Gig preview: Issimo at 360 Club at The Library, Leeds

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“We met at an open mic,” remembers Bradford singer and actress Abi Uttley of her first encounter with Yeadon musician Marc Otway.

“I was looking for a guitarist, he was looking for a backing singer for his solo stuff.



“I started off being his backing singer, I was a solo artist as well. We started collaborating and Issimo was born.”

The group, now expanded to a six-piece line-up, launch their sparkly, floor-filling debut single, If You Know How, at the 360 Club on Saturday.

“We do like a bit of disco and pop,” Uttley concedes. “But we’re not genre specific. Some of our other songs have inspiration from ska, reggae and latin vibes as well.”

Their follow-up EP, The Adventures of Issimo, due out in the new year, “will be a big mish-mash of genres – salsa, rock, everything.”

The video for If You Know How was directed by Conor Butler, who’s helmed promos for such well-known artists as Jessie J, Plan B and Girls Aloud. He contacted Issimo after spotting an advert on Facebook. “We said, ‘We won’t be able to afford you’, but he said he wanted to work with us,” Uttley recalls. “We both share a passion for making really good videos. He liked our idea; we liked the work he had done before. We went for a meeting and it became a really exciting project.”

Scenes from the video were filmed around City Park in Bradford and at Crest Tyres warehouse in Lidget Green, which is owned by a Uttley’s friend. The director even got to drive a forklift truck. “He said it was the most exciting shoot he had ever done,” says Uttley. “It was something different.”

Alongside her musical career, Uttley continues to act. She studied acting at Salford University and has appeared in Badapple Theatre Company’s stage show Back To The Land Girls and in several television soap operas. Two years ago she had a raunchy role in Coronation Street. “There are not many people that can say they gave Norris Cole a lap dance,” she laughs.

She’s also had small parts in Emmerdale, most notably working alongside Natalie J Robb, who plays Moira Barton. “Her character is hilarious,” Uttley says. “She was asking me to pee on a stick for her to pretend she was pregnant.”

She can next be seen in an episode of Doctors which will air on February 11. The scene stars Gabby Glaister. “She played Bob in Blackadder. It’s really good to be working alongside people like that,” says Uttley. “She’s inspirational.”

Issimo play at the 360 Club at The Library, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds on November 1, doors 8pm, £5. If You Know How will be available digitally from November 1. A cassette tape – with download code – will also be available at the launch gig.

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