Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I’ve been obsessed by music for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are listening to my older sister’s records in her bedroom, flicking the rocker switches on my Grandad’s Farfisa organ and wanting to be Mike Love from the Beach Boys (obviously I didn’t know he was a bit of a tool then). When I was a little older I got a pretty decent keyboard for my birthday, which unusually had the ability to multitrack record, albeit only using one sound. That got me really interested in layering up melodies and rhythms and making music that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
I’m based up in the High Peak and I’ve been in a multitude of bands and musical projects over the past 25 years, including My Side of the Mountain, Coves & Caves, and Alpine Low. These endeavours have led to a slot at Glastonbury, a savage review by the NME, and an interview for the BBC Politics show.
I started Debris Discs around three years ago, as my first solo project. I’ve recently signed to the amazing Analogue Trash label and will be releasing my debut album later this year.
Name me your 3 favorite Albums.
The Delgados – The Great Eastern
Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Granddaddy – The Sophtware Slump
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
I think the first song that made us want to make music was probably ‘I Get Around’ by The Beach Boys. I was obsessed with it (and basically any track on side 1 of the Beach Boy’s Greatest Hits cassette that my parents played in the car). I used to try (and fail) to sing along to all the harmonies simultaneously.
The first record I owned was ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe. I can’t say it compelled me to want to make bombastic hair metal, but it’s probably where my love of catchy synth melodies originated.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
Well, it’s taken me 25 years to get signed, but it all depends on what your measure of success is. When I first started, the plan was to make a living out of music. That didn’t work out, even on the days when you could potentially earn some money from it. Now it’s a purely creative pursuit for me, all about trying new things, developing my craft, and connecting with people. As long as I keep getting better in some way, whether that’s writing, producing, or performing then I’ll feel I’m doing ok.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
I think more bands calling out bad behaviour at gigs and letting their fans know that it won’t be tolerated is a really positive step. Artists and venues need to work together with organisations like Get In Her Ears and Girls Against to really understand the problem better.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
My approach has always been to be as enthusiastic about other people’s music as I am about my own. I’m a huge fan of music at the end of the day, so if I like something I make sure I shout about it and share it through my socials. This has helped me build connections with some brilliant independent artists and labels. In turn, they’re probably more inclined to give my tunes a listen.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
I have never broken a bone in my body
I used to be a champion gymnast
I can’t pronounce the word ‘thatch’.
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
I think it’s very sad. Not only because artists’ interests and earning potential are side-lined in favor of major label profit-making deals, but also because it’s having a detrimental effect on the quality of music. There’s a real danger of a lot of pop music in particular literally sounding the same, as it’s all designed to game the Spotify algorithm.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
Not since The X Files finished – although my impressionable teenage self was probably quite taken in by Fox Mulder’s theories at the time.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Well, I didn’t technically ‘need’ any new synths or drum machines, but I’m certainly glad I bought them!
What was the worst experience on stage?
No standout moment but I’ve played more than my fair share of gigs where the band members outnumbered the audience.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I’m a school governor.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I think I have quite a unique sound, mainly due to my self-producing/mixing and not really knowing what I’m doing. Somehow it seems to work out ok.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
My new single ‘The Worst Sight That I’ve Seen So Far’ is based on a letter my Grandpa wrote to his brother during WW2. At the time of writing, he was recovering from a bout of dysentery, but despite being laid up in a hospital bed his prose is extraordinary. There’s a juxtaposition of horror and beauty, overlaid with matter-of-fact humility and deadpan humour that really struck me. The flow and cadence of his words had a lyrical quality that seemed to fit perfectly with the melody I’d written.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
My Grandpa’s letters have inspired the whole concept behind my debut album ‘Post War Plans’. I decided to write as my Grandpa as a young man in the war, using some of his own words from the letters and then counterbalancing them with my own reflections on him, and my other grandparents in their later life. Musically I was really interested in the idea of creating big, layered, almost cinematic compositions, but tempered with an understated, lo-fi production approach.
What was the recording process like?
The new single took a while to come together. It started life quite guitar-driven and downbeat, but it never really worked. So, I decided to swap most of the guitars out for some old-school synth sounds and get more creative with my drum machine. That’s when it all clicked together.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
That make life difficult for myself. I pretty much only use real instruments rather than software. So, if I decide I don’t like something I’ve recorded, changing it can be a bit of an ordeal. Particularly drum machines when the midi sync never quite lines up, or synths that don’t have a memory function. I could probably shave months off the recording process if I took more time to set things up properly. Shame that’s the boring part.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Loads of things that probably only I’ll ever notice, but otherwise I think it’s turned out pretty good.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I’ll be making my live debut as Debris Discs soon, probably as some kind of one-man band extravaganza – but without the knee cymbals.