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Andrew Ward

Background information
Also known as HKB FiNN
Origin London, UK
Genres spoken word, Jazz
Years active 1999 - present
Labels Alter Native Studios
Website http://www.hkbfinn.com, http://www.alterns.com, http://www.tundejegede.com, http://www.mayajobarteh.com
Notable instruments
Vocal, djembe,

HKB FiNN aka Andrew Ward is a spoken word artist from the UK, who embodies worldly influences that are present in a cosmopolitan city such as London. Active is the Spoken Word and Jazz world, he's an accomplished performer, song writer and producer.

HKB FiNN (Born Andrew Ward on October 13, 1965) is a British musician, Poet & writer. He is known for his role as lead singer for Hip Hop band Katch 22 and his solo work where he fuses a variety of music styles to create a unique sound. He has written and performed on 25 albums.

Contents

Early life

Born is Matarfa, Malta, the son of a British Soldier and a Jamaican Nurse (his father was from Barbados and his mother from Jamaica), a young Andrew Ward spent his early life on many army bases throughout Europe before settling briefly in London. His parents divorced and he left the UK at aged 4 and spent the next 11 years in Jamaica. He grew up in East Central Kingston in the Rastafarian enclave of ‘Backbush’ where he was exposed to various aspects of Jamaica’s cultural heritage including Kumina, Pocomenia, Rastafarianism and Black Cultural politics. A bright student, he attended Mountain View Primary school and Vauxhall Secondary school in Kingston where he became interested in literature and poetry. He states his background as a foreigner in Jamaica gave him a ‘sort of outsiders point of view’ and this led him to writing and performance. An ernest student and dedicate performer, his and the lives of many where shattered by the social upheavals in Jamaica during the mid to late 1970’s, where political related violence and a heated election period soon changed the once peaceful Backbush neighbourhood into a war zone altering young Andrew Ward’s world view forever.

He returned to the UK in 1981 and attends Spncer Park School in Battersea, London. There he is introduced to London’s Sound System culture. Known as ‘Mellow J’ for his smooth delivery and poetic style, he spends several years performing on the Reggae and Sound System circuit playing with Stixman Junior, Skyliner and Genesis sound system collectives. He later began to gravitate toward Hip Hop and as he felt he was running away from ‘Reggae’ culture, renamed himself after a literary runaway Huckleberry Finn, and renamed himself as Huntkillbury Finn. In 1988 he forms a group B.P.R.S. (Black Phantoms Reign Supreme) with Superb C, which quickly disbanded despite offers from major labels to sign them. Finn later met DJ Marga and both teamed up with DJ Brainiac to form 3 The Hard Way which later became Katch 22.

Career

Katch 22 was an underground Hip Hop crew from London. As well as being a self contained unit, they worked as a collective with several new bands in the South London neighbouhoods of Stockwell (Finn’s area), Brixton (DJ Marga’s area), Leytonstone (DJ Brainiac’s area) and were part of the collective of MC’s and DJ’s called the HQ Squad (affiliated with hip hop group: Hijack). The HQ Squad released a posse track entitled: Burial Proceedings In The Course of Three Knights (featuring Huntkillbury Finn, Shaka Shazam and Icepick). This was released through Hijacks former label: Music Of life and was an underground success. The 3 Knights supported Hijack in many UK shows, including being a opening Act for US artist Ice-T. Despite offers from many major labels, Katch 22 were determined to remain true to their hardcore roots and felt they could not remain coherent with a big label until their own sound was established.

Huntkillbury Finn’s friendship with a Battersea band Rude Boy Business led to Marga producing an EP for the band on London Label Kold Sweat. The label became interested in the Katch 22 production team and later released Katch 22‘s debut EP entitled “Hip Hopocracy” in 1990.

