from. “There’s a sense of the trenches,” Leo explains. “That’s how this band was formed.”