If, ten years ago or so, you had anything like our level of interest in the finest British indie, you’ll almost certainly recall Slow Club. In their addictive debut, 2009’s Yeah So, Sheffield born duo Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson walked that fine line between lyrical romanticism and saccharine cuteness with aplomb: always staying on just the ride side of that tricky divide with their folk-inflected, good-natured music. Things took an eccentric, wonky turn with their next long play Paradise. Propelling them away from the Belle & Sebastian twee of their debut, the record showed the band had versatility and – because of that – a longevity all too often lacking from well-intentioned, talented, but sometimes artistically intert groups.
It’s a musically evolutionary path they continued to tread with 2014’s Complete Surrender, which added to their sophisticated palate of vocal and poetic harmony a triumphant daub of Northern Soul. Where to from there? That’s the question the duo have been considering for the past two years, and the result is their upcoming release One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore. To compound the difficulties present in making a fourth album, the personal lives of Taylor and Watson have diverged somewhat, with Watson living in London, writing short fiction, and Taylor part of Margate’s artistic community.
That’s not to say there’s any animosity or cooling between the two, simply that some artistic unifier was needed in the form of producer Matthew E. White. Bringing his considerable experience and the Southern-Gothic aesthetic of his label Spacebomb to bear on Slow Club’s distinctive sound, White introduced the duo to Sapcebomb’s in-house session band, allowing Taylor and Watson to focus on new areas of their music. It represented quite a departure for the duo, who usually play their own instruments, but it was one that’s yielded impressive results.
Managing to encompass both melodiously joyful pop and the kind of introspective, emotive music Slow Club have always been known for, ODAOTWMA (quite an acronym) is set to be another strong addition to the band’s standout discography. If you havent’s seen it already, check out the newly released video – with its seductively oddbal, vintage vibes – for the album’s first single, “Ancinet Rolling Sea”. With memories of our youth crush on the duo at the forefront of our minds, we at down with Taylor and Watson to talk progression, artistic differences, and why the world doesn’t need more earnest music vids.
What was your starting point for writing your fourth album “One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore”?
Charles: We wanted to make this album sleepy and simple. We’ve always wanted to make a record that people put on as they’re going to bed.
Rebecca: I think this album came at two very different points for us. Charles had quite a lot of stuff he was keen to get going and I didn’t feel quite ready but I think that makes for a less edited album and a more raw output, which I like. Charles described this album as ’10 songs, two years later’ and that’s exactly it – another little document of where we are musically and personally.
Where did the album name come from?
Charles: The title is taken from the secret track at the end of the record and is also a piece of art that Rebecca made.
Rebecca: I had an exhibition of some of my art and one of the pieces was this title on one of my iPhone notes. Charles liked it and it linked the whole vibe of the album well so we went for it. Naming an album when two people are equally in charge is hell fyi – so this was pretty nice to have something we both liked come together when we needed it to.
Your sound has progressed over time – is this something you actively try to change with each album or is it a natural progression?
Rebecca: It is always natural – the records become a product of many things – time of life, references gathered, feelings about how we want to play live, nostalgia for the past of our band, a desire to emulate something we have always wanted… it goes on and on which I guess is why we are still making records together – there’s still a desire to create more.
Charles: I think if we just played the songs on a guitar or piano they would feel pretty similar. Listening to different kinds of music it’s more fun to play around with the production and so I guess that’s more where the progression stems from.
You’re released your record with Moshi Moshi – how did you come to work with them?
Rebecca: We have been working with them since we were 18! Those poor guys have put up with us from the off! It is wonderful to be with them for the record again- I am a badge carrying Moshi cheerleader.
Charles: Paul Rafferty from Hot Club De Paris is almost solely responsible for us being signed to Moshi. We played a show with him years ago and he hassled the label until they gave in. It’s a label that has such a strong identity and we’ve loved working with them.
How is this album different to your previous records – lyrically and sonically?
Rebecca: For me the album is different lyrically because I have pieced together to lyrics form various thoughts, feelings and experiences – in the past I have staunchly told particular tales but a combination of time and artistic experimentation lead me to let things go a little more on this album. Sonically, working with Matthew E White and the guys at Spacebomb helped us to strip down the components of the songs to the minimum (something we have always been scared to do) and that was so liberating and exciting. It is warm and varied without putting loads and loads of ‘stuff’ on it. It feels like records used to be made. There is hardly any tricks – it feels very ‘proper’ and real.
