Ones To Watch: Pumarosa

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We chatted to Jamie Neville from Pumarosa, before their sold-out show at Soup Kitchen in Manchester, about their debut album ‘The Witch’, supporting Foals in Lyon and more…

You’re releasing your debut album ‘The Witch’ on 19th May, how does it feel to be finally releasing it?

J: Really good, because it’s taken a long time! Probably 2 years to iron out the creases with the writing and recording everything. I can’t wait to see what happens, I have no idea what’ll happen. We always knew we were going to make an album, years ago. It’s what we’ve always wanted to.

What can we expect from the album? Given that we haven’t heard studio versions of over half of the tracks on it.

J: I think the album is more expansive than we initially realised it was going to be, we kind of break into lots of different genres on the record. It feels that way for me, I don’t know whether others will see it in that way. But I feel that we do crossover into different genres at times. It’s quite varied, there are some very considered songs, very well-written, traditional songs. And others are a bit more experimental, in the way that they are more ‘jam’-orientated. And the production is amazing, because Dan Carey is a genius and has done a really good job. He’s been amazing to work with. It’s quite a long record as well, our songs tend to be quite long with these droning loop sections and other times it’s quite frenetic.

Speaking of Dan Carey, he’s worked with many incredible artists, such as Sia and Bat For Lashes – but what makes him so great to work with? I’ve heard only positive things from other artists.

J: He’s clearly a very passionate guy who works very closely with the music. He doesn’t work from a control room, he’s just in the room with us. We wrote, recorded and mixed everything in the same room. You can really trust him to understand, artistically, what you’re writing about and sonically, what you’re trying to reference and where you’re trying to get to with the music. He knows where you’re coming from and he’s very good at translating that into a recorded piece. He’s contemporary as well, he doesn’t try to make everything sound nostalgic or vintage, he’s tasteful when it comes to vintage sounds.

I’ve heard the story about how you recording in an Italian cinema, but I was wondering how did you end up meeting Giuseppe, the owner of the cinema?

J: He’s someone who’s been around on the Hackney scene for a while, I think. Isabel (lead singer) met him years ago because I believe he knows her sister, he wanted to start doing residencies with artists out at this abandoned cinema in Calabria. Someone had previously done one and Isabel had gone out there to do some other artistic projects and he let her return with the band. We drove all the way there and it took about 35 hours with no sleep, it was a hellish journey! You have to go out on a limb to do something like that, if you don’t risk it, you just end up staying London, doing nothing.

The track ‘Honey’ and its video seem to address the global issues of climate change and consumer culture – was that your intention with the song? What made you want to tackle such huge topics?

J: Everything you do is inherently political. Even if you abstain from politics, that is a political act, so you can’t avoid addressing like this in some way. ‘Honey’ was a really angry way of expressing our frustration with the situation at the moment.

You’ve got a few European dates lined up next week – where are you most excited to play?

J: I’m always excited to go to Berlin, because I haven’t spent much time there but a lot of people I know love it, there seems to be lots to do there. In general, I just find Europe to be a great place to tour, it’s really quite different to the UK. Each place you go to has such a distinctive character, you can have such a good time in Europe. I love Europe basically!

You’re on the bill for The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, which are two of the many new emerging urban music festivals? What do you think of this new type of festival?

J: I kind of prefer them, in a way, because there’s already a huge infrastructure in cities to deal with that sort of thing. With rural festivals, I do love them, but they have to have the right core about them, the right meaning. But a lot of them don’t and they’re just imitators of the big ones, like Glastonbury or Reading & Leeds. They can be a bit soulless sometimes, and a bit one-dimensional, whereas urban festivals open things up a bit.

You’ve got a pretty exciting gig lined up for the end of June – supporting Foals at Les Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon, France – how did that slot come about?

J: I don’t know how it came about to be honest, although I think they do have a certain say in who supports them. A friend of mine’s band is doing the same, he’s in the band ‘Little Cub’. I’m from Oxford and they are as well, so I’m looking forward to just chatting to them, because I’ve never really met them.

Is that how your tour supporting Glass Animals came about? Because they’re also from Oxford!

J: No, that was just coincidental! We were working with some of the same people who were also working with Dave from Glass Animals. He’d heard some of our music and just came and hung out with us, he’s such a cool guy.

Finally, you’re playing Reading & Leeds, Blissfields, Truck, Green Man and Secret Garden Party this summer – which ones are you most excited for?

J: Green Man! The lineup for that looks really good this year… And Reading & Leeds. They’ll all be really good fun, as long as there’s been some decent weather! It’s so nice playing in the summer, audiences seem to be more open-hearted, which is nice.


Pumarosa’s debut album ‘The Witch’ is out now on Fiction Records.

The band are also set to appear on Later with Jools Holland (BBC2) on Tuesday 23rd May at 10pm and Friday 26th May at 11pm.

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