Interview Standard Fare: ‘The Mass Market Is Missing Out’

Sheffield, artistic development and the concept of ‘breaking through’.

Arguably one of the finest guitar bands to have come out of the steel city since The Long Blondes, Sheffield three-piece Standard Fare have released two albums of vibrant, clever pop music in the form of 2010’s ‘The Noyelle Beat’ and ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Town’, released earlier this year. We caught up with Emma Kupa straight after their incendiary Indietracks show to talk about their hometown, artistic development and the concept of ‘breaking through’.

This is your second visit to Indietracks. What parallels can be drawn between now and then? How do you feel that you have changed and developed as a band since your last visit in 2010?
I think we are more experienced and more confident, so even when we mess up it doesn’t upset us as much as it used to. I think we’ve got more history and we’ve got a stronger bond. Every time we do another tour or whatever we bond that little bit more. In terms of songwrtiting I think we’re far more collaborative than we used to be and we write songs more as as a band, and as a single entity. That’s really nice.

Is there a sense of satisfaction this weekend, looking back at how you’ve developed and grown over the past couple of years?
Yeah, certainly! It’s really nice. There are loads of people milling around that we know and that we’ve met during our time together as a band and it’s lovely.

Aside from the collaborative aspect that you touched upon earlier, how else do you think you’ve grown as songwriters between the two albums?
I think we’re less hung up on unrequited love, I guess! We’re happier to talk and write about other things now.

To many bands a debut record has this magical, almost mythical quality. With that in mind how would you describe the relationship you have between ‘The Noyelle Beat’ and ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Town’?
I don’t think there was any magic or mystique about our first album. We just recorded it and released and then went onto the next one.

But surely as a band there has to be a sense or achievement when you finally get to release a debut album. That must still mean something?
Like satisfaction? I don’t really know. We’ve always just been of the mindset of ‘this is what we’re working on, and once we’ve done this then we’ll start working on the next one’ . Today’s felt really satisfying, I must say.

When you have the likes of Pop-o-matic and Pull Yourself Together putting on club nights and being quite productive in terms of promoting and bringing bands to the city, do you you get the sense that Sheffield is a city that is embracing guitar-based pop music again?
I think it has been for a few years, to be honest. Pop-o-matic have been going for a few years now, but when PYT have arrived over from Manchester then they’ve really upped the quality of things that have been happening and it’s really exciting place to be. It’s always been a very good city for music.

Where do you feel that you as a band fit into the whole Sheffield scene?
Well, we play there quite regularly and we know a lot f the people that are making things happen in the city at the moment. It’s a good place to be as a band, certainly.

With your album getting good press Stateside such as Pitchfork etc, and a lot of the bands playing the weekend getting radio play listing and broadsheet album reviews, do you think that guitar-based pop music is having something of a resurgence?
The first album wasn’t on Pitchfork! But yeah, the current one is. I don’t know, I’m not sure how these things work. We’ve always had positive press from non-professional media and that’s always been awesome. We’ve had occasional reviews in Pitchfork, Q and things like that and a few plays on 6Music but… I don’t know. I think it might be more of a major label versus a non-major label thing. It’s a tough thing to do, to break through from low-key coverage to something bigger. I mean, Allo Darlin’ have the best chance out of any of us of breaking through. Definitely. I mean, the mass market is missing out for sure. Anyone I play this music to, from these other ‘indie-pop’ bands, loves it. I don’t know what the barrier is between all this awesome music being produced and the mass market appreciating it.

What does pop mean to you - if you had to pin down a set of ideals that defines pop music to you what would they be?
I think if you’re calling us a pop band then I think our values are like trying to be catchy vocally, trying to write things that are simple and are devoid of too many metaphors and too much complication. Musically, you don’t want to bore anybody it needs to be punchy. I think our sound has developed because we have been used to playing to half-empty rooms. We just want to grab people’s attention and keep it.

Do you think that your recorded output to date has managed to hit those ideals?
I don’t know, that’s a difficult question! I’m happy with everything we’ve produced. I’m being something of a politician, there…

If you could name the main thing that you hoped people would get out of tour music, what would it be?
I would want our records to reach people, or for them to identify with something in it I guess. That and to think that we’re awesome musicians.

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