The bb Collective are Bex & Bex, friends and musicians based in London. They set up The bb Collective in 2007 to provide a fresh and soulful twist to wedding entertainment. The Bex’s and their band have various backgrounds in music ranging from soul, jazz, funk and Rock n Roll (hence the ‘Collective’.) I’m very excited to welcome them to Rock n Roll Bride today. Over to you ladies…
Hi Ladies! So can you tell us a little bit about yourselves – namely who you are and what you do?
Blonde Bex: Well I’m Bex Reichwald
Brunette Bex: And I’m Bex Bowden
Blonde: We tend to go by Blonde and Brunette to avoid confusion with the boys.
Brunette: We set up and run The bb Collective a group of musicians providing bespoke live music entertainment for weddings all over the country.
Where are you based and what areas do you cover?
We are based in London and cover all over England, and beyond when we’re lucky – we have managed to get to Scotland, Wales, France and Istanbul so far!
How did you start your business and why did you begin?
The 2 of us met in another band, fell in love over a mutual love of good music, Jack Bauer (Kat: hello?! I love you already), cupcakes, and 50’s style dresses and decided we would be a force to be reckoned with if we set up our own band. The function scene is very much dominated by men so we thought we could offer a new approach.
We spotted a gap in the market for classy, cool, non-cheesy but fun wedding bands that were still interested in working with couples to create a perfect mix of music for their big day. The bb Collective band was born, a 6 piece line up of musicians that we put together after many auditions and jam sessions. Since then, we have extended the main band to an 8 piece outfit, enabling us to bring in a fantastic brass section. We can now offer our clients anything from the 6 piece band for those with smaller budgets, space restraints or sound limiters at their venues to a 7 piece, 8 piece or even 9 piece line up by adding in brass instruments.
What are the musical backgrounds of each member?
Both of us, and the rest of the bbs, come from varied backgrounds in soul, funk, jazz, country and Rock n Roll.
Brunette: I started off in Musical Theatre, and still work as an actress when I can. I sang in various jazz line ups when I first arrived in London, then moved into the soul and funk scene which is where I met Bex.
Blonde: I was classically trained when I was younger and my first original project was actually in a trip hop outfit. I have flirted with country and rock along with way but I’m most happy when singing soul and blues.
What traits would your perfect client have?
Anyone who wants the music to be central to their wedding, who has some ideas themselves but is also happy to take our advice and is up for a party! The more the bride dances the more the party dances: FACT.
What do you love about weddings?
We all feel very lucky to be part of so many weddings. We get to see people on their happiest day surrounded by friends and family. Corporate gigs and functions can be a bit soulless so knowing that we can be instrumental in helping to make someone’s day special and memorable is a privilege and a job we take seriously!
Blonde: Plus a good cheese board is always a massive bonus.
Brunette: I’m getting married myself next year so I like being nosey and getting inspiration now too!
Who or what are your biggest musical influences and do they inspire your band?
We have now been together as a band for nearly 5 years with only one change in line-up which is very rare. One of the things that keeps us together is that we all come from differing musical backgrounds so we can all bring something new to the table.
Blonde: Aretha and the old school blues and soullers will inspire me always and forever. Plus a healthy dose of country and rock too.
Brunette: It’s all the divas for me really – from Billie Holiday to Beyonce, via Etta, Aretha, Chaka and Dolly!
Our boys love all things funk but there is experience in jazz, afrobeats and even grime thrown in for good measure!
What are your favourite and least favourite tracks to cover at the moment?
We’re loving our Crazy In Love (Beyonce) / Crazy (Gnarls Barkley) remix, Cee Lo Green’s Forget You always gets everyone on the dancefloor and our recent encores of Don’t Stop Believing have made marquees, barns and conservatories quite literally rock! We’re not such a fan of the obvious choices of first dances (Aerosmith anyone?) but will of course play them when asked!
And what about your client’s favourites?!
