Sci -fi folksters have hopped back up north

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Sci Fi Folk evangelists Maia have been spreading the word at no less than 15 festivals over the summer including the Hop Farm Festival.

So it is appropriate that their Sheffield date next week will be at The Hop at West One Plaza.

The band will take to the stage sporting a geeky look in matching shirts.

“We’re leading the long overdue revival of Paisley,” grins Simon Robinson, the Sheffield representive of the all-Yorkshire band who met at Huddersfield University.

“We met on the traditional fresher’s pub crawl and have stayed together since. We recognised a shared taste in music. When I heard Tom on the other side of the room mention Joni Mitchell I knew I had got to know him as I hadn’t met anyone else who shared my enthusiasm for her.”

Their alternative, acoustic disco folk pop on a multitude of instruments has led them to be dubbed the inventors of sci fi folk.

“It all started because our music is eclectic and the question is always asked about how to describe it so we came up with a term that seemed to encapsulate it all,” explains Robinson. “Anyway I think sci fi folk sounds quite cool.

“Our second album had an amount of space themes in the lyrics and sound of it.”

That was Pepper Stars and they have recently made an EP for release early next year. It was recorded in Leeds after the band moved back up north after years in London.

“We spent a lot of time in London and had a residency at Folke Newington and it all started for us down there,” explains Robinson, who is listed as playing guitar, banjo and mandolin in addition to sharing vocals

“I started singing in choirs and thenbegan playing the guitar when I was in my teens. That choral background has proved useful because a lot of hard work has gone into the vocals.”

The multi-instrumental side has evolved graduall, he says. “We’ve added different instruments along the way. Tom plays guitar and ukulele and Joe Haig combines piano with trumpet - sometimes at the same time, he’s our own Prince.” And even drummer Will Fletcher has added the Peruvian Cajon to his bow, as it were.

“When we got an agent, Gail Cooke, who is based in Sheffield she has tried to get us more northern gigs because we seemed mostly to be performing down south. It’s been great for my mum because she’s been able to come and see us at last.”

Last month they appeared at the Heeley Institue.

Robinson has actually moved back in with his parents in Woodseats. “It makes sense because I am away so much I don’t really have a home of my own. I spend my time sofa cruising.”

Maia are at The Hop on Wednesday.