shy nature

Last month Hooting And Howling were lucky enough to catch up with the lead singer of the UK’s latest up and coming, jangly, indie-pop act; Shy Nature. (Watch out Mystery Jets and The Maccabees, you’ve got yourselves some competition!) Popping by at London’s Boston Music Room on their UK tour, we had a quick natter with the friendly front man William Blackaby. We discussed topics from the coolest 60s icons, to the bands grungey influences, and Will’s lyrical inspiration from his adolescence…

So how is your current UK tour going?

Will: It’s been really good, yeah. It’s our first headline tour and only the second ever tour that we’ve done. It’s been real fun for us. We’ve played some cool venues and get a chance to see people up and down the country and make some new friends.

What has been your favourite venue of the ones you have played so far on tour?

W: My favourite venue was Manchester. It was a place called The Castle. It’s really cool, really nice people and it was packed out. Yeah, just a good vibe all round.

What can those coming to the show tonight [13th February @ London Boston Music Room] expect from the set?

W: They can expect a slightly longer set than we’ve ever played before, because it’s our show. We’re playing a few new ones that we’ve just written, along with all the ones that we’ve already put out. So yeah, we’re playing a longer set and we are probably wearing different clothes than the last time people saw us play.

You guys came together in late 2012, in North London to write and record. But how did the band first meet? How did you decide to come together and make some music?

W: The band met because I was playing drums in a band with the guy who plays bass and through him I met the drummer Matt in Glasgow as they are both from there. And then I knew a keyboard player from uni in Liverpool [Gary] and I knew the guitarist [Philip] from college in Kent. We’ve all ended up living in Kentish Town in North London. We all weren’t in bands but had been in bands, but wanted to do a new band. So we just started a band and started rehearsing. I’d written some songs and we started rehearsing them in Matt’s flat. Yeah, it’s all started quite out of nowhere really.

You combine elements of the ’60s with the sound of New York Garage groups. If you could travel back in time to the ’60s who would you love to hang out with?

W: Well I’d say John Martin, because I love his songs. But I don’t know whether he would be good to hang out with. He was probably drunk a lot. I think James Taylor would be really cool to hang out with, as he seems really mellow. And also I’d just love  to play with him, yeah I’m going to go with James Taylor.

Could you name a few bands which influenced the garage sound? 

W: I think obviously bands like The Strokes, and The Walkmen, The Kipper, sort of early noughties. With the sort of raspy organ thing that The Walkmen did, it was a big influence for our sound. We didn’t have a keyboard player, but after hearing songs like ‘The Rat’ we just thought having that sort of element would maybe make us stand out a little bit more than just other guitar bands, by having that sort of harsh organ. So yeah, that’s been a big inspiration and we got Gary down to do that and he has been great.

It is said a lot of your lyrics revolve around growing up. Could you tell us about one particularly pivotal moment or a period of time from your childhood, that you has influenced your song-writing?

W: I think going to school. I went to a boys school and there was quite a lot of pressure. I think that inspired a few songs. It is what ‘Wash Out’ was about. It’s about saying how traditional schooling can, sort of, dumb down kids’ motivation to do more creative stuff.

Last year you were a BBC Introducing Discovery act in June. How did that open doors for the band and how did the privilege feel?

W: Really great, they’ve been really really supportive and helpful throughout the last year, and it’s definitely opened doors. What they do is they pass it on to various DJs at Radio 1.

You’ve had a lot of support from Radio 1 DJ’s including Phil & Alice and Jen Long, is that quite flattering?

W: Yeah of course! The fact that we just put a song up on SoundCloud and people seem to want to play it is really great.

Your new single ‘Lie Back’ is out now on Kissability, What can those who haven’t heard it yet expect from the release?

W: It’s out on tape so, if you’ve got a tape player you can expect to play it on that. You’re able to download it of course. It’s an up-tempo track – a kind of driving, big guitary song.

What made you release it on tape?

W: It is Jen Long’s label and she does exclusive tape releases. She was keen to put it out so we went with that. It’s quite a nice thing to do and it’s like a throwback to our youths as well. The artwork is a dog, a miniature dachshund. We were playing at a party and these little dogs were scurrying around and we were taking photos of them. We were trying to figure out what the artwork should be and we just saw these pictures of the dogs which we thought was really cool. So they ended up being the artwork for the single.

What do Shy Nature enjoy most, being on tour or writing and recording?

W: We’ve discussed this a bit and I think being on tour has got to be the answer. It’s a lot of fun and playing live really is why you start a band. It’s just a buzz that we all enjoy. Being in the studio is great and there is a certain satisfaction to completing and polishing a track but really the reason you record music is so you can show people what you do live. So yeah, performing live is the best.

So what’s the plan for the rest of the year? Are you going to be doing more shows, or hitting the studio? 

W: We will definitely be doing more shows. We’ve more shows booked throughout the summer, a few festivals – things like The Great Escape, and Live at Leeds, and I think we are playing Tramlines in Sheffield. We’ll maybe go on another tour before the summer and probably release another single in May. Will see after the summer properly, maybe a release a new single in Autumn. We keep recording new stuff.

Good luck with the rest of the tour. How will the band be celebrating once it’s all over?

W: Thank you very much, cheers. Well, we will just be going back to normality. In Glasgow, somebody gave us a bottle of Buckfast. It’s like a tonic wine, I wouldn’t recommend it but we’ll probably crack open a bit of that and have a drink. Though unfortunately we’ve got to drive home on the last day! But I guess after that we’ll get back to it and get recording again. We’ve got a lot to do!

About The Author

Emily Schofield

First Year Music Journalism Student. Particularly focuses on indie and alternative music. Has a keen eye on new and unsigned bands which need a push and promotion. Born in Bolton just outside of Manchester, she is a follower of the Manchester music scene and its history. She also constantly has her eye on up and coming artists gigging in and around London. Twitter: @TheMoverTweets