DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: Tessera Skies | 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 that we have right here in the north east. This time, the guys from Tessera Skies tell us about being square pegs in a round hole…

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?

Ben: We’re three guys from Newcastle who have known each other a rather long time. I play guitar in the band, Matt plays drums and Mark sings.

What inspired you to first start making music?

Ben: We met because of music. We found that when we played together, something quite exciting seemed to happen between the three of us. It just struck a chord in all of us. No pun intended…

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

Matt: Bands such as Radiohead, Guillemots and Wild Beasts have probably had the biggest influence on our music. I think there’s always a hint of Sigur Ros in our writing as well. They’re a band we always come back to when trying to shape our sound, along with Brian Eno’s Apollo. Elbow too… I find a lot of people turn their noses up at them but The Seldom Seen Kid is a spectacular piece of writing, both musically and lyrically. Mark’s a massive fan of Through the Windowpane by Guillemots, so that will always have the biggest influence on his writing and vocal sound. More recently bands such as Beach House, Wild Nothing and Efterklang have held a lot of weight with us.

How would you describe your sound?

Matt: We’ve always really struggled to pinpoint a genre for our music and most bands probably feel the same. A lot of the blogs seem to have hit upon a couple of labels for us now… “dream pop” and “art pop” are the most common. “Dream pop” sits well enough and seems to be the going label for our current single, Out Of Sight.

Mark bought a Yamaha DX7 module a while back, which has been the basis for a lot of his writing since. We keep coming back to a particular sound on the module, which was actually designed by the previous owner but is probably the nicest one on there. It’s odd to think how many songs we’ve written after getting that and where we’d be without it.

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

Mark: Like a square peg in a round hole! We’ve stylistically just ended up doing our own thing really. I wouldn’t say we fit particularly well into a specific bracket in the North East, but we are proud to be from Newcastle and couldn’t do what we do anywhere else right now.

“we are proud to be from Newcastle and couldn’t do what we do anywhere else right now”

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by Tessera Skies?

Matt: We tend to put a lot of production into our recordings which can be difficult to replicate live with just the three of us, so we have two top musicians join us: Matt Forshaw on bass, and Mark’s brother, Josh Broughton, on keys, percussion and drum pads. I think our live performances really came together when Matt and Josh were brought in. It just means we can actually enjoy ourselves on stage rather than having to focus on doing four things at once. Hopefully that “band” feel comes across to the audience now. And not forgetting some questionable moves from Ben and Matt (Forshaw); they seem to lock into some kind of biological rhythm.

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

Ben: We’re really looking forward to play the Sage Gateshead to promote our new single, Out Of Sight, on the 22nd May with Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, and Immy Williams. That one’s going to be a really special night for us. It’ll be our biggest headline show to date. You can get tickets now.

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

Mark: We set out to write a record around two years ago when Tessera Skies started to pick up and we had one song to our name. We finished that record, then finished it again, and now have a huge amount of songs that have taken on a life of their own. We started out looking for a direction and now I feel like we’re being swept along by the songs themselves. Finding that voice has to be our most fundamental achievement.

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

Ben: Other than my crippling need to visit the toilet about seven times before going on stage, no.

What else have you got planned for the future?

Mark: We have enough unreleased material to fuel us for a good while yet, so expect more stuff to listen to…

Tessera Skies play with Bridie Jackson & The Arbour and Immy Williams at the Sage Gateshead on Friday 22nd May.

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