To be completely honest, despite there being enough hype-laced writings about Chad Valley to make the amount of data seized from Bin Laden’s compound look like the rushed homework of a 12 year old, we weren’t expecting much. We definitely weren’t expecting his smooth balearic charm and his powerful and propulsive beats to hit with such poignancy. We weren’t expecting him to sound like what Friendly Fires would have sounded like if they’d turned towards their tropical tendencies rather than their popularist ones on their second album. And we really weren’t expecting for the Kazimier to be filled by such a striking and inescapably enormous voice every time he opened his mouth. Whether it be twiddly electronic trickery or not, it sounded undeniably perfect, leaving us with the conclusion that we really really didn’t expect; ironically, despite all of the hype, Chad Valley was the unexpected highlight of our first day at Sound City.
Oxford’s Trophy Wife had us absolutely pathetically infatuated when we first heard them, and since they’ve just been compounding how besotted we are by releasing (fantastic) singles on potentially the most achingly cool singles label out there, Moshi Moshi. In case you had failed to notice, we are in love. The question, though, is whether we are introverted music obsessives incapable of listening to music objectively, or whether the rest of the world is about to turn around agree with us. I can’t predict the future, although I try and fail very often, but it would be impossible to argue that this summer won’t be instrumental in deciding the future of the band and where they’ll eventually land in the minor-indie star economy (although seeing as nobody actually makes any money, to call it an economy is sort of insulting).
They’ve been booked for a large number of successful festivals, none more relevant to us than their appearance at Liverpool Sound City on the opening night, so we thought that it would just be rude not to catch up with them to find out whether they’re expecting to be attacked in Liverpool, their opinion on this summer’s festivals, and, of course, to try and get them to spill a release date for their album. They didn’t. But we still love them (just slightly less) and they still told us many an interesting thing:
“I think that myself and many, many others had their attention drawn to you after the influential Illegal Tender picked up on you – from your eyes, how did it all happen?
They were one of the first people to write about us when we first started out. We got some coverage on blogs before we’d even played a live show and from there things started happening quite rapidly. There seemed to be a good response to Microlite and Take This Night, which were two of our earliest songs.
You ended up playing a festival in Sri Lanka last December – how did that come about?
We were suggested as a possible act to play through a mutual contact and it was for a very good cause. For us it was kind of the trip of a lifetime- we’d never been to that part of the world before. We sat and watched cricket from our balcony in the searing heat and made lots of new friends. It’s called Electric Peacock Festival and takes place on a paradise beach. Last year was the first time it’s happened. We couldn’t actually play at the festival itself in the end; there was a tropical storm so we ended up partying for for 4 days non-stop.
Moshi Moshi seem like a very natural pick for you to release singles on – but are you looking to release the album with them?
We’re in the process of writing songs for a new release. There’s a lot of songs kicking around- some of which are incomplete sketches at this stage. The album will come later on this year or next year- we’re just focusing on the here and now, trying to write songs we’re proud of that push us creatively. Nothing’s confirmed as of yet.
The Blessing Force collective seems very uniquely Oxford – do you feel like it’s a reaction against the academic focus of the city?
There may be some element of truth in that- there’s never been any real connection between the music scene in Oxford and academia – they’ve always been very separate worlds. The music scene here feels like a big community where everyone knows one another and people help each other out – it’s a very supportive place to start a band.
Speaking of Blessing Force, most readers will probably know that it’s a collection of artists, not just musicians – is there anything that the guys of Trophy Wife do artistically, apart from your music?
Kit is a very good photographer and provides the visual elements that comprise our artwork. Our only other artistic endeavours relate to stumbling into our practice space when the birds are singing after too much poppers.
When I was doing a bit of reading of other interviews you’d done I came across one, conducted this year, of a different band also called Trophy Wife, who were described as an “all girl noise-experimental” group. What are you going to do about them?
There is an ocean between us. We haven’t been out to the states yet- I guess it may become a problem then. But we had the name locked down over a decade ago. I suppose there are so many bands and band names in the world that it’s difficult to invent an entirely unplagiarised name unless you call yourself ‘The Clouds That Fondle Jagged Crags and Raging Storms Conspire And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’.
This summer must be your first proper summer of festivals, including Liverpool Sound City very soon – how do you feel that your music will translate in a festival environment?
We’re really excited about playing festivals this year and seeing how people respond to us. When we play live, we like to make people dance and have a good time so we hope this summer will be a blast. We intend to have a good time. At Latitude we’re playing on the stage in the woods- we can’t wait for that one in particular.
Finally, that Liverpool Sound City appearance will also be your first appearance in the city as Trophy Wife what are your expectations of the city, if any?
We’ve never spent a great deal of time there; Liverpool definitely strikes us as a very significant place, historically. However, scouser stereotypes are not something we subscribe to.”
Whether they’re right or not about scousers is not a foregone conclusion, and we can only suggest that you get your money’s worth whilst the wristbands are still at early-bird prices and nip along to Liverpool Sound City to catch them, and the people of Liverpool, doing their thing. They’re playing with Chad Valley, Yuck and The Whip at the wonderful Kazimier so, you know, you can do no wrong.
Foreword: I’ve been out of education for so long that I think I’ve forgotten how to spell and those tricky little buggers like full stops and that so bear (bare? blurgh…) with me.
Well… I guess I sort of have to admit that I started writing this post as a reaction to the BBC’s Sound of 2011 longlist announcement, which was whenever that happened, most of the days have blended into one so I’m not too hot with months and weeks anymore which is equal parts liberating and cripplingly impractical for all of its romantic attraction. Most of the trouble is that I now live here and get paid this to do this, and clearly have been spending the rest of my time learning how to abuse wordpress to waste your time in mildly-amusing, vaguely off topic wanderings.
Speaking of abusing wordpress, if that wasn’t a satisfactory excuse then let me go for the sympathy vote – as always, always happens whenever I set foot outside of a trusty internet connection, wordpress detrousered itself and waved through a hacker of a moral-less, talentless capitalist from Slough (fair enough, he’s probably depressed). He (and we’re assuming it’s a he for stereotypical-villain convenience) thought that it would be a bright idea to trick people looking for new music on a web site into giving said music web-site their credit card details. If depressed Slough resident is reading: you could probably hack this site hundreds of times, but that is never going to work seeing as the success of music blogs is based on the fact that you can get music for free, so that plan is pretty fatally flawed from the start… Cheer up and get a job, or at least steal from the government instead of the general public. Is there no integrity left in thievery?
Anyway… Just to direct us slightly towards what this post was intending to say; yesterday the BBC shocked all in the world of music-dom by announcing the Brit-schooled woman with past chart success as a writer, and present chart success with her own song (which, as far as I can tell, is only popular because Stephen Fry made it so via twitter) as the “Sound of 2011”. Call me cynical, because I am, but… Becky who is 10 and from Milton Keynes and loves X Factor and Zac Efron could have done that for them. This gave me an opportunity to pretend that I had been waiting for the announcement to unleash my own list upon the world, but I think that that dishonesty would probably put me on a level with my friend from Slough, so, instead, have it for what it is; here is a list of artists, all of whom I love, some of whom I think are going to sell some records to Becky next year, and all of whom are well worth spending 3 minutes working out whether or not you like them. You don’t even have to put your card details in, trust me, it’s a brilliant deal.