Now, emerging artists are to #FreshontheNet, as bees are to honey, and indeed flowers, and at the moment, nothing is as sweet to my ears as the chlorophyllic creations of our featured band, Leicester based dream-popsters, Dayflower. As you are probably already aware, Swervy-Derv is a “Mod” for the Tom Robinson driven music resource (love that moniker – makes me sound all ‘trendy’), and it is through the #FOTN Dropbox that I first came across our pop-spangled musicians and their sugar-licious confection ‘Heart Shaped Tambourines’ … cue tune!!!!!
Licks sugary sherbet coated lips….yumptious.’
‘Heart Shaped Tambourines’ is the second Dayflower song to be released as a single, and, as can you probably tell, warm fuzzy feeling, summer-breeze pop is their speciality. The track has a delicious melody, with a good hook, and twangly, jangly guitar in spades, all nudged along by lowlight basslines, held together by some tight but subtle percussion. Naturally soft edged vocals are Alex’s tour de force, perfectly pitched and nuanced to give out the right emo signals. Three minutes of musical enchantment – may there be many more to follow.
Right, time for some Meet and Greet…
The Dayflower foursome are made up of:-
Alex: voice, guitar; Chris: guitar; David: bass; Johnny: drums
(Matt Flint played drums on HST; Johnny Mc J is the current beatmaster)
We met up with Alex and Dave,who kindly agreed to answer some questions, including some “for your amusement” trivia. Here’s what they had to say…
Hi guys … why don’t you start by introducing yourselves?
A: I’m Alex. I play guitar.
D: David. Various instruments. Mainly bass.
When and how did your interest in music begin, and with what Instruments? Were you Self or teacher taught?
A: I started buying records when I was 14, almost 15. Relatively late I think. I always remember my Mum playing early Madonna tapes in the car when I was very young whilst Dad would have The Chemical Brothers playing in his car when he was picking us up from school. I didn’t start learning guitar until I was 19 and I am technically self taught. (Laughs) That implies that I’m a decent player, but in fact I’m a horrible guitar player. I taught myself chords as I wanted to write songs. I never developed beyond shabby & incompetent rhythm guitar.
D: Initially classically taught. My mum would drag me, screaming, out of bed at 6.30am to practise cello before school. And I love her for it.
Who were your musical influences, likes, loves, and why?
A: The La’s. The purest guitar pop imaginable in my eyes. I heard ‘There She Goes’ on the radio in about 1990 and I fell in love with it right there. I still listen to it daily. Without fail. In my eyes it’s perfect. Lee Mavers has been a huge influence on me. He’s doing it for the right reasons. Full of integrity. Puts the song first. Always. He’s my hero.
D: It was grunge and alt rock that inspired me to pick up bass and start thrashing around in a mate’s attic. The basslines of every Nirvana, The Jesus Lizard and Sugar record are hardwired into my brain to this day. I’ve adored My Bloody Valentine ever since finding ‘Isn’t Anything’ on vinyl in a record shop in Sheringham. For some reason this tiny shop near the seaside had some truly amazing stuff. Pixies EPs, Mary Chain albums. The odd Mercury Rev single on white vinyl. It took a while to get into ‘Loveless’ but that might now be my most listened album. MBV’s approach to sculpted noise resonates through almost everything I make.
How did you kick off your music career?
A: I’m still waiting for that to happen. 😦
How do you guys know each other? How did you form and do you have a shared vision?
A: David and I were introduced by a mutual friend. We found that we loved the same records, loved the same artists, and, worryingly, we had a very similar sense of humour. Dayflower started as a studio project. We only ever intended to do an EP. I kept turning up with more songs and he kept letting me in. Then we started working on an album and seeing as making it work live was next on the list, we roped a couple of friends in, and we haven’t let go of them since.
As for the vision, we’re all trying to do the same thing. Pure pop, industrial noise, nursery rhymes and lo-fi beats. We’re getting there. I have a good feeling about this.
What makes you different?
