Bristol-based band gürl have released the excellent single ‘Surrender’. We caught up with the band for a full interview, enjoy now!
How did you first get together?
Jonny: I needed a change musically. I had worked with Josh previously, but things had stagnated, so I hit him up like ‘dude it’s a crime that we are not in a band together’, and we started to demo some songs. We then landed an opportunity for a decent support slot with Akua Naru and with only two finished songs, half a band and five weeks gürl suddenly had to be born.
Cue five weeks of stress and late nights, oh yeah Josh had a two week holiday in those five weeks. We picked Seb up along the way, lying about definitely having the gig, which wasn’t confirmed until the day before and the rest is history.
Seb: I’d wanted the gig with Akua Naru so bad I said I would play synth for it, although I didn’t mention that till the day before I’d never actually played synth before! A few tense moments before that gig, but also the start of a new chapter.
Who influenced your latest release ‘SURRENDER’?
Josh: Lyrically? My partner. Gone are the days of my whiskey smokey-roomed beat-poetry heartbreak. So what does one do when, at least romantically speaking, one’s most inspirational depression isn’t readily at hand? Marvel. Marvel at your love, at your vulnerability, at theirs.
It’s a good feeling. Also, not every song needs to be an introspective, indulgent, Tom Waits rip-off, some songs are just good ol’ fashioned Def Leppard stripper rock. That’s what we are, haha, stripper rock for the Instagram generation.
What motivates you to make music?
Josh: Well I’m not very good at anything else haha. I wanted to be a child psychologist because I thought that was noble. That path had its challenges like any other, and every time I needed to clear my head, I’d write music and the world would make sense again.
Then my father passed away, which put things into perspective, and much like an X-Factor sob story this is when I decided that it would be a bad idea to spend my life doing anything other than that which made me happiest; music.
Jonny: I am unable to stop making music. I think that has to be true with any serious artist, in medium be it music, painting or knitting. You put Picasso in a desk job, and he’ll start doodling on his paperwork, it’s just the way it goes.
Seb: I don’t think I have a choice, either! Music’s always been my outlet to express feelings and my main way of meeting friends. If I stop making music, I start to get pretty depressed, so I just do what I love!
If you could open for any artist/band who would it be?
Jonny: gürl. No for real I’d love to open for us, that way I’d get to play twice. Hmm, maybe there’s an idea for my birthday next year…
Seb: I’ll give in to the ten-year-old inside screaming ‘Red Hot Chill Peppers’ at me, but honourable mentions to Jordan Rakei and Hiatus Kaiyote who are really shaping my current sound.
Josh: If I could resurrect Leonard Cohen, it would be a dream come true. But, given that we sound nothing like him I can imagine it being an incredibly awkward show and dashing my dreams instantly haha. In that case, BANKS. She’s such an inspiration; musically, lyrically, aesthetically, how she puts on a show, I kneel at the altar of BANKS. So that, or an acoustic set opening for Leonard Cohen.
What’s the music scene like in Bristol?
Josh: Full of kids trying to sound like IDLES. Hahaha, no, I mean there is that, but the music scene is really diverse and vibrant. There’s a strong neo-soul scene with bands like Richard IV, Pahla, and Laimu -those guys are incredible, and of course, the brilliant Phoxjaw who I believe may just save rock and roll. Everyone knows each other and are very supportive; it’s a privilege to live in such an artistic city.
You recently worked with producer Phil Gornell (Bring Me The Horizon, All Time Low), what was that like?
Josh: Phil, and the whole team at Steel City Studio, are an absolute dream. The studio is such hallowed ground for the alternative music scene, everywhere you look there’s an award, or signed drum skin, or gold record. The tracks we’ve recorded there just sound money, and I can’t wait to share them with the world in 2021.
Seb: Apart from being great fun, the biggest thing that stayed with me was the openness and professionalism. We’d have an idea that would’ve taken me hours, and 5 minutes later it we’d be listening to it finished! The vibe in the room is intense and spark inspiration.
What are your other passions aside from music?
Josh: Veganism, and with that good food and wine. I love blasting out some opera and spending hours making something delicious for my friends and I, then spending the evening telling stories and getting lashed.
Jonny: Getting outdoors away from this weird fake world we call urban in any way I can. Mountain biking is a big one for me; there’s a certain flow state you reach when tackling a sketchy descent where it doesn’t matter what is going on in the world no one can reach you, and you’re not really thinking about anything just acting on instinct.
It’s such a great high that otherwise I’ve only really found in playing music live and while that experience is far more potent, it’s a much more difficult place to reach. So, for now, I’ll keep throwing myself down the side of a mountain.
Seb: I love anything that goes fast! I build cars and mountain bikes and shouldn’t be trusted with either! Whenever the words’ Just send it!’ leave my mouth, a questionable moment is about to happen, and nothing but music can keep that at bay.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Josh: Well, it sure would be nice for artists to actually be paid for their work. But aside from that, the general quality of music has really dropped, and I’d like to see the bar raised. With the advent of streaming, readily available recording software, and distributors with no quality control, it seems anyone can pretty much put anything out regardless of whether or not it’s any good.
This, of course, is wonderful for the recording process as upcoming artists can make music with a limited budget; you no longer need to hire out Abbey Road. However, when it comes to releasing music, you are now a much smaller fish in a much larger ocean, which would be fine if all the other fish were making killer art, but they’re really not. Basically, I should come in, as the king of music, as a benevolent dictator, and decide what is hot and what really is not.
Jonny: I do not agree. First things first, art is subjective. WAP might be sh*t to me but to someone else it might become the soundtrack to a particular moment in their life and who am I to take that away? With that caveat out of the way, yes I agree there is a lot of mainstream music that is made quickly with the intention of making money, and it seems to be becoming much more commonplace for artists to release alongside a brand.
Whether that’s selling out or just surviving who’s to say, I’m sure if Nike came knocking on gürl’s door we’d at least consider it. However. There is so much incredible music in the world; you just have to search for it. To me that makes it more special when you find an artist you really love, like unearthing lost treasure it’s like ‘where the f*ck have you been all my life?’. I have more quality music in my life than ever before, and I just keep finding it. Gone are the days of everyone listening to the same handful of artists that achieve legendary status, pandora’s box is open. That’s fine with me. I don’t want to like what everyone else likes anyway.
What new music are you listening to at the moment?
Josh: I can’t get enough of Polyphia at the moment. Something happened circa Oasis/ Coldplay/ Mumford & Sons where rock and roll became reductionist and stopped pushing the boundaries of music production, probably as a result of the excess of production in the 80s. Regardless, with bands like King810, Loathe, and Polyphia taking a leaf out of hip-hop’s book, we’re finally seeing (hearing) guitars do new things again. If you like guitar music, but also dig hip-hop, EDM, and trap, I’d really recommend Polyphia.
Jonny: The latest record by ‘Nothing But Thieves’, that second track is a certified banger it’s got like three parts that could all be choruses. My girlfriend recently showed me Joji’s new album, and I just have not put it down, it’s so smooth and so eclectic, and I just keep coming back to it…thanks babe x
What musical plans do you have for the next two years?
Josh: This past year we’ve really found our sound as a kind of alt-rock, trap, hip-hop, antipop band, and we’re just running with it. So, over the next two years, you can expect us, but more; more GUCCI, more make-up, more honey, more cinematic videos, tighter jeans. Like a Shania Twain hit, we’re starting at ten and carrying straight through at ten.
FV Music Blog December 2020
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