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

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It can be very easy to get used to pigeon-holing bands; it’s a useful tool for music hacks like me to handily turn a band from a complicated group of musical influences and ideas into a catch-all one-liner. But when there’s as much inventiveness, energy and heart put into a project as there has been with Outside Your House, it begs the question: what’s really in a genre?

“We read in a Young Father’s interview recently a comment on the lines of ‘If you can classify your sound into a genre, then you’ve already failed’ which really chimes with us.” says Jonny Swift, one half of the Durham duo who release their new EP this month.

The genre-labelling is inevitable though, but at least Outside Your House have come up with a new one: barely rap. “We are most moved by music that is lyrically direct and honest, and often rap or hip-hop is what has the most impact on us.” says spoken word poet, folk singer and laid-back rapper Faithful Johannes. “We try not to think too consciously about what we are creating, it’s like ‘just keep the music you’re making in your peripheral vision, if you look directly at it it’ll fall apart’ and what’s tumbled out isn’t what most people would think of as rap music…But it might be rap, just about, barely…”

“We are most moved by music that is lyrically direct and honest, and often rap or hip-hop is what has the most impact on us”

The band manage to steer away from the Geordie rap which verges on comedy, thanks largely to harmonised backing vocals, beautifully interspersed musical interludes – utilising everything from wailing sitar to twinkly piano – and intelligent lyrics, with often interesting and unexpected results. The beautifully sparse Improbable Cities glitches and scrapes; while Fading Out (Like The Picture On My Work ID) chimes with sadness; then there’s the orchestral swathes and bleeping synths of Dennis Taylor Style which manages to offer both humour and pathos without sounding gauche.

Johannes admits admiration for a selection of underground lo-fi rappers from LA, along with Chicago art-rapper Serengeti, but it’s clear their lyrical dexterity also comes from a love of bands like Pixies, Pavement and The Fall. “The songs on the new EP are autobiography that is 49% fiction,” says Johannes. Keen to steer clear of well-worn lyrical paths, he says the songs on this EP “pivot around topics such as choking alone on homemade bread, giant moth attacks, the unspoken camaraderie between acne suffers and what occurs in the queue to the checkout.”

Launching their EP at Eaglescliffe’s wonderfully quirky Waiting Room on Sunday 8th March, the band will utilises a succession of “car boot sale keyboards and kids toy instruments” alongside a 1975 Akal reel to reel tape machine and a third of a drum kit, in what promises to be a visceral and visual live performance. Once experienced live they’ll no doubt be even harder to slap with a handy label.

Outside Your House’s EP is available via their Bandcamp site from 1st March. They play The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe on Sunday 8th March.

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