Brighton jazz punks Squid are aiming to make 2018 a vintage year. We spoke to Louis Borlase and Ollie Judge about their love of Neu! and Can and the excitement they felt upon learning they'd been booked for a slot at Greenman Festival this August.
Squid are a quintet who effortlessly mix jazz, post-punk, motorik and drone to create the kind of music you always longed for, but never knew existed. So far in 2018 they have released the flawless single 'Terrestrial Changeover Blues (2007 - 2012)', and announced a rising slot at Green Man Festival. Not bad for a band signed to a DIY label with a small and dedicated team behind them. We met up to ask them about their origins, influences and why Brighton’s scene is in such a good shape at the moment.
GL: Where and when did you form? Louis: We originally formed almost three years ago because there was a slot for us to play at the now defunct Jazz bar, The Verdict in Brighton. I remember introducing Anton to Ollie and it felt really funny and a bit awkward because Anton was quite grumpy and I was worried there might be a weird vibe between the two of them. That said, they were playing music together before they realised they would be friends though, so that's quite cute. Arthur (Fingers) came along with his proper instrument (cello) and quickly joined as a permanent member of the band. We only really became Squid just over a year ago when Laurie started playing with us: 5 definitely feels like the magic number for an outfit that we've all been really excited about since.
GL: Where did the name come from? Ollie: We were listening to a lot of Beak> and wanted to copy the monosyllabic animal themed nature of that name. We were thinking of calling ourselves HOOF! for a bit - like a horse's hoof and also the action of HOOF-ING a football in the back of a net. Arthur said, ‘How about Squid?”
GL: How do you describe your sound? Ollie: None of us have ever thought of our music as post-punk until people started describing it as that. It makes sense because a lot of the stuff we listen to is post-punk and I’d say it’s often a go-to genre of most young underground bands at the moment like Goat Girl, Shame, Drahla, Yowl.... We are still inspired by a lot of German bands like Can and Neu! and Kraftwerk but more recently the role of lyrics as a centrepiece has become more important. I used to write a lot about myself which was always quite therapeutic but, I think (and I think I’m speaking for Louis too here) when I say we’ve become quite comfortable writing as spectators. Louis and I moving to London has influenced this a lot. The tube is a great place to find subjects, like horrible businessmen flexing their muscles, crying casino security guards, insufferable couples in their late 20’s arranging photoshoots of the kitchen of the house they can somehow afford etc.
GL: When you started out you sounded a bit like Portico Quartet. Then you moved to a more Spacemen 3 vibe, and now you’re a bit post-punk motorik. How and why did this slow transformation occur? Louis: I think the music we were writing at the beginning always sounded interesting, but it was a lot more slap-dash, sometimes made up on the spot and didn't necessarily work live very well. With only a few of us in the band then, we relied on the instruments to do more work and make loads of different sounds, always using drum machines, multiple synths and lots of vocal effects (when there even were any). Now that there’s 5 of us, playing in a more traditional band setup sometimes limits these sounds and it can be really rewarding when coming up with new stuff. Having said that we did have 19 pedals and a dub siren at our last gig.
GL: You released Terrestrial Changeover Blues (2007 - 2012) in May. When can we expect more new music? Ollie: We’ve got two new songs to release this year. One of which is being released on a label we admire a great deal. I won’t spill the beans tho…
GL: How does the songwriting process go? Louis: We all have ideas to bring to the table which works really well. We often will come to a practice, write around a single thing and the original idea almost always disappears completely.
GL: Do you go into the studio with the fixed ideas, or jam it out in there? Ollie: We’ve become a bit slack with the actual writing recently. We usually just practice our set for the gigs we have coming up and don’t have enough time to fully develop ideas. We’re gonna lock ourselves away this autumn and write a whole bunch of new tracks. Louis: Buns in the oven.
GL: Why do you think the Brighton scene is so strong at the moment? Louis: I’ve always thought that Brighton bands are relentlessly hard workers. Porridge Radio, Max Levy (Garden Centre/Snivellers) Leatherhead/The Glugg, Red Deer People (RIP), Physics House Band, Breathe Panel all play so much and we all work 5 days a week and play/rehearse/record on evenings and weekends. Also, everyone is a nice person and easy to get on with which I guess is the most important trait. It’s nice having members based in London and Brighton though. You get the best of both worlds… on one hand you get to see Nick Cave in M&S and on the other you get… London.
GL: You’re playing at Green Man this year, how did that come about? Ollie: We’ve had a load of invaluable help from our pals Will & Sinead who run Practise Music, a press, label and management powerhouse. They sent us an email out of the blue saying that Green Man wanted to book us. I was at work and ran outside to call everyone and tell them about it. It’s pretty mad, we’ve all been going to these festivals for years and the thought of playing them has always seemed like a bit of a pipe dream, every year Louis and I are at a festival together we say “We’ll be playing here next year!” - We’ve been saying that for about 5 years and it’s finally happened. When we got that I think we all thought “Wow people actually really like us... real people other than our parents and mates!”
GL: What are you listening to at the moment? Ollie: We’re all digging that band Crack Cloud, amazing stuff. Dan Carey and Oli Baston’s band Scottibrains who we’re stoked to be playing with on July 5th at Lock Tavern, Drahla, Bill Callahan. Really looking forward to the new Beak and Spiritualized albums too. All of that and Charlie XCX.
GL: What live acts do you currently like? Ollie: Black Midi.
GL: Who would like to support? Ollie: Tupac hologram, David Byrne, Stereolab, Ulrika Spacek.
GL: What is the one album/band/song that the band agrees on? Ollie: Wham! - Last Christmas (Yamaha SH-10 Keytar Demo Song Rendition)