Infra Violet are a new Synth-pop/Electronic duo based in the UK. A collaboration between producer Toby Campen & guitarist singer-songwriter Bethany Munroe they were formed in early 2020. The duo's debut release 'Polaroid' with b-side 'Naïve' was released in the summer and followed by the single ‘Water’ on 27th November 2020. We had a chat with the band between the two releases.
How's life as a musician treating you today?
Kati: Great! We are really excited about the release of our new LP "You Want it Real."
Britt: Busy! We are all working on multiple projects, booking tours, putting out albums and writing. On top of lié, Ash has Minimal Violence, Kati has Dust Blaster, as well as SBDC, and I have SIGSALY.
With new album ''Smoke and Mirrors' due for a September release and tour dates on the horizon, we caught up with lead singer Jess Clemmons;
New album 'Smoke & Mirrors’ done and dusted, how was the recording process different this time around?
We actually did quite a bit in London this time as opposed to before but the process in Nashville was about the same. Record all of the instrumentation in about 4 days and then spend another 3 days on vocals.
Hi Pete, how was the UK tour?
It was a really great tour of the UK this February - 6 blinding concerts in Middlesbrough, Birmingham, London, Newcastle, Glasgow & Hebden Bridge. The audiences at each gig seemed to really love it & we had a blast too! That's what it's all about...
Formed just last year, how did the band come together?
The band was formed, conceptually at least, around 6 months before the full line up started rehearsing. The idea was to form a band with a strict set of parameters ie. one single guitar and bass sound, minimal equipment etc, perhaps as a rejection of the trend for overcompensation with effects and electronics in current music, but also as a statement of quality over quantity. We try to project tasteful minimalism and high intensity, not to be confused with brash simplicity. Songs were written, rehearsal were undertaken and everything from then on has fallen into place almost effortlessly. The highest demand on us as musicians is probably physically, it's very physical music to perform.
Paul Goodwin grew up in London and moved to Cambridge when he started University. He remains there today making websites and music.
His 2009 album, Scars, was followed up by a mini album, Trinkets and Offcuts, in 2011. A 5-track EP, Live in the Reception Classroom of Bourn Church of England Primary School, came out in 2012.
Now with a two year old son, Paul has returned to the recording studio for The Northern Lights In The Neon Tube. We had a chat prior to the release of the album.
You have a massive tour underway; do you enjoy life on the road or the recording studio more?
Yes it's the biggest tour yet and I love being on the road as were entertaining the masses and hopefully more converts to KHB. I don't think I can compare being on the road to the studio as they are different experiences, studio is a painstaking process, far more intense than performing live plus I'm not a fan of the vocal booth, I'm a born performer, I lose myself in the moment, everything is more strategic I think when recording.
It’s been 4 years since your debut album, and finally Palomino lands. Where have you been ?!
Its been annoying and we shouldn’t have spent so much time away, but a lot of it was out of our hands. Finance was an issue, we lost our management, the label weren’t committing, and we wanted to experiment with stuff so we took longer.
You have your own studio ?
Yeah, Sam owns part of one, so we get cheap rates !
How long did the whole process of writing and recording Palomino take ?
Maybe 2 years in total. We started writing then loads of stuff happened, so we went a bit off piste. I think Palomino has more twists and turns than the debut album. We experimented in new sounds and weird interludes, and having longer away benefited us in being able to do that.
So Jonathan Wilson produced the album..
Actually, he mixed the album after we asked him. He only took 2 weeks and mixed from live. Basically he takes 2 versions of each song, then old school mixes live. We weren’t actually present for the mixing process - that costs more money, so we just sent him the tapes.
Were you looking for the same mood from the first album ?
We wanted to expand and get deeper - we’re genuinely fun people but its sometimes easier to write intense deep songs. There was no plan, but we wanted to experiment and go more into space.
You are signed up to Loose. Was this a conscious decision ?
They took a punt with us on the first album, and it went really well, then they heard the stuff we were putting dow for Palomino and decided they wanted to get involved again. Its always an album by album basis. It’s good for both sides really, but Loose are really supportive of us.
What do you particularly want out of this business ?
