They are University students by day, but dedicated musicians and performers by night, specifically this weekend as they join their respective bands for the much-awaited 6th edition of Rock The South.
With 3 days jam-packed full of great live music on two different stages, and hosting over 30 different acts, this year’s Rock The South is promising to be an appointment in the Maltese music calendar that surely should not to be missed, including a highly anticipated silent disco.
As we shout ‘University of Malta, REPRESENT!’ whilst watching them perform this weekend, we spoke to three UoM students who are excited to be taking the stage at Rock the South with their respective bands.
They are law student Emma Grech, frontwoman of Jack’s Fusion, Psychology student and one half of the vocals for Oxygyn Kurt Abela, and IT student Leanne Zammit, who is specializing in Artificial Intelligence in her studies but is also one of the newer additions to the edgy all-female band Cryptic Street.
Cryptic Street will be performing on Friday 21st April, whilst both Jack’s Fusion and Oxygyn will be performing on Sunday 23rd April.
Can you tell us a bit about your band and your music?
Emma: We are Jack’s Fusion, a five piece rock band based in Malta. Our members are Jacob Spiteri and Luke Deguara on guitars, Kurt Bezzina as a bassist, drummer Jean-Luc Camilleri, and myself as a vocalist. We have been playing for three years, having released our debut EP ‘Impulse’ last August with 6 original songs. We try to explore a variety of rock styles when composing, but one element remains consistent throughout our songs and our performances - that of bringing a strong energy to whatever we are playing or our performances, similar to an adrenaline rush.
Kurt: Oxygyn is composed of me and my sister Katia Abela as vocalists, along with Janelle Borg on guitar, Joanna Ciantar on piano, and Luke Camilleri as percussionist/beatboxer/producer. The songs released by the band are written by myself and composed by Janelle Borg. We are inspired by the likes of James Bay, Daughter, Broods, and Lapsley due to the intense emotion they portray using their music. We are an indie-pop band, and are currently introducing an electronic element to our music.
Leanne: I am the bassist of Cryptic Street, an all-female and newly post-punk band. The band consists of Leona Farrugia (Vocals), Janelle Borg (Guitar) and Michelle Farrugia (Drums), and myself. Though the band has been around since 2011 and has a history in the alternative genre, we are currently working on our first full studio album (set to be recorded in July) which will be the first release in the current (post-punk) musical style.
Why is Rock the South important in the local music scene, and what does it mean for your band to have been selected to be part of it?
Emma: It is always great to see events promoting local artists. Year after year, RTS has established itself as a great event which promotes the local rock and alternative scene. Not only does it provide a well-needed platform for local artists in a country where creativity in music isn’t encouraged as much as it should, but it also brings various artists of the community together over the weekend. It will be our second time playing this year, and it means a lot to us.
Kurt: Rock the South is the staple Maltese festival for alternative music. It gives artists, with a different style of music than what is usually vastly promoted in the local media, the opportunity to showcase their work. Having been selected to be part of the line-up, seeing that this is also the first festival OXYGYN is part of, we are more than honoured for it to be such a prestigious one, and we are very looking forward to this weekend.
Leanne: Rock the South is one of the most prominent music events in the local scene, as it serves as a sort of showcase for a large number of bands in one weekend, as well as a number of foreign bands too. The fact that we’re getting to perform at this event this year is very good for local exposure in general, and the event itself is fun too! From the performance itself, to socialising with the other bands, to goofing off and dancing at the silent disco, Rock the South is set to be a big event for us, especially this year.
What are you looking forward to the most in terms of your performance? And what can we expect from your performance - any surprises you can tease at maybe?
Emma: We’ll be playing some new songs which haven’t been released yet, as well as some old favourites from our debut EP. More than anything, we are looking forward to the live performance. We always make it a point to enjoy every opportunity we have to play live, speak to people who have seen us before, and hopefully some new faces as well! We always like to build on previous performances, but deliver the same blood pumping energy that will get the audience having a blast with us.
Kurt: Over the past months, we have been hard at work changing the band’s sound. We are experimenting with a new electronic element in our music, and we are excited to see what the audience at Rock the South thinks about our new take on indie music. You can expect a mellow electronic set from us, with songs which heavily rely on their meaningful lyrical content and fresh sound. When it comes to surprises, we are going to be debuting a number of new songs. People who have already seen us perform will be hearing a different take on our already established music.
Leanne: The most exciting part of the performance is most likely the fact that it will serve as Cryptic Street’s ‘launch’ of our new sound and image in Malta with new music (although we performed some of the new material previously, but not in Malta). Additionally we will be launching some brand new merchandise as well. Our performance will be a full set of pure energy and fun! It will consist entirely of new and previously unheard material in a completely different style to that of the 2015 EP ‘Stranger’. Technically, the whole performance is going to be a big surprise, particularly for anyone who knows our previous work but hasn’t kept too closely updated with our recent developments.
What do you think of the other bands in this year’s line-up, and who of them are you especially looking forward to see perform?
Emma: Each band has something different to bring to the stage. Personally, very looking forward to seeing Lois, Canvas Wall, Sdang, NS/NA, Super Sponge Trio, The Ranch, and a number of other great acts.
Kurt: We are ecstatic to be playing alongside such a vast array of talented bands who have all earned their well-deserved spot at the festival. Personally, I wish to see as many bands perform as possible, but I am particularly looking forward to seeing our friends over at Cryptic Street, nosnow/noalps, Yews, and Lois.
Leanne: There is a really impressive lineup this year, including some of my local favourites like The Ranch and nosnow/noalps. The band I’m most excited to see perform would most definitely be Sdang! since bassist Colin Edwin will be performing with them, of Porcupine Tree fame. As Porcupine Tree are a band I look up to a lot, I’m ecstatic to see him perform, as well as to be performing at the same event!
Insite would like to wish a huge good luck to all the bands performing this weekend, including Jack’s Fusion, Oxygyn and Cryptic Street!
The other acts in this year’s line-up are: - CEERA, Beesqueeze, NAANGS, WakaTa, Dusk, Bass Culture and Lois from Spain on Friday - Massacre House Party, Canvas Wall, nosnow/noalps, Kingdoms of Dusk, Super Sponge Trio, The Ranch, Rock & Rave and Sdang! (feat Colin Edwin) from Italy on Saturday - Lucy’s Last, EXPLICIT, The Voyage, CRUX, Eyes to Argus, YEWS, Double Standard, Rage Against Society, BILA, Norm Rejection, Kill The Action, LVX and Jesper Ejrup (feat. Nick Jones) from Denmark on Sunday
Rock The South is happening this weekend at Zion Reggae Bar in Marsascala between the 21st and 23rd April. You can buy your tickets here!
Johann Agius is a fourth year law student who is currently the CEO of Insite after fulfilling the roles of Public Relations Officer and External Relations Officer in previous years. He joined Insite as a writer and photographer in 2013 and was elected in the executive for the first time a year later.