SHAMBOL!CA is a guitar and keyboard-driven, female-dominated, four-piece postpunk band from Edinburgh. Their songs are inspired by their diverse personal experiences of life and womanhood. Expect thoughtful, reflective, relatable lyrics with a brooding and humorous attitude that gets the audience excited.
We are thrilled to tell you more about them in this interview. Meanwhile, follow them on social media and listen to their music here. You can see them live in Saughton Park on the 16th of September from 1.30 pm.
1. How did your band start?
Charlotte and I were colleagues at a charity providing workshops to disabled adults, our friendship bloomed through one of the music workshops we were working together.
I heard that Girls Rock School Edinburgh (GRSE) did a call out for their summer term intakes for the guitar workshop, as they happened to teach their free workshops out of the music space they hired from the charity we work for, which also happened to be just below my print studio at the time (I could hear them playing during term time from my studio, they even managed to film a promo video just outside my studio before I knew about them hahaha!). So I asked if she’d be interested in going for it together and she said yes! We had a blast, even though we were nervous wrecks and very unsure about our abilities at the time – I haven’t touched a guitar for over 18 years by that point due to a very difficult past and Charlotte was more familiar with the keyboard. But we thought we’d go out of our comfort zone and went with it!
We were very fortunate that we have found GRSE as they were very supportive and encouraging – they just threw us into the deep end. Because at the end of a short 6 weeks (sessions) of barre chords and punk songs to learn, we were then thrown into their well-known end of term showcase and performed in front of a live audience and had a blast! I had such a blast that I enrolled into their vocal workshop the following term, a glutton for abuse of being a nervous wreck clearly! By that point Charlotte and I were already in a cover band together called Radio Grrrlz with 3 other women from GRSE.
SHAMBOL!CA came out of that, when we decided that we wanted to start writing our own materials. The 2 other original members have moved on since and Jackie then found us – she was also a former GRSE drum graduate before the pandemic hit, and then Pete joined us as we were coming out of lockdown – he too works at the same charity, so that’s where we found each other.
So now we have: Pete on drums, Jackie on bass, Charlotte on keyboard and vocals, Eliza on guitar and vocals.
Eliza and I became friends in 2017 after meeting in one of our workplace’s music workshops. We both loved to play music but felt anxious about it, so we decided to do the Girls Rock School guitar course together that year, which really helped us find our confidence with playing and performing on stage. We had such a blast performing at the GRS Summer Showcase that year that we just kept playing and eventually started writing!
SHAMBOL!CA formed in 2018 and we've been through a few evolutions of the band since then, but the members have always been connected to the GRS network or are friends from Upmo, which is the charity we work/have worked for.
Post-covid was a restart for us, as we were able to form a full band again and really dive into exploring our sound more than we had before lockdown.
This one is better for Charlotte & Eliza to answer.
2. Tell us about your music/albums/next events.
We will be opening for other fab Edinburgh bands The Chunks, and Quitter on Thursday night, 21st September, doors at 7.30pm, at “Banshees Introducing” event, at Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh.
And then we also have “Riffs and Synths” at Leith Depot in which we will be playing at on the 8th December, along with other fab bands that’s still to be confirmed, but we have full confidence that they’re all fab! :)
Our music is often inspired by how we experience life - whether that be to do with who we are, who we interact with or what is going on in the world.
Our latest songs, ‘The Burning’ and ‘Thoughts and Prayers’, were written after absorbing a lot of news about various tragedies happening around the world and feeling like those who should be making changes aren’t doing anything.
‘The Burning’ was born during the 2019 Australian wildfires and we’re sad to say the song is just as relevant today. ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ is a darkly humorous commentary on how people respond to tragic events and I’m excited that the Music in the Community gig will be our first time playing it live! (We also have a special guest for this tune!)
‘Thunder Thighs’ is about body positivity. As women we know a lot about body shaming, it’s always ‘too much’ of something, either too fat or too thin, or too something. You’re never made to feel you’re enough. So we want to empower others to embrace their bodies, bumps and all!
‘Letter to a Duck’ is about the life journey of someone that were often told they were not good enough and often being made to feel like they live on the fringe of their own life, until they come to the end of that journey (and then starting a new one) by finally accepting who they are.
‘Lilith’ is about betrayal of sisterhood, where you’ve put a lot of your trust in someone and believe them that they have your best interest at heart. They then stab you in the back in order to serve their own self-interest.
