Pubblicato il Novembre 14th, 2017 | by DDG


Syd Arthur: Longing for apricity, from Canterbury to Rome

Canterbury’s Syd Arthur are one of the best new UK bands, mixing their personal blend of prog, psychedelic, jazz, canterburian music into beautiful pop songs: a few weeks ago we already published a guide to their discography, that should be now updated with a virtual live EP (LIVE IN BRIGHTON), published through the personal label of the band, Dawn Chorus Recording Company.

The virtual EP is a follow up to SYD ARTHUR MAP #1 (2015), a deluxe USB key gathering photos, videos and live tracks from the US tour as Yes supporting band: in spite of their contract with Harvest, Syd Arthur still work with a DIY approach, so it is not a surprise to see how Dawn Chorus Recording Company was turned in a tool for creating real time connections to the fan community… or to discover that their social networks accounts are managed by a member of the band, Joel Magill (bass – the line-up of Syd Arthur is completed by his brothers Liam – vocals and guitar – and Josh – drums, and by multi-instruments player Raven Bush). Joel was happy to speak with OPEN MAGAZINE about Syd Arthur, APRICITY, US, Italy and more.

In our guide, we already underlined the DIY background…

I saw the guide – thanks so much for writing this for us!

…having applied for a PRS grant for promoting ON AND ON as a sort of “business card” by going to SXSW Austin is a good example of it…

It was a whole series of events that led to us going to SXSW first. Initially we self-released ON AND ON in the UK and got enough support and buzz that we managed to get some financial support from the PRS to get to Austin. There we were lucky enough to be scouted by Harvest records and meet some good people who have stayed with us to this day…

Then, you shifted from the full independence to Harvest…

Harvest have been great at giving us artistic control. We come from a DIY background and we have managed to stay quite hands on with all aspects of what we do.

But was it possible to make a living from just music, when you released ON AND ON?

Yes, I think we pretty much just worked on Syd Arthur, playing shows and also the initally success of ON AND ON enabled us to dedicate all our time on the band

At that time, a journalist asked you “Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?”, and you answered “Performing all over the world to good sized crowds with 2-3 more incredible albums under our sleeves!”. And now, here you are, with another incredibile album, APRICITY, still mixing complex time signatures and “psychedelic” atmosphere, with a more “smooth” and rock touch. How did you make your sound evolve this way?

It was an interesting process making APRICITY. To be honest i think it naturally evolved this way during the writing and recording process. When Josh joined (as a substitute for Fred Rother, leaving for problems with tinnitus prior to recording the new album, A/N), the sound was bound to develop somewhat and as we figured out the song writing on APRICITY.

Jason Falkner is almost a legend for pop fans – he worked with pop artists such as Beck, Air, even Paul McCartney… but the connection with Syd Arthur is not that obvious: it was you or Harvest that proposed him?

Yes it was great to meet and work with Jason. He’s such a great guy! To be honest we hadn’t heard of Jelly Fish or come across his work until it was mentioned by our good friend Rick Krim at Sony/ATV. He had recently bummed into him and thought he would like our music and played it to him. Then it evolved from there with the label getting involved. We flew to LA and spent a few days with him to see if we thought it could work.

It worked, indeed! I noted a great development in the sound – when you hear Rebel lands you never notice the tricks in time signatures, you sound almost “rock”…

It was great to work with Jason. He will always be a friend. He was involved in the process, more so on some songs than others. We had already demo’d the whole album before we met Jason. Some of the songs were fully formed and others he really helped shape. One of the last songs we wrote, No Peace, Jason worked on us to help arrange. This was in fact the only song we hadn’t really demo’d before finishing APRICITY.

…but even in your previous records you already demonstrated how good you are in making complexities sound absolutely natural – EG the 6 vs 5 sections in Garden of time

We never try to write in ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ time signatures, it naturally happens for us. I’m glad you picked up the naturalness of this in our music.

Your style is someway between Canterbury, prog and psychedelia, which is the most audible influence, in spite of complex time signatures: with respect to Canterbury sound, pop songs of bands like Caravan are more “sunny” and ironic, whilst you are quite melancholic (in a psychedelic way)…

Yeah we have never solely been influenced by the Canterbury sound. We think we are quite psychedelic in the truest sense, yes.

…in the sense of modern psychedelic music – I see some similarities between you and Tame Impala…

We are influenced by lots of new music too so yes i can see these connections.

In our guide we explained how Hometown Blues may sound like a declaration that leaving Canterbury, or UK, maybe, was necessary for Syd Arthur to grow up: then, how was your experience in the US?

The US has been great to us. It’s great touring there – they really love music! And are really passionate about music everywhere you go. But upcoming this year we also have 5 Italian shows – 9th June, Covo Club in Bologna, 10th June, Bastione Sangallo in Fano, 11th June at our friends Nova Bar in Barchi, then we return for 2 festivals in July, but we would love to come to Rome… Where’s the best place to play in Rome for a band like us? For our first show in Rome we would love to find a place around 200-300…

Interview released on May 26th, 2017

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