DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: Orange County | 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! Here, Shaun Cowell of Orange County tells us about his fresh new project and being catapulted into the limelight after only one release.

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

I’m 19, from Sunderland and I’m totally confused… as all musicians probably are!

What inspired you to first start making music?

I was always interested in a wide genre of music, but I’d say the moment which really turned me onto discovering the beauty of guitar music was The Beatles Rock Band. As silly as that may seem. I remember going round a friend’s house when I was around 13 and he’d just gotten it for Christmas. It was one of those “ah, it’s these guys that sing this!” kind of situations. I ran home after to listen to them and my obsession grew from there. The Beatles, especially Lennon, just did something for and to me and from there they turned me onto so much more. I mainly listen to Lennon now as well as Pop music from his time, but I appreciate The Beatles’ music for starting it all for me.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

At the moment I’m listening to a lot of solo artists from the 70’s like Lennon, Lou Reed and even Elton John. I’ve become obsessed with trying to write great melodies like those guys did. Especially Elton John. His melodies and harmonies are genius! I’m not that vocally talented though and that’s where I look to Lou, as he just sang how he liked. Yet there’s still something incredibly catchy about his songs. Lennon has this hauntingly beautiful way of delivering his songs that I can’t even begin to describe really, I’d be lying if I said #9 Dream wasn’t one of my favourite songs ever. So I’m just taking elements from all of those sounds at the moment and mixing them up. Production wise, I’m influenced by more modern artists like Mac DeMarco who records everything in his house, giving it this lo-fi and not overly produced feel. That comes out in the music, as it feels really laid back, rather than some intense record which has been done under a deadline in a studio.  It works best for me, too. I could go on for days about people who have inspired me though.

How would you describe your sound?

I’d definitely describe my sound at the moment as lo-fi pop. Lo-fi on the production front; a little raw and rough around the edges. But I think I can get away with it if the songs are catchy enough and feely poppy enough because of the melodies. But I don’t want to pigeon-hole it because I’ll probably have a different aim and outlook on it in a few months, and that’ll reflect in the sound too. But it’s definitely along those lines right now. My first track Backwards has this downbeat melancholic vibe to it, but the songs on the EP I’m working on are definitely going to be a bit more upbeat in places. So I hope people who liked my first track will be interested in the sound of my new ones.

orange county 2

“the pressure’s on, but it’s good pressure”

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

That’s a difficult question when you haven’t even began gigging yet! I don’t know many people doing the same thing in the local music scene, but I have friends in a lot of bands who I met when I was in my previous band. So I’ll probably gig with those guys, I don’t know if it’ll start any kind of scene though or if I’ll fit in just yet. My band mates in Orange County are working on their own songs under the name of Mony Tanero; they’re influenced by a lot of funk and synth music, they’re calling it “Electronic Disco Funk.” So I can see us starting something off once they get going. We’ll probably begin gigging together and just scratching each other’s backs to try and shine some light on the new sounds from Sunderland. I think a lot of the same people have ran the show for a while so it’s refreshing to think about a new scene, rather than the pre-existing one.

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

Well my first live show will actually be Evolution Emerging in May. It’s crazy that I’ve been given the opportunity to play it considering I’ve only put one song out and haven’t gigged around yet. So the pressure’s on, but it’s good pressure. A lot of bands do the pub gigs for a while before they move onto the proper venues and then do something like that, so for that to be our first gig is mad. But it’s making us work harder and put the effort in. It’s one of those “you never know who’s going to be there” feelings. But you can expect a bit of atmosphere and a bit of light hearted humour. And hopefully some decent songs in between!

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

Once Evolution has passed I’ll probably be doing some gigs in support of my EP which I’m slowly working on. So I think I’ll put a number of those gigs on possibly at Pop Recs and Independent if they’ll have me. But I’ll announce it all on my Facebook and Twitter page when the time comes… and I’ve persuaded them to let me make a racket.

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

I think my biggest achievement is gaining so much recognition from one scrappy sounding song that I made in our flat out of boredom. It’s been mentioned in NME and from there it’s just snowballed and I’ve had people from New York and small label owners in London getting in touch to hear if I have anything else they can hear. The night I uploaded the song it was shared by someone working at Rough Trade who was like “where did you come from?” I mean, what the hell?  That blew my mind a little bit because it wasn’t really my intention. It’s received a lot of local radio play too especially with the Evolution line up being announced. So it’s all been very encouraging!

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

My laptop broke for a while and wiped off all of my songs that I’d been working on which I stupidly didn’t back up. That’s about as problematic as it got, really. The 21st Century, huh?

What else have you got planned for the future?

My aim for the future is to get a van, and just play as many gigs as possible up and down the country with my mates. It’s something that I’ve not properly experienced yet so it’d be interesting and exciting to do. As far as making music though, I just want to keep working on my song writing and make music that I like without taking it too seriously.

Orange County are playing the Cluny 2 at Evolution Emerging on Saturday 23rd May.

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