In Conversation With: Bad Sounds

Josie Durney

On the 31st May 2017, Bad Sounds threw an unforgettable party at Omeara near London Bridge. Their balloon-filled, party-popping, karate and jumpsuit mix provided an unexpected buzz for their gig, sorry you weren’t there to see it! They’ve been Annie Mac’s hottest record, they’ve had a slot on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, recently released their EP PHRESSSH, and after a few festivals this summer they embark on their tour in November. Bad Sounds are the new vibes to hit up, check out the interview with Ewan and Callum, and, if anything, just watch a video and admire their moves.

Where did the band name (Bad Sounds) come from?

Ewan: We had this demo, like me and Cal were writing music before we had solidified it as a band, and we really liked one of the tracks but it was recorded on a really shitty keyboard, and we just labelled the demo ‘bad sounds’ and we just started using it. I feel like that was the first demo where we thought we found our sound.

Where the heck does your sound come from? Especially when some of your audience might be a bit younger and not as aware of some of the older music (which Bad Sounds draw from)?

Callum: We grew up playing music together, in bands as guitarists, then at the end of our teens I suppose, I tried to move to London and just be a guitarist in bands. Ewan got really turned on to hip-hop, bought a sampler, learnt how to make beats. While I was playing in bands, learning how to work in that environment, learning how to record a band as well, and then I ran out of money and had to move back home, move back in with my mum and Ewan, and we started recording together again for fun. I think it’s the blend of those two things—Ewan then turned me on to the hip-hop stuff, and I learnt how to do that as well, and I turned him on to some of the stuff that I had been learning. I think it’s a blend of all those things, those two different sides of the industry.

E: I think it changed the way we work as well. For the two years when he was in London, I was making tracks by sampling off records and when Callum came back we thought we’d do something together because we’ve always been like best mates. I just treated Callum like a record, I’d get him to play riffs and be like ‘no, no, play something else’ and when he played something I liked I’d loop it up and I’d start making a song around that. Then sometimes I’d have a beat program but we’d want it to feel live so Callum would know how to mix and record it live so it would sound like I wanted it to sound. We learnt the stuff each other did.

Josie Durney
Josie Durney

Where does the band logo/look, music videos, visually, where is this all coming from? Like the dancing scene in ‘Avalanche’? My heart was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be a good boogie tonight!’ 

E: The logos and the aesthetic I’d say is mainly Cal.

C: I’ve done like all of our artwork since we started going. I think we just wanted to keep it simple, keep it to a simple colour scheme, not really into the neon thing, we wanted something that represented us, it wasn’t too slick. I feel like it references a lot of the stuff that we listen to in terms of 70s and 60s samples, like a lot of that artwork is like browns, mustards…

E: On top of that, for me, I was a huge Missy Elliott fan and I always loved all the bold colours like how her videos look. And Cal’s massively into The Flaming Lips, so all the way everything’s so wild and colourful. When we first started it seemed like that kind of black and white aesthetic was the big thing, not that we had anything against it, but it wasn’t what we wanted to do.

C: It also doesn’t suit our music either, our music is quite upbeat, luckily our tastes worked well with our music.

Can you explain the juxtaposition between the music and the lyrics, the storyline, the rhinoceros (check out ‘Meat on My Bones’), where is this all coming from?

C: You could do this case by case with each song.

E: the main thing for me is that I realized I can’t write lyrics in “making up stories” kind of way. Literally, 95% of our lyrics are conversations that I’ve had with friends. All the stories in ‘Avalanche’ are 3 different evenings from some of our friends, they don’t know, other than Julie.

C: Julie’s in love with that!

E: Every now and again we chuck in the odd line we had going around in our heads. I passionately think, to show someone the situation you’re in, in your life, like us, our age, telling the stories about all of our friends, everybody else in the same situation, explains that better than me saying it how I would. I feel like I’d rather share a day in the life of our world than trying to sum it all up.

Then the juxtaposition?

C: That’s just a theme in our band.

E: Yeah I agree with Cal, it’s something that naturally happens with us. We’re very different anyway and we’ve always been like best mates, I think I’ve always had a thing for being opposites. I think half the time I didn’t even realise. It was after ‘Avalanche’ was out people were saying “what’s up with the lyrics?”…People would point them out as quite depressing, but I didn’t really see them as depressing, I just see them as pointing out what’s real.

C: Like when me and Ewan hang out, and when we perform as well, as characters we’re very contrasting. I’m sure it’s a whole thing between us and with the music as well, the fact that there’s this really upbeat side of things with this kind of dark. We’re kind of documenting what’s happening around us.

E: To me, I don’t write any of the things down that people say to me, it’s just stuff sticks with me. I feel that maybe the stuff you naturally take away from a conversation as the most important stuff is sometimes about those topics, the things that are a bit more hard-hitting.

Alright, I guess I have to leave you guys to do whatever you’re doing, what are you doing?!

C: Hahahha well we can’t tell you that can we, I actually don’t know hahaha!

I want to let you know the full extent of what went down in Omeara, but what happens there stays there, and I can say that it was one of the best gigs I have ever been to, so many good vibes.

Catch them on tour whilst the venues still allow them to do what they do:

For the full interview, head over to YouTube: 

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