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Band Bio: AKA The Syndicate

Origin: South-East England
Genres: Ska, Reggae, Rocksteady, Pop, Soul, 2 Tone


Years Active: 2019 - Present​​​​

Live Band Members:

  • Laura Betts - Lead Vocals

  • Simon Peet - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals

  • Jamie Franklin - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals

  • Bob Dear - Drums

  • Gary Knight – Keyboard

  • Sean Williams – Saxophone

  • Dave Steptoe – Trombone

Extended Band Members/Writers/Friends:

Clara Byrne, Aaron Two Tone Malone, Bobby Blencowe, Roddy Byers, Monty Neysmith, Reg Shaw, Connor Jackaman, Maxine, Paul Gray, Dave Devonald, Martin Parrott, Richard Coppen, Jim Paterson, Dan Seran, Adam Faulkner, Jamie Yates, Steve Yates, Keith & Tex, Sarah Smiley.



AKA The Syndicate, are 7-piece band hailing from the various home counties around the South-East England and have been captivating audiences with their unique blend of genres - primarily ska and reggae since their formation in 2019. The band’s sound is characterized by soaring melodies, a powerful brass section, and a rhythm section that pulses with relentless energy. Their music often gives social commentary on everyday issues experienced by people living in Britain in the 21st Century.

Early Years and Formation:

Gary Knight, a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, initiated the project in 2019, fuelled by a diagnosis of skin cancer. This unexpected twist gave him the push needed to finalize a collection of songs that had been brewing within him for years. Gary had already cultivated a network of friends and connections within the ska scene and so began building a ‘super-group’ of musicians to create new and original music that nods to bygone tears of ska, reggae of 2 tone but to give it a 21st century update. Musicians collaborated remotely using modern technology and some of the band members didn’t meet each other for a couple of years. The songs were recorded at Panther Studios in Reigate, a familiar creative haven owned by punk and psychobilly luminary, Richard Coppen ((Tenpole Tudor/King Kurt/The Weird Things).

Breakthrough and Rise:

AKA The Syndicate launched their debut LP, AKA The Syndicate, in 2021. The LP, showed versatility calling on a range of inspirations, plus included 2 tone royalty Roddy Radiation of The Specials guest on two tracks. With relatable social commentary, catchy hooks and versatility across genres, the LP received excellent feedback from fans and gained airplay on independent radio stations across the world. Fans were soon calling for AKA The Syndicate to play some live gigs. The first live gig happened in 2021 and since then the band have performed all over the UK plus a festival slot in Germany.

Discography Highlights:

  • AKA The Syndicate LP (2021): Debut full-length album, featuring the standout singles "Hands Up Who’s Coming With Me," “Two Sides of The City” and “Save It

  • It’s Our World LP (2023): Second full-length album, crowdfunded by fans - raising nearly £6,000. The album was voted the ‘best album of 2023’ by listeners of popular independent ska radio station Button Down Radio. The album includes a track written and performed by Monty Neysmith of Symarip.

Gig Highlights:

  • Skamouth (2022 & 2023 & 2025)

  • Concorde 2, Brighton (2022 & 2023 & 2024): Supporting Bad Manners

  • Freedom Sounds Festival, Cologne Germany (2023): Alongside The Slackers

  • Blam Blam Fever Festival (2023 & 2024)

  • Birmingham International Ska Festival (2024): Alongside Symarip, Rhoda Dakar, The Pioneers

  • Guilfest (2024): Alongside The Stranglers, Black Grape, The Skints, The Blockheads

  • The Dublin Castle (2023 & 2024)

  • The 5:15 Club, Birmingham (2024)

  • Tyber’s Reggae Bar (2023)

  • Venue 229 (2024): Supporting King Hammond

  • Newark National Scooter Rally (2024): Supporting Death of Guitar Pop

  • The Specialized Project Big One (2024): Alongside The Specials Family, Too Many Crooks, King Hammond


Drawing inspiration from a diverse range of artists, AKA The Syndicate cites bands like The Specials, Madness, The Selecter, The Beat, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Blondie as major influences. Their sound is a modern interpretation of the ska and 2 tone genres, with a female lead singer, which sets them apart from other current bands on the scene.


“They came onstage and launched straight into Two Sides of The City which set the stall out for the night ahead. Infectious and catchy soul grooves were on offer. There must be a big interest in the band as the hall was already three quarters full” - Brighton and Hove news (on AKA The Syndicate supporting Bad Manners at Concorde 2)

“A pop-tinged reggae album that brings to mind a wide variety of other bands, from Madness at their most successful to very early UB40, and maybe even a hint of No Doubt for good measure” – Scootering Magazine

“Just got a wee snippet of AKA The Syndicate. I know I shouldn’t swear but it’s f***ing good! The best British ska / soul / reggae band going” – Jim Paterson, Dexy’s Midnight Runners


Connect with AKA The Syndicate:

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