Famous walk us through their debut EP, ‘The Valley’.
London trio Famous are today sharing their opening statement in the form of debut EP ‘The Valley’, an ambitious release full of twists, turns and surprises that you may have noticed we gave five whole stars and a pat on the back in the June issue of Dork. We asked them to run us through the release, track by track.
‘Stars’ was one of the last songs to be written for the EP. Lyrically, I wanted to put a hopeful framing on what might at times feel like quite a bleak set of songs. You can all too easily make a virtue of your own toxicity when writing lyrics, so, yeah, throughout this EP I tried, whilst not being facile, to err on the side of optimism where possible. It’s nice to think that writing can have a curative effect on your life: that it can be a space where difficult experiences can be reconciled, not just wallowed in. We made ‘Stars’ and the following three songs on the EP with our wonderful friend and producer Dave Mountain (who produced the whole of our last EP, ‘England’). His mixes on this EP, especially for ‘Modern Times’ and ‘The Valley’, are among our favourites.
Nice While It Lasted
When we playing in Brighton a few years back, we met this guy called Scott Reynolds who had this totally absurd pedalboard. It was ridiculously big. They were lovely and agreed to come to do a session with us, and we got them to shred over the same beat for hours. They were amazing. ‘Nice While It Lasted’ was made by cutting up these up into samples, structuring them and then improvising over them together.
This was our favourite to work on. Everything revolves around George’s very beautiful, bass part. That amount of space was uncomfortable for us but embracing it felt like a step forward. I recorded this big, stupid guitar solo and then cut it into these glitchy samples which Danny put onto his sample pad. He then triggered the samples, putting them through effects and chopping them up. It created this huge, quite haunting noise – almost a guitar, but also totally not. We really like that: taking a really nostalgic, emotionally resonant sound and warping and manipulating it until it becomes unfamiliar. I guess that reoccurs quite a lot across the EP. I was proud of these lyrics – they were meant to sound like a country song. Who knows, though. The song came first, then we named the EP after it, so, yeah, it’s pretty special to us.
During this stage of the recording, we were listening to a lot of Justin Bieber and also this Young Thug album ‘Beautiful Thugger Girls’. We found it really funny how they both seemed to use the guitar, especially the acoustic guitar, as if it were this totally bizarre, alien object (have a look at how Young Thug’s holding his guitar on that album cover). It’s great, and refreshing because they’re both so creative with it. It’s beautiful music. On the EP, we tried to use the guitar sparingly and, when we did, do so in a sort of surprising way. Who knows if we succeeded. There is something amazingly saccharine about the acoustic guitar, so it seemed funny to play that off against this rather serious song. I think these are the best lyrics I’ve ever written.
‘Animals’ was probably the biggest gamble on the EP; some people we’ve played it to really hate it. The idea of the song was that there would be nothing on it apart from what we could make with my voice and Danny’s drums. We like doing that sometimes: setting really strict parameters and then trying to be creative within them. Choice is definitely the enemy sometimes. But yeah, who knows how it came out. It’s quickly become one of our favourites to play live. We thought it worked having the vocals quite low in the mix, which is quite funny because they’re actually kind of deep and carry a fair bit of the EP’s exposition. But there you go. We made it with this incredible producer, Scott Knapper.
This is definitely the central song on the EP, and the most ambitious thing we’ve ever done. Was such a pleasure to work with Scott on this as well, we definitely couldn’t have done it without him. I don’t really know what to say about this one. It’s very personal and we all put a lot of ourselves into it.
Famous’ debut EP ‘The Valley’ is out now.