From the start of the decade the UK music scene has erupted in flamboyant fashion, flourishing with wild new styles and talents, breathing new life into the once uniformed regime of genres. From Alt-J, to Wolf Alice, British music is slowly returning back to the limelight of the world. And one of the more elusive of these acts that will surely soon follow is Meadowlark, a unique and talented duo with an ear for amazing tracks. Previously releasing ‘Fly’ a year ago to critical acclaim, Kate and Dan have returned with their latest anticipated single ‘Paraffin’.
Uncompromising, their music based on the limited number of members, Meadowlark have accomplished an awesome sound that oscillates in epic proportions, while remaining sincere and relatable. GIGsoup’s John Gittens talked to Dan about the bands songwriting process, the concept behind ‘Fly’ and ‘Paraffin’ and Meadowlark’s plans for expansion.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Was it always just the two of you involved in the band? Were there any big landmarks in your history that defined the band?
We are Meadowlark, an Alt-Pop duo based in Bristol and we’ve been a band for a little bit under three years. That’s the short version any way. Our ‘band’ and sound have gone through a fair amount of teething to arrive at the place we are today. Kate and myself have such broad music tastes that our collaborative writing efforts constantly push us in new directions. What’s beautiful is how harmonious it’s been though; we’ve never had to force ourselves a certain way in terms of genre.
I think last year was full of landmarks for us as a band, superficially we had privileges such as being play-listed through BBC Introducing on BBC Radio 1 and being invited to play at Glastonbury festival but also internally, as a band we really found our feet with our live show and songwriting, 2015 was the year it all made sense.
You’re both talented multi-instrumentalists, utilising synthesizers, guitars and pianos in your songs. Is there a process to your creation, wherein one member writes solely for their own instruments, or do you find you’re always crossing paths and playing each other’s instruments?
If I’m honest, the production is somewhat an afterthought to the process of writing. We start very raw, usually on a piano or an acoustic guitar, humming melodies over simple chords. We’ve always been aware of how easy it is to hide mediocre songs behind good production so for us we concentrate on the core of the song, in it’s simplest form, because if it sounds good in that raw exposed state then it will no doubt sound great with additional production. In those early stages we often swap instruments, each of us both write on guitar and piano in our own time and each gives us a different type of inspiration. Interestingly enough ‘Paraffin’ is one of very few songs that started as a fully ‘produced’ instrumental demo before we brought it together to write on. I had been sitting on it for quite a while but it wasn’t until I added all the drums that we started to hear it becoming a Meadowlark song.
Your videos and your sound is very reminiscent of Marian Hill. Their sound is intimate and closed, but they occasionally invite session saxophonists to their studio to sample their work. Is Meadowlark thinking of ways of expanding through this medium?
Expansion is always the long-term dream for Meadowlark, we write songs with a lot of layers and depth to them and inviting more musicians to execute that live would be incredible. Right now though we are happy to keep it as small and intimate as it is.
Meadowlark’s previous hit ‘Fly’ is about the hardships of growing up, with a particular emphasis around drug abuse. Judging by the title of your new lead single ‘Paraffin’ is it safe to say your song topics are linear, or do they hold deeper meaning?
It’s interesting because ‘Fly’ is solely about the hardships of growing up, the drug abuse side of it was one interpretation we explored for the music video as it’s one eventuality or path that someone could follow. We definitely don’t box ourselves up when we write; we either go down a very specific route or story or we create something that is broad and relatable on many levels. We equally enjoy hiding true meanings of songs behind metaphors, there’s something beautiful about watching people decipher our songs and finding their own meanings to the words we sing, whether they are right or wrong it’s allowed them to dream their own story and perhaps even relate them back to their own lives.
Finally, what do you have in store for us later on in 2016? Are you already planning your next release or just seeing where ‘Paraffin’ takes you as an act?
At the moment we are just enjoying the feeling of having fresh music for people to listen too. As musicians we spend so long crafting our art behind the scenes; writing, demoing and recording that by the end of it our only goal is to just get it to peoples ears, now that’s happened we can start planning our next release.
This Meadowlark article was written by John Gittens, a GIGsoup contributor