INTERVIEW: House of Spirituals

Bonding over near-death experiences and a penchant for analogue synths, House of Spirituals set the tone for an optimistic future with new single Everyday.

Soulful guitar chords and lulling vocal melodies swiftly develop into an uplifting, pulsating groove hailing the beauty of a new day. Recorded at Farm Studios and released on High Tribe Records, Everyday oozes a happy-go-lucky glow while keeping its cool.

I had chat to Bnann to find out more about how the House of Spirituals was form, the writing and production process and their musical influences…

Hey guys! How did you form as a band?

I was working in a studio next door to Chevy with the producer GHOSTWRITER, and was telling him about how I cheated death when I was a child.

When I was eight, on the way to school I got knocked over by a car and witnesses said they saw me fly up into the air right over the car’s roof. When I landed, it looked like it was fatal – I’d been hit at high speed so there should’ve been no chance – but after five minutes, I got up and tried to carry on my walk to school. I had no injuries apart from my fave denim jacket being ripped (it had an eagle patch too!)

Ghostwriter said ‘oh, you should speak to Chevy next door he’s had a cheating death experience too’, so I met Chev and he told me about his car accident. When he was 18, he was involved in an accident that should’ve broken his neck and killed him. The doctors were amazed, as he had a one-in-a-million chance of his muscle moving in a way that it protected his vertebra. When he was in hospital, people were coming in to study him everyday because they couldn’t believe what had happened. He’s even in study books as part of medical science.

After we swapped stories, we thought we should probably make a track together and the next day wrote our first track in two hours. We formed the band House of Spirituals without ever discussing what it should be like or any musical direction.

I love your new single Everyday. How was it written / produced?

We generally write the song first and then experiment with the grooves at different tempos and check the vocal flows. Sometimes when you write something as a really slow song then speed it up it takes on a different life and can change the meaning of the words.

When it comes to song structure, we have an obsession with mixing Motown structures (such as the magic three repeat) with structures of house music and electronica.

We are always looking to put something that doesn’t belong in the track to see what overall effect it has. If it sounds fresh, it stays.

Lyrically, we usually start with a title, then we decide the concept, make a chorus hook, then work backwards on filling in the detail in the verses.

Instrumentation-wise, we use samples and lots of analogue keyboards, vintage guitars and Casio keyboards.

I see you’ve got an EP on the way. What can we expect from the rest of the tracks? Are there some live shows coming up?

The rest of the tracks on the EP cover a wide range of subjects such as addictions, the state of the world we live in and more declarations of love.

Live-wise, we have a 5 piece electronic soul band coming your way soon.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

We love bands like the Animals, singers like Charles Bradley and Delta Blues, electronic bands like Floating Points and Jon Hopkins… but our biggest influence comes from the field recordings of the chain gangs in the Deep South of America and the songs they would sing to get through the day. These songs went on to become known as spirituals.

We found this music to be so honest and raw – these guys really were singing just to make it through the extreme situation they had ended up in. They are swinging axes and hammers in time with each other – doing hard labour but creating something so powerful and soulful. It made us think again about music.

If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

We really favour a church on a spaceship, as it would feel like the most apt place to hear us perform. It’s the way we hear our music in our own heads.

If you could recommend one album for our readers to listen to, what would it be?

One is very hard to pick, but new Anderson Paak record Ventura is currently on our Walkmans.

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