Jane Bom-Bane is the Fringe personified – imaginative, quirky and more than a little bit endearing. As well as running the oddest café in town – the eponymous and quite brilliant Bom-Bane’s – she’s an Edinburgh veteran with madcap songs and hats to match. No, not caps, mechanical hats that come to life to illustrate her compositions. Yep, you read that right.
How did the quirky madness of Bom-Bane’s start?
Before I opened Bom-Bane’s I was playing a lot of music up and down the country, with my then partner Nick Pynn. We were running a monthly night at The Sanctuary and one month I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have your harmoniums and your hats in one place, and have a little venue down stairs, have a little café upstairs.’ I thought originally it’d just be me and the café, and play a few songs every now and then. It just evolved into what it is now, which is involving lots of other people playing, cinema clubs and all manner of stuff going on.
What started the Bom-Bane’s related musicals?
Bom-Bane’s mark two, in terms of the people who worked here, involved a lovely girl called Rosie and her friend Candy. I just thought they were perfect for the place, but both turned out to have amazing voices and were really great at harmonising. I thought ‘I’ve got to harness this!’ And so, that became Bom-Bane’s The Musical. I wrote all these songs about setting up Bom-Bane’s, and the food, and everybody got involved. I think that helped put us on the map.
Do you choose the people that work at Bom-Bane’s based on musical ability?
No, not at all. People just find me. It’s people that are just really nice and willing to work hard. I suppose it’s just like-minded people really. And often those people can sing, but sometimes they can’t and sometimes they won’t. But in the end they usually do.
What have you got going on at the Fringe this year?
We’ve got something different going on most nights of May – different comedy, music, art, dance and films, including Stewart Lee, George Edgo and Joanna Neary. And during the daytime we’ve got this crossword trail where 20 local artists will have painted the 20 doors in the property – upstairs, downstairs, outside, inside. On each of these doors are pockets of clues, the customers go round the house looking for the doors and finding the clues that go with their crossword.
What is it about the Fringe that you like?
I just think it’s really exciting. It used to be like this with me and the Edinburgh Fringe, I used to like to do a new thing each year for that. And now I try and do a new thing here every May. It’s exciting because you feel very much a part of Brighton. It brings together all the people you’ve met since you’ve been here. And also, I don’t have to go very far to be entertained. I just sit on my stairs.
Where did the idea of mechanical hats come from?
They just grew from going up to Edinburgh. The first year I went I took my really big harmonium, a middle-sized harmonium and a little tiny harmonium, with different sized hats to match. And then I just thought, ‘Well I can’t go to Edinburgh again doing the same thing,’ so the hats started to develop. They started to light up, and then they started to turn, and move in different ways. Then they started to illustrate the songs I was writing.
It must have been very sad when the bust outside the café got stolen.
Yes, it meant a lot to me, not least because of all of the people involved in making it, all the work they had put in. Free sausages for a year if any SOURCE reader finds it and lets me know where it is.
WHERE: Bom-Bane’s, George St, Kemptown
FRINGE LINE-UP: Lorraine Bowen, Eliza Skelton, Spacedog, Tricity Vogue, Colin Utley, The Close Shaves and many more