Glass Animals, the Oxford quartet who brought out their debut album ZABA last month, were to be performing on the Alcove stage in less than two hours time. Their tour in America had just finished and Latitude was the beginning of many festival dates they have lined up for the remaining summer months. I had a chat to the lead singer Dave and drummer Joe about their musical influences behind their sound, discussing the theme behind ZABA and the story behind signing with Paul Epworth’s label - Wolf Tone.
Your debut album has a very distinct sound, does this stem from what music you listen to?
Dave – “All sorts of stuff, I guess between the four of us, we listen to pretty much anything, I listen to a lot of old soul music and quite a lot of young electronic producers – always trying to see what is going on in that world. And then Joe and I listen to quite a lot of hip-hop and the other guys are into jazz and classical, Joe is into modern RNB.”
Joe - “Yeah I mean I like everything.”
So basically you just sort of take things from different genres of music and bring it together to create your sort of own distinct sound, is that like your aim?
Joe- “I don’t know if it is an aim but there are certain genres of music that do things really well, like Pop music has really concise structures and Hip Hop has a really interesting take on rhythms. Also, vocal melodies in RNB can be beautiful, you know, there are certain things that are done well, so you can kind of take your ideas from it, I guess.”
Dave – “I don’t think it is like a conscious thing, I think it is just, you sit down and make music and that’s what happens.”
When you create music, do you have someone who leads the group or is it more of a collaborative thing?
Dave – “I guess I sort of start the tracks, I normally come to the group with the kind of sketch for a song, a vague skeleton and then we will take it to the studio and start fleshing it out a bit together.”
What is your theme for ZABA? It seems almost tropical, especially with the artwork, as it is quite colourful and bold! So was there like a theme that you had or did it all come together at the end?
Dave – “Yeah yeah, that tropical theme is definitely there, I think it came from stuff that I was reading and things that we were into at the time. I was reading a lot of books about people wandering off into the tropical rain forest and getting lost. I watched ‘Apocalypse Now’ and a film called ‘The African Queen’ and it is all about going off and getting lost in weird forests, meeting all these strange creatures and things so, I think that really heavily influenced me, everything for the album from song writing to our soundscape.”
Has that got anything to do with your name ‘Glass Animals’? Why did you pick that or have you had previous names?
Dave – “That was our original name, we just opened up the dictionary and pointed at the first thing we saw…”
Joe – “Yeah.”
Dave – “No, no that could have been really dangerous, we could have been called anything.”
Joe – “Yeah like Arse Munchkin…”
So how come you picked Glass Animals?
Joe – “I mean it was just fairly straight forward, in the most straight forward way possible, it just made sense with the music.”
And how did you guys form, have you known each other for a while?
Dave – “Yeah since we were about 13.”
Do you think that helps when creating music?
Dave – “I think we can be more honest with each other, like if Joe doesn’t like something I have done he will just say, I mean we are like family.”
You signed up to Wolf Tone, how did that come about? Did the founder, Paul Epworth, come and see a show?
Dave – “Yeah, he came to our first London show and then we just ended up speaking to him afterwards, went to a bar and got a bit drunk and you know just talked about music for ages. We kept talking and then I went to visit him in the studio and we talked even more about music. Then a couple of months later we all went to see Flying Lotus together and had kept in touch during them couple of months. After that Flying Lotus gig he started telling us about this label he was starting up and that he was keen to have us. It took us quite a while to realise that that was the right thing for us and then we just did it.”
To see what we thought of their set head over to our Highlights of Latitude Day Two!
-Rianne Kate Thompson