When and how did STRAY come together ?
DAVE: Mark sent a very rough idea of the music over early 21, this was a song that very quickly came together. The working title was Shades of.. if I remember rightly.
MARK: Yeah when I put the original draught of STRAY together, it reminded me of early Shades Of Rhythm. They’re one of the few acts at the time that seemed to concentrate heavily on song structures within the realms of Rave music. Probably one of the reasons I can still enjoy listening to them. Hence the working title. “Shades Of”
There is a strong 90’s feel to the song, is this a continued genre / theme with you guys?
MARK: It’s what I was wanting to write at that given moment. To produce something at the heart of Rave with numerous values attributing to that era, but with a chorus / verse quality. Even the beats are new. No breakbeats or samples we’re used to create it, it’s all kicks, snare’s and cowbells.
DAVE: I don’t think we belong to a specific genre apart from electronic, the nineties had a massive impact on us and it subliminally comes through I guess. I think we’ve done our bit for that era now, we’ll maybe move onto another decade next!
What songs, acts and historic moments shaped STRAY?
DAVE: For me, lyrically and melody wise, it was Massive Attack and perhaps Sneaker Pimps. It reads quite apocalyptic, which it is I guess in the form of a relationship.
MARK: The single greatest musical movement since Punk. The Rave scene. An emergence of home producers, producing for the love of music, not to get some Instagram or Facebook content. That’s what Stray represents to me. It’s all original content, no samples and nods to those that have been doing it themselves since the early 90’s. (like me).
Why STRAY as the lead single from Pretty Disco Lights?
DAVE: The label decided on Stray, we earmarked a different one but agreed it made sense to release this. It will suit the positivity of Spring when it’s released.
MARK: It’s always a difficult one picking singles. I hear other songs on the album as potential singles and labels different again. I guess Stray is particularly direct in its radio arrange, it’s in and out with the verse / chorus song arrange. It has the hallmarks of a single, but wasn’t my immediate choice.
Why a Novablood album ?
MARK: If I’m honest I really didn’t want to commit to an album. I’d just finished the We Take Polaroids album and didn’t want to dive headlong back into another big project. I guess I always felt Novablood was about strong singles and eps. But that’s when I began to think that if my mindset was so, I’d be possibly limiting, or in some way stifling the potential directions that Novablood could journey. Once I put my ‘album writing head’ on, the music mutated into various different moods, styles and genres. Places I maybe never really saw Novablood’s vibe head.
DAVE: We’ve continually written and released EP’s since we started doing this project. It got to a stage when we wrote a bunch of songs whilst waiting round for a label to release something for us. We gave up waiting and left the label. We decided we had a body of work that was an album.
The title Pretty Disco Lights conjures up some strong vivid imagery, where did this come from?
DAVE: The Pretty Disco Lights title came from the last song we wrote for the album. We had various working titles including Learning Curves, but the title we decided on fitted as a theme.
MARK: The album was, in my mind, finished. But a track I’d been working on kept niggling away at me like a sore tooth. After sending the rough arrange to Dave, he gave me some vocals I could see stretch through the arrange and allow the track to breathe. The lyric, “pretty disco lights” stood out to me immediately. And after weeks of struggling for an album title it stared me in the face. When I put it to Dave that that could indeed be the title, he immediately said the same thing. I’ll NEVER forget it. The day we actually agreed on something without a punch up!
The album moves in divergent ways, why the change in tone throughout, instead of the twelve expected dance-floor bangers?
DAVE: Things that were going on in our lives naturally influenced the playing, and words. There were dark times and you can hear this.
MARK: I think previous releases have shown we have light and dark. Varying textures and emotions to bring. But the album however was born along some pretty dark times. We lost dear family members and close friends. Times of stress and anxiety worked their ways into the heart of the music, let alone Dave’s lyrical content.
What albums that influenced you, influenced this album?
DAVE: For me I look at the blueprint of great albums that stayed with me, Violator, New Gold Dream, Screamadelica, and newer albums from Rufus Du Sol and the Presets.
MARK: it’s difficult this one for me, because I genuinely believe that inspiration hits you when you’re unawares. There’s albums that I listened to while the album was in progress but I can’t honestly say they left an imprint in the music. My surroundings and circumstances play a far heavier role in the mood of my music. Album track, ‘Shadows’, I suppose, is the greatest example of this. I’d been called to say one of my best mates had passed away after an illness and I walked straight into the studio and wrote the full music you will hear as it is on the album. It was a sorrowful chord progression and organ sounds that seemed to play out by itself. It happened due to its circumstance. Born from what I was feeling at the moment.
Moving onto the process and background. Did the lockdown influence the mood and writing process?
DAVE: The last thing we wanted to write about was the lockdown, it’s still surreal thinking about it. I’d rather not dwell on it! There was one lyric ‘the days have no names they just come and go’ that kinda slipped into one song. We released a song called Cosmique mid lockdown which is like our club Tropicana, defo no references to Covid in that tune!
MARK: Lockdown simply gave me more time. It didn’t affect the mood of any of the pieces per se. Apart from whatever my day to day brought to me, mood wise.
These songs sound very accomplished and artfully produced, how easily did the songs develop?
DAVE: Nothing was easy, it never is!
I have massive respect for the hours that Mark puts in to creating, producing and mixing these songs. We work remotely and we swap ideas and audio. As a true producer Mark will try and get the best out of me and has no issues with telling me if a vocal is below par or lacks feeling.
It can cause arguments yes, but it always gets the best results. We’ve argued since we first met, it won’t change ever!! We have a few songs that didn’t make the album, some we will hopefully complete others won’t see the light of day.
MARK: I can honestly say, that the songs on the album were predominantly easy for me to write. That’s why they’re on the album. The songs I struggled with are the ones you won’t hear.
Dave does genuinely get a hard time from me. That’s only because if he delivers a vocal session I fail to hear either emotional content, lack lustre performance or feel the lyrical content is unsuitable to the vibe, I’ll just be honest and say. I have seen gigantic changes in Daves vocal and lyrical compositions since we begun. And I know it hasn’t been easy for Dave. It’s very difficult for a lyricist / vocalist to work on a vocal session for hours / days and deliver it to negative feedback, but Dave has a strength in where he can turn off the original ideas and manifest a whole new direction. This to which I’ve seen him be re-directed numerous times until it just hits. I can push Dave to almost breaking point in order to get the best from him. I don’t believe he’s ever had that kind of treatment in the studio before. His standard now is much higher than ever in my eyes.