Interview: Ally Morton (Five Pence Game) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Five pence Game is the collaborative DIY side project of Ally Morton (Massa Confusa) from Durham, UK (formerly based in Newcastle, UK but now based in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain).

Taking influence from the likes of UNKLE, Your Code Name Is: Milo’s ‘Print Is Dead’ project, and Massive Attack; Ally invites artists to co-write tracks in his studio. The songs themselves are recorded in the moment, usually in 1-3 sessions, with little or no preparation. Musicians and vocalists sometimes bring lyrics, a riff, or nothing at all. Ally composes tracks around what is recorded in the session, chopping, looping, manipulating, and often altering the contributors’ original idea. He also does Internet collaborations.

On November 2nd 2018 and January 19th 2019 FPG released two video singles, Motionless feat. FYB and Red Sun Smiles feat. Jackie Purver, which will feature on the upcoming EP ‘Formoterol’. We caught up with Ally ahead of its release on Saturday 20th July.

Why did you call the album Formoterol?
It’s becoming an ongoing joke.. My releases are named after medication I sometimes have to take. The first two EPs are Cetirizine and Loratadine, which are both allergy tablets, and Formoterol is a type of asthma inhaler.

Who are some of the artists you’ve collaborated with on this album?  
I’d prefer to name them all as they are of equal importance to me. Alex Malliris (Kobadelta), Ben Bowsher (he doesn’t create music often anymore but featured on my Loratadine EP), Jackie Purver (Pit Pony, Retriever), Bry Danby and Alex James (Miss Danby And The What), Rachael Whittle (Ilser), Matt O’Brien (Massa Confusa), Mama Lips (they perform solo and create comic books, check them out!), and Fintan Dawson (Slurs, Retriever).

How do you choose who you collaborate with on each track?
I tend to approach people who I have seen perform or heard and I think would be interesting to work with, or who I think have something unique or special about their sound or voice. I started out by approaching mainly friends, but a lot of the collaborators I have worked with I barely knew personally until after doing the collaboration. For example, Aran Glover from We Are Knuckle Dragger who featured on Fuel EP, and even Jackie Purver, who now features on a wide range of both Massa Confusa and Five Pence Game tracks, including this release.

What’s the songwriting process?
I approach an artist and invite them to record in my bedroom studio. I tell them to choose an instrument they want to use in the song, decide if they want to sing, and to bring only an idea or nothing at all. Some artists have brought a notebook containing a few lines of lyrics, and some a riff from songs that were not finished for their band (or were but they wanted to hear how it might sound in a different composition). Some artists purely improvised. The best tracks, however, come from ‘nowhere’.

Also, due to my relocation to San Sebastián in Spain some newer tracks I’m working on are made independently as instrumentals and I ask people to record vocals and send them over to me via the Internet, but it’s not really the intention of the project and I much prefer writing in person.

 What are the themes within the album?
Musically there´s a mix between a darker sound like in the opening two tracks March and Nightmare Teeth, but there is also a more positive and lighter feel with tracks like Red Sun Smiles and Gymnopédie.

Lyrically I don’t intervene with what the artists have written, but from what I can gather it’s about love, fragility, survival, mental health, oh and slugs (Nacktschnecke).

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