Majk Stokes talks about his album Too Much Caffeine and going around the world in 80 trees.
Thinking about the environment can be enough to send one into an existential crisis, but Majk Stokes has a different take on it. Reciting daunting facts and figures might be one way to get people to take notice, but a catchy tune about saving the bees is much better.
I spoke to Majk to find out more about him and his music. Too Much Caffeine is Majk’s second album – his first album, Scratch One, was to raise money for an orphanage in Madagascar. I asked him how he would describe his second album.
“It’s a collections of silly comedy folk songs: some of which are about coffee, some are about the environment and some are just random musings. But coffee is the thing that ties it together.”
Majk says that comedy is “his thing”. His musical influences include Tom Lehrer and Flanders & Swann – both comedy musical acts – so it’s no surprise that for him snappy punchlines and melodies go hand in hand. But he says that’s changing.
“Recently I’ve started to realise that I have a serious side as well. There a couple of songs on the album that are verging on serious, but there’s still a lot of humour in them.”
It might be a while, however, before you get to hear more of this serious side, as Majk reckons he has enough material from the recording of this album to do another one.
Majk’s comedy style is influenced by the likes of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Tom Lehrer, but he says it’s harder to identify the influences that affect the sound.
“I start off with the words and the tune develops around that… I’ve taught myself how to build the song around the words, it evolves naturally.”
Each song has its own unique sound but nothing in the album seems out of place. The whole thing is tied together with a wonderful folky sound that is aided by Sarah Phizacklea‘s soothing voice and kazoo playing. She and Majk are joined by Jake Spence on the fiddle and Iain McKinna on the bass.
When he isn’t in the recording studio, Majk plays at open nights around Edinburgh and with the Shingis McKingis ceilidh band. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe every year since 2013 and plans to play at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia, but there is a catch.
“I don’t like flying on environmental grounds, but I don’t have the time or money to travel by surface to Australia so I am flying. I’ve committed myself to planting a number of trees before I fly to try and balance out the carbon footprint.”
Majk is obviously very principled but he says when it comes to music: “Take it seriously, but not too seriously.”
You can order Too Much Caffeine from Majk’s website at www.majk.co.uk
If you’re in Adelaide next year he will be appearing at The Basement, Featherstone Place, Adelaide, on the 21st-24th of February and the 28th February to the 4th of March in his new show “One more cup of coffee, and then we’ll save the world”. If you’re in Adelaide, check it out. It’s sure to leave you buzzing.