For me it changes regularly. When I first saw Father John Misty, I thought I want to be like him. If we can get paid enough to not work, that would be great, but traveling the world with your best mates is pretty cool.. We travel the world doing music, and making music and thats a legacy someone can’t take away.
What’s next for Treetop Flyers ?
We want to record a lot sooner this time, and try and record in a different way. You have the ability to record yourself and at home, outside of the studio environment, and this is a quicker process. We may try and mix it up and evolve the sound again for the next album.
I thought Treetop Flyers were a folk-rock band until I heard Palomino.
That’s what we were aiming for. There’s a lot more to us than that. It’s louder, more groovy, soulful even. We may go even more off piste for the next record.
What’s your view on touring ? Love it or hate it ?
Generally like it. It can be stressful and long but if you have a really good gig that energy sails through for the next couple of days. Its always different and you learn from it. By the end of the tour you are that tight, you don’t want to stop. I suppose that’s why we do it.
Congratulations on the wonderful Palomino. Please tell me its not going to be 4 years until the next album ?
Definitely not, its too long. It’s all about momentum, and we want to keep it going.
Photo of Reid Morrison by Tim Hughes
New EP ‘I welcome the Flood’, where did the title come from?
I actually had the title before I had the song or the EP. Even before I started playing solo. It's been hanging around in my phone notes since 2014. It's got a Biblical kind of feel to it. It's about wanting everything around you to be washed away.
Many of the lyrics seem to relate to dark stories. is that the case or just our interpretation?
Dark is an interesting adjective to apply. I think I agree that a lot of it comes across as dark but I'm not sure it was my intention in anything other than the title track. I tried to make them pretty to listen to initially. I think some of it's kind of funny. Possibly not 'ha ha' funny.
What was different about the new EP compared to your solo EP debut?
I tried to strip it back a little. I tried to use a bigger uh... pallette. So there's a little more percussion and odd sounds. I also tried to record everything analogue. There was some MIDI stuff on the first EP. Also, on the first EP I wrote the songs just using strummed chords and the vocals, and then I picked them apart and built up the song. With this one I built the music first and applied the words later. So I had a bunch of instrumentals that kind of worked on their own and then tried to come up with the vocals. So the melodies are a little more interesting I think. I was paying more attention to them.
How is the music scene in Brighton these days, still buzzing?
It's pretty healthy, yeah. I've only been here about six months, not too long, but there's always loads of stuff to see at any one moment. Usually some of it is really alternative and interesting, which is nice.
Is your working life that of a full-time musician or do you have other work to keep the wolves from the door?
I have a full time job and any time I'm not at work I'm doing music stuff. Although the music stuff is becoming slightly less time consuming as more people take notice of what I'm doing.
What was your favourite album of 2015 and why?
To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. I've always liked artists who are brave and uncompromising. Kendrick's last record was critically acclaimed, but still fairly niche. So he was poised to have a huge mainstream breakout record. The fact that he had that, and that it was this weird, free jazz, cultural thesis thing was pretty brave and uncompromising. His lyrics are great too. There's great vision in that album.
What is your method of songwriting, real life moments, being in a particular space or mood. What is the spark that starts you writing lyrics?
A little of all the above. If a nice line hits me I'll write it into my phone. Then when I'm writing I'll draw the ones that fit together onto one bit of paper and then improvise around them. I'm not sure what the song is gonna be about until I'm singing it a lot of the time, so the space and the mood I'm in has a lot of influence on that. I'll draw on real life stuff sometimes, but largely I don't appear in the songs.
Hopes and plans for your music career in 2016?
Play everywhere all of the time. Possibly release some more music. See where it all takes me.
Ryan Adams covered Taylor’s Swift’s 1989 ... What album would you like to cover?
I have actually been thinking about this a lot lately, because I'm considering undertaking a similar project. I'd like to do something the complete opposite of what it is that I do. I'm leaning towards Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem.
Which Star Wars character are you most like ?
Kylo Ren. I'm whiney and I dissapoint people one audience at a time.
'I Welcome the Flood‟ will be released on 15th February 2016 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and "basically anywhere else you can think of". The CD release will be available exclusively through Adam's BandCamp page.
