With their highly-anticipated sophomore album Click Click Domino out this summer, the duo talk their musical growth and what we can expect.
Having stunned us with their soul-stirring EP “Raining For You” last year, British duo Ida Mae return with news that their highly-anticipated sophomore album Click Click Domino is set to be released this summer. Giving us a teaser with their title track out today, the group intertwine dirty blues guitar riffs with striking harmonies to create a blistering title track that has us curious for the album. Inspired by online influences, the group dive into how people use false portrayals on social media and the lack of emotional connection that follows on the single.
Speaking on the comeback cut, the duo revealed, “We all know how easy it is to falsify an image, be it in fashion, politics or any aspect of your every day and in a lot of people’s lives it has become a necessity to play into it. I wanted to write the lyrics to ‘Click Click Domino’ almost as Twitter statements, counting characters, making a short sharp stream of consciousness commentary.”
Giving us a sneak peek of their upcoming album, the duo are set to feature the likes of Jake Kiszka and Marcus King on several tracks, having spent their quarantine last year crafting new music with the artists and honing in on their skills. With it being almost two years since their critically acclaimed debut album Chasing Lights, we caught up with the duo talking their musical growth over the years, what this album means to them and how they navigated producing music during a pandemic.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Ida Mae! How’s lockdown been? Have you guys picked up any unusual skills? What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourselves during this time?
It has taken some adapting! We spent the last three years travelling thousands of miles a year and although it’s been a dramatic shift for us, we’ve remained positive and pushed ourselves creatively to make the most out of being in one place for more than a few weeks for the first time since we were teenagers. We’ve learned a lot about record production, how to play the mandolin and have become highly adept at moving furniture! The monumental shift that the pandemic has imposed on all of us in our working lives has made us appreciate more than ever how much we love the process of creation, making something out of nothing. It is in these moments of vision and discovery that we’re our happiest.
You guys both met over a decade ago at uni, how do you think your sound has evolved over time?
It’s been a constant evolution. The first few years of us knowing each other were spent in a grunge “rock n’ roll” outfit. We cut our teeth playing in Camden and Shoreditch and the group gradually got heavier as we spent more time on the road and became frustrated with the complexities of the music industry and major labels, mixing business and creativity. We started Ida Mae as we wanted to get back to the songwriting side of things and to strip everything down to the bare bones again—just vocals, harmonies and simple “cowboy chords.” Our first record, Chasing Lights was shaped with the help of the widely acclaimed producer Ethan Johns, who had worked with so many of our musical heroes. Ethan really helped develop our sound in those early stages. He gave us a lot of confidence in the natural, raw, honest live performance aspect of what we do. Once the album was complete, we moved to Nashville and after three years touring our debut record across the States and Europe, we really understood what we could do to move people. We first played those songs in a tiny pub for free beer in Lowestoft (UK), to shop floors in Nashville playing for free jeans, to club /theatre shows opening for artists we loved, to huge stadium support slots across the entirety of the US. It’s been a privilege to have a window into so many people’s lives, travelling as we have on our own. There’s no doubt this sense of movement and longing has seeped into the new record—and we’ve gotten heavier again—self-producing our new record has meant we’ve sonically pushed ourselves to a new place.
You guys have just dropped your new single “Click Click Domino”, what was the creative process like?
It was pretty unusual for us this time around. We had big plans to fly our favourite musicians from the UK to Nashville and set up a location studio in an old empty mansion house but obviously, those plans went out the window as we entered the first lockdown! We were actually mid-tour in San Antonio, Texas when everything got cancelled so flew home that night and decided to start work on the next record straight away whilst our voices were strong and our pandemic anxiety levels not through the roof yet! We’d been collecting all sorts of strange pieces of analogue vintage recording equipment over the three years previous. Chris has been producing on the side for a little while now and always taking notes from all the fantastic producers we’ve had the privilege to work with over the years – Ethan Johns, T Bone Burnett, Mike Crossey and many more. So it was natural for him to step in to produce this record. Luckily, the bones of the new songs had been written on the road, in the back of vans and in a wild array of scribbled lyrics and voice note recordings so we had the bulk of the album planned out. “Click Click Domino” was always going to be a heavier cut on the record, and we had recorded the main live take at home. We sent it over to Ethan in Somerset to lay down the drums and then Nick Pini in Sussex at the time to add bass! It was the first we had ever worked remotely on anything but trusted Ethan and Nick explicitly to make it sound like we were all in the room together and follow our live performance. We were lucky to have our good friend Marcus King come over to the house, have a cocktail or two, and lay down some amazing guitar lines. One of the small positives of the pandemic was that all our creative friends that are usually on the road were finally home so there was a lot of collaboration going on in Nashville at the time. His presence on this track is just phenomenal.
