Interview: Syd Arthur

Ahead of the release of their hugely exciting album Apricity, we spoke to Kent’s Syd Arthur to delve into their world and find out what makes them tick…

First of all, let’s talk about the upcoming album, Apricity. There seems to be an awful lot of thought and meaning behind the name, could you tell us a bit more?

Apricity means feeling the warmth of the winter sun. Coming from England it’s a feeling we often get in those lovely Spring and Autumnal months. We recorded the majority of the album in Los Angeles and we were surprised to find this feeling where we were staying in Topanga Canyon too. In the mornings and evenings when the sun was low, there was often misty mornings where you could start to feel the warmth before the sun broke through and things heated up significantly. As we wrote the record back home in the Spring and then recorded it in the Autumn, it felt fitting that this reoccurring theme was represented in the album title.

It seems to be influenced by life both in LA and in Kent, which are undoubtedly two very different places. Do you feel like either place is more fitting for you as a band?

Well we all grew up and come from Canterbury and the surrounding area and we still live in the area – it’s where our routes are and where we have our studio space. This new record is about moving forward and looking to the future. Our sound is evolving and in that sense LA is very fitting for us. We love it here (I’m currently writing this for you guys in LA where we’ve just played) and the record is definitely a reflection of our time spent in both places.

You’ve said that the mainstream has moved in your direction, which is perhaps a bit of an off-kilter one. Did you ever see your sound as a bit of a risk in that it wasn’t necessarily going to be accepted?

Well with bands like Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the like pushing Psychedelic sounds onto a bigger scale I think this is fairly appropriate. We don’t really see ourselves as a band in the same vein as these guys but a more expansive musical horizon does seem to be pushing forward at the moment which is exciting to see. We don’t even see ourselves as a psychedelic band per say, we take influence from so many places and they all feed into the melting pot that makes our music what it is. We fully believe in what we are doing so we don’t worry too much about what people think.

Aside from the rave scene that ultimately created the band, what else influenced you musically? What were you brought up on as kids?

I wouldn’t say the rave scene created the band, but it was a formative few years for us when we were in our late teens. The woodland rave scene we were a part of wasn’t really a musical influence on us in so much as it was an amazing playground of ideas and cultural expansion. Total freedom of expression and an important sense of being in touch with nature and your surroundings. As kids we were brought up on Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Motown, Rolling Stones, T Rex and the like, our parents didn’t have the deepest rare cuts, that was something we would find ourselves a little later on, but they had a great sense of good music they were always listening too.

Tell us a bit more about the creation of the band too – was music always the plan?

It soon became the plan if it wasn’t already… Raven has been playing the violin since the age of 3 and is the most musically minded person I know. I don’t think he would be doing anything else. We have all always been playing, writing music and collaborating with other musicians and artists in the wider scene. I love analogue photography, Liam has always been a strong visual artist who does our poster and album design work. We all have other creative outputs outside of the band we like to explore too, but music is most definitely the driving force of most of what we do creatively.

And the name?

It came from us all reading Herman Hesse’s famous novel Siddhartha in our late teens. The book was handed around the band and we all read it in a short space of time. Its sense of journey and finding one’s self really struck a chord with us. There’s also a nod to Syd Barrett in the spelling.

From the sounds of it, a lot of what you’re about is self-sufficiency. Do you ever fear that as you play bigger stages etc. you’ll lose the sort of DIY element of the band?

We love being hands on. For us it’s what this is all about. Creating art is a very personal process and we love to be involved in all aspects of what we do, from the artwork to the video work. I don’t think we could loose this sense of self-sufficiency if we tried, we are so vested in the project.

Finally, the album’s out in October – what are your plans from there?”

Yes, Apricity is out October 21. We can’t wait! We’re currently on tour in the US and then we head back to the UK to support White Denim in early October before our own headline shows around the release, which takes in into November. I imagine a short break over December when we may get into the studio and do some writing before we head back on the road at the top of the year. Exciting times!

Melissa Svensen

Melissa Svensen

Melissa Svensen

Melissa, 22. Editor. Student, music journalist, probably talking about Blur or Bowie