INTERVIEW: Undersound

Hi Gareth, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, I’ve been great thanks 🙂

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “No More Shooting Stars”?

Um, it’s kind of a ballad I guess in the sense that it’s slow and it’s about nursing a broken heart.

This version is pretty different to how the song started its life back in 2012.  It was originally a dub steppy electronic kind of thing, but didn’t really sit right in the album. I really wanted to include it on this album though so towards the end of the writing and production stage I gave it a fresh lick of paint as it were. I completely re worked it from the ground up starting with the new live bass line, that’s what  really set it off, and from that point I knew it was going to work with a much more melancholic yet organic funk vibe. The vocals, lyrically and melodically are identical, even though I did re record all of the parts so they sat better in the new mix.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Well without going too deep into it, it’s about love lost, the ups and downs, and the questions of how to go about the process of moving on and getting one’s life back on track.

It was first written a good number of years ago so much easier to re visit now for the album

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Absolutely, Before Christmas I spend a few days shooting a video in several locations with Cardiff based camera man Jody Cusack. That was a fairly new and at times weird experience for me as I’d never done anything where I was the main focus of attention, especially all the singing to the camera stuff. I was dreading watching it back, but was pleasantly surprised and I’m actually super pleased and proud of how it’s come out.

Why naming the album after this track in particular?

I’m not really sure, for a while it was going to be one of the other track titles, but when I came to re do this track, the new lease of life it had made me change my mind. Also because the track means a lot to me on a personal level. Plus I think the title ‘no more shooting stars’ conjures up good imagery and translates nicely to an album title.  

How was the recording and writing process?

I write and record from my studio in my home in Cardiff so that part is fairly stress free. I get to work pretty flexibly at my own pace, what ever the time of day or night, as and when inspiration takes me. I wasn’t intentionally writing an album, but once I had a decent bunch of tracks and made the conscious decision to put them all into an album sized body of work then I started to focus in a bit more and work on making the whole thing more coherent. It’s only really in the final stages of mix downs, mastering and artwork that the process becomes more like a job. You’re then thinking less creatively and  more about the end goal while working with others such as Label boss (Dan Clarke) and mastering engineer(Marc Royal) to meet a deadline. Fortunately those guys are fantastic at their jobs and are super easy to work with so the whole process was it’s say maybe 93% stress free.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?

It depends on the situation really, for example the track ‘Party arrangements’ which featured MC Sober and Kimba who are both based in Chamonix. I recorded the main verse and chorus music ideas, sent an extended loop of that over to them, they did their thing on it then sent back the parts to me. From that then I’ll finish the track.

Then you have a track like ‘Should’ve known better’ with Bella Collins, I wrote the bulk of that including singing the vocals on the chorus, but decided my voice wasn’t working,  so Bella came in and re recorded the chorus then between us we hashed out the verses together one evening over a few beers.

With Ben Thorpe’s trombone parts on ‘No more lies’ we did a similar thing, the track was pretty much there when he came in to the studio so we wrote and recorded his parts together there and then.

What role does Cardiff play in your music?

Cardiff plays a massive role, it’s my home, it’s where I work and play.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Ah that would be telling…… nah, Inspiration can come from anywhere, like I mentioned earlier, could be from a broken heart, the weather, life events past and present, people around you. I love to get out and take photos so find that can be inspirational in a creative way. Also I take a lot of inspiration musically especially from movie soundscapes.

I’m fascinated by the effect sound can have on your emotion over a scene on screen.

I figured out the other day whilst watching it that I have been subconsciously influenced massively by the sound track of Rocky 2, which I must have first seen at around 8 or 9 years old.

Any plans to hit the road?

None at the moment, I’d really love to, but as I pretty much played everything on the record I’d have to figure out the logistics of putting a fairly sizable band together. If there was call for it though I’d absolutely love to take the album out on tour. I am fortunate to know a plethora of amazing musicians so would be a blast to get a load of them together to work with me on a live version of the album.

What else is happening next in Undersound’s world?

Off the back of finishing no more shooting stars I’ve gone straight into writing another album (this time intentionally). I’d planned to have a break for a while but right now I feel match fit as it were at so thought I’d just continued with the momentum and kind of hit the ground running with a new album. I’ve been writing lots recently with a really talented Jazz musician and singer from Cardiff called Sarah Meek. We already have a couple of nice Neo soul style tracks in the bag, I’m not sure yet if they’re going to go on the second album or if we might put out a collaboration EP separately. Watch this space…..

On a different tip, I’m putting the final touches to a liquid drum and bass EP which will be coming out around spring time hopefully on Nexgen.

Watch here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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