Charles: Sonically it’s not a huge departure from our last record. There’s less emphasis on elements like string and brass and it’s more about the core band. It’s a bit meatier. In terms of lyrics I feel my side of its different to anything I’ve done on previous records. I enrolled on a writing course before making Complete Surrender but this record’s lyrics are all from the prose side of my writing. This approach made it much easier for me to say things I felt unable to say just simply using a traditional song narrative.
You live in two different areas, London and Margate – how do you work together?
Rebecca: We haven’t lived near each other for a long while now – we have never worked in each other’s pockets much even when we did. I am particularly impatient and I like to quickly shape songs and get them nailed rather than jamming etc. We both spent this album writing quite privately but then bringing songs to each other to support.
Charles: Over the years we’ve become more separate writers and so in a way it’s not changed our working relationship too much. We get together and go through arrangements and see what’s working but generally most of the work is done while we’re are at home. I think it makes for a clearer song when one of us is writing and the other is helping
Why did you decide to use an in-house band at Richmond Spacebomb Studios instead of recording instruments yourself, like you have on previous records? Who was the band made up of?
Charles: I guess it just felt like an interesting thing to do. We’ve made three records in more or less the same fashion and the thought of getting a group of players to come in might take the record to a different place. The Spacebomb band was Pinson Chanselle on drums, Cameron Ralston on bass, Alan Parker on guitar and Daniel Clarke on key – all incredible musicians. We learnt a lot that week.
You worked with producer Matthew E. White, who has a background in southern-gothic folk. Why did you choose him to produce “One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore”?
Charles: We were looking for someone to work with and he was suggested to us by three friends all in the same week and so it just seemed like a good idea and so we gave him a shout. I loved the way the way he runs that whole studio. Feels old school in the best possible way.
Charles, you write oblique lyrics using short stories and found narratives, whilst Rebecca you write very personal and stark lyrics – how do you meld these two styles together?
Rebecca: I think one provides relief from the other. I wish I could write like Charles and have tried a little on this record to let the stories merge in places. But currently I can only write about being depressed and the internet so that had to meld with what Charles was doing or there would be no album! No meld no lighty.
Charles: There isn’t really a method as such. It’s just seems to work when both use our own way of getting there. It’s something that has changed a lot over the years and continues to change..
Who were you listening to when you were writing the album, and who were the musical influences you had in mind?
Rebecca: I pretty much only listen to the same 25 Rihanna songs so I always hate this question.
Charles: Emerson Brothers, Jonathan Wilson, Joni Mitchell, My Morning Jacket, Avi Buffalo, Serge Gainsburg.
Outside of music, what do you look to for inspiration?
Charles: Books. Mates. Big paintings. A good dinner. Car journeys on your own. Cats.
Rebecca: I’m only really happy then I’m creating- whether it music or film or stupid Instagram videos or talking to other about their projects. For years I worried I wasn’t normal for wanting to everything and nothing all at once but as I get old I have found a way to be more comfortable not having a title or one solid end goal. So I always use Miranda July as an example of what is maybe possible- to create and create in different formats. I also chant ‘I am Serena Williams’ if I am ever anxious about a situation.
You’ve worked together for so long – do you ever disagree about elements of tracks/records?
Rebecca: Often yeah! But it is a learning process for us both still. We are both proved right and wrong in different ways and that keeps the fight string and the effort there. As detrimental as it is to be old hat at working together it also brings immense pros in terms of a shorthand in the way we communicate musical ideas and a good standard knowledge of what we each hate and therefore what isn’t worth trying!
Charles: I think we have fundamentally different outlooks on music and so our tastes differ on a lot of things but that’s how our band has always worked. It’s the space where we meet in the middle, that’s where we seem to operate.
You shot your video for “Ancient Rolling Sea” with long-time collaborator Piers Dennis – why do you like working with him and what was the idea behind the video?
Charles: Piers is the man! We like to chat about the concept over several drinking sessions and then scrap it and the come back to it. The idea behind this video is almost an anti video. We wanted to reference a time when the music video was something completely innocent (See Rhinestone Cowboy) and not take it too seriously. The world does not need anymore serious music videos.
You’re going on tour this Autumn! When and where?
Both: UK and maybe US in November. Still figuring it out. See you there?
One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore is released 19th August via Moshi Moshi