In the same year, Katch 22 was joined by Nicholas Swaby of Brixton aka DJ Kill-A-Man-Twice to replace DJ Brainiac who had began making a name for himself as Housemusic DJ. The group were offered a 3 album deal by Kold Sweat Records and spent most of 1990 in Marga’s home studio in Kings Avenue, Clapham, developing something fresh and reflective of the groups varied membership. The resulting 1991 debut album Diary Of A Blackman Living In The Land Of The Lost was an instant underground success. The band began touring the UK performing in Workmen’s clubs, Bars, Concert Halls and Hip Hop Jams. In 1992. Ian Young (Cavey the dancer), Ann Gay (vocalist), Ashley Soan (Drummer) and Malika B (the Poet) joined the Katch 22 collective. During the recording of their second album, the band attended a party in Clapham Common, London where an argument between Shaka Shazam of the HQ Squad and another group erupted into a brawl and DJ Marga was stabbed. The next Katch 22 album was delayed for several weeks with the band refusing to work without Marga, who later discharged himself from Hospital to finish their double vinyl recording entitled: Dark Tales From Two Cities (1993). This album was also an underground success but was starting to get the band noticed in the mainstream media. Many concerts including a long European tour ensued. After many concerts, Huntkillbury Finn wanted to expand his creativity to new area’s and was very interested in film. He took a break from professional music, to attend university. He enrolled at The Univeristy of East London while the band recorded their final album for Kold Sweat. The following year, their album: NonConformist Rituals (1994) was released featured a musically mature Katch 22 with live instrumentation. However, the band was no longer in tune with their hardcore fanbase and the album received luke warm attention. This, plus Finn’s refusal to tour during term time, led to the group disbanding. Malika B, continued her poetry career, Cavey formed a production company, Kill-A-Man-Twice joined several underground Hip Hop groups and DJ Marga started DJing commercially.

Andrew Ward aka Huntkillbury Finn, graduated from the University of East London in 1996 and spent a great deal of time working between New York and London as a filmmaker, before re-settling in Peckham, London in 1997. He had also worked with several groups during the mid 1990‘s. Working as an MC for JB Rose (Drum N Bass & Soul), later joining a rock collective experimenting with Hip Hop beats and Heavy metal guitars called: Band Substance. The group toured briefly and recorded a mini album entitled: The Basement Tapes. However, they disbanded after an argument over a proposed contract with EMI Records which has never been reconciled. Finn later joined another Nu Metal group, Toy, and after recording a demo album (untitled) he soon began contemplating a solo career.

In 1998, Huntkillbury Finn commissioned producers: Ben Hickmott (son of Tony Hickmott of Kold Sweat), Shur-I-Kan and Insane Macbeth to produce his debut EP entitled: Mummy’s Little Soldier which was released on Son Records in 1999. The EP was well received and gained much underground radio support in the UK.

Whilst working with bands part time, Finn was now a fulltime as a filmmaker for the University Of East London’s New media department making documentaries. Whilst working on a film project for the University of East London in 1999, Finn met composer Tunde Jegede and the two became interested in working together on future projects. Tunde was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to write a new piece and asked Huntkillbury Finn to join the project. Tunde was more interested in Finn’s poetry background and was keen to develop the Huntkillbury Finn as a poet. Spoken Word became Finn’s new challenge and with a new century looming, Huntkillbury Finn changed his name to HKB:FiNN in 1999.

Current Work

Tunde Jegede helped HKB FiNN start his music production company (Alter Native Studios in 1999) to create and develop new music and work with new musicians. FiNN wanted to create a new type of music for the 21st century. His vision of an organic form of Hip Hop mixed with Spoken Word and elements of Folk and Roots music became his principle interest which later led to him developing his debut album. HKB FiNN took all his savings, advances from his publisher (Westbury music) and a small fee from Son Records to record his debut solo album: Vitalistics (2002). Featuring productions and collaboration with Jocelyn West (formerly Mrs David Lynch), Don Jose (Ms Dynamite), Tunde Jegede, Lotek (Roots Manuva) and dance music impresario: Shur-I-Kan, the album received mixed reviews, but propelled FiNN to a new audience ignorant of his previous hardcore background.

In 2003, FiNN expanded his music production company (Alter Native Studios) to become his music label and by 2004 completed his follow up album entitled: Acoustic Afro Hip Hop featuring Eska Mtungwazi & Robert Mitchell and was produced by Tunde Jegede. Initially created as a mini album, FiNN learned that his regular recording home: Gateway Studios, Kingston was closing and they were about to destroy all his master tapes if the £3,000 bill was not paid within 21 days. FiNN quickly pressed up 300 special edition copies of the Acoustic Afro Hip Hop album and took to the streets, cafe’s, open mike sessions, regular gig spots and asking friends & fans to support the cause by buying a copy of the album. The campaign worked and FiNN not only saved his masters and many tapes, but also learned a valuable business lesson. By the time the album was officially launched in 2005, he was determined to continue touring and performing live.

In November 2004, the University of East London awarded HKB FiNN an Honorary Masters In Music Law for his contribution to contemporary music.

In 2005 HKB FiNN joined Prunella Scales in a rare version of Walton’s Facade, featuring Viva Sinfonia, as well as working with The Royal Philharmonic’s ‘Sharp Edge‘ collective, Nitro Music Theatre as a writer and touring extensively into 2006.

By touring throughout the poetry circuit with a small ensemble, it gave him space to develop as a percussionist&performer which resulted in his third solo album Spoken Herbs (2006) featuring vocalist Cleveland Watkiss and productions from Derek Johnson, Tunde Jegede and Maya Jobarteh. Alter Native Studios later released a collection of instrumentals entitled: Finnstrumentals Volume 1. A little known song from FiNN’s solo debut, Vitalistics entitled: Epiphany is featured in the film Life&Lyrics starring Ashley Walters to worldwide acclaim.

In 2006, HKB FiNN began working as a guest vocalist in the Jazz scene, performing with pianist Robert Mitchell (Steve Coleman, Quite Sane, Ntoumos), vibraphone player and composer: Orphy Robinson and with French Electro jazz bands Electro Deluxe and Nojazz.

In the same year he forms the Drovers Street Band with Derek Johnson and a few special guests. FiNN, DJ Motherbass and Bassist Andi Mclean began working a artists-in-residence at The Ritzy cinema cafe in Brixton for their Organica club nights which ran until July 2009.

In late 2006 HKB FiNN is commissioned by The Royal Opera House for their revolutionary Opera Genesis Project as a guest Librettist. In 2007 He is commissioned again to write another Libretto for the project, but this time he is teamed with legendary Spoken Word Artist Jean Binta Breeze to create a contemporary re-telling of the Hogarth inspired work of Igor Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress. In late 2007, FiNN returns from a tour of South America, with new idea’s for another album. Inspired by the town of Recife, Brazil, his fourth studio album entitled: Light In The Shade Of Darkness, featuring Crystal Night and Marcia Escoffery was released. Written in Recife, Brazil, FiNN wanted to write something that was more a celebration of life, rather than a stark portrayal of it. ‘Light In The Shade’ is the antithesis of his previous work, and features a brighter perspective never before heard in his work.

In 2008 he launches his first headling UK tour, works with Nojazz visiting South Africa & Mexico as well as touring throughout Europe and the Balkans. FiNN makes his debut appearance to rave reviews in Flagstaff, Arizona and writes and produces an album for Spoken Word Artist Shahanara Begum. He continues to tour with noJazz and returned to the studio later in 2009 to create his next recording simply entitled: Natural Eloquence.

Reviews

  • " A masterpiece" OUTSiDE LOOKiNG iN MAGAZiNE
  • "An inspiration to listen to..." UK HiP HOP.COM
  • " Exceptional" THE TiMES
  • "This is music from that 'next level' many rapper claim to be striving to attain" MOJO MAGAZiNE
  • "Well crafted, earthy, rootsy, an atmospheric gem" RAPNEWS.CO.UK
  • "Beautiful arrangements and Thoroughly refreshing" NiCK LUSCOMBE, XFM RADiO
  • "Urban Album of the month - July 2005 & Urban album of the year 2005" MOJO MAGAZiNE

Trivia

  • Uses lowercase and capital case in a unique combination

Film Credits

Song list

  • ViTALiSTiCS ALBUM 2003
  • ACOUSTiC AFRO HiP HOP ALBUM 2005
  • SPOKEN HERBS ALBUM 2006
  • FiNNSTRUMENTALS ALBUM 2006
  • LO-Fi JAZZ EP 2007
  • SANCTUARY OF JOY EP 2007
  • LiGHT iN THE SHADE OF DARKNESS ALBUM 2008

Links

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