Gotts Street Park: 'I've always thought our music had more of a cinematic soul kind of flavour'

For soulful Leeds-based trio Gotts Street Park, the road to their debut album has been long and winding.
Gotts Street Park. Picture: Jamie SinclairGotts Street Park. Picture: Jamie Sinclair
Gotts Street Park. Picture: Jamie Sinclair

Josh Crocker, the band’s bassist and producer, arrived in Leeds 15 years ago, as a then 21-year-old, moving in with a friend who was at Leeds College of Music.

“I lived with a lot of experimental jazz musicians which opened my mind to a lot of new, weird and wonderful music,” he recalls. “I used to go to a lot of gigs with those guys, and then I met Tom (Henry, GSP’s keyboard player) at a gig in Leeds somewhere, and because I was starting getting into production and recording, and Joe (Harris, guitarist) and Tom were from much more of a live background, working in bands and playing shows but they were looking to explore more of the recording side, we got chatting about things like that.

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“They were working with a singer at the time and were looking to record some demos and me and Tom really hit it off on the studio front. I was getting into collecting gear and learning about engineering and recording and in a way it started more from a sound and tone perspective – let’s try and create certain sounds and record in a certain way.”

Crocker believes the band’s sound has “developed quite a lot” in the past decade and a half. “In the early stages, it was quite a dark sound. We were all into dark hip-hop samples and heavy drum sounds. Maybe it was just where we were as well,” he says.

“Where I lived in Armley, it was quite a run-down place, although the park (after which they take their name) is lovely. It had a feel to it, and it was probably reflected in the sound, but over the years it’s definitely brightened up.

“It’s more eclectic and there’s more intrigue and more attention gone into some of the instrumental arrangements, so that they can stand alone as instrumental compositions rather than as soundbeds and atmospheres. So I would say it’s definitely evolved. More upbeat tunes and more light and dark, whereas our first EP was pretty gloomy.”

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Today he sees the trio as “to the left” of the Leeds jazz scene. “I’ve never really been a part of it other than just being at shows and watching it. Joe does a lot of projects, he does all kinds of stuff like Indian classical music and performing dance.

“I think we often get labelled as a jazz band but I don’t think we are, really. People struggle to define it, but I’ve always thought it was more of a cinematic soul kind of flavour.”

He describes their album On The Inside as “a bit more of an exploration of the instrumental side of us, it’s a collection and collage of a lot of different sounds and things we were experimenting with different singers. It’s always going to be fairly laid back, we’re not doing Radio 1 bangers.”

Among the guests on the record are Rosie Lowe, Celeste, Pip Millett and Parthenope.

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“Tom and I also produce and write for other artists and we have a fair amount of connections and a collection of people that we work with,” Crocker says.

“Sometimes we do sessions with people and we think this would be a great collaboration for Gotts Street Park or sometimes we’ll send things to people. More often than not, it’s us in the room with them.

“I’d say we are all on the same page and we’re quite selective over types of voices. They usually have some kind of unique character to them.”

On The Inside is out now. Gotts Street Park play at Belgrave Music Hall on November 18. https://linktr.ee/GottsStreetPark

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