We met up with Milk to discuss their upcoming Cassette Store Day release at their studio and rehearsal space. The room was strewn with vintage keyboards, a few guitars, some of which looked home made, a couple of bass guitars, drums, microphones, video cameras, film cameras and their recording equipment. This was evidently a creative space and we were keen to discuss their release as well as their upcoming projects, and what gets Milk churning…
Thanks for sitting down with us today, we are excited about the limited edition cassette of Strange Change for this years Cassette Store Day. Who took the helm on the Strange Change EP?
JH – Me and Samuel wrote the music, and then, we just kind of all played it. But now, with this one, what were trying to do is, like, all integrate.
JH – Yeah, its kind of weird, its kind of a mix. Sometimes when we write something it will just be like, tune the guitar to a weird tuning and then just playing. Like playing the same chord shapes but in that tuning or something like that. Its like mixing what you have learnt in theory and just messing about and doing weird shit.
Are you happy with how strange change was received by your friends and peers?
JH – Yeah we’ve had good responses from it, its been really cool.
TN – When we made it, it was kind of just because we wanted to record some music really. We had been writing a lot of tracks and we needed to just record them and make it happen. I don’t think we were really expecting anything from it.
SH – Essentially, we went about it with the attitude that even if no one gets anything from this, we were going to learn from it either way
TN – We just wanted to do it because we enjoy it
SH – I think its just, when if you put something out not really knowing what to expect its really interesting just hearing feedback. What I find really interesting, with any creative project, the only people that know everything that goes into it are the people that make it, if you listen to an album, they all have their own story and everything that goes into it, but you only experience that if you have made it, which I find really interesting. And like, it was the first big project we have done
TN – I think our style has changed quite a lot actually even since the last project
JH – I think we have started experimenting with different things and sounds and stuff
TN – and we have been picking up different instruments
How did you think the show at the o2 academy went? Did you think it went well?
ALL – Yeah (laughing)
TN – It was pretty good.
SH – I mean like, there was the technical hitch at the start. Which was really annoying. But the thing you have to do, is make the rest of your set balance that out so people don’t remember it. I would say it’s the gig we have learnt the most from.
JH – It was pretty funny as well. It was fun to play.
Where did you get all these keyboards from?
JH – Some are from charity shops, one is me, Samuel and our sister’s old childhood keyboard, and I got this from eBay, which is my favorite keyboard (a Yamaha PSS-470) I love it so much
TN – The college I went to were throwing out a load of keyboards, X5D’s and shit
JH – Tom very kindly brought us back that N5, and also the top one (Korg X5D) for himself but its staying here (laughs)
SH – If you look around hard enough and do a bit of research, you can get instruments for not a huge cost
JH – We really like going second hand
SH – And we have made a couple of things as well
JH – Yeah we built that one (points), yeah we found the body and the neck at a dump and bought it for a £1, and we went to the Thame guitar shop and said we were building a guitar and asked if he had any electrics and he just went to his bit and took out pickups and stuff and he was like “here you go, you can have these for free”, so yeah all we had to buy were the tuners I think.
SH – We have done a few demos with it, I really like the sound, but I don’t think it is earthed properly.
What do you write about? Is it Personal experiences, do you write what fits? Who takes the lead with the lyrics?
SH – Strange Change, it was a few personal experiences and ‘Is Johnny High’ is about a character on a TV show…
JH – Yeah on That 70s Show, the mum is reading this pamphlet and trying to find out if her son is smoking weed, and its called ‘Is Johnny High?’, so I got the name from that but the actual song is kind of based on a guy called Johnny who is following me around, and controlling things and its kind of based on that, but the name is from That 70s Show. There is an old song of ours where all the characters are based from That 70s Show, there was a time where I was obsessed with it, guess I still am
SH – I think the songs that we are writing at the moments are kind of, our, maybe, I guess they have just matured. I think the stuff we will be releasing in the future tells more.
SH – At the moment, we are kind of transitioning to writing it all as a three piece, although we (Joey and Samuel) are at an advantage because we live together
JH – Me and Samuel write things down a lot, we quite “writey” people, so we have loads of notebooks, filled with rants and stuff. Sometimes they’ll form into lyrics.
