Heading To The Dancefloor: Stealing Sheep Talk
One day we'll wake up and find that Stealing Sheep are a national treasure. They're one of those quirky British bands who don't arrive in a fanfair of sparkle and media hype, but instead quietly busy themselves with releasing a constant stream of idiosyncratic, excellent music spiked with the cerebral lyrics that mark out the finest English pop music. Inevitably, sooner or later everyone realises that they’ve been amazing for years. It's a route that's been followed by others – Pulp and Hot Chip had and have careers marked by a steady ascent rather than an early supernova, and it's not hard to see the 'Sheep, who's sound is slowly morphing from an interesting post-punk pagan folk to an equally interesting glittery, synth heavy wonk pop, making a similar transisiton. Seeing they're booked to play the Lunar Festival (which sounds like a treat of leftfield sounds – Mercury Rev, Super Furrys and Os Mutantes are all on the bill), we thought we'd catch up with the band to see how work on the new album is going. Guitarist Emily Lansley got on the phone and we talked Liverpool, loving to dance, and suggestions for covers…
I feel like there’s not many other bands like you in England at the moment – does it feel like you’re out on your own?
I guess in some ways we are quite unusual. I don’t think we think we are, we just write songs and then other people are like ‘oh my God it’s so weird’. I guess we’re just doing what we like doing. We get a lot of influence from where we live, we know a lot of creative people around Liverpool who we can talk to and develop our ideas with.
Is there a good scene in Liverpool?
It’s just a really busy place, we’re totally in a creative scene in of different people and different bands. We’ve got friends who own a huge warehouse called the Invisible Wind Factory and they do big performances where they have lighting that’s programmed to go with the music – it’s more like an art installation/ musical. They’ve been very inspiring for us, and I guess a lot of people have been offshoots from that. There’s a lot going on here in Liverpool, and because it’s so small we can feel all together.
I feel like a Londoner with no idea what's going on outside the capital..
Come up to Liverpool! Come and have some fun! There’s a big performance going on in May with some friends in the warehouse called Omphalos, keep an eye out for it, it’ll be worth seeing.
Liverpool’s quite affordable to live, it’s a great place really – but London’s great as well, we love coming down to see what’s going on – I guess the cities aren’t that far away, there shouldn’t be that much of a divide, it’s a only a train journey away. We should all be popping into each other’s zones.
The morris dancing video was amazing – was that an idea the director came up with?
Yeah, We met Dougal years ago, he came up to Liverpool to Sound City to see us because he was into our music, and we just went out and had a wild weekend with him. He had some ideas of things to do then, but at that time we were working on a different album and we’d boxed off our video stuff, so when Apparition came up we knew we wanted to work with him. He had the idea of using morris dancing with modern music. I think it worked really well, we were almost like extras in our own video which was quite exciting for us. Our previous album had been a bit pagan-y and folk-y so it was quite funny doing this because we’d moved on musically and visually, and he took us back to it, but with this more electronic music – I quite liked the juxtaposition.
Did the morris men enjoy the tune?
They said they enjoyed it… They had to learn the words and were toodling along singing it. It was good. I hope they enjoyed it anyway. I hope it wasn’t just harrowing for them… I tell you what though, they did all get food poisoning. 13 people on that shoot got food poisoning from a chicken sandwich. They were dropping like flies.
I heard some of your new music last night – it sounded like you’ve gone way more in a synth-y disco direction. Is that where you’re heading?
We really love dancing and partying and we just want to have a bit more of that in our music. Our previous stuff has been a bit more thoughtful and whimsical, and we want to be a bit more straight forward and make some music people can have a really good time to. Haha it sounds really cheesy!
There’s nothing wrong with making people dance
Yeah, over here everyone wants to dance and have fun, and we want our music to be part of that world, as well as being proper songs.
Is there anything you’ve been listening to that has inspired this?
We listen to a lot of really different songs , so it’s quite hard to pinpoint. I really like listening to Justin Bieber and quite naff pop music, and also that guy Cerrone, the Italian disco guy. Also things like Little Dragon. We’re always making mixtapes, the list is endless. But we’re definitely more interested in making a dancing album.
Sometimes there’s a bit of an idea that a song can’t be a dance tune and have deep lyrics – but then if you look at a Prince song like Sign of the Times, it’s an amazing dance tune, but the lyrics are very serious
Yeah it’s just finding that balance isn’t it, finding the way to get to that. I don’t think we’ll lose that song element, we just need to find a way to marry the two together.
I’d love to hear you do a pop reggae tune, like Why by Carly Simon, or even something like Ace of Base..
Hahaha well, we all love Ace of Base from our youth. We’ll try and put one out there.
I’m just saying a cover of The Sign would be a banger.
I’m really into Grace Jones, My Jamaican Guy, that would be an interesting cover. Send us your cover ideas and we’ll see what we can do!
I actually did the remix of your tune Deadlock (shameless self plug here..)
Ah no way, that was really cool! We put it on our facebook page we all thought it was really good.
Glad you liked it, I'm not above posting it in this piece-
Have you ever thought of working with any dance producers?
Well we’ve been working with a guy called Ash who works with Metronomy. The new tracks have been done with him, and it was really interesting seeing how he bought different sounds and synths
I can see an easy fit between yourselves and Metronomy
Yeah I can to, but we wouldn’t want to sound too much like them. It’s inevitable we will a bit. We went and did a little bit of singing for the new Metronomy album, which was pretty exciting for us. We heard a tiny bit of it and it sounded really good. But, yeah I guess we’d like to work with different producers , we want to do it all the time and try different things out. We keep seeing David Wrench around and we keep contacting him about working together. We’re interesting in experimenting.
So when’s the new record coming?
I think it’s going to be next year. The plan at the moment is we’ve got these two tracks we’re going to release as a single, then we’re going to reissue the album as a deluxe edition with them on it as bonus tracks. Then next year we’ll release the new album. That’s only a rough plan though!
And you’ve got Lunar Festival coming up
Yes! Super Furry Animals and The Zombies are playing.
No way, like the 60s band the Zombies?
Wow. That’s pretty big.
Television and Os Mutantes are doing it as well, the line up is brilliant. It’ll be great that one.
Maybe we’ll see you there..!
Stealing Sheep play Lunar Festival, taking place June 3rd – 5th in Warwickshire. More info over here