MANCHESTER is a part of the world…
I am always keen to explore. I have been speaking with WILDFIRES about the city and why there are such strong connections among musicians. They discuss their new track, Mr Solo, and how it came together; what they have planned regards material/touring – what music they are all inspired by.
I ask whether there are new artists we should be aware of; how stunning vocals (from Poppy-Jo) add to their musical beauty; what it was like recording at Medicine Room Studios; how the band got together; if they get any time off from music – the guys all select a song to end the interview.
Hi, WILDFIRES. How are you? How has your week been?
How’s it going!? We’re amazing! Our week has been pretty mega. We got played on BBC Radio 6 Music on Saturday and again yesterday on the BBC Introducing Mixtape - so it’s very hard not to be smiling!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We’re a four-piece Manchester band consisting of Poppy-Jo on Vocals, Ste Darling on Guitar; Nath on Bass and Si James on Drums. We like to think that we’re a bit new, a bit different and, maybe, bring a sound that people haven’t really heard before. We mix twangy guitar sounds with electronic synths to create a sort-of ‘Indie-Electro’ vibe.
Mr Solo is your latest song. Is there a story behind the song?
Everyone that has heard it has interpreted Mr Solo in so many different ways. A lot of people characterise Mr Solo and, for them, the song’s about this lonely guy that shuts himself off from the world. It actually has a bit of a deeper meaning and kind of says that we are all ‘Mr Solo’ in our own ways – so we’re all in it together.
The vocal beauty and strong production makes it an instant, yet deep, song. It mixes dirty and refined. Was that a conscious decision?
Absolutely. We’re aware of Poppy-Jo’s husky vocals - and we love to use that to our advantage by contrasting it against all the other stuff we have going on. We, originally, wrote the track all on synth but, to make it sound more ‘us’ and less dancey; we developed the chords on our instruments. It’s so fun to play for us - and we can imagine how much bigger it will be live!
What was it like working at Medicine Room Studios?
Medicine Room Studios is so cool. It’s a former elderly people’s home and the room we record in used to be the old medicine room – hence the name! It’s obviously very creepy but it all adds to the ambience - and it’s a great story to tell…
Dom, who produced our track, is an absolute legend, too. He was so honest; contributed loads and really knew his stuff. The man’s a genius!
Is there going to be new material coming later in the year?
Very soon, actually! We’re recording two new singles and, hopefully, will have an album by the end of this year. The next thing we have in line, though, is Mr Solo’s music video! We’ve just started the filming and there’s definitely going to be some surprises in store with that one – think Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up mixed with OK Go…we can’t wait to release it.
How did you all get together? When did WILDFIRES come to be?
We have the wonders of the Internet to thank for bringing us together. We met on a kind of dating website for musicians: Natural Music Selection, we say. Hahaha. The modern-day world, eh!
I hear everything from Nina Persson and Bombay Bicycle Club in your music. Which artists are you influenced by?
We actually all have very different music tastes in the band, which is amazing for influences (but a nightmare for the aux in the car. Haha!) We feel particularly influenced by bands like LCD Soundsystem, The xx and, in lyrical ways, Guy Garvey and Amy Winehouse. We’re all so passionate about music, that elements from our songs can be heard from all different genres...from Electronic/Dance, right through to heavy Rock!
Manchester must be a great place to create music! What is the city like for artists?
It’s definitely competitive, but the atmosphere is unreal on the music scene: Manchester’s never lost that. Every time we gig we make new friends or networks; whether it’s other bands or (just) the people that get chatting to you after you’ve played. Manchester has so much history, especially in music, so we can’t even express how proud we are not only to be to be born here, but to be creating our music here too
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
We actually have nothing set in stone yet - as we’re focussing on writing and perfecting our set-list. The idea of people being familiar with our songs when they come to watch us is really important to us - but we’re also in a hurry to get back out there, so keep your eyes peeled very soon!
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
We just want to get our name out there a bit more, you know!? We work so hard at this like so many other bands, and to gain recognition from it would be so fulfilling. Every new person that listens to our music (and enjoys it) is a massive achievement for us.
Anything after that is (just) a bonus!
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Our favourite memory is probably when we played a tiny pub in Stockport called The Blossoms - where the band got their name. It was a tiny gig but felt massive because of how packed this little room was! We accidentally went too Rock and Roll for our own good and got a bit merry on stage so, by the end, we were just going mental with all these people dancing in this tiny pub – it was like a rave that just played our own music. Hahaha
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Stick to your guns and believe in yourself. Very cliché, but it’s something we live by! By all mean, take on criticism and listen to those that know their stuff – but, instinct and confidence is the key.
Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love...
IN THIS PHOTO: Freeda
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
A fellow Manchester band (sorry, we back our own round ‘ere!) called Freeda (from Mossley). Really up-and-coming sound - and some proper bangers to have a dance to!
Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Truthfully? No! hahaha. We never stop! We all work full-time as well, as a band so, whenever we’re not at work, we’re writing/jamming/blogging. It’s like having a business: keeping the website, the social media up to date - it’s all very important to keep us fresh in people’s minds while we write! On the rare occasion that we do get some time to wind-down; it’s always at the pub with a crisp cold pint of Guinness. Standard.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Poppy-Jo: Take a Slice - Glass Animals
Ste: Rip It Up - Orange Juice
Nathan: Chateau - Angus & Julia Stone
Si: Gravity - John Mayer