Ian Maleney recently spoke with Guy Connelly of Clock Opera who play the Castlepalooza festival this weekend.
London’s Clock Opera have attracted a lot of attention for a band not yet finished their debut album. Their stellar remixes for the likes of Marina & The Diamonds, The Drums and Everything Everything piqued the interest of taste-makers world wide while their lone single last year, ‘Once and For All’, showed that they had the songwriting goods too. New single ‘Belongings’ is further confirmation of their compositional talents, bringing together smart dancefloor-filling electronica with unforgettable pop hooks in a delectable slow-build destined for radio station playlists everywhere.
Frontman and founder, Guy Connelly took a little time out from putting the finishing touches to their album to tell us a little about the young band ahead of their Castlepalooza show this weekend.
So tell us what you’re up to at the minute? I’m just finishing one of the last songs to finish up our album. We’ve got loads recorded and we’ve got some mixed and we’re just kind of doing the final little bit of writing and fiddling about, trying to coax it into a finished form. Yeah, not far off at all, it’s going good.
Can you tell us a little about the Clock Opera story so far? We’ve been going for a couple of years really. It started off in my bedroom, just me writing and trying to figure out how I wanted to write, trying to find different ways of getting things together. A few experiments later, got a few of my friends involved and we grew it out of the bedroom. We started playing live and we did some really strange gigs at the start. I think our second gig was after I wrote a score for a dance company so we ended up doing this fifteen minute score as our second gig with loads of samples and bits of strange metal percussion that we’d whack every now and again. Then we started playing a bit more, started doing remixes and things have been picking up ever since. We had a few singles and now here we are.
You’ve sort of made a name for yourselves doing remixes, how did you get started with that? Yeah, it was at one of our very early gigs when a guy called Derek, who runs Neon Gold records, asked me to do a remix for Marina. We were kind of up and running but I don’t think we’d actually released anything so remixes and our own stuff came out at the same time. We were writing before we did that, but they’ve kind of evolved in tandem. You’ve got things in each that you can apply or you can play around with things in a remix differently than you can with a band obviously, so it’s fun to be able to throw some different ideas back into the other side when you go back. So we still really enjoy that side of things because I think once you get into just one thing, if you’re not careful you can just do the same again and again, but if you keep things fresh by doing other stuff like writing that dance score or doing bits of film or little theater things, that kind of keeps it all fresh, which is crucial.
Have things changed much since you’ve become a full band? Inevitably I think, yeah. Of course it sounds different when it’s one person in a room rebounding ideas off a laptop than when there’s four people in a room, and a laptop, all rebounding off one another. It’s really important I think, you can try out as many different things as possible and mess stuff up. (There’s a break for a short while as some noise interrupts the phone call) Sorry, there’s been this enormous screeching somewhere on my street and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is. It sounds like a herd of elephants being castrated and it’s been going on all day. I quite like picking up sounds like that though, I recorded a bit of it earlier on, maybe I’ll drop it into something. So if you hear an elephant sound on the record you’ll know where it came from! You’ll be able to date it to the hour.
Do you often try to work in those kind of random sounds and field recordings? Yeah, I’ve always got one ear open for a good bus door or a good train acceleration or something. There’s always a place for that you know? It’s important to have an element of chance, especially now when things can be so prescribed and preordained and everything fits into a little arranged box.
Are you the kind of person that will carry portable recorder around with you? Yeah, if I remember to. Often if I’m sitting on trains or something, I’ll have my laptop so I’ll just get that out and hold it up to the window or something like that.
How have you found the transition to playing live compared to the work you’ve been doing in the studio? Well, not everything that works into the studio will work live, you want to give people something to look at and introduce a few little ideas and bits of performance and stuff. I think it’s something you pick up from playing to people, sometimes you can be absolutely be in love with a song but if people don’t get it or don’t respond to it in the same way as you then something isn’t right and you’ve got to listen for that. Generally it’s been reasonably seamless. We haven’t played that many shows yet and we always get a really good response so it seems to cross over into the live world quite well.
And you’ve been playing a lot of festivals this summer so far? Yeah, we just did Hop Farm and Wireless Weekend the other week. They were brilliant. There’s loads of things going on, it’s our first summer of festivals and you have a lot of different things to contend with. At Wireless we were playing exactly the same time as Metronomy, they were right at the other end of the festival on the main stage but I could see them on the screen. So when when we played our first song, we could hear their kick drum from where we were and we ended up playing in time with it! You really just have to ignore everything else around you, it’s not like having your own show at all.
Did you get to meet Prince at Hop Farm? No, he was on the day after us which was a real shame. But we did got knocked out of the way by Morrissey’s security when he wanted to take a shit. It’s funny, you think you’ve definitely arrived somewhere when you’re being knocked out of the way by Morrissey’s security! It must have been urgent I guess!
Clock Opera play the main stage of Castlepalooza festival this Saturday.