Cult indie label legends Speedy Wunderground, the brainchild of Dan Carey, Alexis Smith and Pierre Hall, have just released their latest compilation and it’s chock-a-block full of faves.
From Squid to black midi and Sinead O’Brien, there’s a little something for everyone, so we grabbed five mins with Dan, Alexis and Pierre and some of the bands to talk us through it.
Scottibrains – Sustained Threat
We were interested in using the Shepard tone as a way to incite as much anxiety in a track as possible. The scale gives the impression of constantly rising without ever resolving which, when we’re playing it, makes us feel pretty paranoid. In a good way.
Black Midi – bmbmbm
It’s definitely one of our landmark singles. I remember the first time I heard it - it completely blew me away. It was quite a hard sound to describe - but Dan managed to capture that live intensity of them. We saw them at Fabric a few weeks ago - and all that touring has paid off. Live - they’re this huge shape-shifting beast now. They could go in any direction next which is really exciting. We’re honoured to have played a part.
Squid – The Dial
Recording ‘The Dial’ was the first time we had worked with an actual real professional in the studio and we haven’t looked back since. We were really nervous beforehand though. The night before we recorded ‘The Dial’ I had a nightmare that we came into Dan’s studio and he was watching Eastenders and refused to record us or look us in the eye. Obviously that didn’t happen. I felt totally at ease when Dan widened his eyes and said “I WANT THIS TO SOUND LIKE THE FEELIES”.
Black Country, New Road – Athen’s, France
Recording A,F was definitely an event - I would go a step further and describe it as an experience. It required microphones, amplifiers and guitars but most importantly it required music, patience and willing - and ultimately, Dan Carey. It also required time - Which was, as they say, of the essence. The ‘Speedy’ element of the process was clear early on - it was the ‘wunderground’ of the whole thing that became obvious much later.
All We Are – Heart Attack
‘Heart Attack’ was a Speedy Wunderground sesh pure and true. Dan and us three have been wanting to get in the studio since our debut LP and then in traditional speedy fashion we invited Alex to join us last minute after meeting him at a rowdy Speedy gig at Moth Club the previous day. After deep, stream of consciousness jams, psychedelic lyric swapping randomness and constructed 4 guitar riff circles, ‘Heart Attack’ was born and finished in 1 day. I punched the referee he’s bad you know.
Alex Kapranos – Heart Attack
I’ve known Dan for years, since he produced our ‘Tonight’ LP, and have been a fan of SW and its ethos since the start.
I bumped into AWA at a SW gig at the Moth Club and they asked me if I fancied collaborating on a track, so I came down to the studio on the Monday. I loved it. We had no preconceptions and over the course of the day wrote and recorded all of the music and lyrics. It was a great atmosphere, inspiring and thrilling to work with good people who are adventurous musicians.
Tiña – I Feel Fine
Working with Dan was like working with a musical holy man or shaman. He softly moves around the studio intuitively making suggestions in a way that makes it feel like it was your choice to record on that specific guitar. ‘I Feel Fine’ is a song about discovering sexual freedom through finding yourself in deep meditation.
Treeboy & Arc – Concept
Recording with Dan was pretty surreal for us. It involved nine hours in the car, one minor car accident and approximately 50 layers of synthesisers. As soon as we arrived though, Dan made us feel like we were far superior musicians than what we actually are. He’s got some wild ideas that we just went along with and ‘Concept’ was what came out at the end of it all. Recording itself probably took no longer than five or six hours, then we just went to Wetherspoons and had a shandy. Lovely experience, would definitely go again. 10/10.
Sinead O’Brien – Taking On Time
‘Taking On Time’ was written as a stream of consciousness piece initially; fragments of city walls open a lyrical examination into order and chaos against the music which pulls and tears ahead like a runaway train. Everything and nothing happens. It’s a still life film. “This that I am” the opening line comes from Heidegger’s idea of “sein”; all the different ways of ‘being’. I wanted to put double or triple emphasis on the ‘me-being-here-now’ as a way of navigating and positioning myself in the world. Dan’s production and input made the piece feel incredibly immediate with a crucial sense of ‘now’. Together we found a way to bring the piece to life and give it a world of it’s own to exist in. I can’t compare it to anything else – the experience left me with a taste for more… Dan is so unique and it’s such a privilege to get to work with him.
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