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

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Image: Chat by Georgia Claire Tyrie

In what perhaps seems at first an unlikely combination, retro pop songwriter Beccy Young, aka This Little Bird, has teamed up with Vandebilt multi-instrumentalist and producer Jordan Miller, using their shared love of 80s synth pop as the ground for a collaborative project named Chat. The pair have previously worked together, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that the idea to join forces to make some tunes was planted.

We both love 80s pop, especially British 80s pop,” they explain, and the result so far has been Sugar And Sleep, a fantastic throwback to that lively and smooth pop music of the era, built upon a catchy hook and blaring synth melodies – to say it was inspired by the 80s would be an understatement. Influenced by “Stuff produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman and Trevor Horn in particular, then duos like Tears for Fears, Pet Shop Boys, Eurythmics and Yazoo”, the duo sees it as more than a homage. Beccy explained: “We’ve tried to bring the 80s sound to the modern day, as well as taking inspiration from the visuals of that era too.”

It’s provided an opportunity for each artist to push their boundaries and experiment while still sounding distinctly them, Beccy added: “I have absolutely used it as a chance to experiment! I’ve been writing pop tunes at home for years but didn’t know how to begin performing those songs. As This Little Bird, I’ve been the folky singer-songwriter for like a decade now, working with Jord is class as he’s from a more electronic music background, and the writing process has been really fun and super relaxed. I’ve learnt a lot from him about music production too… and synthesisers.”

Despite the opportunities provided to each artist to experiment, it’s also established a framework that they had to work within to help capture the spark that makes pop music from that era shine. Describing the creation of the Sugar And Sleep, Jordan said: “In the past, I’ve usually never had limitations. In Vandebilt, I’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it with both modern and old school record techniques. With Chat, we try to stick to a specific framework more suited to 80s production. We’ll use a Yamaha DX7, Linndrum samples, the EMU and a Fairlight and some old Casiotones…not to mention the infamous VL-Tone. This really shapes the sound of the band!”

Capturing the energy of the bangers of the 80s isn’t just limited to the production or instruments, it’s about the composition. Most of the songs have a simple structure, but as Jordan explains, sometimes it’s quite complicated. “A lot of songs from that era had a very basic subject matter. With the use of major and minor 7th chords, key changes and jazzy modulations played on synths, it’s sometimes relatively complex in comparison to most pop songs.”

After an exciting DJ set at Mexico70 in which the two musicians spun physical discs and blasted the tunes that inspired them, and a planned debut gig at Sunderland’s Independent on Saturday 15th July, the duo are excited for what they have in store next. “We’ve got a load more tunes to get out into the world, so you’ll have to keep your ears peeled. On the back of Sugar And Sleep, we’ve had some interesting conversations, making a music video, and continuing to write more bangers. We can’t wait to play live, there’s going to be some top dance moves!”

Chat play Independent, Sunderland on Saturday 15th July.

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