Interview by Miriam C.
Collected by Tony Cannella
Interviewing (unfortunately not face to face SIGH) British singer/songwriter Polly Scattergood is one of my fulfilled dreams coming true. Yes, because back in 2013 I loved so much her solo album “Arrow” and now she’s coming back with a brand new project called onDeadWaves along with Maps AKA James Chapman. If you ask me, what to expect from this duo? Well, simply another electronic/indie masterpiece.
Welcome Polly. Femme Metal has been trying to get an interview with you since your solo album, “Arrow”. How is life treating you?
It’s treating me well, I think. I’m enjoying this process of releasing another album. I’m feeling good, thank you.
Let’s start with some basic information about your musical inception. How did your artistic adventure start?
It began a few years ago at the Roundhouse. So, we did a gig as part of the Mute festival. The label had a weekend where all the artists got together and collaborated on different things and in that collaboration me and James started working together. I interpreted some of his songs and he interpreted some of mine and that is how we started working together. At the time we didn’t realize that we were going to make an album, because we were on our own journeys releasing solo albums; I was right in the middle of releasing “Arrow”. After that we both said that we wanted to work together again, and that is how this album came about.
The new project is called onDeadWaves. Is there any significance behind the name?
We felt like it summed up the project, because the waves are kind of constant, the ebb and the flow, and the highs and the lows, they’re expansive. So we felt that the name summed up the expansiveness of everything.
Who came up with the name?
We both came up with the name. We kind of threw a few different ideas around. We both liked the idea of having something that didn’t instantly make sense.
On May 20, onDeadWaves will release your debut album via Mute Records. What can you share about the writing and recording process?
We wrote it at James‘s studio, which is in the countryside, so I went up to visit him. I just went up to hang out as friends, and then we ended up where I just didn’t leave. We ended up writing, I think, three songs together in the first week, and then we just continued. It was an effortless experience, which was quite different from my previous album (laughs). It just happened in a really nice, chilled out way.
Both you and James play electronic music, but you both have distinct musical styles. How did you manage to blend the two styles together?
I think that the album, I guess, on the surface is less electronic than both of our previous albums are. We always thought that it was important as musicians to keep things interesting, try out different sounds, and have fun with it. We didn’t ever sit down and say “okay, we’re going to make an album that sounds like this”, it just kind of happened. I think James picked up a guitar and it all happened from there. If you listen in detail to the album without the vocals, there is actually quite a few electronic elements on it. I think we tried to be more subtle with the electronics, so you don’t necessarily notice them – they’re not at the forefront – but they are in the track, making up the soundscape and the feeling behind the songs.
onDeadWaves were introduced to us via the singles, “Blue Inside” and “Blackbird”. What can you share about the lyrical concepts behind these two songs?
Which one shall I start with?
“Blue Inside” is basically about loss. It’s about that empty feeling that you have when you lose something that you love and you realize how fast that life can just disappear. I guess it’s also about accepting that, and moving on from it, and feeling grateful for what we have.
What is “Blackbird” about?
“Blackbird” is a little bit more abstract. When we were recording we stayed in, we didn’t want to go out very much. There was a blackbird that was sitting outside the window and it kept on staring at us while we were writing (laughs), and it was after we had been there for so long, it was almost like it wanted to be part of the session.
Can you tell us about the video clips for these songs?
They were made by Lukasz Pytlik, and he is an incredible video director. We saw his work online, and when he agreed to making the videos, we so excited. He’s just got this wonderful way of – I supposed – he puts visual to our songs. He understands them; he really gets into our heads. It was a very collaborative process, he had these wonderful ideas about how he thought the video should be seen, and I think he executed them very well.
I also read that in conjunction with the album, there is a visual presentation in the works. How did this Idea come about?
With music now, it’s just that so many people listening to things so fast. I kind of got the idea of making something that was more of a piece of art that would represent each song. It’s basically an interactive exhibition. There are ten images from the album, and each one of them is displayed, beneath the image will be the track that it represents. People can come along and they can look at the album artwork and listen to the song, and kind of experience it.
Continuing with that same idea, in what way has art and imagery influenced the composition of the record?
It is a big influence because we never really spoke very much in terms of describing things. For example, we would often describe things in terms of films and art. For example, we are big fans of Edward Hopper, so we kind of shared these images with each other, and we watched his films, and that visual was definitely a strong inspiration behind the album.
Do you have any touring plans coming up that you can share with us?
Yes. We’re in rehearsal at the moment. I think we’re going to be announcing something very, very soon.
What are your next plans? Are you already working on material for the follow up to “Arrow”?
Currently, onDeadWaves is my main focus. I would hope that there will be an “Arrow” follow up, but at the moment, I find that I am in a project that is so all consuming, I can’t really think forward to the next thing. I feel like I’m kind of in onDeadWaves world at the moment, and I’m enjoying it so I want to stay here for a little while.
We’ve come to the end of this interview Polly. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Thank you for inviting me.
Anytime, it was a real pleasure. To close things out, do you have any final words for your fans?
I would just like to thank everybody for sticking around while we made these albums, because I know that we haven’t been too speedy in making them. I like to take my time to make things sound exactly as I want them to. We just hope that people enjoy what was made and hope that it makes people smile.
Photos by Cat Mook