Electronic duo Solomon Grey are gearing up to release their sophomore album ‘Human Music’, out on 16 February via Mercury KX Records. The record was mixed by Dave Fridmann (MGMT, Flaming Lips, Tame Impala) and features a full orchestra recorded in Budapest.
We caught up with Tom and Joe…
1. Describe your sound in three words.
Emotive, cinematic, classic (we held to hold back from writing average or something similar).
2. Where did the name Solomon Grey come from?
There was a day of flinging names around, Tom said Solomon Grey (the inspiration for that is another story) and we thought it sounded right. At the time we wanted people to think it was one person. We always enjoyed reviews wrongly thinking Floyd or Gnarls Barkley were one artist.
3. Your music is hugely emotive, and your visuals and live shows, hugely atmospheric. Which comes first when creating music?
We normally talk about the visual aspect of a track once the first few ideas are down. It’s always present in the idea from an early point. Also, atmosphere is vital to how we work with a tune. Always trying to find where a track sits and how to achieve that. We are always discussing and sharing ideas, it’s part of the joys of working as a duo.
4. You toured with Above & Beyond in 2016. What was that like?
Amazing. Performing live on the tour ended up inspiring a lot of how we wrote this latest album. Those venues, the acoustics, the seated audiences. The whole Above and Beyond family were so great to us, we owe them everything. Still can’t quite believe that we played the Hollywood bowl. What a privilege.
5. Your upcoming sophomore album, ‘Human Music’, is out next month, and follows Joe’s extremely difficult journey with his mother. Was this album particularly hard to make?
Joe, “in places. This is hard to explain but it was a very lovely time spending that last summer with Sandy. We were together for the end and it was special. I think the whole point of the album is that from the offset I thought something like this would be as you described it ‘an extremely difficult journey’ but it turned out to be a beautiful celebration of our lives together and an honour and pleasure to be there at the end. There were difficult moments of course but mostly it was a time I will cherish. We were best friends and it was good being there together at the end”. Tom, “Making the album was challenging because of the amount of musical ideas Joe brought but we got through it.”
6. We love new music at Indietronica. What new music are you listening to?
Arctic Lake recorded all their latest tracks next door and we think they are amazing. Msafiri Zawose has an album out called Uhamiaji which we keep playing on the way into work. Also, @iamofficer is recording his second album next door at the moment and we keep humming the melodies on our way home. It sounds beautiful, but he is still working on it so keep a look out for its release.
Sounds like: Aquilo, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, Ásgeir, Chet Faker, James Vincent McMorrow, Hozier, Lane 8, The National, Son Lux, M83, James Blake, Bon Iver
Brisbane-based Emerson Leif shares the beautiful ‘Hesitate’, which was co-written with his good friend (and frequent collaborator) Golden Vessel.
Despite a satisfying life at the time of writing ‘Hesitate’, the notion of an elusive state of unhappiness continue to nag at Emerson,
“I found myself feeling very alone and without purpose. I could not accept that we just exist: eat, sleep, work, repeat. We are sold a kind of ‘happiness’ like it’s something we can work towards but what’s on offer is fleeting, if at all… had many questions about life but the greatest question was one of God. Or better yet, one for God. “Are you there?” Honestly, religion just felt so tired and insular. I wanted something tangible. I wanted to find truth. The idea of searching is perhaps most terrifying, because what if one finds nothing.”
This religious undertone can be found in the vocal and guitar loops that have been manipulated to sound like an organ.
Sounds like: Brolin, The National, Gang of Youths, Bon Iver, Alex Vargas, TENDER, Kanyon, REFS
Mysterious UK-based duo Weslee share their visuals for ‘Boy Like You’.
Another lip-smacking and dreamy song, the Alexandra Gavillet-directed video for ‘Boy Like You’ takes inspiration from Kanye West and centres on the infatuation of the lead male figure through a series of personal camcorder style shots filmed around a hazy American summer.
Sounds like: Ben Khan, Kacy Hill, Blood Orange, Wet, Off Bloom
Rising Swedish teenager Amanda Mair shares ‘Empty Blockings’.
In the video, Amanda broaches the highly important topic of anxiety and depression,
“I wanted to show the feeling of the continuously searchers desperation. The every day hope for running away from anxiety and sorrow but the faith is to weak and puts you in a circle of running and running until you don’t know what you’re running away from.”
Altamina was originally a side project from US-based, Francois Graham and French-Canadian, Marco Gervais of Montreal’s Surface of Atlantic, but it soon developed into a fully-fledged, international band, following the enlistment of Australian, Matt Davis on drums and French-Canadian, Roxanne Miller on bass in 2014.
Sincere lyrics touched with baritone vocals, steady drum beats, and ambient riffs make ‘Under The Black Sea’ a stand out track from an equally as impressive band.
