Fresh from a rapturously-received performance at Reading festival and looking ahead to a sold-out headline show at London’s KOKO, Bastille’s Dan Smith takes time out of his busy schedule to chat with Wonderland about his love of David Lynch films, Regina Spektor idolatry, and getting over stage fright.
How did Bastille come about?
I’d been producing and writing some songs in my room for a couple of years, some that I wanted to put out. But I didn’t want it to be as ‘me’. So I came up with the name Bastille, and was taking the songs to my friend and working them out to play live. In January of last year I made a video from clips that I cut together from a film by Terence Malick called Badlands, for a song of ours called Flaws. Then in April, we started gigging, released Flaws as a single on an indie label. It’s just been kind of… going from there, really.
You’ve previously spoken of being somewhat of a ‘reluctant musician’ – is this still the case?
The side of music that I really enjoy is writing. It’s where Bastille started. It’s definitely where I feel most comfortable. Before Bastille’s first gig – when I’d been playing by myself – I’d been sitting behind a piano, using a loop pedal. For me personally, it was quite a big deal, standing at the front of a stage and not being behind an instrument. But I guess we’ve been really lucky – since we started out, our audience has grown and grown, so we’ve always been fortunate enough to have at least some sort of a crowd who knew our songs – which has baffled me – but it’s been amazing. It’s got to the point now where, I really enjoy playing live and I never thought I would.
If you could form a musical supergroup, who would it include?
I would have SBTRKT doing the production. I would have Laura Marling on backing vocals. I would have Kanye do a guest verse… Jay-Z, the Watch the Throne guys together. God, I’ve got no idea… I would have a choir of all the singers I love!
Can you tell us about your current single, ‘Bad Blood’?
The song is about that idea of people you’re friends with when you’re growing up… those relationships where you see someone all the time. Everything when you’re younger seems a lot more intense. And then you grow apart – it’s about how weird that is, but also really normal.
And the accompanying video?
A lot of the songs that I’m into aren’t narratively obvious, like a lot of Lynch’s films – they provoke thought. I remember watching Mulholland Drive for the first time and being perplexed, reaching out to mates to find out what the hell it was about! That was one of the most fun things for me, trying to engage other people.
Have you had any crazy fan experiences?
We have had a couple of people cry at us. I just felt really bad. This one girl – I went to hug her to make her feel better; she just started crying more! But I remember when I was at uni; I interviewed Regina Spektor for my student radio show. It was possibly the worst interview in history. I was so overwhelmed by talking to her that I didn’t know what to say. It was awful.
Can you tell us a little about the video for the forthcoming rerelease of Flaws, having just finished shooting in New York?
I’m quite nervous about it, as I’ve never really been in a video before, and never really intended to be in them either. I’ve got a massive issue in my head with being in a music video – so being in it feels a bit weird for me, but hopefully it’ll come out alright! I just have to get over my self-loathing.
Bastille play London’s KOKO on October 19th. Flaws is released on October 22nd. http://bastille-music.com/
Words: Tara McEvoy