Feb. 13th - Junkyard Dogs, Brighton (EP Launch Party)
Feb. 15th - Sound, Liverpool
Feb. 16th - Mr. Lynch, Newcastle
Feb. 18th - The Village, London
Feb.19th - The Chequers, London
Feb. 20th - The Art House, Southampton
Feb. 21st - Como Lounge, Oxford
How was your Christmas & New Year?
I had a great Christmas thanks; I hibernated for a week reading and watching movies on TV. I don't get to do that often so it was nice.
Your new solo album ‘With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie’ is out 29 Jan. What inspired the title?
The title comes from a line in the last song on the record, 'Let Light In'. It's from the bible but for me it gives a mission statement for the record which is that not everybody is who they seem all the time. Sometimes the goodies lie with the baddies and vice Versa. People are complex creatures and we have good and bad in us. I think this selection of songs explore that.
Was there anything different in the recording process this time around and can you tell us how the band came together for the record.
It was a very different recording process from my previous album, 'The Water or the Wave', in that I recorded in a different studio under the direction of producer Andy Bell who built the tracks up over my basic acoustic and vocal track. It took some two years to complete. Our approach was to pick players who did something a little different so, for example, instead of a straight up drummer we went for Toby Kearney, a versatile percussionist who played all sorts of different instruments to take up the usual drum space on the songs. Lucy Farrell and Neil McSweeney I had worked with on various other projects and it felt right to share this record with them as we work so well together. I was also lucky to capture string quartet, The Froe, to arrange some strings on the record too. I was generally very fortunate to have so many sensitive and thoughtful players to contribute, Andy Bell was key in bringing them all together in one beautiful sound.
How do you balance your musical activities, solo, The Lucky Strikes and other musical commitments?
I really enjoy the variety my music brings and I love all the different aspects of what I do. My solo records allow me to work with amazing musicians and trial new sounds and ideas. The Lucky strikes is like a family and when I want to play loud and jump around we can do that with the band. I then get the chance to contribute pedal steel, banjo and other instruments I don't get chance to play in my other work with some great artists and friends. Last year I was really fortunate to play for Emily Portman, Blue Rose Code and Simone Felice among others. I never struggle to juggle things, it just works out.
You are always described as living on the Thames Delta. Are roots important to you and your music?
Roots are very important for me. At the moment I am trying to catalogue my local area through my music. I see so many incredible stories and poetic things when I observe local life and people that I want to mine that as much as I can before I cease to see it any more.
What creative space do you need to be in to write a song? Is it words to melodies or the other way around?
Always a tricky question to answer. It just happens. Sometimes you have some nice chords and the lyrics flow with them, sometimes you write lyrics for days and none of the chords fit so you have to wait for it to happen. My creative space at present is the corner of my sofa where I can sit with my guitar and look out onto a park and watch people coming and going. Isolation for me is generally good for writing songs, mornings or late evenings too.
There are plenty of different characters in the songs on the record, real or made up?
They're all real. Some are more obscured by the lyric but others are much more literal. Sean or Patrick is exactly how it happened as is Lalita. They exist out there somewhere.
How difficult is it to make a living on the UK music scene these days and is main source of income from playing live?
It is difficult to make a living and live music certainly brings you to new audiences. The decline of record labels and their ability to pay for press and PR and to break new artists in all genres means that the artists have gone back to the pre-music boom of the mid twentieth century. We've reverted back to the travelling balladeer playing for our supper in a different town each night. If I want to sell my music, I have to go out and play it.
On that point, are there any solo shows to promote the new album?
There are shows a plenty and people can keep abreast of my whereabouts on twitter and Facebook. However, I have an album launch on 18th February at the Servant Jazz Quarters in London and then shows in Devon and Newport before shows in the North and hopefully Scotland in March.
Before we asked you "If money was no object, what new guitar would you most like to own and why”? Have you invested in any new guitars recently?
Oh man, I have a serious addiction to guitars and instruments and purchase things all the time. If money was no object I would probably be buying a new Martin acoustic, triple zero model or maybe a Gretsch DuoJet. In reality I bought a new pedal steel, Magnum, last year as my trusty ShoBud was getting old and I replaced the pickups in my telecaster.
Released on 29th January, With Wolves the Lamb Will Lie can be pre-ordered HERE