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Credit: Iona Marinca

Seven-piece all-female group All Day Breakfast Cafe are bringing their disco-joy to Woolwich Works for Independent Venue Week 2023. We caught up with founder and guitarist Jelly Cleaver ahead of their show to find out more about their mission to get everyone dancing!

You formed the band in the ill-fated Covid year of 2020, but how did you all meet and decide to collaborate together?

By 2020 we'd all been playing together in different bands and at jams for a few years so when I had the mad idea to start an original disco project, I already knew exactly the musicians I'd want to be in it! When I first moved to London, we found that jams were very male-dominated and could be quite intimidating so we naturally grouped together, encouraging each other to get on stage. Some of us also hadn't been able to study music at university or afford music lessons when we were younger so we really grew up musically with each other.

Before long we were all playing in each other’s bands because most of the girls in the band are also extremely talented composers and have their own amazing projects (check out Loucin, Queen Colobus, Kasia Kawalek, and Jelly Cleaver for some fab music). We had a really strong community and most of us even ended up living together, which was very convenient during lockdown because we could still do some playing together.

Credit: Jay Whitehead

Who plays/sings what within the group?

Our lead singer Loucin is one of the most incredible vocalists ever in my opinion, and she also has her own music which I think everyone needs to go and check out! Kasia plays flute and sings backing vocals, and she's also an amazing singer and has some beautiful EPs out. Beth Hopkins always brings the fire on alto saxophone and she also has her own band called Queen Colobus which basically combines neo-soul and Dave Grohl, if you can imagine that? Lettie's on trumpet and she also plays in an all-female mariachi band. Shakira holds it down on drums, and does poetry and sound engineering when she's not drumming. And Woolwich Works will be our first gig with our new bassist Ana-Maria, which we're really excited for. I'm on guitar and also write all the tunes for the band.

You've crowned yourselves South London's favourite disco band. We won't attempt to steal that title away from you, but are you in competition for it?

The thing is, we don't know of any other live disco bands. Obviously, there's Nile Rodgers' Chic and Sister Sledge and other legendary acts who inspired our music and are out tearing it up at festivals. There are also some amazing pop artists like Beyonce and Lizzo who have "gone disco" recently. But I can't think of any new grassroots disco bands, especially not from South London. So we crowned ourselves that by default.

Tell us a bit about London's jazz scene and your experience of it.

What I love about the London jazz scene is that it's basically a melting pot of all musical genres in one. I think people bring a love of jazz and the ability to improvise but add grime or punk or afrobeat or whatever music they love to make something so innovative you probably couldn't put a genre label on it. Some of it makes you get up and dance and some of it is so beautiful it makes you want to cry. I think there's something out there for everyone, even if you didn't think you liked jazz, if you can be a bit open-minded I'm sure I could point you to an artist you'd really love.

The scene is quite male-dominated still but there are some brilliant women leading the way. Another all-female collective who we absolutely love is Colectiva, they're an amazing Latin jazz band who are incredible to see live. There are also some female and queer-fronted jam nights like Higher Ground and FYE Cyther, and I run my own jam night called Jelly's Jams. Jams are sometimes my favourite nights as they really are what jazz is all about and they're a great place to meet other musicians.

Credit: Jay Whitehead
Credit: Jay Whitehead

What's the one thing you'd like jazz novices to know about the scene?

Like I said, I think the "jazz" scene these days is so open with so many different soundscapes and influences that there really is a place in it for everyone. It's their own journey so just go in with a bit of an open mind and you'll have a great time.

It's a pretty lovely mission, spreading disco joy and getting people dancing. Why do we need more of this energy in our lives?

That is our mission! I think one of the things I love most about disco is that it is the music of optimism. It came from black and brown queer people in America who were facing extreme discrimination and really difficult conditions, and a lot of the best songs are about absolute heartbreak. But come Saturday night you could leave all your troubles behind and dance with your community and feel safe and seen. I love that energy, that ability to dance and celebrate all the good things about life even when we're all going through it. We can hold the happy with the sad and really appreciate what we have.

One of our songs is about how difficult it is to make a living as a young person, especially as a young musician living in London, and about how hard we constantly have to work. Other songs are about getting out of toxic relationships. But the overall message of our music and of the band itself is really about friendship and about how things become so much better when we come together and have a good time! Seeing people dancing and enjoying themselves to our music is honestly the best feeling and it makes me so happy to be able to do this. I think we all need to have more fun in our lives!

Thanks All Day Breakfast Cafe, we can't wait to dance the night away with you at Woolwich Works for Independent Venue Week 2023!