So far we’re just playing all our songs live until we can save up enough money from gigs to properly record them. So thank you Music in the Community for supporting us towards this goal by giving us the opportunity to perform them! J
3. What do you like/find challenging about the Edinburgh music industry?
It seems to be thriving for start-up bands - largely due to the work of Girl's Rock School.
Edinburgh gets negatively compared to Glasgow in terms of its music scene, with folk saying venues are more limited and such, but I think there are so many opportunities in Edinburgh for those who are willing to create them. It often means working together closely with other musicians and industry specialists to develop bands and put on gigs and that's what makes the Edinburgh scene special for me – you build great relationships and a culture of supporting each other to put on amazing shows! It also means you find events in unusual spaces and I love the creativity that comes with that.
Eliza & Pete:
They both took the words right out of our mouths!
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully playing even more big cool shows. And with many more guitar pedals added to the bands collection.
I barely know what I am doing in the next month!!
We play for fun and are still at the beginning of our musical journey, so it is hard to think about where we could be in 5 years! Shoot for the stars though right? Glastonbury here we come!
I would love for us to finally have a proper recording made of our songs and have it on bandcamp or even on vinyl! Also to see us playing more big cool shows too, like Glastonbury and other festivals! So for those who are looking for bands to play in your festival, we’re keen and ready for you!
5. Can you recommend any organisations that help musicians/any that you receive help or advice from?
We wouldn’t be where we are today without support from Girls Rock School Edinburgh. They ignited our passion for making music and gave us the confidence to stand in front of a crowd for the first time, play a lot of bum notes but still be cheered on! If you want to play but feel like you can’t for any reason, speak to these folks and before you know it you'll be feeling like a rock star.
My workplace, Upmo, runs music workshops for adults with disabilities and many a student band have been formed and played live throughout the years! The workshops give many of our students the confidence to make music without fear of judgement and take their skills in the direction they want, whether it be performing or just having a space to make some noise.
Girls Rock School.
As it’s already been said previously, Girls Rock School Edinburgh can’t be recommended highly enough. Also once you’re part of their network, it’s like being part of a big family, everyone just keeps on supporting and encouraging each other. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be picking the guitar back up after being away from it for over 18 years.
6. Who inspires you?
It changes depending on what’s happening in my life at the time, at the moment it’s John Dwyer for the inventive sounds he creates out of his guitar, mind-blowing! Dolly Parton for her song writing and staying relevant for her entire career even until today, and then Patti Smith for her poetry and lyrics.
I’m really inspired by all the sounds that made up my childhood in the 90s – everything from Britpop to trip hop, dance tracks to classic Nintendo soundtracks. I am drawn to iconic riffs and catchy melodies because I’m really bad at hearing lyrics correctly.
Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads) inspired me to take up bass. I really admire John Cale who is still creating ambitious and cutting edge music at the age of 81, proving there is no cut off point for creativity.
My family, my friends, Prince.
7. What advice would you give a musician at the start of the road?
Practice your instruments. Get to know other musicians, work with each other, and support each other.
Tell yourself that you’re good enough to make music and believe it even on your worst days! If you fluff up, keep going – chances are no one will even notice if you engage your audience. Getting honest feedback is important too. Music takes practice and learning instruments, networking, getting gigs, and building stage presence takes time. Having people around you who support you on your journey will help you feel much more confident and comfortable. The most important thing is to have fun!
Always be curious (about your sound) and just try stuff, if you like how it sounds, that’s all that matters. Ignore the nay-sayers and have fun!
Talent and/ or ability isn't pie. Other people can be good and you can be good as well. Just because someone is good that doesn't make you less good at what you do, and vice versa. So be supportive of each other!
"Less is more" Ok, this is a quote from the architect Mies van der Rohe, and it was advice I was given when training as a designer, but it still stands. Learn to do a few things well and don't feel you have to add ALL your ideas to a project, just have faith in your BEST idea.
8. What do you like about Music in the Community?
It’s an amazing organization that helps in removing the barrier for grassroots musicians of varying stages in their career to have a platform to perform and be found by the community and be heard. It also helps in making grassroots music accessible in the community by removing the barrier of finding these musicians and to enjoy their music, regardless of their background and circumstances.
Being a community worker myself, I think it's so important that residents of all ages and backgrounds get to connect with their local areas and people, through events such as those organised by Music in the Community. Music brings us together and it's just a great thing that folk can enjoy these gigs for free!
It's great to see an organisation supporting acts at a grassroots level.
What they said.