Points of reference

John Cooper Clarke to Lucien Freud: Brighton band Egyptian Blue talk us through five inspirations
By Alex James Taylor | Music | 30 October 2023

Egyptian Blue’s debut record, A Living Commodity, showcases the band’s long-standing prowess while also carving new ground. Having first formed during their school days, when they’d meet up for drunken jam sessions above a jeweller’s shop in Colchester, the four-piece later moved to Brighton and signed to YALA!, hitting the circuit and building a devoted fanbase through viseral live sets and two acclaimed EPs. But, like most, lockdown put everything on hold, and without that initial, enduring pace, the band slowed. But throughout, vocalist and guitarist Andy Buss and co-frontman Leith Ambrose continued writing, and when restrictions lifted, the band reunited with renewed energy and spirit.

Their resulting debut is a reawakening; through the purposed drumbeat pulse of opening track Matador, rhythmic spiked chords of Skin, and the anthemic soaring emotion of title track A Living Commodity. The album represents a band refreshed and reclaimed, discovering new depths, sounds and intensity. Marking the release, we asked the band to take us through five reference points that inspire their work – they embraced the assignment.


Double Negative (2018) by Low
“I first heard this record when I saw the cover plastered all over resident records in Brighton. Sometimes a cover is all it takes to be so intrigued. It’s an emphaticly expansive record, boasting so much ambience and sonically well crafted soundscapes. I like to picture certain landscapes or normal day situations moving in slow motion, cinematically when I’m dialled in to this record. Although art is an ambiguous concept, this certainly falls within that realm for me. The main song of interest for me is Dancing and Blood, so much raw emotion living inside of it, it makes me feel like my life is at a standstill yet completely at peace and at ease with it.”


The Painter’s Room (1944) by Lucien Freud
“Freud is a new discovery for me, certainly in the last nine months. This piece screams out to me and I’m not sure if I can even offer a reasonable explanation, I guess that’s what signifies great art sometimes. The colours are so intense and work so matticulousy together to offer reasoning but also to express emotion. The texture on the floor and the detail on the victorian-esque sofa barely standing on its two frail legs makes me feel uneasy but, as you can probably sense a theme running here, I find that strangely comforting.”

The Painter’s Room (1944) by Lucien Freud

Red Abstract/fragment (1968–69) by N.H. Pritchard
“This is an intensely beautiful piece of not only art but poetry. Words so often have their way and certainly for me express emotion to the highest order. It kind of reminds me of an imaginary lyric sheet in a gatefold that I would be assured to be lost in. It also dials into a creative’s mind, often messy and at one with that notion – I guess sometimes words aren’t enough to facilitate a message. The red background and texture of the colour sets an initial scene of brooding and terror whilst the foreground is typewritten in a neat format yet edited multiple times with multiple different pens, not to mention the doodles that reside in the piece also.”

Red Abstract/fragment (1968–69) by N.H. Pritchard


This Heat (1979) by This Heat
“Another record I view in an entirely artistic and sonically vast atmosphere, actually one of my favourite records of all time. My friends can’t hack more than four songs but I think that’s what makes it even more pensive and special. It’s the record before they obviously very, very slightly commercialised, if you can even call it that, for their second record. (I must add the second record is only more palatable in terms of tolerance by perhaps two further songs, at least according to my friends.) Both are monumental pieces of art moving with the tension of a basking shark and snapping you into some kind of eternal space odyssey-esque black hole at the beginning and the end.”


Twat by John Cooper-Clarke
“A poet both me and Leith grew up on. I remember one specific time us, as young teenagers, standing on Colchester high street gawping as John walked past effortlessly cool in full-suited attire and sunglasses, he noticed and clicked his fingers at us with a point – a moment I shan’t forget. This particular poem has always had me enamoured. I recall reciting it to unknowing friends with very little to no context. They’d go “Did you write that?” – how dare they. To this day, the line, ‘You put the pain in Spain’, remains in our inside joke world. A true artful masterpeice amongst many others in his repertoire.”

Egyptian Blue’s new album A Living Commodity is out now via YALA!

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