Interview Years & Years: ‘This Is An All-Encompassing Obsession’

The UK’s next breakthrough dance act? It’s a case of counting down the hours, not years.

Years & Years’ Olly Alexander spent last year - and the beginning of 2014 - with Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, working on the God Help The Girl project. Cut to the present day and it’s difficult to equate Murdoch’s sweet-as-can-be songwriting with the dance-centric trio Olly fronts, but some similarities flicker beneath the surface.

The London trio’s vocalist cites simplicity as a common ground. “I remember Stuart wrote a song for my character to sing at the beginning of the film. He wrote the song in [just] one morning. It had three chords in it - we all had it in our heads for the rest of the shoot,” he recalls, backing it up by saying he learnt that “simplicity is the key in music.” Sure, Murdoch has “decades of experience” to boot, he admits, but “I feel like I always over-complicate and stress over everything.”

That might’ve been the case in the months before now, where Olly, Mikey Goldsworthy (bass), Emre Turkmen (synths, production) fretted over details and experimented for the sake of it. New single ‘Real’ is a complete step to the other side. Complexities rinse around, but ultimately it’s a song as booming, immediate and universal as Disclosure’s ‘Latch’. Simplicity comes into that, even if the whole thing’s dressed up as a clever sod.

No doubt Years & Years boast intricacies behind their insta-pop. Olly calls the project “an all-encompassing obsession,” picturing producer Emre as a permanently tuned-in bandmate (“[He] listens to the songs more than anyone when he’s producing.”) Out last month, ‘Real’ was a turning point. It showed obsessions being channelled into something genuinely game-changing. Suddenly the band has cropped up supporting Say Lou Lou and MØ, selling out headline shows in the process.

As for an album, they’re promising “an emotional electro-dance roller coaster,” which sounds like the kind of catchphrase you might hear in an after-hours version of Deal or No Deal. Still, if it’s packed full of songs linking up to their recent single (they’re making a record with “ups and downs,” in a good way), there’s little doubting the trio’s chances of stealing the summer. One simple step at a time.

Taken from the new, free DIY Weekly, available to read online, download on Android via Googleplay, or download on iPad now.

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