INTERVIEW: Outside Your House | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Carlo Viglianisi

Having confused and delighted audiences across the region for the last couple of years, Durham barely-rap duo Outside Your House release their superb debut album Gallant Encounters on Friday 10th November. Mixing surreal, melancholy and dryly hilarious spoken word with wonky yet beautiful production, I was glad to be able to quiz Faithful Johannes – one-half of Outside Your House, alongside Jonathan Swift – about their latest feat.

“When we put the last EP out, we’d only played a handful of shows, and it was a definite bedroom record. The songs we did next were developed at shows and in the rehearsal room before we finalised the recordings. There was a definite shift in Jonny’s production to a fuller, richer sound, I think partly to have more impact when played live. It seemed like a natural progression as we got more confident in what we were trying to achieve. The intimacy is still there because we do it all ourselves; everything’s recorded in Jonny’s attic, then I add my vocals in my back box room and I always get much closer to the mic than you’re supposed to. Listeners should imagine I’m whispering into their left ear from five millimetres away.”

Listeners should imagine I’m whispering into their left ear from five millimetres away

Discussing the idea of intimacy in their music and lyrics, Johannes elaborated on his lyrical approach. “I make notes or voice recordings in my phone of ideas I have or things I see or overhear. Like, in my local charity shop a customer at the counter said, ‘it’s the first place I’d eaten where they bring you two spoons’, while I was wading through Demi Roussos and Herb Alpert records, and that went straight in. It can be like putting a jigsaw together, working out the best fits, sometimes cheating with scissors and glue. Other times it flows best when you just write fast, follow the scent; the last track on the record I wrote from scratch in a night and caught some playful cadences. Try to keep it honest and direct, avoiding clichés, not overthinking. A lot is exaggerated autobiography.”

Something immediately noticeable on Gallant Encounters is the increased ambition and scope of the production, most evident on the string samples appearing on tracks like Wizard of Oz. “Wizard of Oz was the second song we wrote together (and we’ve never released the first one). Jonny was experimenting chopping up string and bass samples and that one started from there.” Swift’s production, as Johannes notes, can be an extensive workshopping process. “I know Jonny tries to create an atmosphere on the tracks that is unique and matches the mood of the lyrics/stories. Sometimes songs have had two or three completely different instrumental tracks before Mr Swift is satisfied.”

To celebrate the release of the album, Outside Your House are throwing a party on the album launch night at Durham’s DIY hub Empty Shop HQ. As Johannes notes: “Empty Shop HQ are a non-profit arts organisation that pump oxygen into individuals and projects across the city, and make Durham a more pleasant place to live. They have backed us since our first EP and support and enable the local DIY music scene, so it’s where we want to be. We plan to play the new album in full, with a complimentary free raffle between sides A and B.”

Gallant Encounters is released Friday 10th November on Frux Tapes/Sapian Records. Outside Your House play Empty Shop HQ, Durham the same evening.

 

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