Each new year marks the start of another new band scramble to grab a seat on the hype train. With a run-up that starts well before the mince pies are on the festive table, come January, some are still left flailing to nip through the door as the warning beeps start to sound.
With a coveted slot on BBC’s flagship music show Later… off the back of a couple of standout singles, Another Sky are far better prepared than that. Their performance of ‘Chillers’, packed with attitude and a string section, was a genuine moment. Add to that a twenty-date tour – including two Dork Live! shows in Norwich and Reading – kicking off in February, and they’re already well ahead of the curve.
We caught up with the band to find out more.
Hey, you lot. When did you first realise you wanted to make music?
Jack: I have only two loves of my life – music and BMXing. I broke my collarbone and couldn’t play guitar for months on end, so that’s when I sold my BMX. I knew it was guitar or nothing.
Max: I was 6 when I first started playing djembe along with my dad and brother to Radio 1 mix’s in the front lounge, proper three-hour drum and bass mixes. I was addicted. I didn’t do much else except play drums and produce.
How did you get together?
Catrin: The band formed out of a mutual obsession with a Talk Talk album titled ‘Laughing Stock’ which we discovered around the same time. We ended up getting in a room, jammed together and wrote a song straightaway, then burst out in laughter like, “Where the fuck did that come from!?”
Naomi: I was in nine bands at the time. My fingers were constantly messed up, and then Jack would be like, “We’re rehearsing twice a week.” I did it though – I loved it because we were just so diplomatic. There was no lead songwriter, just jams that became songs.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
Max: I make wooden spoons and lamps out of wood I find on the street. It gets me out of the house after fourteen-hour producing sessions.
Catrin: I’m working on some books and poetry. I used to try and write a poem and end up thinking, “Nah, that’d make a good lyric.” Now I’m trying to write enough to have material for both.
To what extent do you feel musicians have a duty to weigh in on sociopolitical issues?
Catrin: We all want escapism. There are arguments that entertainment should be a means for people to escape. It’s a luxury to escape, though.
We performed in Turkey recently, and the hotel wifi stopped me from following Pussyriot on Instagram. Pussyriot activist Pyotr Verzilov had just been poisoned by the Russian government. In countries outside of Britain, writing sociopolitically can mean life or death. This might make it sound like the UK is safe… no, it’s not. That’s a dangerous illusion.
I’m so lucky that I’ll never go to jail for promoting drugs with lines about LSD, but what if I grew up with my outlet being drill music, not a classical piano at Warwick Arts Centre? I might have a court order issuing me to never release music again. Perhaps that might happen one day…nobody is ever safe. I don’t think it’s ever about duty. I don’t expect other people to sing about this stuff, but there are clear reasons why they don’t, and it’s not always “I don’t care.” The main narrative seems to be that artists who do write sociopolitically have crocodile tears, should stay in their lane and are forcing their beliefs on others etc. Where’re the conversations about artists being made examples of by governments and people in power? Just look at the takedowns executed by the Daily Mail. Artists will see that and worry about their careers. We already make so little. This is far more complicated than what we should and shouldn’t write about.
One of my favourite electronic artists Klaus is part of the Stansted 15. He, along with the other 14, has just been found guilty of terrorism for chaining himself to a plane to stop a flight deporting people. Klaus might face life in prison. The question I’m concerned with isn’t, “Should musicians be writing sociopolitically?”, it’s, “What happens to the musicians that do?”.
What would you guys sing about if all was right with the world?
Max: Songs of praise.
Catrin: Joy as an act of resistance.
What are you working on at the mo?
Catrin: Getting a piano into a studio. Then we’re going to slam out songs.
Jack: We drove all over London to find it. There’s something special about pianos; they have souls.
Who do you think is the most exciting band or musician around right now?
Catrin: La Leif, she’s my favourite producer. She’s everything I aspire to be.
Max: Wooze. We got to play with them at the Green Door Store in Brighton, and it turns out they live just down the road from us. I’ve never known anyone that pulls off yellow like they do.
What’s your favourite thing about being a musician?
Naomi: Playing live is the most fun part but writing and performing is quite an intimate process, and I love sharing that with the others. I think we’re all pretty different but so finely tuned in to each other when it comes to the band and making music. I think it comes from deep friendship.
What would you like to see happen in 2019?
Naomi: I want to see more people singing the lyrics back because that makes my head explode.
Taken from the February issue of Dork. Another Sky tour the UK from 1st February.