We wouldn't normally share excerpts from upcoming reviews, but this paragraph struck a chord:

"Tradition and modernity collide, as the band question the nature of home and our (perhaps misguided) allegiances to it. Shackles' Gift was born in Mauritius, yet constructed in London, it's as indebted to the past as it is to the present and it's to the band's credit that they understand that completely."

Seeing as we fell in love with the album (you'll find out on Monday), we thought it would be cool to dive into the influences involved. We weren't expecting a stationary engine though...

Words by Zun Zun Egui's Kush, Stephen and Matthew.


When we went to play in Mauritius in 2013, we ended up playing a little with Menwar, amongst other Mauritian musicians. Menwar is an incredible percussion player and brilliant human being and we learned a lot from him about how to play and feel these rhythms that were quite unlike anything we'd played before. We learned a lot by immersing ourselves in Danyel Waro, Alain Peters, lots of traditional Mauritian dance music. As chance would have it, we found out Menwar was touring in Europe when we were in London recording, so we asked him if he would extend his trip by a few days and come over and play on our record. We're honoured that he did.

1936 Fairbanks Morse 32D

Mauritian folk rhythms were the starting point of a lot of the songs on Shackles' Gift. We found out that a lot of these rhythms came from the sound of the sugar cane mill being heard by the workers in the sugar cane fields, which they then used to create folk music. The idea of this very early form of industrial music, not born from concept but from servitude, was incredibly inspiring. This led to us using sampled loops of machinery, percussion rhythms and drum machines to base melodies on before thinking about any other melodic instrumentation.

James Brown

Incredible showmanship, vocal delivery, and command of some of the greatest musicians ever. We often fall back on James Brown jams to get loosened (or tightened) up in rehearsals and it inevitably seeps in to our playing and writing from time to time. We also employed some New Orleans funk feel on this album, The Meters in particular, which is written straight into the grooves of 'African Tree'.

The Beatles

For Shackles' Gift, another primary focus was on songwriting and the idea of what makes a really great song. What makes a song stand the test of time? We listened, and I mean really listened, to The Beatles a lot. We found essays, websites, books, studied their chordal movements, everything we could to try and unlock the secret. We sought some advice from Michael Beinhorn, who produced Superunknown by Soundgarden, one of our favourite albums and a genuine modern masterpiece in our opinion. Every note on that record counts. He very kindly showed us some steps in the right direction. The marriage of this songwriting focus and learning new rhythms and feels I think really formed the backbone of the album.

Stealing A Nation

This is the story of Chagossian people from the island of Diego Garcia, they were forcibly removed by the British government and shipped to Mauritius overnight, losing their land culture and suddenly having to start using money. Money was not part of their world before this. All their dogs and cats got shot in front of them to scare them into leaving the island. The island has now been rented to America and called "pleasure island", where they sent their troops to relax. It is also from there that they have launched attacks on the Middle East during 1st and 2nd Gulf War. In a nutshell, the struggle of these people and the fact that they had to adapt to new environments overnight inspires me to live and make music, not just the album we just made. More of a life thing...

Shackles' Gift is out on January 26th via Bella Union. Listen to African Tree: