News Sunless ‘97: ‘It Never Feels Like We’ve Quite Arrived’

Ed and Alice talk the ‘Aurora’ EP & debut album plans with Martyn Young.

Sunless ‘97’s

‘Aurora EP’ is perhaps the perfect collection of songs to represent the changing of the seasons. It’s a collection of two songs and attendant remixes that encapsulate all the hedonism of summer as well as the melancholic malaise that too much excess can bring on. As well as ‘Aurora I’ being one of the year’s outstanding singles so far, it marks a significant step forward for the London based trio. As they begin the tentative steps to create the their debut album after a couple of years of slow burning progress Neu spoke to Ed and Alice from the band to find out about their state of mind as they prepare to make that next great leap forward.

How pleased are you with the response to the ‘Aurora EP’, how did you develop those two songs?
Ed: We’re really happy. It was nice to get it out there and we got to work with people that we really wanted to work with like Tom Skinner, David Wrench and Luke Solomon, people like that. It was a lovely thing to be involved in.

What was the genesis for those two songs? Is the intertwined thematic link between songs something that you’d like to develop further?
Alice: I think it happened quite naturally with those songs. We wrote them both and then the lyrics seemed to tie together. They both were about that certain type of day, or dawn. That specific time of day at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Staying up all night and staying up until the morning. That’s a really nice and positive thing.
Ed: Mystical!
Alice: Yeah, happy and euphoric in a way. ‘Aurora II’ is like the feeling of having too much of that lifestyle. It’s the fear and the dread driving us into a bad rut.
Ed: I think both songs describe the end of the night but from different viewpoints.
Alice: It sounds slightly more vapid but it’s about a feeling and where you’re at. That moment when the light comes up. It’s about a state of mind, trying to take that moment and distil it.

Do you see Sunless ’97 as primarily an electronic group working within the realm of dance music? The ‘Aurora EP’ certainly has a strong dance culture influence.
Alice: I think that’s just something that we were going through at the time. There will probably be dance elements in the future but we really like to think that we are constantly moving and progressing while channelling different things. We’re open to all music and genres. We’re just always moving, it never feels like we’ve quite arrived. We’re always getting closer and becoming more confident.
Ed: We have genre difficulties, we really love dance music and that just came across on this last release. The next one could be opera or folk!

As a band with such a wealth of ideas and influences, is it hard to ever distillate those ideas into one coherent form?
Ed: That’s something that we’ve tried to do actually. When we first started making music together there was this feeling that with such a broad range of influences we were always trying to work out where we sat or how that music was going to move through us. Something that we’ve learnt is that we just need to be completely natural about the process and whatever comes out comes out. We just have to let it be.

Your music is very blissful, where do you think that come from?
Alice: I think that’s just another natural thing. It’s certainly not strived for but it’s really nice.
Ed: It’s impossible to quantify these feelings really.

One of the best aspects of your music is its timeless and evocative quality. Is it important to you to not be too reverent to the past?
Alice: I don’t think it’s important to not just be referential to one sound, I think it’s important to be open to all sounds. It’s important to combine things and maybe the combination of things will create something interesting.

You’ve stated before in interviews your love of travel. How does that manifest itself in your music now? Does travel aid expression?
Ed: We’ve been lucky to go to some amazing countries and you just gather inspiration from the atmosphere of certain places. I think it’s the energy of visiting places that is a direct influence on our music.
Alice: We’ve started writing an album now. We went to Lisbon and that’s where we started writing most of the songs for the album. Lisbon has a real atmosphere. It’s one of those things that you can’t describe. It’s very creative and bubbling. Hopefully, we were able to get that in the first few songs for the album.
Ed: It’s an unspoken energy and vibe.

How far into the process of recording the album are you and what can we possibly expect from it?
Ed: Alice and I are really excited because in the last month we’ve got our own studio space by the river in London. We’ve been making a lot of music there. We’re not working towards deadlines or a certain number of tracks. We’re just making the music and once we feel that we’re ready to pool 9/10 tracks together, that’s when the album will be ready.

Your career has progressed in something of a rather old-fashioned slow burning style.
Alice: I think it’s just been that life has been carrying on and we’re doing this music thing, which we’re really enjoying, but we’re not trying to fit into anybody’s standards or anything. We’re just enjoying it and living life at the same time. We’re doing it at a pace that feels natural. It would be nice to have a larger amount of songs in one place, an end result that we feel we have been building up to. An album would be really nice and I think that will be the next thing.
Ed: It’s interesting because we’ve seen a lot of people come and go and get involved in this circular, factory idea. People have such emphasis on blogs and brand new music - this is a brand new song! etc. We’ve not been careful to stay away from that but luckily, we’ve never got caught up in it. Music is something that we really love doing as well as lots of other things.

Is there any sort of added pressure that you feel as a band through working within that environment?
Ed: Yeah, and I think that’s having a really negative effect on people’s music as well.
Alice: It’s an amazing thing, it can’t go unappreciated. Music is really accessible and everybody can listen all the time and it’s always new. It also means that it can become slightly futile though. There’s not enough emphasis on songs and the craft of song. You just listen to it and next week you have a new song. They’re not as precious as the should be anymore.

How do you feel that you have developed as a band and as writers since you first started making music together?
Ed: The new songs that we’ve written recently in our studio are a big step forward because we’ve managed to take out a lot of sounds. In the early days, we tended to throw a lot of sounds and synths at the song as possible. With confidence and understanding of the mechanics of music, we’ve managed to boil it down to only 10/11 tracks of music.
Alice: It’s the confidence of production as well as writing. It’s also about being happy that we write songs. We may be experimental but we also like the craft of the song. It’s like having a canvas and you know what you want to create.

There’s a strong visual aesthetic to Sunless ‘97. How important is it to cultivate that aesthetic to go alongside the music?
Alice: It’s really important. Sunless is my first music project personally. I only did visual stuff before that. The two things are very closely entwined. It’s all part of the same process in a way.

How was it filming the ‘Aurora I’ video? It looks incredibly fun.
Ed: That was carefree and slightly tongue-in-cheek.
Alice: We basically didn’t have the budget for a high concept video so we just decided to have a fun party video.
Ed: It’s quite silly but I suppose we had a good evening. We were very careful to ensure that every time Alice sang, “I’m never lonely,” we weren’t surrounded by people. Because the rest of it was a party atmosphere, we didn’t want it to come across as if we’re never lonely because we’ve got all our friends. It’s the opposite of that.
Alice: The sentiment is that I’m alone but I don’t feel lonely.

You’ve both mentioned that you’re more confident as writers and producers in the studio now, how has your live show developed alongside the music’s progression? Do you see the live set up as distinct from the studio side?
Ed: They are slightly separate. The live set up for us is a live and living thing, constantly evolving. When we’re presenting the songs live they are much more dance oriented at the moment. When we incorporate some of our new songs into the set then it might take a turn into something more downbeat. We’d love to incorporate more organic instruments and one day maybe have a 10-piece band.

What’s your plans for the rest of 2013 then? Are you playing any festivals?
Ed: We’re not sure really. We did a huge amount of festivals last summer. So this year we might just stay put in London and keep working on as much music as possible. I think we’re going to go quite far away. We’re thinking of going to India and we’re just trying to get the money together for that.

I imagine India would be a really creatively inspiring place.
Alice: Yeah, we’ve been before. We’ve been to North India and now we want to do South India. We’re ever resourceful; we’ve got an idea of what we want to do so we have to make it happen somehow.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

July/August 2024

With Fontaines DC, Kneecap, BERWYN, Wunderhorse and many more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY