Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hot New Duo with a Sweet Sound; TELEVISION Antonia Thomas and Robin French Are the Polymath TV Stars Who Make Music on the Side. Samuel Fishwick Meets Sugarcane

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hot New Duo with a Sweet Sound; TELEVISION Antonia Thomas and Robin French Are the Polymath TV Stars Who Make Music on the Side. Samuel Fishwick Meets Sugarcane

Article excerpt

ROBIN French finds himself "fired-up" by "arty people who have a lot going on". "I do try to keep them around," says the musician, and writer, 40. This is easier than it sounds: he's the former bassist for Mr Hudson and the Library as well as an award-winning screenwriter and cocreator of the BBC comedy Cuckoo. Tough luck, then, that his latest muse, bandmate and close friend Antonia Thomas, 31, currently lives well outside his Dalston-based sphere of influence.

"I'm back once in a blue moon, and there's an eight-hour time difference between us," says the former Lovesick and Misfits actress, joining us via Skype from Vancouver, Canada, where she's currently filming a second series of US TV Show The Good Doctor. "I'll have to wait around at the airport with a sign when you're back," adds French. "It'll say: 'This way to the recording studio'."

Their new band, Sugarcane, is as sweet as it sounds -- featuring Thomas's vocals on their first EP, One Specific Thing, a summer single that sounds like "Lily Allen in Hawaii", according to music website Line of Best Fit.

French is a "bossa nova mastermind", according to Thomas. "I went into a very heavy Brazilian music phase," he explains. It's good fun once you're bored with rock 'n' roll. There are loads of jazz chords. But I think partly I got into Brazilian music because on the CD covers everyone looks like me. They're all mixed-race. Growing up -- and this is one reason it was cool Antonia got involved -- it was incredibly unusual to be mixed-race. My mum's from Barbados, my dad's English, and I never saw anyone who looked like me apart from my brothers."

That's where the band's name comes from. "It's always been Sugarcane. It always had a race connection for me," says French. "Obviously the connotations with slavery are horrible -- but it's a sweet word to make our band's own. …

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