As 2013 gently drifts towards its close and Christmas looms ever more large, the distant jingling of bells that the high street has been desperate for us to hear since August is beginning to get louder and louder. Children’s eyes are widening as tales of watchful little elves fill them with wonder, excitement and (momentarily at least) a willingness to behave. Lists are being made, money is being counted and left over wrapping paper is being fished out from the back of a cupboard. But thanks to London’s electro-pop-stars in waiting, Strangers, it’s been a little bit like Christmas for the last few months or at least since July, when they started giving away a free download on the first of every month.
Their latest is “London Lights” (which you can stream below) a melodious love letter to our capitol city brimming with pulsing synthy string sounds, an emotive 90’s piano and scalpel sharp electronic beats. The vocals rise up like the ever-increasing number of sky-scrapers, like watching a symphony of people and cars unfold through rain covered windows. Less urgent than previous offerings, it is no less vibrant and infectious; the hook catches you from atop the Shard and reels you into a vast boardroom of R&B and dance infused synth-pop.
They are clearly on a roll and hours before they will play a storming set at the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival for us, we take a seat outside the Arts Centre with two-thirds of the trio, David Maddox-Jones and Piers Sherwood-Roberts, with questions to ask. The pair is in good spirits, despite the almost rain that threatens above and will soon begin to fall, and with beer in hand they laugh as they explain the concept, finishing each other’s sentences and talking over one another like a married couple.
The plan had been, they explain, to use their not insubstantial library of unreleased tracks, re-work and re-tool a few of them and then release them one at a time each month. Four old songs and two new ones in six months they thought; it shouldn’t be too onerous a task to complete. That’s not what actually happened of course; “every month there’s been a new one”, explains David. They’ve got in the zone, used it as an exercise in good discipline and ”it’s making [them] a lot more creative”. They’ve not yet had any writers block and even if they did, they explain, with three of them in the band there is always one who can spark the others if the process were to slow down.
The creativity and order they have instilled has been a by-product of what was a very simple thought process suggests Piers, ”we just wanted to get our music out there, instead of just having it sitting around…” as his sentence runs into David’s ”keep the momentum going… Keep people talking about us”, and back again ”it keeps us inspired well, when we get good feedback, obviously it keeps us happy, and we have had good feedback off the singles”.
And it has been good, each and every month. We’ve featured each of the singles and been positive in our usual hyperbolic manner, but we’re not the only ones. Each month a small army of sites have been posting and eulogising about their latest offering and radio plays have been on the increase as well. Not bad when you consider, as they explain, they’ve had no press or radio team. Their success thus far has been built on the back of quality tracks and their own hard work.
It’s helped in other ways David says when talking about the likelihood of an album release in 2014. ”We all felt like we were ready six months ago, now we have done these songs and it’s like actually, we weren’t ready”. It’s helped them learn more about themselves and their own capabilities, ”there’s better stuff to come”, he says enthusiastically.
While an album may still be some time away, videos are not and their latest offering, for “No Longer Lost” had some heavyweight directorial/cinematography and production talent behind it. Leo Neelands, Jim Parsons and Mark Curl have collectively worked on mega-movies including 28 Days Later, Harry Potter and Zero Dark Thirty and on hearing the song, decided they wanted to make their first ever music video. ”That’s the best video we’ve got”, smiles Piers, and it came about completely by chance. “We met them at the pub,” laughs David. ”We realised we lived opposite them and they are really talented and that was an amazing experience just to work with them, you know they are huge”. “And now we really want to do another video!” exclaims Piers. Though the next one will be very different, DIY they say.
But with Christmas just around the corner there is only one more track to go, so what’s next? Another bright idea while they work on an album? “Let’s put three out a week!” they both laugh. We’re pretty sure they’re joking, but with Strangers you can never be completely sure.
“London Lights” is available as a free download from strangersmusic.co.uk
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