TN – When I write, I get a feeling to really want to create something and when I’ve got something I like, ill just make it up. Usually what I’m feeling at that point in time.
JH – I find it really interesting, I don’t know if all songwriters treat it like this, but I kind of feel like, its like a weird thing, that gives you an excuse to say things you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable saying. I find that really interesting, I don’t know, I feel a lot more comfortable saying things through lyrics.
Where do you draw your influence from?
SH – I think to be honest like, I think we all share influences but then we all have all our own individual influences
JH – And they are not all musical, there from so many different things.
SH – Yeah like art and film and stuff
JH – Also, we just kind of like, stick up random stuff on the wall. There’s a song that we do that’s like 10 minutes long and is had three different sections and there’s a part where the lyrics are completely based off this poster. You just find random stuff like that you think is just cool and you find stuff in it.
SH – I would say for me like, my influences are like Bowie, Damon Albarn, more of a Gorillaz fan, the first album is incredible.
TN – I’m open to so much different music so I find it quite hard. King Krule was the first person I heard and thought, this is different, this is sick but now I’m listening to this woman called Lianne Le Havas, she’s like, I dunno, it’s a bit interesting, she’s got such a nice voice and she makes really sweet music. My uncle told me about her, actually.
And you said the Police earlier?
TN – Yeah Stewart Copeland is one of the best drummers there has ever been, he’s crazy
Will you be taking a similar approach to recording your new material as you did with Strange Change?
JH – With Strange Change, it was pretty much me mixing it. But I think for the new tunes we will all try and do a bit more of everything. We were jamming the other day and Tom was singing and playing keyboards, Samuel was on the drums. And I think it would be really cool to mix it around a bit more like that, and when were recording we all kind of have a bit more input in the production.
SH – But I do feel its good if there is someone you can trust (points at Joey)
JH – I think we have also ‘honed our craft’. Samuel done the artwork for Strange Change and we can all take the lead in one part of the process.
SH – Same with the music, we all bring our different thing in, but it all sort of works together. We all have different things we like to do, we will bring our own thing to the table and it will change the opinion of the other two. Like in terms of structure of the song, what’s in the song, how we record it, stuff like that
TN – Lots of “creative discussions” …… (laughs)
JH – If me and Samuel are ever arguing, it will be about a recording process or something
As you are working on new material, do you think you will keep all the songs from ‘Strange Change’?
JH – Yeah, I think yeah, I think there’s some that, are just short ones that are fun to play and we like the songs.
SH – I don’t think we would ever just disregard a song because we wrote it a couple of years ago. If we still want to play it, we still will
TN – I’d rather be playing what we like because you find the people that enjoy it more, there is the honesty in the performance.
And what about the videos, for Susu and Alien Jon? Are there more to come?
SH – Joey directed and edited the videos, and we have a mate called Harvey (Frost), who’s really into directing and stuff, recently he did the videos for Birthday Card and I think he’s getting pretty well known around the area. So for ‘Alien John’ he helped film the footage, then Joey edited them
JH – One of the songs we played in Oxford will be released in a few months as a double single and we will be making a video for that and everything. I think were going to work with Harvey again, who will help film it, but we will be directing and editing and stuff. We love to collaborate with people, but we do like to keep things in house.
SH – And I think that’s become more and more “a thing you can do” to keep everything in house to keep everything these days common. But similarly, we are really up for collaborating, we would never turn that down.
Is there anyone you would recommend us to check out?
JH – Infinite Bisous, w/ love is one of the sickest albums the three of us have heard in a long time, such a good album
SH – He’s really nailed a sound. I feel like, it could take him far
JH – I’ve been really getting into Portishead, and a lot of the Ryuichi Sakamoto
SH – And Haroumi Hosono, also of Yellow Magic Orchestra
JH – We saw Creatures at End of the Road festival, very cool, really wild west, Texas sound
SH – Of course shout outs to Haze, Shame, Sorry, Father Demo, Birthday Card.
Thanks for sitting down with us today, we look forward to the show at Bucks Student Union in High Wycombe on Thursday 19th October!
ALL – Thanks for having us!
To find out more about Milk click here