EXPERIMENT 637, are a band who've long been on our radar. We chatted with the duo just before they went on their first UK headline tour next week, finishing with a headline show at Brudenell Social Club on March 25th. To celebrate, they've release the latest instalment of their visual album, 'Midday Sun'. Here is how it went:
Please introduce yourselves for those who might not know you?
Hello! We are Mickey and Ronan from Experiment 637 - an alternative / folk / electronic duo from Bradford.
How did you both meet/ what's the full story of the band forming?
Ronan: We originally met through working together on other projects. Mickey is a really amazing producer and I recorded with him at his studio for a few other bands I am in. We hit it off as collaborators straight away because of our similar work ethic and music tastes and formed a really great friendship from there.
It was a few years later, while selling merch on tour with Mickey's other band that we asked ourselves the question ‘Why aren’t we writing together?’. As soon as I was back from that run of dates (and had sorted 2-weeks worth of tour washing out), I headed straight over to Bradford to kick things off. We really hit our stride, but just as we saw what felt like an album forming, lockdown hit.
Writing over Zoom didn’t excite us or feel very natural at all, so we sat tight, planning and dreaming ideas up, and got together as soon as restrictions allowed. I think because of the amount of time we’d been forced to have away from the project and the fear of it being taken from us again, we were dead-set on being prolific and finishing our debut album. There were spells where we would write 3 songs over a two-day period.
The album gained some incredible reviews, the Louder Than War one really sticks out. How do you find yourself reflecting on 'Sleepwater' since its release?
Ronan: We were pretty blown away by the reviews we had, that’s for sure. It’s really nice to see others, especially people whose bread and butter is listening and writing about song, understand your work. ‘Sleepwater’ documents a period of time for Mickey and I, not only as a collective, but independently. To me it illustrates the growth I went through following a pretty nasty breakup and the fallout after it. The clouds lifted though, and a lot of my healing came through working on this album and shooting the shit with Mickey whilst doing so. It was like therapy for us both, I think, and the second half of the album came from us both being in a better place.
We speak to you just before you head out on a string of shows. How are you feeling about touring?
Ronan: We’re very excited! We’re driving down to London as we speak. Up until recently, we had only gigged 3 songs before so this is a whole new ballgame for us! We take a projector out with us to each show, kill all the venue lights and showcase all the videos we’ve made (plus some extra bits) whilst we perform - almost as if we are sound tracking the visuals. Performing in the dark took some getting used to, and the amount of equipment we take with us is pretty substantial for a two-piece so that makes travelling interesting, but now we’re on our way with it, we’re buzzing.
You are Bradford based, what local venues, record stores etc do you find yourselves hanging out in?
Bradford has been in the doldrums for a good few years in terms of a fresh and vibrant music scene, but there are exciting things starting to happen down at The Underground venue. On recent weekends, the place has been bouncing with energy and noise, and it’s a huge relief to be honest. Record store wise, we have the Record Cafe on North Parade. They sell vinyl, food and a great selection of beers. And they do a regular music quiz with a host called Dave Glenister. He’s the greatest quiz master ever. He has a very calm, John Peel vibe to him! And Five Rise Records in Bingley - they’re doing great things too, stocking a huge selection of everything.
When writing tracks do you ever consider how they'll be received live?
Ronan: I don’t personally. Not at the conception of the song, anyway. I’ve always preferred writing and recording over performing live. I think it’s where I feel the most comfortable. For me, the song is the most important thing. Making it sound as close to the way we hear it in our head is my priority. Then we worry about how to replicate it live further down the line.
You worked with Leeds based filmmaker and animator Alexander Kershaw on a visual album. Talk us through your decision to collaborate with him, and how you found the process.
Ronan: Alex is an absolute genius. The way his mind works is unfathomable to me. We’ve worked with him with other projects and always loved the experience. The way he brings new meaning to songs through his visuals is really exciting to us, so when we Mickey suggested filming a video to each song from ‘Sleepwater’ - a visual album if you like - Alex was the obvious choice. We met him at his house, which was conveniently (and unbeknown to any of us prior to the meeting) only 3 doors down from mine at the time, and began dreaming up a world and narrative that would span across each of the songs on the record.
What can we look forward to you from you in the near future?
Ronan: More gigs! We’ve only just got the live side of things figured out properly so we’re really eager to keep the momentum going and play everywhere we can. We’ve some really exciting gigs lined up that we can’t announce just yet, but you can expect to hear about them soon!
Other than that, we have more videos to come from our visual album, and longer term, we’re looking forward to sitting down to write album 2, once we’ve got some more gigs under our belt!
Experiment 637 headline Brudenell Social Club in Leeds this Saturday, 25th March along with Dokkodo Sounds and Jooloosooboo. Tickets are available from www.experiment637.com/live or from the venue.