When Jameson Whisky approached the band Wild Beasts with an open brief of a creative project to work on under the Jameson Works banner, the band seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do; link up with French designer Mattis Dovier to work on something around ‘story-telling’.
The band, who are currently on a high after the release of their latest album ‘Present Tense’, wanted to use his signature style to bring to life two unreleased tracks, ‘Soft Future’ and ‘Blood Knowledge’ in the form of a GIF-novel which will act as a visual accompaniment.
Eager to find out more, as well as quiz the band about their views on my hometown and the city they formed their sound in, I caught up with singer Hayden to try delve deeper.
How did you guys meet?
In the sandpits and on the football pitches at school.
What was it like developing your sound in Leeds?
It was an exciting time in Yorkshire during that period, many eyes were gazing in. There was a kind of cottage industry going on with all of the club nights, record labels and bands bleeding into one another and feeding of the joint momentum. I feel fortunate to have come up during that time, I think it allowed us to be daring, to not have to play it so safe.
How has the city changed, in your eyes, over the last few years? Especially in terms of artists and people’s DIY spirit.
Having lived in London for about five years now I couldn’t comment on how it has changed as an insider. Though as an outsider I can’t help but notice that old community shrinking, a little like a water hole in the savannah during the summer slowly becoming slick with mud.
Change is inevitable and essential though and many new things have popped up there since I left which are definite positives. A healthy city is an evolving one I refuse to get too misty eyed about it.
What was the creative process like behind the new album?
A period of time swung between great frustration and great triumph. It was a learning curve, we were attempting to put songs together in ways we hadn’t before using software and electronic instruments without much knowledge of the proper methods of doing so. Though it is often in the gap between ambition and the means of getting there where the good stuff happens.
How long did it take to make? Was it arduous or in the studio, clear vision, create something amazing in a week type vibe? The type when it just ‘works’?
It was about two years in the making. The most difficult thing when you’re working with so much time is holding on to that delicate little flame that first lights up with an idea. It is so easy to snuff it out by over thinking and over working. We had to be surgical some days and barbaric others.
How long are you touring it for and what’s been the highlights so far?
We will be touring for as long as and as far as the record takes us. We’re still attached to it, we would be hesitant to cut the umbilical cord just yet. The highlight thus far on this campaign has to be the Asia run we did in November. Playing shows in places like Bangkok, Saigon and Shanghai was something I had never envisaged doing as a plucky teen screaming down a mic.
How did you get involved with The Jameson Works?
The Jameson Works approached us with a very open ended proposition, to create a piece of work in collaboration with another artist. We quickly agreed on a brief of reimagining storytelling and set about narrowing down the Galaxy of options and possibilities into something we thought would work.
What was it about Mattis Dovier’s work that drew you to work with him?
When I first set eyes on his work I felt like we were kindred spirits, kids of the same era who grew up with the aesthetics we did like Sega Master Systems and strange Japanese manga cartoons. We seem to have the same reference points, the same touch stones of nostalgia but a firm belief in allowing the digital world in, to try and make sense somehow of the now.
I think the collaboration is an interesting choice, how does Mattis Dovier’s work tie into Wild Beast’s existing aesthetic?
He is old fashioned in his craft, he works by eye and hand, as we were work with hand and ear, it is only later the computers come in. I guess both of our work retrains the mark of the maker but attempts to exists in up to date ways.
Moreover, where does your work with Mattis fit into the rest of The Jameson Works?
The Jameson Works are really creating a platform where by craftsmanship of any kind can be celebrated. I guess both ourselves and Mattis are proud craftsmen in that we value old world knowledge as much as we do the new.
How are you releasing the works and how can fans check it out?
Absolutely, the GIF novel we created can be seen at http://thejamesonworks.com/gifnovel
Do you do many projects with brands? What was it about this that attracted you to it?
No it is not something we have undertaken before because we have never been approached with such an open ended and creator friendly project before. To us the act of creating new work must always be valued above all. In the Spotify era of music it is only natural that different ways and means are needed to keep that life blood running into artists.
The two unreleased songs, Soft Future and Blood Knowledge, what kept them from the album?
I fought long and hard to have Blood Knowledge on the album, I obviously lost that bout. It’s not easy to say why they didn’t make it, I guess it all worked out for the best as they became more than just songs in the end, they became a novel.
What’s next for you guys?
We would like to make some new noise together soon, quite when I don’t know, but those pangs of hunger are returning.
Interview by Tom Kirkby
Photos curtesy of Jameson & Wild Beasts