Saturday, November 28, 2020


Cutting the bullshit, the perks of writing music in your underwear, and the burden of social media.

APRE, the up and coming indie pop duo, are celebrating the release of their debut mini album, Always In My Head - a fruition of the unintentional, downward spiral of thoughts that many of us have encountered during lockdown and recent months. Speaking from the very room where all their tracks are created ,(belonging to Charlie’s grandmother) we talked cutting the bullshit, the perks of writing music in your underwear, and the burden of social media.

C: Charlie

J: Jules

1. Tell us the story of how you first got together as a band.

C: Basically Jules is from Kent, and I’m from London. I went to a chess club in Ealing, and Jules joined it. I guess it would be five years ago now. So he came, and then the owner of that chess club knew that I was into music so she basically paired us up. It was quite an old club, I was about nineteen or twenty. Jules was the year below me, so he’d moved for uni, and we played chess together. Then, the best thing is, he was tight for money and I live with my gran. This is her front room where we make the tunes. He needs some money and my gran needed her lawn mowing. And I said, well, I’ve got a job for you mate, come on down. And then I was here working on some production stuff, and I invited him in. I played him some stuff, he played some guitar on the one track I was doing, and I thought it was quite good, and we found that we had lots of musical interests in the same kind of genres of music. That was a good thing and then we just kind of built from that. Then I joined the band as I was a drummer, and they needed a guitarist so I invited Jules to join that, like a session thing. We did that for like two years, and because it was session we didn’t get to write, so the kind of creative feeling that you get from doing a project that’s your own wasn’t there. To kind of combat that, we were writing on the side for fun. Then we wrote Without Your Love, All Yours, some of our best songs…

J: All the bangers

C: Thought nothing of it, then kind of got sick of being just these session players, like background people. And then thought, well why don’t we send our tunes around? We went to a BBC Introducing event called Amplify. We met Abby McCarthy there from BBC Introducing Kent, and a producer on the Annie Mac show, just by chance. They spread it, passed it around, and then it spread like fire. Within 6 months we quit everything else and we did this, and now we’re here.

J: Boom.

2. What do you think distinguishes your band and its sound from others today?

J: I think because we do everything in this room, probably, typically quite badly, we go about things a little bit DIY. We’re not going into fancy studios and we’re not recording this acoustic guitar in this microphone in this certain way and stuff like that, I think that’s definitely part of our sound.

C: I think we just cut out the bullshit. When, like a lot of other bands, you get a bit of success, your first instinct is to go into a big fancy studio, but you’re just increasing the level of bullshit. You’ve got more people involved, you’ve got gear that you don’t understand, even getting there’s a faff, you have to get a bus…

J: You lazy shit!

C: I could wake up in my pants, and come and make a song. There’s something quite easy, and free and real, there’s no crap. You can just be creative whenever you want. You don’t have all these people getting in your way. And that’s something we’ve always done. We’ve been in this room for five years. We’ve made it all ourselves, produced it all ourselves, we did one song with a producer that we’re not even that keen on. But we’ve learnt from that. I think why APRE sounds like APRE is because it’s made by APRE.

3. Where do you think music is heading as a whole right now, where do you think it's going?

J: In the bin. Nah I think there is some good music out there. I do struggle to find new music that I’m really into, I mean, you definitely do.

C: Well I don’t know every song that’s come out, but I think the stuff that’s getting a lot of attraction in my opinion is pretty bad.

J: Every year they say ‘the indie band’s coming back.’ And then it never does. I mean, Tik Tok has literally taken a dump on the music industry in my opinion. 

C: There’s a few bangers. And then there’s some stuff that is like, what? 

4. What is your writing process like? Sporadic or formulaic, meticulous or instinctive?

J: The good ones come in random genius moments, that’s for sure. The good ones come quickly. But normally it will start off with a loop on logic, or a riff, or a bit that either one of us will bring to the table, and then we build it up together from that. We both kind of play all the instruments, and we’re not precious about it - say if there’s a guitar bit, I’m not precious about Charlie playing it, or something like that. We just build it up from there and then Charlie will get in the room behind us most of the time and riff out some melodies and lyrics.

C: I also think you can’t force it. You know when you go on a night out and you’re like ‘ah this is gonna be such a sick night,’ and then it’s always shit.

J: New year’s is always shit.

C: I think it’s the same with songs. If you think ‘today we’re gonna write a banger,’ it’s always crap. It kind of relates back to the thing I was saying about being able to come here in your pants. You can just find that moment, like, you might be going to bed and suddenly you’ve got this thing in your head, and I can get it down. It can start with a feeling, and from that feeling you get a title. When you get a title of something you can then get the genre from that. But you could start off a song in a kind of pop way and it end up in an acoustic ballad. Just because you start in one place doesn’t mean you’re not going to finish in another place. And that’s what’s great about having this space, is you have the freedom to take time with things. There’s no studio pressures of this guy we don’t even know who’s producing our record needs to be at home in an hour, so we better hurry up. Cut the bullshit. 

