Denai Moore has always sought out fresh ideas.
Essentially rooted in R&B and left field electronics, her mutant pop sound has a soulful flourish, one that takes you to unexpected places.
New album 'Modern Dread' is a case in point. A superb return, it's left field songwriting was aided by key collaborator Alex Robertshaw, a member of indie band Everything Everything.
Pushing each other out of their respective comfort zones, 'Mutant Dread' is a remarkable return, one that revels in fresh possibilities.
Denai Moore cross-examined Alex Robertshaw for Clash, honing in on the specifics that make one another tick.
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Denai: Where have you been quarantining? Have you started any new hobbies / projects in lockdown?
Alex: I have been up in Shrewsbury since lockdown began, my daughter can’t go to nursery so I guess my new hobby is childcare. It’s been amazing actually, she is changing loads every day and I’m lucky to get all the extra time with her. I’m still writing and learning music in the evenings and weekends. Recently got a monome teletype so I’ve been getting my head around coding that for the last few weeks. I actually think I have been musically more productive with the limitation of time.
How about you? I absolutely love the videos you have been putting out, have you had to make lots of changes to how you bring out the album due to the pandemic?
Denai: Lovely! I've been in Margate since early which feels really nice to be able to connect with nature more in the lockdown and go for a swim in the sea & walk in near by forests. I've mainly been writing a lot more recipes at the moment, and baking of lot of sourdough. Longer processes that require patience is pretty soothing for me.
I've also been producing some older songs I've been wanting to work on, that maybe I'll send over to you to see what you think!
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Denai: I loved collaborating on that 'Motherless Child' music video in lockdown! It's nice to see how content has changed in the last few months in a more DIY/creative way. Loved the Everything Everything video for 'Arch Enemy'!
It does feel a little strange releasing/promoting music in this pandemic. Makes me think about how the music we're making during this period will sound like and if it will be more loose form/longer. How do you feel about releasing new music in this time?
Alex: Definitely send over, I want to hear! I feel like the world has changed so much I’m looking forward to seeing what people are writing during this period when it releases later down the line. It’s been weird releasing Everything Everything music, I think we are all desperate to play live again as just putting things out online feels incredibly unnatural to me. Do you have touring plans once this is over or will you just keep writing do you think?
Denai: The world needs the new Everything Everything though! Yeah I'm kind of just letting the writing come as it wants, some of the songs I'm working on are older ones and really just instrumental weird sounds. Revisiting songs that didn't make the record! I'm itching to play in a gallery or a big non-traditional live space.
I'm working with an MD on the show, but hopefully I can play a run of shows before the end of the year! What about you guys? Have you got any shows lined up? It does feel weird having a festival-less summer!
Alex: Would be great if we could all play by the end of the year, just have to wait and see. We definitely will play shows just need to wait a little longer before we can commit to some dates. Festivals next year are going to go off that’s for sure. Every artist I speak to has all this pent up energy waiting to release so I can only imagine how amazing it’s going to be next year.
What’s it like working with an MD? Is that something you have always done? When we were making the record I was continually thinking how on Earth is all this going to work live, I absolutely love seeing bands or artists and the live show is more of a loose translation of the record. Do you have any limitations that mean you have to be more creative? I remember you saying you played guitar live but we didn’t record any guitar on the record…!
Denai: I've been working with my friend Avi since ‘Bloom’ and it's really amazing, I have lots of arrangement ideas but I've found it's nice to work with someone else who can bring them out a bit more than I would on my own.
I'm thinking of having two drummers for the live show which I think will work as there's so many modular/programmed beats and organic drums blended together. I normally play a bit too many things a bit like a mad hatter haha! I like the risk element of playing live and having a grey area.
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Denai: Yeah guitar land is really fun for me live, I love buying new pedals and making my guitar sound the opposite way to a guitar. I'm really inspired by St. Vincent and her show around her self titled album. I know you're into pedals too, have you bought any new gear recently? What's your favourite pedal you've bought?
Alex: Two drummers sounds great I want to see that! I haven’t actually bought pedals in ages. I’m Actually having a lot of fun playing through my modular system with guitar now, I have an er-301 which I can design delays and granular based fx on. It’s a very open ended world and I like how I can set off looking for something and get something completely different. Really enjoyed listening to your new demos, do you think you’ll just go straight into making another record?
Denai: Sweet! I haven't played much guitar at the moment, mainly just working on Ableton. Itching to play with a band at the moment, and have more jams. I've had a flow of songs come out during this time, and I have a lot of unfinished ideas to work on, so who knows? Maybe I'll end up making another album this year. Still making a lot of content for ‘Modern Dread’ at the moment, and actually just filmed a visual for ‘Too Close’, what's your favourite track on the album?
Alex: Nice! Too close is my favourite track can’t wait to see that! I love ‘Offer Me’ as well, I think we did something quite special with those two tracks. Can’t believe the album is upon us, seems like forever since we started working together in 2017, do you think you have learnt anything from making this record which has changed the way you’ll make music in the future? I think all the time gave us a lot of room for experimentation which was great!
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Denai: ‘Offer Me’ is one of my favourites too! ‘Honour’ is my current favourite track. I learned a lot about not being tied to a sound and allowing songs to become what they’re meant to be. I think the time was a big part of this record, that I never had before. Other albums I did in a couple of months and the handed in, but it was good to have to come back to songs and not listen to them for months and come back to them afterwards. Which also allowed me to re-write verses and chorus’s with you!
Was it different working on this record than on an Everything Everything record?
Alex: Yeah it was a lot of fun making this record and exactly how we work in Everything Everything, there is usually two or three wildly different versions of each song and then a lot of what we have recorded goes straight on the record. I think the performance is more important than a fancy mic and outboard, and trying to repeat a moment in a studio just feels really weird to me. A lot of the production just happens as we write.
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Denai Moore's new album 'Modern Dread' is out now. Everything Everything will release new album 'RE-ANIMATOR' on August 21st.
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