A: I don’t know. I can’t speak for the other lads. Or other bands for that matter. Personally? I care so much about this that it hurts. It dominates my thinking. I wake up in the middle of the night on a complete high that a guy in Brazil blogs about our stuff, or that a girl in France likes a song we made. I’m so grateful for anyone who checks us out and I never take it for granted. Plus, I’m no spring chicken. I’m not 18. I’m 33. I’ve spent a lot of years working crap jobs and I feel that maybe I appreciate doing this more than someone 15 years younger than me. This is all I know. I love it. I can’t live without it. I know that for a fact.
D: We try to be serious about what we do without taking ourselves too seriously. Often it seems like musicians and artists get this the wrong way round. Dayflower’s sound is quite different to a lot of music being made at the moment. Growing up in the era we did perhaps means that we collage together certain influences in a way that a bunch of 20 year olds might not. That said, we aren’t trying to recreate what has already been done. We are forward looking and enjoy making music more than ever. Unless you feel your best work is still ahead of you what’s the point ?
How do you write songs? What’s your MO for, and approach to, the recording process?
A: I write using the guitar, just chords, and I work out the melody at the same time. I don’t tape my demos anymore, I found I recorded so much rubbish. Nowadays, I carry a song round in my head, if the melody can survive in my head for a week without being committed to tape, then I know I’m onto something decent, but if I can’t remember it, it never gets revisited, and for that I’m grateful. It’s a happy loss.
Once written, I go round to David’s and we’ll put down a rough take with guitar and beats. He then adds various bits and pieces on top. other instruments, different rhythms, strange noises. In the meantime, I’ll start working on a couple of harmonies. Then we’ll sit down and try to piece it together bit by bit.
What’s your approach to playing live?
A: We have always used electronic beats live instead of a drummer. Good drummers are hard to find! Though we are working on it.
When we first started out, we used a lot of prerecorded backing tracks. It worked, but felt a bit too much like karaoke. These days we manage to recreate everything live with just the four of us. Johnny uses a sampler for the beats and live processing of sounds. There are a lot of layers and dense textures, but we work hard and are determined to get it right. No plans to do an acoustic set!
What is the music scene like in Leicester, in comparison with the rest of the country?
A: Very healthy in some areas. There are some great venues and promoters. Others which aren’t so great. As for local bands? There are a few decent ones but I’m not easily impressed. All the smaller, more unknown bands I like are from out of town. Okay, you don’t get that many people going to gigs in Leicester, but I reckon it is like that all over the country. It’s a convenient excuse for bands to say “no one goes to gigs!”. If you are good enough, people will go see you. I love Leicester. I don’t feel the need to play in London really. We want to focus on our hometown and on making friends online. Perhaps the rest of the country will catch up later on?
Who wrote HST and what is it about?
A: I did. It’s a bit abstract and I don’t really like explaining my songs, but I will say this: There is some personal stuff in there, and some rude stuff in there if you know where to look! A bit of my childhood and a little bit of my more recent past, without being too specific.
You made a video for HST, was it an enjoyable experience? Is this something you’d like to develop with your music and are there any particular filmmakers you guys would like to work with?
D: Yes, we did. It was a lot of hard work, but extremely enjoyable. HST was our second music video. The first, for a song called Genie follows an eccentric American lady around a snow filled West Philadelphia. Neither feature more than a few short, abstracted snippets of the band members. That is deliberate. Our ideas are generally much more interesting to listen to and look at than we are. HST started with two simple ideas. For some reason I’d hear the song and imagine a woman holding an umbrella whilst flowers rained down on her. Alex wanted washed out Super8 film of skateboarders. We built it from there.
Much of what looks like archive footage actually isn’t. I spent a lot time on the colour treatments to give my footage a saturated, filmic quality. Some people commented that it has a sense of dreamlike nostalgia, without being too sugary or sentimental. That was the aim. It’s good being able to produce visuals ‘in-house’. The idea for our next video is quite ambitious and might require a more skilled director and larger crew.
Filmmakers. Hmm. The Star Wars franchise is crying our for some homemade dream pop. But George Lucas is notoriously bad at returning our calls. Sofia Coppola, with her love for gauzy shoegaze dreamscapes might be a better bet. Or failing that, the lesser known director Stacey Scorcese.
How do you view the industry today? Do you agree with free streaming, for instance…?