5. How has Covid affected your music process and career?

C: It’s been really good.

J: At the start it was a bit tough. When we were separate for the first lockdown, it was a bit tough. But fine now. It’s pretty good. 

C: It actually is, if you want to have a way of focusing your mind, the outside world is pretty much closed, so you don’t really have any other choice other than to be creative and think. If you can think the right amount - I think at the start we were thinking too much, which is definitely causing anxieties and things like that. If you can get the right balance, I feel like people can get used to it now because it’s been going on for so long it’s not such a weird thing.

J: I think you can also definitely hear those anxieties in the mini album, a lot of the subject matter is in there from the start of lockdown, from inside [Charlie’s] head.

6. Who would you love to work with?

C: Kanye West

J: Really?

C: I just want to see what he’s like. Well he’s mental. He’s not well.

J: I’d love to be in a studio with Brian Eno. He’s done something amazing stuff for U2, Bowie and Coldplay. Everything he seems to write sounds great. His track record is amazing. I don’t think we’d let many people into our inner circle of producers any more, but I’d let him in.

7. What are your impressions or things that surprised you about ascending the ranks in the music industry so far?

J: Tik Tok. The reliance on social media. That is irritating. We run our own social media completely. There’s so much pressure to do it, and it’s almost the case that you can’t get big without doing it. It also devalues the music which is really annoying. That’s the thing I don’t like. 

C: Especially, if you sign onto a major label when you’re young, you’re like ‘whoa I’ve always wanted to do this, this is incredible’. Then when you go into endless meetings and it’s all about ‘so we need to be doing in-feed posts, you need to be doing this Tik Tok thing, why don’t you try and make a song with your grandma?’ It’s bullshit. Why have I spent my whole life learning to play the drums and piano to then finding the only way to get big is to put my grandma on the internet?

J: I don’t think there’s ever been a meeting about the music. I mean about changing the music. 

C: It’s very social media pointed. I hate social media anyway, for like my own personal ting. It’s just a showoff platform isn’t it.

J: It’s all just fake, unnecessary evil. As a way of looking at the world it’s just bollocks, it’s not real. We don’t like it. 

8. Which track have you poured most heart into, or felt quite vulnerable releasing?

C: One that isn’t out is City. Probably the most honest lyric. It’s about place. You know, the breakdown of a relationship, the things you miss aren’t just them. The air, the places you used to go, the places you used to live, all those other things. That’s a cool one, I’m quite pleased with that. That will come out on the debut record. A song that’s out…Always In My Head. That’s a story of a breakdown of a marriage, essentially. It’s all about divorce and how you can be living for someone in such a deep way and then, like that, it’s all gone. I knew someone that was going through a divorce, quite a close person. I find divorce an insane thing. If you’re in a relationship when you’re eighteen and you break up after being together for 6 months its like ‘oh my god’. It’s like the worst thing in the world. But then I was thinking, if you’ve been with someone for twenty years or something it must be such a mad thing for that to all suddenly vanish, and that’s Always In My Head isn’t it. They’re always going to be there in your head, even if you literally hate them. There’s a cool imagery about the church, and the lights that you see from the church, I like that metaphor, the church which is this religious thing, place of love, where you say ‘I’m going to live for you’ and then how it can all be stripped away. 

9. Do you have much creative control over your album art?

J: Totally, complete control over it. We worked with a really great artist called Lydia. She was great, she completely brought our ideas to life, which really was me walking into Charlie’s head. She actually came up with that idea, I was taking credit for something I didn’t do.

C: We had the idea of the door, it would be cool if someone was walking into a head. But I originally thought it would be a drawing, and then she managed to put pictures together. I really like the drawing with real life images, to get that kind of 3D feel. If you have a picture, it looks like everyone else’s artwork, if you have a drawing, it looks like other artworks. But if you can blend the two together, it does have quite a unique feel to it.

10.  Could you sum up the inspiration behind the new mini album, Always In My Head?

C: It’s called Always In My Head because it’s a collection of songs that we put together when I was in a relatively dark frame of mind over that first lockdown period. It’s a release of negative thoughts dressed up in quite an upbeat, positive manner. Songs like Without Your Love, it’s a very upbeat song but the lyric is basically telling someone to fuck off. All the songs are about escaping from the people that pull you back, and being free. Or, finding a place in your life where you can be who you want to be and you don’t have the modern day pressures pulling you back. Whether that’s people or the internet or whatever.

- Sophie Sinnott


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