This seems to change all the time, as every client is individual and has a certain type of music they prefer. Some clients love our funk tunes – Chaka Khan, Prince, some Michael Jackson etc – while others love the all-age-pleasing Motown tunes. The Rock n Roll section of our set has never failed to get everyone twist n shouting on the dancefloor and I definitely believe we have the strongest finishing set of any band out there!
I second that, I’m not happy unless I’m drenched in sweat by the end. Always a good look.
Why do you believe you are perfect for a Rock n Roll wedding?
We actively encourage our brides and grooms to get involved in the process of putting together the playlists for their wedding and enjoy making this individual for every client. We don’t believe there is ever a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the music for your big day and feel very passionately that the right music can take couples’ weddings to the next level of awesomeness. We have performed at hundreds of weddings of all different types and budgets so have a wealth of experience to draw on.
What would you say your greatest achievement has been to date?
Brunette: Probably managing to pull off our first ever wedding – no mean feat as it was in central France, in a venue that resembled a cave (extremely boomy!) and it was the first time we ever put together our newly bought PA system! The epic journey there and back in the van certainly meant we bonded quickly as a band – nothing like losing a windscreen wiper when it’s pouring with rain, getting lost in the streets of Lille and pulled over for speeding in a foreign country to get you working together!
Blonde: When I look back over what Bex and I have achieved I feel incredibly proud. Just the fact that as 2 women in a man’s arena we have set up a business which we love and have a team that we are honoured to play with is our greatest achievement.
Anything exciting coming up that you’d like to tell us about?
Blonde: We’re performing in various line ups at more couple’s ceremonies and drinks receptions as well as the full band at the evening party, which is an exciting development as it gets us involved in the whole day. Recently we’re had our trumpeter, Jonny, playing in a church service, a jazz trio of vocals, piano and sax outside at a couples’ drinks reception and an instrumental jazz line up play during dinner.
Brunette: Ooh, and my own wedding, when Blonde is going to be a bridesmaid, and I need to work out what on earth to do regarding the music there!
Can you give an idea of price range?
We have tried to keep our prices competitive in these difficult times and are always open to discuss costs, being well aware that budgeting for a wedding can be a nightmare. Our quotes are dependent on location, timings and line ups but as an idea the 8 piece band usually goes out at under the £2,000 mark unless your wedding is very far from London, and the 6 piece is of course more affordable again.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s hard to pick one as every time I see a wedding party with huge smiles on their faces rocking it on the dance floor it’s pretty special. Plus playing with Rob Brydon on vocals for an impromptu performance of Great Balls of Fire was good fun!
Blonde: So many! We are lucky enough to all be full time musicians so we all get involved with different projects outside the bbs as well which can be exciting. Although (as cheesy as it may sound) The bb Collective has become a family so nothing beats all of us playing together, wherever it may be. Looking back we have loved playing at venues like The Banqueting Hall, Kensington Palace, The Lansdowne Club, Old Billingsgate, all fabulous places with big crowds. Trips abroad are always fun too!
And if we wanted to come and hear you play, where can we come see you?!
We play regularly at Dover Street in Mayfair, a great live music venue which is a fab opportunity to see us in action. We generally play quite late there so it’s really only do-able if you live or work in London. We occasionally have other live gigs at venues such as Bush Hall and Madame Jojos (Kat: Again ladies I love you – I had my hen do here!) – keep checking on our website or twitter feed for upcoming London gigs. The other option is to come to our rehearsal studio or just check out our videos – the footage and sound on these is totally live (no pitch correction or air brushing thanks!) so it really is a good representation of the live show.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Bex & Bex! How can my readers get in touch with you?
We are big fans of Rock and Roll bride. Its brilliant to see someone doing something different. So we would love to offer readers something special – when enquiring if you quote “Rock n Roll Bride” we will make sure we sort you out with a discount!
You can contact us via the following methods: