Monday, 19 July 2010

Exposure: Blue Sky Archives

(L-R: Ross, Lauren, Matt, Paul, Pete)

Blue Sky Archives
seem to be the words on everyones lips at the moment and, as usual, I'm behind the rest of the blogosphere in featuring this cracking post-rock/pop five piece from Glasgow. Peenko, Kowalskiy and the lovely Wull Swales of Define Pop have all featured the band at some point or another as have For Folk's Sake where someone lazily compared BSA to Paramore. So I'll avoid a long winded introduction and any dodgy comparisons and let the band introduce themself.

"I croon, play percussion and synth." says Lauren. "Paul croons and plays guitar. Pete plays bass and acts as the 'producer' type person (hello, free recording!). Ross plays kit, percussion and bits of synth but refuses to croon. Ever. Under any circumstances. Matt plays guitar and croons in the background, but has just run off to Japan for six months, so a very lovely man called Dave is pretending to be him in the meantime. Thanks, Dave."

While I can safely say they sound nothing like Paramore, I wondered how the band them self would describe their music. "It can be pretty tough to describe your own music without the usual genre-centric jargon and cloying comparisons" explains Paul. "I would just say that we write really simple soulful pop songs, and then play them in as raucous and rousing a way as possible. Loads of percussion, loads of vocals, loads of guitars, and loads of fun." Lauren isn't entirely sure either, "Whenever people ask that question, we always give the stock answer 'post-rock pop' but it's been described in a bunch of ways. Whether it's indie or folky or whatever else, there's definitely a melodic base to it, with lots of harmonies and rhythms because that's what we're good at".

With a lot of experience and an impressive list of previous bands such as Dance Lazarus Dance, Titus Gein, Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Dead or American and Holy Mountain, Blue Sky Archives are by no means newcomers to the music scene. However, Lauren felt she needed a change, "I used to play drums in a band that died a death and wanted to try something new" she tells me. "Paul and Matt were also bandless and Pete and Ross wanted to try playing something different to the other bands they're in, so we all stumbled together at the end of last year."

Paul elaborates, "
Each of us within the band have a very definite need to be musically creative. We must have collectively been involved in enough musical projects to start a scene in itself, so we were pretty familiar with each other as friends and peers before starting BSA." he explains. "The band was born out of a few initial songs and the process of finding the right people to do them justice. The line-up was finalised around December last year and we haven't looked back since then. It feels very natural making music together, like we've been at it for years."

As far as influences go, each band member's personal taste helps keep the band grounded and accesible and combines to form a healthy and refreshing mix. "
The things that influence each of us in terms of how we write or play our instruments probably sound horrifying when all put together, but I suppose that's part of the fun." says Lauren. "I'm a big fan of people like Sleater-Kinney, Dirty Projectors and Broken Social Scene but the others never let me go full-on girl rock, which is probably a good thing, if only to preserve their manliness."

"Don't let Lauren fool you, she's more of a man than any of us." adds Paul. "She's right though, our influences are pretty diverse as musicians and as people, and I suppose we're all a product of our influences separately. I reckon that's the biggest strength of this band. If we were all brought up on the same music we'd be pretty one-dimensional but it's quite the contrary and it shows in our music. I've been pretty much steeped in a combination of Scandinavian ambiance (Sigur Ros, Efterklang, Album Leaf, etc.) and American indie (Cursive, Rilo Kiley, Elliott Smith) for my whole adult life and I unavoidably play and write in that style. The rest of the gang have their own individual musical heritage though and it only adds to the mix"

Having released their impressive, self-titled, debut EP back in April, Blue Sky Acrhives have already proved they have a knack for writing beautiful, melodic pop/rock. So how does a wealth of experience and such an eclectic mix of influences combine during the song writing process? "It's developed a bit as time has gone on." explains Lauren. "Paul had written a bunch of material before the band which made up much of the early tunes in the set. But since we became a full band everyone has been bringing ideas to the table, writing songs in different ways and finding different formats." Lauren explains further, "Usually we'll come up with a basic soundscape, then add some vocals to see where the emphasis is going to go. With 'Crash Your Face', it was only really once we found the gang vocal hook that we knew where we wanted it to go. That was a nice moment."

As with all my other Exposure artists, I asked Lauren if there were any unsigned or unknown Scottish artists she had been enjoying recently.
"I'm dead keen on Meursault (what pipes) and Young Fathers (what beats) but they're both becoming more reknowned, and rightly so! More locally, Stomachs have some pretty sweet guitar jams."

So what does the rest of 2010 have in store for Blue Sky Archives? "We've just finished recording another EP (thanks, Pete) so will be putting that out after summer. We've got some Scottish shows lined up over the next couple of months and are playing at a festival in Belgium in October too with some English/European dates round about, so are brushing up on our languages."

Blue Sky Archives' debut EP
is available now from Bandcamp.

<a href="">Crash Your Face by Blue Sky Archives</a>

You can also find BSA on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and LastFM.

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