“As one thing ends or dies, something else will breed new life”
Since forming back in 2014, Northern Light Exposure, the London based indie post-punk band, has seen changes to its line-up and to its sound. Through working with different producers and consciously striving to be as self-reflective as possible, the band have created a sound that is truly unique. Their latest release ‘Parting Shot’ is a four-track EP which reflects the band’s electronic direction and includes brooding vocals, dramatic bass lines and eerie guitar riffs. It is undoubtedly their most polished work to date. It was lovely to get to chat to Andy (lead singer/guitarist) this week about all things music…
Who or what first got you involved with music/song-writing?
I’d probably say it was my brother. He is 10 years older than me and was always in bands when we were growing up. I remember that I used to sneak into his room to play his guitar when he was out. Even though I’d always make sure it was back in the same place just the way I found it, he always knew when I’d been in there playing it – I could never work out how though! Growing up in a small rural Scottish town I needed something to get into and so I caught the music bug and with it, my brother’s taste in post-punk.
The band came together in 2014. What is it that has made the band click for the past five years?
Well, we’ve gone through a couple of line up changes since we first got together and as the people changed the music changed with it. Over time we have grown into our sound and evolved into the band we are now. It’s also been a great discovery for us to see how the tone of our songs have shifted along with their subject matters. Initially, we were singing about snowy mountain tops and now we’ve gone in a darker direction which seems to have held our attention much more.
Has there been one particular moment in your musical career that you’re most proud of?
We’ve got to admit that there have been a few arm pinching moments for us in the past couple of years, such as working with Youth on the new record and playing in Abbey Road’s Studio One. However, our real highlight was getting to open for one of our all time hero’s, Mark Burgess from Chameleons Vox, on two legs of their UK tour back in 2017. Mark is a top bloke and I remember he came up to us after we opened for them in Glasgow and he said that he loved our cover of ‘Monument’ by The Sound. Knowing that he was friends with the late great Adrian Boreland (frontman of The Sound) was validation enough for us that he would have approved of it too.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music?
We tend to be drawn to a lot of music from 80s alternative bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, The Chameleons, and early U2. Although our fans draw parallels between us and newer bands like Editors, Interpol and Twilight Sad, what makes us stand out is that we are really trying to focus on getting back to the nucleus of where that sound came from, something rawer and edgier, while retaining the spirit of post-punk. I think Bernard Sumner put it best, punk music was all about ‘fuck you’, and post-punk was more about ‘we’re fucked’. I think we fall somewhere between the two.
What inspired your latest track ‘Parting Shot’?
The narrative of Parting Shot is offered as a break-up song but the universal element is more about keeping the hope engine going. As one thing ends or dies, something else will breed new life. Chance Gardener, a character from my favourite film Being There, says “where there is death in winter, there is always rebirth in the spring.”
For your upcoming EP, you worked with the producer Youth. What has that experience been like?
The Youth connection came about in a funny way. I went to see him give a talk in Central London. I’d always been a fan of his records growing up, from his work with Killing Joke to producing bands like The Verve and other 90s indie bands. So when I was on the train heading home I suddenly had the thought of asking him whether he’d be interested in producing our next EP. It put the fear of god in me but I’m a firm believer that we should all do the things that we’re most afraid of.
He’d just recorded the Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Damage and Joy’, and Echo & the Bunnymen’s ‘Meteorites’ records which seemed to capture what we were about and wanted to achieve with our record. I had a mutual friend forward my email on to him and within an hour of sending it, while the band were rehearsing, I got an email from him saying “Hey, I like the vibe, what’s the plan?” I knew then that we needed to get to work. Youth adopted the ‘break us down and build us up’ approach. He was able to get to the core of our sound and create the landscape for us to roam free in. I think you can hear that on the record.
How is your new EP going to be different to your debut EP ‘An Honest Way Of Living’?
HWOL, as it’s come to be known by the band, was our first dip in the water. Pat Collier, who shaped the sound of so many bands that have inspired us over the years, recorded and produced it with us. Knowing so much of his back catalogue I’d say “Pat in this song we want to get that bass tone from ‘Counting the Days by The Sound’” and he’d say “Do you know what it would take to get that sound? You’d need the same bass, the same bass cab, recorded to ½ inch tape, with the same player”. How I think Parting Shot differs from our first EP is that we have learnt to find our own sound and not go hunting for someone else’s.
What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks for a music recommendation?
These days I tend to be the one asking for recommendations at my vinyl nights rather than giving them out. But when someone asks me for a band or artist to sink their teeth into, I tend to point them towards Other Lives. For anyone who doesn’t know them, they’re a four piece from Oklahoma. They’re labelled as indie rock but their sound is much more than that. Their layers and textures transform you to another place that is non-descriptive and that for me is when music is most effective. When you can zone out of one world and tune in to another, even for a few minutes of a song.
If you could steal credit for any great song, which one would you claim?
‘Lips Like Sugar’ by Echo & the Bunnymen. What a tune! The simplicity of the music and the ease of McCulloch’s melody is a marriage any band is always striving for. As songwriters we dissect and break down songs to try and understand them. A great song draws us in and makes us feel the need to listen to them again and again. As Leonard Cohen said “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often”.
What are you currently working on and do you have any upcoming shows?
We’re always working on new songs and digging a little deeper each time to perfect our writing as a band. Our live shows are a break from that, a chance for us to just be doing the thing rather than creating it. We hosted a launch party for the new EP at the Fiddlers Elbow in Camden at the start of February and our good friends ‘In Isolation’, from Nottingham, opened for us which was great. We’ll also be playing at the Monarch in Camden again on 29th March and will be booking more UK dates throughout the year. The full details will be on our website soon.
Follow the links below to discover Northern Light Exposure’s music:
By Eveline Vouillemin – Up&Coming