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Interview: Glass Animals

After releasing their debut album Zaba in June through heavyweight producer Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone record label, Oxford’s Glass Animals are currently in the midst of an endless touring schedule that will see them through to 2015. Their engaging blend of R&B influenced junglepop has blown up worldwide, and with future collaborations in the pipeline, we decided it was the perfect time to check in with the lead singer of the four piece Davey Bayley.

Interview: Patrick Mills

How’s your summer been since releasing your debut in June?

It’s been great, we went to the states not knowing what to expect and weirdly all the shows sold out in the end, which was good. Having fans sing words back to you in such a distant land is pretty wild, too.

Then it’s been a constant stream of festivals, how have they been going?

Also really good, we haven’t had a bad one yet I don’t think; we’ve had a couple of problems where the temperature has fried our synths. We had one festival in France when the temperature outside combined with the sun beating down and it melted our synth. It was a bit of a nightmare as a lot of our set is kind of hinged on the synth, but aside from that it’s all been really, really good. I can’t pick a best one so far as they have all been really good, with really killer dancing.

You’ve just got back from Dimensions in Croatia, which mainly plays host to more dance acts, how was that?

Yeah really cool, we didn’t really know what to expect from Croatia or from Dimensions, but Croatia is just totally beautiful. We went on this amazing swim and cliff dive right before we went on and I managed to get my ear clogged full of water so I couldn’t hear anything during the show. But it still went really well. There was a great crowd, lots of dancing and I’m pretty sure everyone there was on lots of drugs, which was not a bad thing. It meant that there was lots of amazingly weird dancing and rolling on the floor.

Is it a different vibe to what you normally do?

Yeah, well I guess we have a malleable set because we don’t use backing tracks or anything like that. It’s all completely done on stage every time so we can mix the tempo up, and bring up the bass and the low ends and the kick drums if we want, and we can change the beat up, so it’s a bit more housey and techno. We did that to a certain extent and we made everything a bit more pumping. But that’s the good thing about having a changeable set. Were also playing at Electric Picnic and one of the shows is at 4 in the afternoon and then the other is at midnight. So with the afternoon one we’ll be able to chill things out and make it really summery and mellow and the later one we can go a bit crazy again.

As well as that you managed to slot in a gig in a graveyard, for the launch of Converse’s SNEAKERSWOULD campaign. That must have been pretty weird?

Yeah that was pretty surreal. Everyone was in animal masks so it was strange not to see faces! Weirdly though we’ve played in a graveyard a couple of times before. I don’t know why we keep being booked to play graveyards though, we’re not really a doom and gloom gothic band, but it keeps bloody happening, so we’re getting used to it. Both of our LA shows have been in cemeteries, but LA cemeteries are very different. They’re full of palm trees rather than tangles of bramble.

It seems like you’ve been hitting it hard this summer, but then I looked at your plans for the winter and it’s completely non-stop. Do you not need a rest?

Yeah we don’t really stop! I don’t mind though as its quite fun for us, well for me at least. I feel like I really want to start making more music again. So I’m going to start doing that on the road. I’ve been doing a couple of remixes on the road but haven’t’ really been recording guitars and stuff so I’m going to see how that goes. The thing is production is easy to do on the road but recording isn’t, so we’ll see. Our touring is kind of relentless till end of March next year!

How did you find the vibe out there when you compare it to touring in the UK and Europe?

I definitely wouldn’t say it’s better or worse, I’d say it’s a bit different. But again America is so big, so city to city is very different. There are places that are very European in the way that the crowds react and then there are places like  Kansas City for instance. I don’t know why but we played 3 shows in Kansas City and every single show we played was nuts, I’ve never seen people dance like that. Then when we play New York it’s a bit classier, but equally just as fun to play on stage.

Rome Fortune is also supporting you on your upcoming US tour. Are you a big fan of his?

Yeah I’m a pretty big fan of his, he did two really cool tracks with Four Tet and we just got in touch with him. We like working with people who can do stuff that we can’t. We’re just 4 dudes from oxford and I can’t really rap, yet. I’d like to start working on it but yeah. I like throwing something else into the mix. So we’re actually working with Rome on some music, and while we’re in the states on tour we thought we’d invite him along, so we’re really looking forward to it.

