Temples of Youth
THE Winchester-based duo Temples of Youth have unleashed…
the new single, Amber. The track’s lyrics document a certain helplessness: that is balanced out by a summery feel and a real sense of hope. I ask the duo about the song and whether it will lead to an E.P. anytime soon. They discuss Winchester and how important the area is; the gigs they are looking forward to and who their musical idols are. Given the fact Temples of Youth is Jo and Paul: I ask about mixed-gender duos and why the resurgence and explosion. The guys talk about the summer and plans; the albums they hold dearest and advice they would give to any newcomers emerging at the moment.
Hi, guys, how are you? How have your weeks been?
Jo: Hello! Not bad, thank you – although I’m wondering where the sun has gone?
Paul: Hi! Great, thanks
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
J: I’m Jo. I sing, play a little guitar and do some percussion too.
P: I’m Paul and I play guitar and do a little backing singing – when I have to. Our band is Temples of Youth and we’re from Winchester.
Amber is the new single. Was it quite a hard song to put together? Who can in with the idea of was it quite a unified, joint process?
J: I’ll leave this question to Paul as he wrote this one!
P: Well, for a while, we had been talking about writing some more upbeat tracks as our set was quite intense, initially. A lot of the songs were more stripped-down or had sparse arrangements so we wanted a few bigger ones too – so that we had more of a dynamic.
I had a melody in my head for the verse and the main riff came to me while I was piecing it together.
I sent some demos and the lyrics to Jo for her feedback and we played it through – making some adjustments and it developed from there. Although I led on it, Jo’s input was essential in getting it right.
Paul, you have said the track documents a helplessness but has an upbeat, summery track. Was it quite tricky balancing those dichotomies and what was it like hearing the song back for the first time?
P: I like a lot of songs that have a theme that contradicts the atmosphere. There are a lot of melodic and upbeat Pop songs that have quite dark lyrics or themes. I think that’s good because it means you can turn bad feelings or feelings of uncertainty into something uplifting – but still get your message across. Dancing in the darkness!
I’ve heard the song a billion times while I was mixing it so I can’t remember what it sounded like (the first song). I think it fell together fairly smoothly. It never sounds like the initial idea in your head but it often becomes something more interesting anyway.
I am interviewing a lot of mixed-gender duos at the moment. I am interested why there is such a resurgence but not too sure. Have you any insight into this?
J: That’s a tough one! I’m really not sure to be honest.
I think there’s a lot of people out there who have maybe tried the bigger-band thing and it’s not worked; so try and do something where the dynamic is easier to manage?
I mean, we don’t always agree on everything – but if there were more of us there’d be more minds to consider. The mix-gender resurgence is a mystery to me!
P: Yeah, I agree. Maybe people find it easier with smaller numbers? As for the mixed-gender; I’ve no idea!
I think duos, in general, have a connection bands do not. Is it easier, creatively, to create the kind of songs you want? Do you think, if Temples of Youth was a four-piece, let’s say, the songs would be less natural and too cluttered?
J: I think it has its pros and cons – it’s great that we’re on the same page and we know where we want to be; but, sometimes, we can get very absorbed and a third or fourth opinion would probably be helpful! I think overall it is easier though – and we’re very lucky to get on so well.
P: Absolutely. It gives us more control and flexibility and I think it helps us stay true to our ideas; but, at the same time, it’s the two of us trying to write, record; mix, rehearse; perform, promote; design imagery etc. It can fry our brains!
Are you two thinking ahead to new music? Is there an E.P. brewing right now?
J: We are always looking ahead and writing new material. We’re holding off on an EP for now as we want to get a small team behind us before we release anything properly. At the moment, we’re releasing tracks throughout the year; gauging the response and working on gaining a following.
BBC Introducing has recognised Temples of Youth. Is it important getting this sort of acclaim early on?
J: I wouldn’t say it was important – I guess it depends on what you want to achieve with your music. If you’re doing it as a hobby because you love it then who needs praise!? Why does it matter!? Do what you love always, regardless of the feedback. If you’re wanting to make this your career – then, yes, the acknowledgement from places like BBC Introducing is encouraging – and we really value all of the support they’ve shown us so far.
P: They have been very supportive which is great and does help to get your name around.
Do you have quite a consistent and matching set of musical idols or are your tastes quite different? Is it your similarities or differences that make the music so engrossing?
J: I think our tastes are pretty different sometimes but when it comes to this project and its influences we’re on the same level. Paul’s introducing me to loads of bands – Wild Nothing, Beach House and Purity Ring. I hadn’t heard of any of these guys before him. It’s great because producing isn’t my strength and although I write loads of our tracks – I can’t physically create that on a screen like Paul can.
I think our differences definitely help with the writing process and gives our set its diversity.
P: I think our varying influences help to pull it in different directions – which is key to our sound. When Jo sends me sketches, I try to include all the elements as there are beats and melodies that I wouldn’t have thought of so that gives it variation. I love so many bands and artists but there are certain sounds that affect me.
I try to just throw those in and see which ones work together and create the right atmosphere. Jo has a great skill for writing lyrics so I think our strengths complement each other.
You are based out of Winchester. Is it quite easy to get gigs and attention there or is there a need and desire to move to somewhere like London?
J: Winchester has a music scene – but the type of music we’re making would most definitely get more attention in places like London for Brighton. Moving isn’t something we’ve discussed – and I don’t think either of us would want to particularly live in London right now! We’re doing as much as we can from here at the minute and that’s a bridge we’ll cross when we come to it.
P: Playing in London and Brighton is great and we usually get a good reaction in those places. It would be great to be based somewhere like that but it’s the practicalities of it, I guess. Either of those is in reach for performing though, which is useful.
I know you have a few gigs on the South Coast coming up. Are you looking forward to these and any more dates coming up?
J: Yeah, definitely! We have a hometown show in Winchester on the 11th May which we’re looking forward to – as we haven’t played at The Railway for quite a few months now. We’ve got a few festivals lined up which should be good – hoping to do some more shows around the South in June.
Summer is coming up (apparently). Does it get a lot busier for you then? How will your summer months unfold?
J: We’ve got quite a few things coming up but I think the summer is as busy as you want to make it!
We’re shooting some videos; got some P.R. campaigns and releases planned. We are busy all of the time to be honest!
P: We have plans unfolding.
If you each had to select the one album that has meant most to you which would they be and why?
J: Oh man, I am so bad at these questions. I can’t pick one. Errr. It would probably have to be Joni Mitchell’s Blue or For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver. Or maybe Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die – that album holds a lot of memories for me.
P: I think Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake because it’s just so beautiful – and I can listen to it over and over without ever getting tired of it.
Are there any new/upcoming artists you advise we keep an eye out for this year at all?
J: We’re really liking PYN at the moment!
What advice would you give to any new artists coming through right now?
J: Do not let rejection get to you – it is inevitable and it is consistent and it is tiring but it’s part of the process – and you have to work through it.
P: Be true to your ideas and focus on the music.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that)
J: Pixx – Bow Down (from Age of Anxiety)
P: Asobi Seksu – New Years
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