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We joined Harry, Simon, Matt and Dom from VICTORS on their tour bus before their headline set at ‘Pendle Live’ for a chat about Shura, writer’s block and more…
Since you’re from Leeds, has the city had an impact on the music you make?
Simon: I’d say so, because we had to start out there. We literally just hammered Leeds in terms of gigging and that’s where we got our main following. Compared to a lot of bands in Leeds, we’re very dissimilar. Leeds is well known for indie-rock and a lot of indie bands come out of the city, so we wanted to be more pop & electronic, with a bit of house as well.
Harry: Being from a big city does help, because there is more choice of venues than if you were from a small city. Therefore there’s a bigger audience for our music.
I can definitely hear the different genres in your music, which must also mean that you all had different musical influences as you were growing up, am I right?
Matt: Dom & I are from heavy metal backgrounds, but I’m also into hip hop, bassline, deep house, any electronic music really.
Simon: Harry & I are more into 80’s dance-pop, like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Phil Collins… we love all of them.
Dom: I’m quite into electronic music now, stuff to mellow out to. Then add a hip hop beat to it and that’s my music taste!
I can hear the mellow, electronic influences in the track ‘In Love’, whereas ‘Feel’ is probably one of the most ‘pop’ tracks you’ve released. How long did it take you to write ‘Feel’?
Simon: Harry & I came up with ‘Feel’ in my house in the space of about half an hour. Pretty much the whole song just came out of nowhere, it was weird. As soon as we had that rhythm and that chord progression, we just kept building on it.
Harry: Over the past couple of years that we’ve been writing, we’ve found that if we try and force ourselves to write a song, it never works.
Do you ever find yourselves in a situation of ‘Writer’s Block’ where you need a change of scenery?
Harry: We had our old practice room, in Leeds, and we hadn’t actually written a new song for ages because we’d been in there for so long. It was so dull, there was no ‘vibe’. Then when we moved to this new place, we created an atmosphere with lights and now we’ve written about 5 or 6 songs there.
Is there anyone you’ve seen perform live who’s really changed you personally or the direction of your music?
Harry: Definitely Shura, she played after us at Manchester Pride this summer and I remember seeing Dom whilst she was playing and he did not look away from the stage. From then on, he took the lead of our music going more ‘electronic’.
Simon: Her performance motivated us to step up our game. It wasn’t just a show, it was more of an experience, which is what we want to do with our shows.
Is your writing process collaborative?
Harry: It used to be mostly me and Simon, we had another drummer but he didn’t really contribute much. But since Matt joined the band, now all of us write. I do most of the lyrics, Simon writes a lot of the tunes but Matt & Dom jam stuff and that’s sets off the songwriting process. Usually Dom will come up with something on bass guitar and Matt will play a beat behind it and Simon & I will be sat in the other room and we’ll hear it, run in and start building on that. That’s how the last 3 songs came about, especially ‘Lost Again’.
Simon: We buzz off each other, we only say a song is ‘finished’ if we’re all happy with it.
Matt: It’s different every time. Say Harry is playing something on synth and I’ll come in and join in with it, it’ll be completely different to something that Dom would play on synth, because everyone has different styles.
Would you say your lyrics are autobiographical or do you like to write from the perspective of different characters?
Harry: Some songs are based on observations of a situation, like ‘Tonight’ which is about a break-up one of my best friends went through, so I’m singing from their point of view. But it’s nothing to do with me, I was just watching it unfold. ‘Feel’ is completely about what was going on in my life at the time when I wrote it. I don’t like to make stuff up, I think some of the pop songs in the Top 40 don’t feel ‘real’. I think you can tell when a band is writing about something that’s about their own life because there’s more to it. I like to paint a picture with my lyrics, I try to describe something so that you can picture it in your mind, that way it’s more relatable.
What have been some of your favourite records released this year?
Dom: I really like The Japanese House’s new stuff and a band called Fhin. If anyone likes deep electronic music, check out their song ‘But Now A Warm Feel Is Running’, because it’s the best song that’s come out this year.
Harry: I’ve recently discovered a band called LANY and they’re literally my favourite band now.
What can we expect from you next year?
Harry: We’re in talks to get on a tour as a support for a good band, as we’ve never been on a proper tour where you go away for 2 weeks or something.
Simon: We’re going to record some new tunes as well. Now that we know what kind of songs we want to write, we’re at the point where we’re updating our image and music. And all of our new songs in 2017 will reflect that.