You said you personally have done productions on the road, is that for new Glass Animals material or something else?

It’s for anything really. Sometimes it goes off to other people to work with it and sometimes it sits in a pile of ideas I have stored in hardrives that can be tapped into whenever. I can never stop the ideas happening so it’s just kind of anything, maybe a Glass Animals track, maybe collaboration.

Have you booked any studio time for when you’re on tour?

No, not really. We just have like 2 days to do a B-side, like 2 days but that’s it. We’ll try and squeeze it in when we can as it’s always nice to get into the studio, especially when we’re touring America or if there’s an artist that we really like. It’s nice to just get in the studio to chat, listen to some music on good speakers and chuck a few ideas around. But yeah, we haven’t had any serious studio time in a while and it’s looking like we won’t be able to.

When you sit down in the studio what happens?

I’ll bring a skeleton to the table. It’s normally like 7 minutes long, with piles of ideas. It will have about four different bass lines, four different guitar lines, and a couple of different synth lines. Then I’ll sit down and listen to it with the guys, and they’ll play through the parts and chuck some ideas in. Then Joe will play through the drumbeat that I’ve sketched out and add in what he thinks. So it’s basically a process of us working on the skeleton and developing it.

Is it hard to collate all your influences together when it’s all four of you in the studio together, as you’ve mentioned before that you’ve all got really varied music tastes?

It can be quite hard. I guess that’s my job as producer. I just have to spend a lot of time making all the sounds fit together well. So yeah, it’s getting it to sound well and making sure it’s cohesive sonically. Then I think once you’ve done that you you can do anything. You could get some funky trumpets in there, with some big bass and as long as you’ve got the sounds of each one right and they fit together it can work.

You mentioned working with Rome Fortune, have you done any other stuff with anyone else?

All sorts of people. As I mentioned we’ve done some stuff with Rome, I don’t know if it will come to anything but we’re always throwing ideas around. Then there are other rappers, there’s a guy called Chester Watson who is great, we did a track with him and maybe some more at some point. I can’t put too many names to it in case I give away a secret I’m not meant to, but there are few definitely in the pipeline!

What are you currently listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff, quite a lot of Sly Stone, and funky stuff, a bit of James Brown and I’ve been listening to D’Angelo’s Voodoo quite a lot, which I think is one of the best albums ever made.

Obviously it must be a huge help to work with someone like Paul Epworth, do you think you’ll still release off his label?

Yeah, I hope so, he’s so good to work with and he’s helped us quite a lot. He’s got a lot of experience in making great records. I really have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to making music and producing stuff, so I just kind of twist knobs until something sounds nice to me. He’s always there as a mentor if I can’t make a song work structurally, so I can send it over to him and ask him if he has any tips.

When do you think we could hear some new stuff as Glass Animals?

I’m not totally sure. I think there are a couple of things floating around that we might put out, but nothing towards an album yet. There are a couple of remixes that I’ve been doing and a couple that are of glass animals tracks, from some DJs and producers that we really like, and then maybe a couple of collaborations. There shouldn’t be too long a wait. This year, definitely.

Would you ever get any DJ/producers involved in collaboration?

Yeah, I’d like to. I’ve been thinking about it actually. I’d like to get some hip-hop producers in that I like. There’s a guy called Dj Dahi, and I’ve done work with him, he did Money Trees, the Kendrick track! I’d love to work with him again. Then there’s a guy called Psymun, he’s doing a lot of cool stuff and he’s going to be huge.

If one thing could happen to your band over the next 6 months what would it be?

Well, if we got a double collaboration track with Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, with a Dr Dre feature too. But in all seriousness if we can just keeping having a really great time on tour, and if we can keep building the venue size, and then we can start doing some cool set design that we we’ve always wanted to tailored for bigger venues.

Glass Animals played a secret gig for the Converse #SNEAKERSWOULD campaign. For the chance to get tickets to “now-or-never” music experiences throughout September, download online platform The Ticket via converse.co.uk

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