American band Whitney have been touring their debut album Light Upon the Lake, recently stopping off at The Cluny earlier this month. I spoke to them ahead of the show.
How have you found touring so far?
It’s been good, it’s nice to be back in Europe. We’re driving through Amsterdam right now which is where we had a DJ set last night.
Barcelona was fun.
“You get cities that are dead, some are quiet, others are you know, they engage, dance”
So your album Light Upon the Lake feels nostalgic but also hopeful. The sound is happy but the lyrics, when you listen to them, are pretty sad. Was this intentional?
Yeah, [we] like a contradiction. ‘Follow’ was written about the death of my grandfather and you know, that’s a thing that happens to everybody. The subject is kind of carried in the music.
The themes are fairly universal. I think it’s what makes people connect with the album so much. Do you find that you attract a certain kind of audience, or following?
The audiences are different in different cities, but it’s nice to hear that there’s a particular following somewhere. You get cities that are dead, some are quiet, others are you know, they engage, dance.
If Light Upon the Lake was a colour, what colour would it be?
Your music is pretty vulnerable. It’s also cathartic to listen to in a light sort of way. Did you write with transparency in mind?
Yeah, definitely. We didn’t wanna hide behind aesthetics, or reverb or anything. It’s a what you hear is what you get kind of thing. It was something that naturally happened when we were writing.
So do you prefer art that is up front and honest in general?
Yeah. It’s nice to hear something with raw emotion, something up-front.
Were you listening to anyone in particular when writing Light Upon the Lake?
We were listening to a lot of forgotten songwriters of the 70s, actually. Jim Ford, he’s good. Amanaz, you know the band called ‘The Band’? – them. A lot of their music influenced ours; they didn’t hide behind anything. The sound is pretty dry. It’s honest.
“We didn’t wanna hide behind aesthetics, or reverb or anything. It’s a what you hear is what you get kind of thing”
A lot of artists are using social media as a continuation of their performance. Do you use Twitter etc. as an extension of Whitney?
Yeah, I mean we use it to express ourselves. We have this joke running that me and Ian will use normal capitalisations but you’ll know when it’s Max tweeting because he uses all capitals.
Favourite meme of 2016?
Lemme think about that. I like memes a lot.
There’s a video that I just saw, it was of this dog whose favourite toy is, you know the TV show Gumby? it’s chewing this Gumby toy and the dog’s owner comes into the room wearing a Gumby costume and the video just shows the dog running up to him all happy. It’s nice. You should check it out.
I will. Thanks for speaking with me, looking forward to your Newcastle gig!
See you there!