DJ, presenter, photographer and writer, Maria Hanlon, went to shake a leg in east London last week, catching a host of performances at Lion Coffee & Records, including a set from UD Flames member, Molly Elizabeth…
I was so happy to find out The Juice LIVE was happening at Lion Coffee + Records as I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. It’s a record shop, venue and bar based in Clapton (east London) founded by husband and wife Mairead and Chris Hayden. Mairead previously managed Florence + The Machine from her discovery to 2017 and also owns indie labels Luv Luv Luv, Hate Hate Hate and now co-owns Plan A Management. Chris was drafted in as the live heartbeat of Florence + The Machine which is how the pair met. They created Lion Coffee + Records as a space for people to hang out, drink coffee, and browse vinyl in a beautiful bespoke setting. Lion Coffee + Records also host intimate performances and launch events which is why this venue was the perfect place for The Juice LIVE.
The event was put on by Radio Presenter Karina Freitas, who hosts radio show ‘The Juice’ every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 1-3pm on Voices Radio. During ‘The Juice’ Karina showcases the best in emerging Alternative Neo Soul, R&B and New Wave whilst also inviting artists on for interviews. She decided to put on The Juice LIVE to celebrate a mini milestone as ‘The Juice’ recently turned 1.
It’s pouring with rain when I arrive at Lion Coffee + Records, but as soon as I step inside it’s dimly lit, cosy and inviting. I say hello to Karina and head to the tiny trendy bar at the back (which used to be a stock room). Jim (Video Blue) manages Lion Coffee + Records and was there to make sure the night ran smoothly, splitting his time between being sound tech and bar man. I quiz him on the history of Lion Coffee + Records whilst admiring the detailed décor before Karina takes to the mic and welcomes everyone.
Karina chose an all-female line up of incredibly talented emerging artists which seems very fitting seeing as it was International Women’s Day a few days before. The line-up includes our very own Molly Elizabeth who is up first.
Molly became part of UD’s Flames Collective in January 2020 and has released her debut single through our Incubator and Talent Development Accelerator programme in collaboration with Island Records. She’s also the first solo artist to come through UD’s new imprint.
Molly steps on stage wearing a black two-piece Juicy Couture tracksuit and trainers with her guitar player. Everyone gathers round whilst Molly’s powerful voice fills the room, demanding your full attention. In between each track Molly shares the story behind the song and performs a few originals including her recent release ‘Cruel Intentions’ as well as a beautiful cover of ‘On My Mind’ by Jorja Smith.
Molly sets the standard extremely high for the night and as she steps off stage audience members rush over to congratulate her. There’s a short break to grab a drink and have a chat. Karina tells us the room is full of musicians, artists, radio presenters and DJs and encourages us to meet and network.
Next up was ROZZZQWEEN, who’s from Birmingham but has just moved to London. She has incredible stage presence, her Brummie accent and comedic chat make us instantly love her. She tells us stories about each song and makes us laugh at every opportunity.
She performs a few originals including ‘Skrilla’ and ‘Sunday Afternoon’ with her three musicians and then finishes her set alone on stage by singing Sam Sparro’s ‘Black & Gold’. This demonstrates her raw talent and vocal ability, mesmerising me with her talent. She tells us she first heard the song on the radio and had to ask her Mum what it was as she loved it so much. Her sound is a blend of modern jazz and blues but with very current, catchy lyrics making her a unique stand out talent and a definite one to watch.
After another 15-minute breather, Olympia Vitalis, the penultimate act, is ready to perform. Nick Willsher joins her on keys, which Olympia tells us proudly ‘isn’t even his first instrument’. The pair play together with such synergy. Olympia’s voice is deep and powerful, you can hear a likeness to Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday, who she says is one of her favourite artists and does a cover of hers. She currently has one song on Spotify called ‘Man’ which she performs and tells us is about male mental health. The song gives me goosebumps. She reveals that she’ll release more music soon and after watching her magical performance I really hope she does.
The final artist on the line-up is south Londoner, singer/songwriter Meron T, who’s Instagram bio perfectly sums up her performance, ‘soothin your soul with the sweetest sounds’. Meron T has featured on a track with The Silhouette’s Project called ‘Standing There’ and has a few impressive singles up on Spotify, including her most recent release ‘Everything’. She chats and charms us in between songs, performing ‘Hunny’ and ‘Sugarhunnykisses’ amongst others with her guitar, fusing together R&B, Neo Soul & Jazz.
After Meron T finishes her last song, Karina returns to the stage and thanks the artists, Jim and everyone for coming and supporting The Juice. Everyone cheers and you can tell how much the audience has enjoyed the night. The room then breaks out into chatter as people make their way back to the bar and congratulate Karina and the artists.
I say goodbye to Karina and head back out into the rain, feeling full of love for the London music scene. I also feel privileged to have watched each of these women perform in a beautiful small, stripped back setting on a wintery Friday night as I have a feeling, they’ll all be performing in much bigger venues very soon.
Words & photography: Maria Hanlon