By any other measurement, Morcheeba would be a one-hit wonder. The only time their jazzy, down-tempo and pop-oriented RnB graced the mainstream was at the turn of the century, when “Rome Wasn't Built in a Day” took to radio and charted around the world as opposed to their native UK.
Even after their moment of chart success ultimately faded, however, the London-based outfit still continued to tour globally and serve as a key draw at festivals great and small. Even if those encountering them for the first time only knowing that one song, Morcheeba put the work in to ensure passers-by are converted by the time they've finished.
“We've seen it happen, so I know it's something we're capable of,” says Skye Richards, the band's lead singer. “I remember we were booked to play this festival in France, and we're sandwiched in-between these bands I've never heard of and we're looking out from backstage at a field full of 10,000 teenagers. I'm talking to my husband, Steve [Gordon, Morcheeba bassist], and I'm just thinking, 'Oh my god. They're not going to get it at all!'”
Despite the worst-case scenario playing out in Edwards' head, the band made their way onto stage and brought the whole thing home.
“They totally loved it!” she continues, a sigh of relief breathing out with her words.
“They totally got it. By the time I'd gotten off stage and checked my phone, my Instagram was full of messages. We got so much love for what we were doing. I suppose there's just something about what we do – we're real people, playing real instruments. You might not know who we are, but you'll know where we're coming from when we play.”
Morcheeba formed in the mid-90s as a project for Edwards and the Godfrey siblings, Paul and Ross. Although Paul ultimately left the fold in 2014, with Edwards herself taking a sabbatical between 2003 and 2010, the music has carried on and the group's legacy has remained intact. Today, Edwards and Ross Godfrey lead an intimately-familiar version of the band's lineup, with a mix of both adopted and literal family.
“Our keyboardist, Richard [Milner] is the same one Morcheeba has had since probably 1996,” explains Edwards.
“He played on Big Calm back in 1998, and he's stuck it out this whole time. Over on the bass, as you know, is my husband. He first started playing with us around 2000, and first played on an album when we recorded [2002 album] Charango. Our current drummer is actually our son, Jaeba – he's 23 now, and he's been on the road with us since he was 19.
“It's a really tight-knit unit, and it works really well for all of us. Ross has got two young daughters as well, and they've just started getting singing lessons. Who knows? Maybe they'll be next to join Morcheeba.”
The band will be bringing a sizzling selection of songs from across their seven Edwards-helmed LPs to Australia this coming April for a series of shows, including a stop at Byron Bay's own Bluesfest. It was this very festival that first brought the band out back in 2003, and Edwards fondly remembers a moment of tranquillity amidst what was easily the band's busiest year. “We were everywhere that year,” she recalls.
“We played China, we played New Zealand, we even played Trafalgar Square. We had this one beautiful moment, however, on that tour of Australia. Our manager at the time, Brendan, got married on the beach. We just had this perfect setting, and I'll always have Australia to thank for that.”