James Baldwin once said that as artists “we don’t change anything, all we can do is invest people with the morale to change it for themselves.” Fold's latest album We’re the Ones is about encouraging a sense of empowerment, understanding and unity among listeners. It is also an honest reflection of our troubled times. Fold have bound together a diverse group of voices and perspectives across time & space dealing with urgent subjects. These voices come in the form of MCs, poets, historical speakers and singers. Musically they've let all of their influences freely commingle, ranging from jazz-funk through Brazilian psyche, hip hop and downtempo.
As the name Fold hints at, they operate as a collective drawing in musicians not only from their hometown of Leeds but from across the nation. The core line-up consists of 4 members: Sam (guitar), Kane (drums), Ben (bass) and Seth (benevolent dictator / keys); yet the real story of this record is its nebula of contributors.
The title track is Fold's first collaboration with London-based MC & spoken word activist Potent Whisper. Gideon Coe premiered it on BBC 6 Music followed by Chris Hawkins. UK poet & radio presenter Mr Gee provides the words for Living on a Knife's Edge, a painfully relevant piece on knife crime that has been featured on both Radio X and Amazing Radio. With Stand Up Fold introduce an up-and-coming Leeds poet called Natalie Davies reading her own work & singing backing vocals. Having never recorded in a studio before she was particularly moved when Huey Morgan premiered the track on 6 Music. Two more firsts are collaborations with Komla MC – a Ghanaian expat here in the north of England – as well as up-and-coming MC / beatboxing champion MotorMouF from Nottingham.
Alongside the contemporary voices are a mixture of speech & singing samples from Malcolm X, Bessie Jones, Dorothy Dandridge, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, Marge Piercy, bell hooks, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Margaret Walker. Sometimes the dead dance with the living on this record and it is haunting because what they are all saying is so closely aligned despite the intervening decades.
Fold have also had the good fortune of recruiting some of Leeds' finest musicians including rising star Emma Johnson with her killer horn arrangements and superb saxmanship; the well-loved Kieran O'Malley on violin; cameos from accomplished keys player Jake Mehew and an appearance from expat scratch DJ Mista Ed.
“We’re The Ones has been worth the wait. It is a clarion call for positive action without laying back on lazy sloganeering. There is an intelligence here that inspires in the listener a thirst to find out more about the sampled people on the album. ‘We’re The Ones’ is an album sun drenched and glistening. It lifts the mood and feeds the brain.”
— Simon Tucker, Louder Than War