Thank you. It’s good to be here. I’ve been doing alright thanks. It’s been a hectic start to the year, but I’m enjoying all the creative elements I’m currently involved with.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Never Let Me Down”?
‘Never Let Me Down’ was written in January 2018. I was determined to get my act together, and hit the ground running, with three months of intense songwriting. I had a heart to heart about music, fears and dreams with my co-writing friend Féz Oguns. I had recently taken the plunge to work full time as an indie artist. I felt vulnerable and unsure, so we began to pen the lyrics ‘I think I’m drifting between the head and the heart…’ an honest summary of my mindset. I hope it helps people who are needing to take the plunge into something new.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
One of the biggest inspirations behind the song happened a few months before. I’d been working on a debut album project and was about to release it. It felt like the project needed more of my time (I was giving it a day a week), and so after much deliberation I decided to jump into working as a full time artist. No record label, no manager, just an inner belief that I needed to do this. The first few months were particularly tough, I had a bad cycling accident which gifted me a smashed up face and several broken bones. I had to cancel all the summer festivals. This shook me up a bit, but also gave me a determination to push through with the project, and soon after the release this song was written.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes, definitely. We’re editing it now, and will have it out by the release date – 24th January 2020. We’re going for a pixilation vibe, and so ended up taking hundreds of shots one Saturday in December along the River Cam in Cambridge. There were five of us covered head to toe in one single bright colour. I looked like an Oompa Loompa with an orange face, and orange jacket and trousers. It was fun, weird and definitely attracted the attention of a few tourists.
The single comes off your new album Not An Island – what’s the story behind the title?
‘Not An Island’ is also a song name, which is all about unity. It wasn’t written to be a political song, but having toured in mainland Europe a lot in the last two years, I can see how it connects to our current political situation.
Personally, I’ve tried to go at things alone far too many times, and I know I need others around me to make me the better person. Not just family and friends but a wider community, who in the past, I naturally may have shied away from. The song was a co-write with Tom Read and Féz Oguns over the course of nine months and is probably the anthem of the album.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was an amazing whirlwind. Honestly, I went into the project feeling pretty unprepared. I had taken plenty of time to craft the songs and co-write with a bunch of people I respect and love. The songs felt strong enough, but a little unfinished and raw. I did end up re-writing a couple while recording, but most of them stayed the same, and I fell in love with them.
I remember sitting in the first recording session. I had just driven 12 hours from the far end of Germany playing a festival, and the next day I was up in Glasgow having to make quick creative decisions. In a way the chaos helped me, I had to make snap decisions and trust my gut.
The whole recording process was brilliant, I loved working with (producer) Iain Hutchison. We clicked and I think pushed each other on with the project. It’s a big one – 12 songs, but tried to resist the urge to cut corners for a deadlines sake.
How has Foals and Two Door Cinema Club influenced your writing?
There were five main bands/artists that influenced me at different stages of the writing process. Foals, Young The Giant, Two Door Cinema Club, Phoria and Foster The People. During the early stages of songwriting, I tried to not to limit my style. But during the editing and pre-production stage I listened a lot to these bands. The guitar tone and parts from Two Door Cinema Club helped me develop a certain playing style that repeats a lot throughout the album. With Foals, I’m loving the energy of their last two albums. It pushed me to intensify the bigger tracks and give them some balls.
What aspect of pressure and loss did you get to explore on this record?
That’s a good question. I’ve lived from a young age knowing that life if short and you have one stab at it. I lost my dad at 11 years old, and so looking through this lens I’ve wanted to connect music and brokenness. However, that was a while ago and you do find ways to move forward.
The pressure of being a creative and trying to make a living from music has been a massive internal pressure for me.
I’ve also written about comparison (there’s a song called ‘Envy’) and bitterness. One of my favourite co-writes on the album was with a lady in the US who put up a poem on Instagram. It began “This root of bitterness has so many flavours…” and I was captivated by it. We chatted online and ended up collaborating. Her story was a difficult one, which I probably can’t go into details here, but it inspired us to put together a song to help others who might be experiencing similar abuses.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Summer touring is always a special time for me. Playing variety of festivals, particularly in mainland Europe, and finding connections with people from different backgrounds is always going to open your eyes to new things. I love how a community or a bunch of people can get together through a common love of music. Seeing this from stage and hanging out afterwards puts ideas and lyrical thoughts into my songwriting book.
I’ve found asking producer friends to send me their scrap production files really useful as well. These may be labelled as junk to them, but it can kick start a melody idea that then becomes the core hook of a new song. I’ve enjoyed working like that for a few tracks on this project.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, I’ll be doing a house gig tour across the UK most of January and into Feb. There are some more gigs in the pipeline including an album launch party in April, and festivals in the summer.
What else is happening next in Pyramid Park’s world?
In January to May I’ll be releasing a single each month, plus the full album in late April. Once that’s out I’ll be touring, especially in Germany and the UK. I’m writing the first few chapters of a book on the topic of grief and the process of losing a loved one early in life. It’s a long way off now, but it’s a life goal to create something like that to help other people.