The Bristol Effect: Grove and SCALPING in Conversation
Though Bristol was the meeting place for Grove and SCALPING, their individual paths before this point followed a very similar trajectory.
The techno-noise outfit and vocalist and producer both grew up listening to, watching and forming their own rock bands. Further down the road, their respective introductions to dance music began to feed more into the sounds they were creating, leading them to where they are today.
Of course Bristol’s fertile music scene has had a profound impact on both SCALPING and Grove’s output – it’s difficult not to be inspired by the dynamic and energetic sonics, and the slew of forward-thinking artists, coming out of the South Western city.
Having admired one another’s output from afar for a while, a chance meeting at Mickey Zoggs, the home of Noods Radio, finally brought them together and set the wheels in motion for their first collaboration.
‘Remain In Stasis’ is the closing track on SCALPING’s debut album, Void, and the band’s first music with vocals. Thematically focused on the duality of memory and catharsis, Grove peppers the group’s heady and distorted rhythms with their commanding lyricism – we truly couldn’t think of a better match.
In anticipation of the album’s release later this week, band members James Rushforth and Alex Hill chat to Grove about formative gig experiences, the powerful influence of Bristol’s music scene on their own sounds and the process of their collaboration.
James Rushforth: Yo
Alex Hill: Yoooooo. Right on time. Love that.
Grove: What can I say… how’s tricks?
Alex Hill: Right ok, so you wanna sum up how we met?
Grove: I think I’ve actually got us meeting captured at the beginning of one of my radio shows
Alex Hill: Oh shit yeah probably
Grove: Mickey Zoggs massive
Alex Hill: I was aware of you through the remix you did for Mouse and then we finished our show and you rocked up and started your show and went “this is grove” I was like “oh YOU’RE grove”.
Grove: oh wow, I had no idea that’s how! I’d seen your guys music videos on YouTube over the years and was obsessed. The joys of Bristol…
Alex Hill: Yeah everyone knows everyone round ere. I actually don’t know if I’d realised you were Bristol-based at that point though!
James Rushforth: Totally seemed like you came out of nowhere and knew everyone.
Alex Hill: Yeah definitely.
James Rushforth: And were on every line up.
Alex Hill: Which is always a good sign.
Alex Hill: Felt like we were late to the party ahah.
Grove: Yeah I’d started coming up to Bristol before I moved here, mainly doing MCing at grime nights.
Alex Hill: Ahh I seee.
Grove: How did you guys find yourselves here?
Alex Hill: Uni and never left basically. Were you in Cheltenham before?
Grove: Yeah I was. I moved here like end of 2019.
Alex Hill: Ahh ok yeah we’ve been here probably nearly 10 years. Were you playing in metal bands?
Grove: Yes! from when I was like 15 to 18, I was in a prog rock/metal band. There are videos floating about on YouTube that I hope no one ever finds.
Alex Hill: Fuck yeah.
Grove: I was such a shy and awkward kid hahaha.
Alex Hill: I was actually born in Cheltenham but left before I was one so didn’t really get a chance to check out the prog scene.
Grove: lmaooo poser, real six month olds get up and grind. Leave no metal stone unturned.
Alex Hill: So how did you move from prog/rock towards what you’re currently doing? There are obviously elements of that world still in your music which I guess is what brought us together ultimately?
Grove: I had a mentor at this community studio in Cheltenham called Studio 340 and met other musicians through that who did like singer/songwriter stuff; made a soft rock band, formed a beatbox group and learned production. The kind of end product was this really depressing, heavy electronic music, then after getting more involved in listening to dance music, I figured the tunes could still be dark and brooding – but also danceable. So kinda ended up where I am now…
Alex Hill: Ahhh sick. Yeah that makes sense.
Grove: What would you guys describe your sonic palette as? What kind of influences have you had over the years?
Alex Hill: Well I guess our path isn’t miles away from what you’ve described.
James Rushforth: I guess the instrumental ‘rock’ side of things does always end up being a bit metal or post rock whether we like it or not. I think a lot of the corners we’re borrowing from are from a lot of Bristol artists over the ages – dunno if that’s intentional and feeling like we want to fit in or it’s just subconscious.
Alex Hill: Yeah purely because of our instrumental make up and the sounds we use it’s going to end up in that world regardless.
James Rushforth: Alex and I grew up in the midlands together and ended up at the same uni too – we’ve been to an obscene amount of gigs together so a lot of the same lightbulb moments.
Alex Hill: We went to different schools but met through a mutual friend and our two different bands ended up doing a few gigs together.
James Rushforth: The sheer volume of specific experiences definitely has been a big factor that makes the really good stuff stand out.
Grove: Ahh always so nice hearing about longtime friends and things clicking like that.
James Rushforth: Hudson Mohawke supported by SOPHIE at the late ‘Start The Bus’ jumps to mind
Grove: Wow, sick lineup?!