What was the inspiration behind the song?
This was written kind of as a knee-jerk song. The unfiltered noise of social media, concerns surrounding social engineering, the lack of emotional connection and physical disconnection get to all of us. We all know how easy it is to falsify an image, be it in fashion, politics, or any aspect of your every day, and in a lot of people’s lives, it has become a necessity to play into it. Chris wanted to write the lyrics to “Click Click Domino” almost as Twitter statements, counting characters, making a short, sharp stream of consciousness commentary. The riff was originally inspired by the playing of one of our favourite guitar players, Pop Staples, and it slowly morphed into something that in my mind almost echoed moments of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. As the weeks and months rolled on after recording this track at the beginning of the pandemic in Nashville, we felt “Click Click Domino” should be the title of the album.
The song serves as a teaser from your upcoming album, what was the production process like during lockdown?
As the pandemic took hold, we decided to self-produce at home in the house we were renting in Nashville at the time. Just the two of us with arguably limitless time, we decided we still wanted to cut the bulk of the tracks live in few takes. Luckily, we have made enough records now to not overthink what we do. We allowed ourselves a little more time than we would usually for the overdubs but still tried to limit ourselves to only a few takes for each song. We wanted to capture the energy of the songs being performed and heard for the first time. There is a magical energy in untamed early takes that can be so easily lost with modern digital recording where you can edit and redo endlessly. It was also the first time we’ve not been in the room with the other musicians we’d recorded with. We sent the tracks off from our US lockdown location to Ethan for drums and Nick for bass and string arrangements from their lockdown locations in the UK. We are incredibly lucky that they are both such intuitive musicians that we didn’t have to worry about what would come back. I mean, we didn’t use click tracks and some of the tunes would ebb and flow in timing, but they played like we were all playing in the room.
How do you think this album differs from Chasing Lights?
There are so many factors that make this record different from Chasing lights. The writing process, recording process and even the energy surrounding us, emotionally, politically and so forth were so vastly different from when we were tracking Chasing Lights. We wanted the music to capture some of the adventures on the road and allow things we have seen and felt over those last few years to seep into each track. It is still recognisably us and there are always parallels to be drawn with each record, but our sound has definitely developed and evolved for this new record.
Who are your main inspirations?
We have so many between us and are finding inspirations all the time! As a teenager, Chris became obsessed with very early country blues and British rock n’ roll. Everyone from Reverend Gary Davis and Robert Johnson to Led Zeppelin and Fairport Convention. Although we didn’t know each other at the time I did the same with early soul/blues/jazz, like Mavis Staples, Mahalia Jackson and Billie Holiday and Etta James – to name a few! This got me learning the standards and starting to sing and play piano live. Now we listen to everything and anything, from Obscure Afrobeat to forgotten folk records to film scores to new, young British “rock n’ roll” bands! And that’s just musically—we never try to imitate anybody and most of what Chris writes is informed by our own experiences on the road and shaped by the books, poetry, photographers and the art world that we’re into. It’s a difficult question to answer as it’s endless and constant!
You’ve worked with Marcus King and Jake Kiszka for your upcoming album, who else would you guys love to work with?
We did! Both such great people and ridiculously talented musicians. There are many people we would love to work with and many we look up to that working with them would be terrifying. Another endless list. We’d love to work with a director on more film soundtracks.
Aside from the album, what else are you guys looking forward to in 2021?
We are really looking forward to a lot of simple things. Playing a live show again when it is safe to do so, seeing friends and extended family and eventually being able to travel and tour again. Even before the pandemic, working in most creative industries can be very unpredictable! We have learnt to take each week at a time and really appreciate things in the moment.