Ten Fé talk the importance of small venues at Selfridges’ Music Matters

The five-piece released their debut album 'Hit The Light' at the start of this year

It’s common knowledge that Ten Fé began life as a band by busking anywhere and everywhere they could find: this even included London’s tube carriages, where they quickly learnt what grumpy commuters warmed to – and what they didn’t. Honing their performances in at the deep end meant it wasn’t long before the band started playing small venues around the country, and earlier this year they channeled the highway vibes of life on tour into a Springsteen-influenced debut album, ‘Hit The Light‘.

Small venues, like the ones Ten Fé started out in, are under threat – a charity called the Music Venue Trust recently found that 40% of grassroots music spaces have disappeared in the past 10 years, a drop that has slashed the number of venues emerging artists are able to play in, and which hurts the vitality of live music in the process. It’s all due to prohibitive licensing laws and severe jumps in rent, which make it difficult to operate smaller music spaces.

Enter the Music Matters campaign, which is putting on a series of intimate, in-the-round gigs at Selfridge’s new Ultralounge venue. It’s raising awareness about the threat to small venues, and simultaneously donating 20% of proceeds to the Music Venue Trust. Ten Fé put in a performance at the gig series in central London last night (August 17), with synth-pop star Shura, Dublin hip-hop trio Hare Squead and R&B upstart Mabel among the other highlights on the roster over its three-month stint. 

Ahead of their gig, we caught up with Ten Fé to chat about the importance of small venues, and of live music itself. In the video at the top of this page, you’ll see frontman Leo Duncan telling us: “The important thing is that there is a culture of playing live – of bands playing live – because that’s what these venues are for. You need a circuit and you need an atmosphere in which people are playing a lot.”