Interview: Deep.Sleep | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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After taking some time out to adjust their line up and hone their music-making craft, Newcastle’s anthemic, indie-pop quartet, Deep.Sleep return to the fold to release their latest single, Mathilda. After a busy 2019 that saw the band embark on two UK tours and a tour of the Netherlands as well as perform at festivals such as Kendal Calling, Lindisfarne, Tramlines and Hit The North, they are looking forward to an even busier 2020. We had a chat with frontman Dan Frend and guitarist Ben Cottiss to see what’s what.

How was your 2019? What were the highlights?  
Ben: 2019 was fantastic for us. We got to begin the year with our first shows outside of the UK, with a  tour of Holland. We learnt that boats are more fun than planes, the Dutch love live music and drummers should stay away from coffee shops. The reception over there was amazing and we’d encourage any band to get across if there’s ever an opportunity knocking. The shows over there gave us an opportunity to try some new songs and help work out which deserved a place on our homecoming setlist at the Cluny 2. The show ended up feeling like a party more than anything else, coming back to dance with loads of our friends and celebrate what we’d achieved in the past few months. Since then we’ve had some time out, working with new people, writing new songs and crafting a shiny new line up. Mathilda is the first thing we have to show you that we’ve created with the new boys, we hope you like it and we’re looking forward to showing more of it off! It’s hard to pick individual highlights, but they’re three very different experiences that we appreciated through 2019.

What have you got planned for 2020 and what do you hope to achieve? 
Ben: We’ve hit the ground running in 2020 with our first single coming in the 3rd week! We’re planning to keep the intensity up. We’ll be releasing new music a lot more regularly than we’ve been doing in the past and we’re excited to hear what everyone thinks of it. We can’t wait to get back to playing live. We’ll be playing at Think Tank on the 10th of April. That’ll be our first Newcastle show with new songs, a new bassist and a new drummer! We wanted to make sure it’d be special, so we’re playing on a Friday night, surrounded by bank holidays. No excuses eh? After that, we have a Manchester show at the Castle Hotel on the 25th. 

Dan: Yeah, we’ve played over in Manchester a few times now and it’s nice to see friends in the west, it’s sort of been our home away from home these last few years while Ben was at uni and the support that the city has shown us has been nothing short of incredible so we can’t wait to get back.

Summer feels so far away doesn’t it, but festival season is coming! 

How would you describe your sound?
Dan: This is a tough one and I think that’s because the sound is somewhat much more subjective these days. It’s not just rock and pop anymore, you have all these sub-genres that I think you’re expected to know about and feel comfortable in but lately, we’ve been finding it difficult to sit comfortably in one genre. If I was to describe it purely sonically, I suppose at the minute it’s pop music to make you feel. I’ve always loved the way emotion can be a conflicting theme in a song, whether it’s lyrically sad but sonically major, or otherwise and I suppose it’s up to the listener to decide whether this is a happy song or a sad one. On previous releases, we’ve explored early 2000s indie inspirations on tracks like ‘Orange English Sun’ and 90s rock/punk on tracks like ‘1994’ so I suppose it’s anyone’s guess as to what we’ll sound like this time next year, but I can promise you we’ll be having the time of our lives making whatever noise we do.

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Dan: Usually I’ll pen a demo onto my laptop at home with a rough song structure and we’ll go from there, taking into a practice room, revisiting the demo to see how we can flesh it out further then finally taking into the studio where we can really unlock it’s true potential. I like to think of the process as a collective piece of art. I just draw it in pencil but the boys colour it in. I’m so lucky to be working with such talented guys and the song wouldn’t be what it is today without one of the days in the studio where Greenup and Ben changed the game with a few little riffs they’d come up with that day. I think although Mathilda feels like a big pop anthem, there’s definitely elements of all sorts in there. We definitely found ourselves channelling our 70s disco fantasies with a bit of Kanye inspired gospel in parts of the vocal and thankfully, our producer, Andi, is great at deep diving into our minds to pull those ideas our and make them happen. I think it definitely all comes down to being open and honest with each other while in the studio and having as much fun making each record as possible, which luckily for us comes really naturally. 

Tell us more about your new single Mathilda.  
Ben: The single feels very much like part 2 of our last release “Drive”. The two songs were written around the same time. When working on “Drive”, we really enjoyed experimenting with more electronic sounds and giving the song depth with plenty of layers, so we’ve explored with that again with Mathilda. 

I think Dan (vocals) wrote the song when he was stuck in his broken down car outside of a venue in Bristol on tour in 2018, freezing cold with the window stuck down. If that’s what gets him in his creative zone we’ll mess about with his engine and send him to the arctic. He’s bound to come back with an album. 

Dan: – Haha, yeah Ben’s right. it’s nice because ‘Drive’ was this song that I wanted to put out there with the idea that much like in the end of Breaking Bad, when Pinkman drives away in that last scene with the whole world ahead of him, this song had similar intentions in that we knew what was coming next, we just didn’t quite know what it looked like yet. ‘Mathilda’ is about my carnal desire to make a relationship work. It’s about a time in my life where I was ready to bare all and give everything I had for a single second of reciprocation. These three minutes are a sonic representation of everything i felt during that time and it’s really important to me. The thing I love most about music is the way in which it commands you to feel something, you don’t get a choice in that, so I really hope people connect with the song in the same way that I do and it makes them think about something or someone they love.

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