A: I regard all of the streaming websites as a positive thing. They’re powerful tools, our shop window to the world. I don’t think that streaming necessarily hinders bands from earning money. I’ve seen enough sales of our music online to encourage me that people will pay for it if they feel it is good enough.
As for the industry? Well its harder for new bands these days. There is no guy in a suit down the pub dangling a 7 figure cheque in front of you anymore. If there ever was!! You have to work hard, possibly harder than before, because there are so many bands out there, all with the same tools and social platforms etc… It’s hard work. The social media side that is. But it’s worthwhile, and I think bands need to get used to the idea of having to work hard. Managers and labels aren’t going to get involved with something untried and untested anymore. You need to show your viability. In my opinion anyone who moans about the industry in this day and age isn’t working hard enough.
What are you working on now, and what are your immediate plans?
A: We’re recording a new single towards the end of September. I can’t wait. It’s a real progression for us. Looking forward to sharing it with people. And with yourself of course!
We’re also putting together a club night! A quarterly thing here in our hometown of Leicester. We will also look at bringing in a couple of out of town acts, musicians who play stuff we love. We want to bypass most promoters and put on our own gigs, do our own DJing, give people jellybeans and handmade CDs, make it a fun night! We want to make them a touch different to the normal gig experience of just trooping in, watching a few bands and then going home. Hopefully we will get a late license, play music late, stay up late and perhaps create some happy memories for people. I’m excited. Why would I not be?!
D: Yes yes. I also think we should make up a couple of absurd / exclusive cocktails too. They only exist at a Dayflower event, four nights a year. And that may well be for the best. (Swerve thinks the guys should have a cocktail naming competition!!)
Dayflower play The Old Queen’s Head, London on 16/9/15 – click on #Adbreak for details
Time for some “trivial pursuits”… 🙂
Star sign, favourite colour and first poster on wall?
A: I’m a libra. Favourite colour is purple. First poster was probably Transformers. I used to love Transformers when I was little.
D: Also libra. The colour is purple. Poster was Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. A compelling, artistic image. Sticks in the mind.
ME – I got a bit freaked out at this point because we are like for like on 2 outta 3, and no, I did not have a poster of Michelle Pfeiffer on my wall as Catwoman, or any other woman!!
If you could learn another instrument what would it be?
A: Piano. All day every day.
D: No. Thanks.
Duet with anyone?
A: Lee Mavers of The La’s. They are the band I wish I could have been in.
D: MF DOOM.
Favourite worst song of all time?
A: Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’.
D: Star Trekkin’ by The Firm.
If you weren’t a musician?
A: I’d like to write a sitcom.
D: Yeah. Let’s do a sitcom.
If you could pick anyone in the world to review your music?
A: Probably Kevin Shields.
D: Larry David
A: Star Wars Clone Wars. I love it. The animated series of Clerks comes close in my opinion.
D: SuperTed. Or Bananaman or something.
What is your Karaoke song?
A: Going Down by The Stone Roses
D: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, by Andy Williams. That’s if they don’t have Sexx Laws by Beck. I gotta have brass.
What do you want for Christmas?
A: Quality time with my son and other loved ones. Failing that. A big bag of cash.
D: Surprise me.
Death row meal?
A: Chicken Vindaloo. Strawberry flavoured frozen yoghurt. 3 packets of large Parma Violets and 2 pints of Ocean Spray branded cranberry juice.
D: XL Oreo Milkshake. And if that doesn’t kill me a ‘Last Minute Reprieve’ McFortune Cookie.
And there you have the #swerve on Dayflower; cartoon characters, culinary proclivities, musical motivations, and, in a nutshell, what makes them tick. Relaxed, sociable and self-deprecating, they bring their natural charm and eloquence to their music – something which I think will stand them in good stead for the future. If Genie and HST are an ‘amuse-bouche’ of what these guys are capable of creating, I can’t wait to taste the full menu.
To keep up to date with Dayflower’s music, gigs and band news, sign up on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and Soundcloud
Dayflower play The Old Queen’s Head, London on 16/9/15 Adv tickets £5 – details here – tinyurl.com/nmeh9yr
Dayflower will be releasing a new single later in the Winter, stay tuned! 🙂