We talk shop with the London duo throwing it back with their 80’s soft rock and retro synth soul reveree.
For two guys that met at a party and started busking on the London Underground (true veterans, right?), Ben Moorhouse & Leo Duncan have taken Ten Fé to real heights. We’re talking Springsteen up-tempo beats meets Verve strings meets Bono vocals. Think full, fluid harmonies and nostalgia-tinged, atmospheric synth and string melodies. Woah.
Their songs are a bit of an emotional journey, as there’s nothing like a synth to add something a little bittersweet to the mix. There’s a certain taste of nighttime, a wintery bareness to the sound, like a cover of cool darkness closing in. The tone is melancholic but the tracks are still punchy, with pulsing, strobe-like rhythms to get you swaying back and forth. All of their tracks have a distinctly well polished sound, made all the more impressive by the fact that they are yet to release their debut album Hit the Light (out Feb 3rd!) If their recently released single “Overflow” from the album is anything to go by, we’re in for something pretty special.
Your music is pretty eclectic. What do you think you each bring into the mix sound wise?
Leo: Ben is the best musician I’ve played with; he understands the music, the groove, the way it all fits together in a way I never will. I can totally trust him if he thinks something doesn’t sit right. Basically if Keith Richards died tomorrow, he’d chose Ben Moorhouse to live inside of from here on…
Ben: Leo understands more than anyone I know, that music is expression, it’s human, it’s art, and it’s all about that. Being in a band with him is a constant reminder to keep your mind open, keep fresh, eat music, eat life. To have it all.
When did you know that music was the path for you?
L: I was v ill when I was about 15, in bed for about a month and all I had to listen to was The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses whilst I was convalescing at me Nona’s house in Birmingham.
B: For me, it’s always been what I wanted to do since very early on.. Even before learning to play the guitar back in primary school, it was the thing I was most drawn to, wanted to be involved in.
Who are some artists you both grew up listening to? How have they influenced your sound?
L: It all begins, middles, and ends with the Beatles for me. I listen to them every day. They make me want to write my own songs. Other than them – everyone else – never anyone in particular…Nirvana, The Happy Mondays, Stevie Wonder, The Doors, Necro, U2, Smokey Robinson, Smokey Chapman, The Pogues, The Clash, Sinead O’Connor, James Brown, Oasis…
B: For me it starts with U2, then Jimi Hendrix, got some Miles Davis in the middle, and ends with Keith.
What’s the collaborative process like for you guys? Do you feel like you each play a specific role?
L: Not specific as such, I don’t think. Its not like Morissey/Marr where one does the lyrics and the other does the tunes. Its less tangible, but no less dependent. We trust each other’s intuition, and feel for the tunes we both compose respectively.
B: So we often write the majority of our tunes on our own, and then come to the other for affirmation. so for me if its thumbs up from Leo, I know it’s good.
“It all begins, middles, and ends with the Beatles for me. I listen to them every day. They make me want to write my own songs.”
You’ve got a debut album Hit The Light dropping in February. Pretty major. Can you tell us what we can expect from it?
L: You can expect to hear a couple of soulful fuckers singing their bollocks off. The rest is up to ye!
What was it like working with Ewan Pearson?
L: It was wicked. He’s very calm, and very democratic. No ego on him, gently arranges everything around you – musically and vibe-wise – so that there’s a balance to everything. Which is well important to us, obviously, cos we gave him a lot of different things stylistically to work with and he never leant too much in one direction more than an other. King ninja of Kidderminster, he is.
Do you think your music has particular messages that you’re trying to get across?
L: There’s a shared positivity about the songs on this album – about coming from the dark into the light, renewal. And in general; yes – Ten Fé means ‘have faith’, so not in an overly religious way – but simply to commit to one thing, and believe in it.
B: Its good to just be good at what you want to be, and not try to be good everything, or try and please everyone. Stick to yer guns, lad.