Photo: Helen Messenger
Whilst the act have been a permanent staple of the UK math rock scene for many a year, Delta Sleep have been on everyone's lips following the release of their fantastic sophomore record Ghost City. We sat down with Dev (Guitar & Vocals), Dave (Bass) and Blake (Drums) at ArcTanGent to chat all about the concept and recording process behind the album, touring in Mexico and Japan and being responsible for making the festival stop letting bands DJ.
How's your year been so far guys?
Dev: Yeah it's been great man.
Dave: Actually, weirdly this year has not been that busy really, it was like the end of last year when it was really busy. Like a year ago today we did the album (Ghost City) and that was a really busy time. It's been busy in terms of emails, but not gigs. But now it's starting to pick up, our tours' are coming up soon.
So you guys have just dropped Ghost City, your second album. How you guys feeling about the release?
Dev: Great man, I mean the reaction has been amazing, for us this album is defiantly the most accomplished we've ever felt. It's probably the first time that at the end of the mixing process, once we finished it, we felt so satisfied. I mean, there will always bits in an album that you're unhappy with but as a whole it just feels like the perfect album for us. We're just so happy with it man.
You recorded the album in Italy. What was the recording process like in comparison to your first album, Twin Galaxies?
Dev: Well, lets just say that we recorded Twin Galaxies in a warehouse in London. We all slept together in a single room-
Dave: We slept in the room that we recorded it in.
Dev: The room was like 4x4 meters, so we were all constantly amongst each other, we all got a bit of cabin fever. So big cold warehouse with small sleeping arrangements compared to Italy which was sunny and in the summer-
Dave: We had a swimming pool, so it was like the polar opposite. We were in Tottenham the first time.
Dev: We just had a Tesco that was about a 10 minute walk away and in Italy it was summer time, we had amazing food provided for us.
Dave: But yeah the Italian experience was amazing and weirdly it was cheaper than recording in England. It's so expensive to record here. We just drove down to Italy and it was amazing, we were just surrounded by corn fields and nature. It was just really pleasing to get away from everything. I mean Twin Galaxies worked but when you left the warehouse you were just in the middle of London, you couldn't really get out of it.
Dev: To sum it up really, Twin Galaxies: sweaty warehouse, cabin fever. Ghost City: open, breezy, swimming pool.
How much did your travels and tours in Mexico and Japan influence the album?
Dev: It influenced it in the way that we had been writing a lot of new material and played a lot of that material out in Mexico specifically. We had never played there before and we just wanted to test some of the songs out. But yeah, it defiently influenced it in a way that made us feel comfortable that these were songs that we could play live. But also we managed to sneak in little snippets from both Mexico and Japan in the little interludes.
Like field recordings?
Dev: Yeah, we sampled natural recordings. We got a sample from Mexico that's a mariachi band that we stumbled across and we recorded it on our phones. In Japan we got the sounds of metro and underground trains, they've got these strange little jingles-
Dave: Every train station out there has it's own little jingle when you arrive.
Blake: So you don't necessarily have to pay attention to whats station's coming up you just have to pay attention to the jingle.
Efficient. So lyrically Ghost City is a concept album. I don't suppose you could go into more detail about the narrative?
Dev: So lyrically it's about. I kind of like to write about having a story in mind, like having a lot of visual cues because I find it helps the writing process and it ends making you not write like love songs. The process ends up a bit more conceptual and there's a bit more imagery involved. So the main story is set in a post-apocalyptic world which is basically just one massive city and it's about one girl who is the main protagonist who works in this tech firm, stuff you like see in those dystopian films. Brazil actually influenced this, there's just massive office buildings everywhere. But yeah, long story short, in this huge metropolis that's all everyone only knows nature is thing of the past. It's like a legend, it's like something that never really existed, almost something like dinosaurs, just something ancient. This girl has enough of her day to day and goes on this search to try and find nature, something like her grandparents used to tell her in stories. She eventually finds it and rediscovers nature and the world that was forgotten.
So did recording in a rural and pleasant environment influence that and the recording in any way?
Dev: Not really because we had already written up all the lyrics. But it definitely helped with the vibe and the atmosphere. The atmosphere of being in the country side and being isolated really helped the album a lot. We captured a lot of really impromptu things out there.
Blake: So like 'Ghost' and 'Glass' were both quite like of the time really and we were just in a space were all the equipment was set up and we were relaxed. We could just get in there and really just feel comfortable to improvise around an idea and we were lucky enough the recording equipment set up to the point where if we did strike gold we could just jump in. A lot of the actual takes before 'Ghost' and 'Glass' were literally just press record and we just sorta did it. As they came out were pretty much as they were.
Dave: 'Glass' was one take wasn't it?
Blake: Yeah pretty much.
Dev: We take ages to write songs but actually this was the first time were we did manage to create things we had never written before just in the studio. We were just quite isolated.
Blake: That's all you have to focus on as well. When you haven't got the distractions of either your friends or the PlayStation you just focus on the task at hand.
Dave: When we were in London we were really close to home, especially for Dev. Whilst in Italy we were so far removed. It was just so easy to switch off and really get into it.
Blake: There was nothing to do than to just do it.
You're touring the UK in September with Tangled Hair, how you feeling about it?
Dev: Yeah we're excited man, really excited.
Blake: It's nice to be playing with a band who puts us on a positive edge and it's nice to feel like we have to meet their standards.
Dev: Really, in a way they should be headlining. But it's our album release tour so we can't really support on our own tour. But yeah, they're so good and they're really good friends and we all get on really well. We're so happy to be touring with them and we've been waiting to tour with them for a long time. They're very hard to pin down becuase they have really busy private lives and things. So I think for them it's really exciting as well becuase they haven't properly toured that much either. It's really cool that we've managed to nail this tour down.
Blake: It's nice to tour with a band that are probably going to bring in a bigger crowd than us as well.
So last question, what's the most memorable thing you've seen at a festival?
Blake: At ArcTanGent a few years ago we were doing the silent disco and watching James from Rolo Tomassi crowd surf in a dingy.
Dev: Yeah that was great, they DJ'd at the silent disco before and they bought out a rubber dingy and he crowd surfed during our DJ set.
Dave: I think that was the last year they let bands DJ, I think we fucking ruined it for everyone.
Blake: I mean we're are you going to go from that, we just completed the level really.
Cheers for ruining it for everyone lads.
Like mentioned, Delta Sleep will be touring the UK in September with Tangled Hair in tow. Check the poster below for dates, tickets are available here. This isn't a tour to be missed.