Their album, ‘Tomorrow Morning Will Be Tonight’ is out now.
Sounds like: The National, War On Drugs, Nick Cave, Joy Division, Phoria
Sticking their middle fingers up to social media, rising four-piece October Drift are causing a stir amongst the gigging scene.
Kiran from October Drift has put together a really great playlist together for us.
Nick Drake – Hazy Jane II
Got this album (Bryter Layter) for a birthday sometime in my early teens. Took me a couple of years to really get into it, I don’t think it was instant enough for me to appreciate its subtleties at the time. Nick Drakes music gets better the more you hear it – which is the right way round, obviously.
The Velvet Underground & Nico – Sunday Morning
Easily one of the most important records of all time in my opinion. And this track is the go to for me. Not sure what it is about it but its so warm and dreamy. I’ve found myself the owner of one of the early editions of the vinyl where Andy Worhols banana peels. Apparently it could be worth some money, although I’ve accidentally ripped it a little trying to peel it!
Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
Bob Dylan’s songwriting constantly surprises and impresses me with every listen (not ALL of his stuff, I have to say). The intricacy to his story telling from song to song and the imagery and descriptions can blow my mind and make me smile.
Simon and Garfunkel – America
Simon and Garfunkel have such a clarity and innocence in their style and again are instantly recognisable. The imagery and story of this young couple hitchhiking their way across the states is full of hope and optimism and as the song progresses maybe a sense of disillusionment creeps in as they try to ‘Look for America’ – trying to chase a false American dream perhaps.
Neil Young – Down By the River
Neil Young – Also extremely nostalgic for me, Neil Young got played a lot in the house while I was growing up. His voice is thin and kind of winey but its really emotive, the same goes for his guitar playing – he’s not the best in the world but he’s got a really distinctive sound and style which is far more important than being technically good. That’s important. His songwriting and melodies seem really natural and not over thought if that makes sense.
David Bowie – Five Years
The opening track to one of my favourite albums by one of the most inspiring, iconic and important artists ever.
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Leonard Cohen’s baritone voice and sad songs have without question directly influenced us and many more of our biggest musical influences (NickCave, TheNational to name a few).
The Beach Boys – I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times
A look into the messed up genius head of Brian Wilson. It’s a really sad song, but its got The Beach Boys happy sheen on it. I think there’s something really interesting in that – the juxtaposition of the care free surfer kid image and the troubled reality. I read his autobiography a few years ago, it’s really sad.
Steve Harley – That’s My Life In Your Hands
I heard this song for the first time in years and years not too long ago and it really took me back to my childhood, my dad used to play this album and this song I particularly liked. Really great melodies and an emotive chorus.
Sammy Davis, Jr. – Mr. Bojangles
I really like the story telling of this song. I don’t think it is originally Sammy Davis Jr’s but it fits perfectly with his character. It’s a sad story really of an old alcoholic dancer or entertainer Mr. Bojangles who from within a prison cell tells the story of his life and does a dance. I guess it could be a worry of most performers, be it bands, musicians or whatever that they’ll end up washed up, telling story’s of what they used to be.
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line
The man in blacks influence on modern rock and pop music is un-chartable. There’s something so sincere and confident about this particular song. His work with Rick Ruben too at the last part of his life is so powerful and cemented that he will never be forgotten.
Syd Barrett – Baby Lemonade
I loved Pink Floyd growing up and they certainly have an influence on what we do, although it may not be as direct as other artists. They can be at times a bit too cliche druggie stadium-y but that came much later than Syd. This song is from after he left the band and put out some solo records. His story is very sad, yet has this (false) romantic side – the tortured artist kind of thing. He was very out there and original for the time and at the forefront of psychedelia.
JULY 2016 9th / LIVERPOOL CALLING FESTIVAL, LIVERPOOL
15th / HUDDERSFIELD, THE PARISH
16th / HARWORTH, THE BLACKSMITHS
17th / BLACKPOOL, BOOTLEG SOCIAL
18th / EDINBURGH, THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS
19th / HULL, THE ADELPHI
21st / DERBY, THE VENUE (Radar Love Club Night)
22nd / NOZSTOCK FESTIVAL, THE HIDDEN VALLEY
23rd / TRAMLINES FESTIVAL, SHEFFIELD (Crystal Stage)
24th / THE SUMMER WESTIVAL, ALDERSHOT
25th / TUNBRIDGE WELLS, THE FORUM
26th / LONDON, THE LEXINGTON
28th / ST ALBANS, THE HORN
29th / PLYMOUTH, UNDERGROUND
30th / READING, OAKFORD SOCIAL
AUGUST 2016 6th / KAYA FESTIVAL, PORT TALBOT
Sounds like: Interpol, The National, Editors, White Lies, Future Islands, Spector