Alex Hill: Yeah right! It was surreal. Didn’t even realise it was SOPHIE at the time.
Grove: What would you say is a favourite show you’ve ever seen/experienced? Apart from that one…
Alex Hill: Ansome and Giant Swan at crown court too. My kind of THE ONE is when I saw Robert Henke do this like programmed laser show thing at the Arnolfini. It just completely blew my mind in every way. He’s the guy who made Ableton and he’s a total genius and it was fucking insane.
Grove: Oh madddd.
Alex Hill: I remember walking out the fire escape on to the harbourside and being so confused. I remember several times throughout the show, consciously thinking “this is the best thing I’ve ever seen”. We also always mention Howling Owls New Year New Noise events that they did. They definitely opened our eyes to a lot of what we now consider essential parts of the Bristol ‘scene’.
Grove: Sick, sick.
James Rushforth: One of my first ever mosh pits I was in was at Slipknot at Download Festival 2009 when they headlined. They’d released ‘All Hope Is Gone’ the year before and tbh I don’t think I’ve seen that kind of carnage on that scale since. Rarely mention that one as one of my best gigs but…
Alex Hill: Yeah fair. They are such an experience live, especially around that time. What about you?
Grove: Scaled up carnage.
James Rushforth: Yeah it’s basically like ‘the’ UK Slipknot show of all time so can’t complain. Shoutout The Bug and Tame Impala too lolllll.
Grove: So I think Giant Swan headlining Loco Klub in 2019 is a strong favourite. An exercise in carnage and catharsis. Like everyone stormed the stage at one point.
Alex Hill: Ooooh yeah chaos. Not sure what my fav giant swan show is… Oh actually, gotta be Brunswick Club. Unreal.
Grove: And also seeing Lady Gaga in 2010 idgaf. I was such a hugely embarrassing little babygay stan for Gaga.
Alex Hill: Oh respect. I bet that was sick. When you arrived in Bristol did you have an idea of what kind of music you wanted to make? Or did being in Bristol change it?
Grove: Being in Bristol definitely allowed me to loosen the edges of whatever I was already making. I already had the foundation, but going to dubstep/jungle/hiphop/queer club nights.
Alex Hill: That’s actually a great way to sum up being in Bristol, it gives you time and freedom to just push the edges and be rough and evolving. And it’s small enough that everyone ends up being involved in multiple “scenes”.
Grove: Totally, and people love the fusion and genre fuckery.
Alex Hill: Yeah definitely.
Grove: That’s what ‘Remain in Stasis’ feels like.
Alex Hill: Yeah! Hopefully.
Grove: Big n authentic soup of flavours.
Alex Hill: I guess we should talk about the song…
James Rushforth: I can start by saying it was a fucking nightmare to finish. Was hard to blur the line between dance track and conventional ‘song’ on this one. Had all the individual elements kicking around for so long.
Alex Hill: It was actually one we saved last minute from the pile of discarded demo ideas wasn’t it. Like quite far on in the process of writing the album we went back to look at ideas we’d discarded and what ended up being ‘Remain in Stasis’ was there.
James Rushforth: I was so happy when you came in with the vocal pretty much bang on first time
Alex Hill: Yeah ahaha such a game changer.
Grove: So glad you saved it from the bin. I was so gassed to receive it, defo combines all the elements of music I was making when I was growing up with where I’m at now. And it was one of those where the words kinda spilled out, relatively effortlessly.
Alex Hill: That’s really good to hear, it did seem like an obvious fit. As soon as we thought about getting vocals on it you were first to come to mind
Grove: I think the discussion we had around the concept was super useful
Alex Hill: Yeah we couldn’t believe how well the themes of your lyrics lined up with themes we’d spoken about. Even stuff we hadn’t mentioned in our chat you’d picked up on somehow.
Grove: oh, mad! I didn’t realise that hahaha. Just got a lot to vent about around memory and the clarity of it. Lyric writing is always a playground for me to exorcise some demons
Alex Hill: I actually rediscovered your notes in my little notebook the other day!
Grove: There’s some fuck yous directed at certain people in the lyrics, but also appreciation for people who I’ve shared beautiful memories with. I’m super glad to have the tune out. I think its a big, aggy banger.
Alex Hill: Yeah it’s a fun one, and mad how it came together.
Grove: For sure.
Alex Hill: It was the longest route to finishing a tune too. We literally finished the mix in the van on the way to London to master the album ahahah. We stayed up all night mixing but that one tune wasn’t quite done. I had my laptop open in the van and we got it finished at like 9am driving to London.
Grove: How does it thematically tie in with the rest of the album?
Alex Hill: There’s only one other song with lyrics on but the themes you expressed on ‘Remain in Stasis’ were absolutely present throughout the writing of the album. The whole thing was written in lockdown and we definitely felt a lot of what you wrote about.
Void will be released on 29th April via Houndstooth.
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