Tuesday, 26 August 2014
We're Only Here For The Banter - Skinny Dipper
The latest signing to Olive Grove Records are almost a girl band! Consisting of nine members, drawn from others bands including Randolph's Leap, Quickbeam and Trapped In Kansas, Skinny Dipper are a fresh new entity on the verge of releasing their debut EP Masks. I caught up with the band to find out more.
Note - Googling for pictures of Skinny Dipper doesn't return pictures of the band!
Hello! How the devil are you?
Very well thanks!
How did Skinny Dipper come together?
Alex and I met about 4 years ago through our mutual friend Halina, who co-runs Olive Grove Records with Lloyd. At the time we were both really into Azure Ray and Feist and the whole Saddle Creek / Arts & Crafts thing so we decided to start demoing some songs in my old flat, where we had this giant cupboard filled with lamps and mattresses and blankets (and also red wine). It was a really fun time when we were both unemployed / studying, and we just kind of continued playing open mics from there.
Over the next few years through playing in Randolph’s Leap and Blochestra we met our fair share of really cool and talented people and have gotten really lucky with the musicians who have ended up in the band, including members of Trapped In Kansas, Aerials Up and Quickbeam. After finally completing our line up and being lucky enough to play some amazing gigs, including Stag & Dagger with Lanterns on the Lake and Johnny Flynn, we finally got ourselves into gear to record our first EP.
It's the question everyone hates, but could illuminate our readers with a little bit about your music and your influences?
We always find it kind of hard to describe our sound, but for me as a songwriter lyrics are the most important thing. I love putting together words that can be interpreted loosely and hint at themes instead of hitting the listener over the head with certain emotions. Some influences include: Feist, Adem, Azure Ray, Stars, Haim, Frightened Rabbit, School of Seven Bells, Idlewild, Lau, Joanna Newsom and Bright Eyes.
What's your song-writing / creative process like?
I’ll usually start off writing a chord progression, melody and lyrics on my own on guitar or piano and then bring it into rehearsal after some practice with Gill and Alex on vocals and harmonies. From there we tend to arrange the songs entirely as a band and I’m always excited to hear how a line or a riff goes from being inside my head to being an interpretation of eight other peoples’ ideas. We have a song called What Other People Notice that we wrote during and after the EP, which Gill arranged a piano part and some melody changes for. Having originally written it on guitar I was bowled over when I heard the delicacy in her version of it. It’s definitely the thing I’m most proud we’ve all created together so far.
Tell us about your debut EP Masks.
We began recording Masks with Stuart MacLeod at the tail end of last year. All in all it took us about 18 months to get most of the songs to where we wanted them (we work slow) and another 4-5 months to record and mix them. We would go down on evenings and weekends and hang out at the studio drinking copious amounts of tea. It was a really nice process in that Stuart never rushed us and let us get into the groove during our performances. He would also always practicing speaking Japanese to us 'cause he was learning it at the time. He put Alex in the dark when she recorded all her vocals which seems to put her at ease, but Gill was too scared. Also, if you listen in the background at the end of Landing that’s me, Alex and Gill smacking our own asses in unison (with some fervour).
On a more serious note, lyrically Masks is focused around the relationship between place and persona as well as themes such as identity, family and ruminations on the past. Landing was inspired by my experiences of music cliques, whilst Hospital Bed, by far the most personal song on the EP, was written during the illness and subsequent death of my grandfather. Our closer Son of a Mitch was written on Christmas Eve at my parents’ house in Aberdeen about 3 or 4 years ago, and is mainly about coming home to a place and realising you’re not who you were in high school anymore.
What could we expect to see from a live show?
I think we are definitely still finding our groove. I’d like to think a lot of the songs are quite varied and you’ll get some really fucking loud guitar right after another song that’s on really gentle, melancholic piano. I would expect you to see us and think, “they are getting better each time”, haha. We need to work on the banter and the guitar tuning though.
What else have you got planned for the rest of 2014?
There’s our EP launch with Call To Mind and Chrissy Barnacle on 12th September in Stereo. We are also playing the Olive Grove showcase at the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh with Woodenbox, Call to Mind and The Moth & The Mirror on 11th October. Thereafter we have another few shows coming up and will be continuing to write songs.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m obsessed with this song called Carissa off the latest Sun Kil Moon album, it’s just stunning. The way that guy tells stories through songs is heart wrenching. Also really loving the new FKA Twigs record and Dissed and Dismissed by Tony Molina. Oh, and PAWS! And Julianna Barwick!
Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?
Check out more from Skinny Dipper
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