Friday, April 16, 2021

'Cinematic, Warm and Vivid' - Meet the band inspired by Killing Eve

It's not often that you come across a band from your hometown that really stands out, and I mean, really draw your attention. And that's doubly hard when your hometown is Manchester - the central hotspot for rising indie bands, sprawling from the underground in a never-ending stream of fuzzy guitars and jazzed-up lyrics.

Let me introduce you to Villanelle & The Northern Wonder (here on in VatNW).

The Manchester-based rock duo, Kieran Greville and Dan Shaw, are a formidable team not to be underestimated.

Taking inspiration from the likes of Father John Misty and the masterminds behind Arctic Monkeys, VatNW produce warm soundscapes and delightful earworms through their use of catchy hooks and hypnotic vocal swoons.

Released today, their long-awaited debut EP 'Dark Days At The Grand' is a four-track spectacle rife with dark rock undertones and seductive swagger, the band explores themes of fantasy, love, and loss with expert construction. Insatiable and wholly grandiose, their new EP is a sonic wonder that is sure to go down in Manchesters' indie-rock history.

I had the pleasure of catching up with the boys to find out more...

For any of our readers who are new to you, tell us a bit about Villanelle & The Northern Wonder.

We’re Kieran Greville and Dan Shaw, based in Manchester. Our music has a stylised dark americana/70s fuzz-rock vibe, mixing in influences from Father John Misty, Josh Homme, and Alex Turner in terms of their lyricism, sonic palette, and feel.


Where does the band name come from?

The honest answer is it’s the character from ‘Killing Eve’ combined with the pet name for an old friend. It also looks good on a poster and there’s a vague tie in to a Leonard Cohen song. Mainly though we just think it sounds cool.


Do you think being in Manchester with such a rich music scene has influenced the band in any way?

It’s definitely had a positive effect on us. It’s really allowed us to take the time to figure out our sound - one of the best things about the Manchester music scene is the abundance and variety. Rehearsing at Dead Basic Studios was great for that, walking down the corridor you could hear rappers next to dream pop next to hardcore punk. 


Tell us what it was like working with Sunglasses for Jaws on the new EP!

It was great, Dave and Oscar are fantastic at nudging parts in the right direction to get everything to fit even better together. They instantly got on board with the sound and grooves we were going for. All of the drums on the EP are from Oscar, and he brought out some killer fills for Oh God especially. Kieran’s known Dave and Oscar for years now and we really admire their musicianship and vibe. The two of them play together every day and you can hear that relationship in the bass and drums they both did a great job and it was a lot of fun.


My favourite from the new EP is the opening track, Clever Girl, what’s the story behind it?

Thanks, that’s been our gig opener for a while. Lines from that song have been floating around for years but the spark that brought it all together was a conversation we overheard about unsigned bands taking too much time between songs at gigs. We picked a key for several songs to flow into each other without stopping and suddenly that riff came out. 


What’s your favourite track off the new EP?

We think Clever Girl and Oh God are probably the stand-out tracks, the ones with the bigger hooks and the ones that get stuck in our heads most often, but the other two are great for different reasons and add to the whole. One thing we’re proud of is having the EP sound cohesive with an abstract narrative vein running through it. As for when we get to play the new tracks live, we’re expecting Horoscope Wytch to be a fantastic closer.


Tell us about the artwork and Phoebe Walker!

Obviously there’s a theme of suggestion and abstract fantasies (and, um, overt witch references…) in the EP, so one thing that clicked for us was the imagery of the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck and all the wealth of meaning and associations that come with it. 

We found Phoebe on Instagram (@phoebewalkerdesigns) and let her put her own spin on the Eight of Swords card while still keeping it recognisable, and it’s turned out fantastic and fits really well with the songs too. She was a pleasure to work with even with us probably being quite picky but she produced a great piece that we both love. 


Do you think you face any difficulties producing new music being a duo rather than a band?

We both sing, play guitar, bass and keys and can program basic drums, so in terms of being able to get ideas across to each other there’s probably fewer restrictions than in a band, but there’s still a great working relationship of being able to bounce ideas off each other that’s better than working alone and that results in more and better songs. We’ve worked together for so long that the process is quite intuitive. Often in a band scenario, you can run into issues because there’s a lot of personalities trying to shine. With us as a duo, a lot of that is removed and it’s more about serving the song itself.


What 3 words would you use to describe your music?

Cinematic, warm, and vivid.


Last but not least, what does the future hold for Villanelle & The Northern Wonder

Mainly we want to get this EP in as many ears as possible whether digitally or at gigs and we want to hear people’s thoughts on it. Beyond that, we have a lot of music ready and written that we are working into our next releases, so hopefully, 2021 is filled with new music and new fans.

Lana Williams


Image: Provided by PR

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