1883 Magazine
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The challenge of translating your sound into a live setting is a bone of contention for most bands, which can normally be split into two doctrines. One dictates that a band takes as near a polished studio version onto stage as possible, while the other is to take the opportunity of playing your music in a different setting – and embrace the potential of an experimental platform.

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Clock Opera is a band that is firmly camped within the latter school of thought. Formed in London, the four-piece have released singles on both Maison Kitsune and Maman records before signing a deal with Moshi Moshi for an album due out early next year. They’ve also worked prolifically with other artist’s work - remixing the likes of Metronomy and Architecture in Helsinki – while having the favour returned by Tom Vek for the EP released earlier in the month, which we’ve streamed for you below. We took the opportunity to speak to Dan Armstrong (keys, vocals) to find out more about the band. 

How did you come to form?

Guy started Clock Opera in his own warped mind. He’d already formed a close bond with his laptop (thanks to previous bands/production) and the two of them decided to take their relationship to the next level. Shortly afterwards other humans were invited to join in the form of Andy West (bass/guitars/looks) and Che Albrighton (rampant rhythm/height). These three all knew each other from earlier projects and Guy handpicked them for the bracketed reasons. I was subsequently brought in to complete the quadrangle (keys/vocals/availability) 

Did you meet under a common ethos? 

Many bands seem to form under a common ethos (hair/shoes/limited sexual opportunities). I’m pretty sure these don’t all apply to us although we do all have the same black Diesel jeans courtesy of their rigorous new-bands-marketing drive. Beyond that I’d say the main shared mentality is one of positive hard work. We have overlapping and sometimes contradictory tastes in music but we all strive to please our own ears in this band. We also endeavour to produce our own records, artwork, videos, documentaries and anything else that arises. The style of all of these aspects is essentially derived from the musical approach.

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How best would you describe your sound?

Sliced and spliced particles make up the bedrock of our tracks. These tiny pieces are melodic but their combinations bring about intricate rhythms and, we like to think, a sense of urgency and euphoria. That’s arguably the signature of our sound. From that point though the songs take many different forms.

Why ‘Clock Opera’?

I’ve known Guy mention in interviews a piece of music once written as a symphony for clocks. He liked the idea. To me it’s Clock Opera because of the infinite ticking rhythms and because we like to sing grandiose and emotive melodies.

What’s your writing process?

The process varies quite a lot depending on which stage of the album you consider. It’s our debut and the band has evolved a fair bit over that time. The thread which runs through it all though is the fact that Guy creates the chops and at some stage writes the melodies/lyrics. Beyond that it’s open season and we all contribute to all aspects of the sound.

How important is self-production to you? Why?

I’m not sure if it’s important to us exactly but it’s certainly served us very well so far. By self-producing you can take the time required to explore and make things sound exactly how you want them to. In our case it has allowed us to develop a style, which would almost certainly never come from a hired producer. 

What can audiences expect from your live shows?

We put a lot of care into our live shows and never perform songs if we don’t think they’re adding to the experience. I’m not too keen on reviewing our performances but I will say you can expect a fair bit of variety, some unique moves from Guy and generally speaking a slightly different sound than on record. We don’t aim to exactly reproduce the songs for the live environment as much as give them drama and intensity.

What bands are you currently listening to?

Kurt Vile’s song ‘Baby’s Arms’ means a lot me. tUnE-yArDs were on the bill with us at Iceland Airwaves and were brilliant too. Final mention goes to Mammal Club; we played a show with them recently and in my opinion they combine unique songwriting, musicianship and passion. Class.

What’s next?

We’ve just released our single ’Lesson No. 7’ on Moshi Moshi/Island. There are many other plans still under wraps in the lead up to our debut album, on the same label, early next year.

Lesson No.7 is out now via Moshi Moshi/Island

Words By Samuel Ballard

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