Wednesday 20 June
It’s not often that something entirely fresh and eclectically invigorating bursts onto the Cardiff scene, but since Fjords’s revamp from Don’t Tread On Spiders they’ve been slogging away and honing their juicily diverse approach. And, despite losing a couple of members, their debut EP Dead Diamonds is a wonderfully tight and considered piece of work with no one track comparable to
the last. We caught up with vocalist Sonny and drummer Hannah ahead of their gig at Buffalo, Cardiff next week to chat blagging studio time courtesy of the James Dean Bradfield, the Welsh music scene and more.
MMP: Your sound is quite unique, combining 80s electro-pop revival, anthemic rock and indie into something snug and comprehensive. Does the band draw on a variety of different influences, and if so, who?
Sonny: When we started out I had a kind of Arcade Fire thing in mind, and I was very focused on what kind of band we should be. However, with everyone’s different influences it was difficult to stick to. We try very hard to let everyone have a say depending on what instruments we play.
Hannah: We’re definitely becoming a lot more focused as a group on what we want to do and the sound we want to produce.
S: In general I think most of us are more into alternative music. Personally my influences include Arcade Fire and David Bowie.
H: At the moment I’m quite into James Blake-kind-of-stuff, but also Stone Roses and that whole ‘Madchester’ scene. It’s a real mix, which is good because everyone brings something different to the table and it’s really working very well.
You come from Cardiff. What do you make of the city’s music scene at the moment? Any favourite bands?
S: I find Cardiff very frustrating, personally, because on the whole it’s dominated by this twee indie scene. While I do love that kind of music I prefer bands like The Kills – the type that play around south east London way – and the kind of music we’re playing isn’t really represented here. I suppose in a way we have found a kind of niche. Although in the Cardiff scene you’ve honestly got some really good bands.
H: I love Cut Ribbons. We supported them a few months ago and they were amazing.
How difficult do you think it is to get noticed?
H: I think we’re beginning to get a good following. Obviously at first, with any band, it’s just their friends who come along but we’re starting to get a lot more coverage now. We played with Niki & the Dove a few weeks ago and that’s helped massively. We’re learning to be a bit pickier with what gigs we’ll agree to rather than just turning up and playing with bands that don’t compliment each other.
S: That’s also helped us learn our audience a bit more, as outside of Cardiff – especially in west Wales - there are a few bands with a similar sound to us so we know who to collaborate with. A lot of promoters do tend to match up the wrong sorts of bands.
H: Crosswire, who we’ve got involved with recently, seems to be really on the ball.
You describe yourselves as working on a DIY basis. How have you gone about recording and producing your new EP Dead Diamonds?
S: Being a DIY band is really a case of not waiting around to get signed but to get out and promote yourselves, which I think is very important in the current climate. We got approached in this case by a guy who was really interested in our music from Street Level Studios, and for a year or so we weren’t keen but said we’ll use you as a practice studio. Eventually we could afford the EP, put the money up and asked him to produce it, which he was happy to do. The benefit is that everything will be registered in our name. We’re getting some help with the artwork and when it comes time to make a video that could be done by students who want to get a bit of experience.
H: It’s a great way to get new people involved who are really passionate about us as a band and keep things on our own terms. We’re starting to do our own gigs. It’s much better because you can choose where you play and who you play with. We’re lucky that Liz from Buffalo was quite keen to give us the opportunity.
S: Yes, I think she’s very important in Cardiff actually.
Apparently you’ve had studio time provided by the Manic Street Preachers. How did that opportunity come about?
H: It was a bit random actually. My brother used to work in a café opposite their studios and James [Dean Bradfield] used to come in all the time. I thought I’d be cheeky and ask him if we could use the studios and he said yes.S: You come from a family of blaggers don’t you Han!
H: They let us use a few of their engineers. It was amazing because we got to use it for the whole day and we got two tracks done.
S: Apparently something in there was used to record Bohemian Rhapsody…
H: Yeah, there was something from the Stone Roses as well.
S: And Fjords!
The EP is excellent and you have the launch planned for September. What else have you got lined up for the summer?
H: We’ll be looking to hold the EP launch somewhere a bit different. We’d love to do it in the Norwegian Church; it’s a great venue and obviously it’d be a good fit for Fjords. It’d have a ring to it. Over the summer we’ll probably be writing some new material.
S: In fact we’ve just finished writing another song and are hoping to roll it out during our Cardiff show on the 29th. We’ll definitely be open to doing a few more gigs.
Interview by: Dom Gilbert