DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: Peculiar Disco Moves | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists we have right here in the north east. This time, Alix Shepherd of Peculiar Disco Moves tells us more about being the quirky band on the fringes of the north east music scene.

What inspired you to first start making music?

In essence, we think we have stuff worth saying, about stuff that happens to normal people! When we first started I always wanted the band to steer clear of wishy-washy song subjects about love or things that happen on a Comedy Central sitcom. The real life occurrences that go on around us are where we draw our biggest inspiration. We like to stay true to the places that have shaped us.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

In terms of actual lyrical content, it’s finding song subjects outside the norm of a conventional pop theme. I’m sure everyone in the band is different, but artists such as Ian Dury (who covered a huge range from the disabled to re-writing the Lord’s Prayer based on a bus route in London), Elvis Costello, Madness (general sound and arrangements), Jellyfish, Small Faces, Divine Comedy, Tom Waits (especially within Glamour Girls) and Squeeze, who are annoyingly good at not being contrived when writing songs based around love (Up The Junction, Tempted, Is That Love?), are artists that I love and try to write in a similar vein to.

In a weird way, quiz, sitcom and gameshow themes are something we share a passion for within the band, and people often remark how this shines through, particularly in the way we use the synth and guitar to create “hooks” in our music.

How would you describe your sound?

Strange jazz indie is one of the more abstract (and humorous) ways we have been described in the past! A little outside of the box and hard to pigeonhole – though I’m sure a lot of bands would say that – hopefully we have the musical proof to back it up! I’d like to think people can listen to or see us play and can appreciate the originality and creativity, even if the quirky pop edge isn’t completely for them. We like to take people through a range of emotions, highs and lows, when performing live or on record, something that is reflected in the colloquial, down to earth nature of the lyrics too.

As aforementioned, we usually try and cover subjects in popular culture or news items, such as footballers’ wages or student-teacher affairs, or things that people (i.e. me!) battle against in everyday life, such as the development of technology (things becoming obsolete), the strains of being born on a Tuesday, and the challenge of a girlfriends’ mother! The music itself is arranged in detail and usually involves intricate rhythm section arrangements as well as four-part vocal harmony to boot.

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?

This would be a good question for me to ask you as I don’t have the foggiest! Hopefully as quirky pioneers of the music we make. We have never tried to fit in a box or be part of a particular movement or trend. The North East is awash with talented bands and solo artists, and has as much of an eclectic mix of styles than anywhere in the country (maybe with the exception of London)! “Catchy” and “memorable” is what we get a lot from people when they describe us as a band, which I think (and hope) incorporates our visual image and stage performance as well as our actual sound. Other artists that fall into this category in the region would be So What Robot, The Shooting Of, Iceni, Yellow Creatures, The Great and The Magnificent (formerly Big Beat Bronson) and Outside Your House, all of which offer something different to the slightly more publicised acts from the North East, and have strong live shows to boot.

“The North East is awash with talented bands and solo artists, and has as much of an eclectic mix of styles than anywhere in the country”

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by Peculiar Disco Moves?

Plenty of on stage antics, some planned, most not! Sparkly mirrorball dresses (and that’s just the blokes!), bow ties, handlebar moustaches, gold shirts, eyeliner (blokes again), cowboy hats and a huge fake fur pimp coat – they’re just some of the stage get-ups worn by the band from the past year. The odd change of clothes has also been known for any shows we have put on ourselves. There are high octane, energetic climaxes, mixed with softer, delicate moments so it’s somewhat of a musical rollercoaster!

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?

Check or follow us on Twitter (@Discomoves) as we will no doubt be announcing more gigs soon.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a band?

We’re proud of the catalogue of work we have been able to produce and think our originality in sound helps us to stand out from other acts to have come out of the region in the past ten years. We have worked hard to maintain a quirky and fun image, but still covering relevant themes and coming up with new ideas musically and lyrically, in order to not descend into being like a novelty act.

Our videos and attention to detail in their production (as well as our live show) have helped us to make Peculiar Disco Moves visually interesting, as well as creative on a musical level. I’d say our When Your Mother Goes Home video is the most pleased we’ve been with a song and video package.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?

Getting all five people in one room together! In a way, this is a back-handed compliment to all members, as people are busy with other projects and musical goings-on, but it ain’t half difficult to organise things!

Other struggles include finding support and funding to be able to progress and take the band further. It would be nice to have investment or funding so that we all could dedicate more of our time to pushing things forward. It’s so expensive to record an EP, film a video, put on a launch event, promote a release, that it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain as a self-funded band artist. However, whilst people still like and are able to identify with what we do, and the music we produce remains relevant, we will continue to strive to do it!

On a lighter note, initially we struggled for a place to rehearse, going from an underground studio that flooded (which the Lighthouse Family recorded in), to a glue factory in North Shields, to an old Police Station, and stopping off at a few front rooms and garages along the way. We’re much more civil these days and just pay for a rehearsal studio like most other folk!

What else have you got planned for the future?

Still making music and videos that people enjoy and can connect with, first and foremost! Hopefully in a position where we have branched out across the country (and Europe potentially) with our sound and played a good variety of different places too. Showing progression from where the band is currently, ideally by way of a rich benefactor (if there are any reading that would be cracking) funding us to record an album, or failing that coming up on the pools…

I’m personally hoping to record some solo material myself this year, and the rest of the band are all involved in different creative work too, so it’s a fine balancing act between progressing with the band and our own projects.

Keep up to date with Peculiar Disco Moves through their Twitter account.

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