Urban Myth Club and Stillman – The Interviews
Urban Myth Club and Stillman are two of London’s most promising new acts. Both have been nominated for awards at tonight’s Glasswerk New Music Awards at AKA, London. Stillman has three nominations for Best Album, Best Male and Best Singer/Songwriter while Urban Myth Club takes on Stillman in the industry panel vote for Best Album. The two men, Stillman aka Chaz and Urban Myth Club aka Dezz, are both signed to Dezz’s own label TRL Music and the two men are fighting together to break away from multitude of bands trying to make it big. Playing shows together and winning over festival after festival from Glastonbury to Secret Garden Party they look ready to do just that. Stillman releases second single ‘Jack-in-a-box’, November 12 having received the backing of tastemakers such as Steve Lamacq. UMC’s debut album is making headway around the globe, debut single ‘I Feel It’ made the iTunes top 30 and played their second gig to 3,000 people! Both men are enjoying success in Hollywood with their songs being used on Ugly Betty and major motion pictures among others. It’s exciting times but there’s no escaping the need to keep moving forward and not disappear as so many bands must do. The fact the pair are blessed with musical genius can but help their chances. Glasswerk spoke to the two following their triumphant shows at the UK’s craziest little festival – the superb Secret Garden Party.
URBAN MYTH CLUB
How has ‘Helium’ – Urban Myth Club’s debut album – been received?
It’s going really well. The press behind it is so wide ranging and that’s fantastic. From Classic FM to XFM to Bob Harris on Radio 2 to DJs in Ibiza! We kept the Arctic Monkeys off the top of the chart in Croatia!
Your first single did exceptionally well, what can we expect from the next record?
The Second single ‘Moon and Night’ with Claire from Captain is gritty while remaining down tempo. It is sweet and sour and dirty. Sort of Air and Royksopp mixed with Massive Attack and Portishead. It’s funny how we got Claire (Captain); we rang the Junction in Cambridge to discuss a gig and when we asked the girl who answered if they knew of any female vocalists available she said “I can sing” and we were like “Oh yer, here we go”, it turned out she has a stunning voice. I’ve been very lucky.
Isn’t the Secret Garden Festival amazing….and totally crazy?! You also played Glastonbury this year, how was that experience?
We just love this festival. Here you can suspend all reality. We played the Remix Arena last year and I was invited back this year to DJ for two hours on the floating Japanese pagoda stage. It is one big dressing up party. You just don’t get this atmosphere anywhere else. We’ve seen blokes dressed in French maid outfits!
Glastonbury was mad. We had the full band there. There were eight of us, two dancers and Stillman on guitar. We played the dance lounge tent to a packed, mental crowd. And then there was the Big Chill Festival. It was only our second gig and it was in front of 5,000 people!
Talk us through how UMC came to be, how the records are put together and what the UMC sound delivers
UMC is a collective that has grown over the years; many musicians, vocalists, dancers and producers have been and are all part of this project. We produce mainstream electronica that still gives us a unique sound. My main secret and the man who has helped develop our sound is the producer Ian Sanderson who worked on ‘Helium’ before returning to Hollywood to work on Shrek and Narnia. He packs samples on to CDs which can be bought by anyone for £80. Everyone uses them, especially down tempo acts like Massive Attack and Lemon Jelly. You can get a hypnotic hook that will make a record for eighty quid. With the addition of Claire as our occasional vocalist it has all come together. The vocal is interesting in its own right. We’ll collaborate on our second album out in 2008. She has just been signed to EMI with her band Captain.
UMC really aren’t the average group are you? You haven’t really toured at all and yet the success seems to have come pretty easily?
We have been so fortunate. We haven’t had to slog around gigging to get people to hear the music, the radio airplay and online sites have spread the music by themselves. In 2005 we were asked to play Glastonbury when we had just six tracks only available in the US! Our first gig was Glastonbury, incredible!
Dezz’s Urban Myth Club certainly have something special, the reviews have been almost unanimous in praise for debut ‘Helium’, none higher than iTunes who say “One day everyone will own this album.”
Chaz follows Dez. They sound like a comedy duo. In the homemade pizza and punch stand we chat on, the pair aren’t sulking rock star types and my notebook is as stuffed as an UMC stage. Stillman goes it alone; his stage is empty, one man and an acoustic guitar. It is filled though with his beautiful, majestic sound.
How does playing solo compare to joining the UMC collaboration on stage?
I played guitar with Dezz and UMC at this year’s Glastonbury. We played the dance tent with 600 – 700 people going mad. That was much less nerve wracking than playing my own stuff to twenty people!
That’s the lonely, testing life of a singer songwriter as they start out – the complete opposite of the Myth Club. The Secret Garden didn’t help his cause much either.
How did your two sets go yesterday and this afternoon?
Halfway through Thursday’s set the tent collapsed! The stage manager kicked the fallen pole and said “it’s fine now”!! I’ll remember that gig forever! Today’s gig was much calmer; I got a better audience as it was pouring with rain yesterday.
You are slowly gaining recognition and building a fan base, but it must be hard going playing show after show by yourself to small audiences? Where will you go from here?
At the moment I want to try to get a headline tour organised, just me and the guitar and after the album comes out around January 2008 I want to get together a 4 or 5 piece band. For now the first album is bedded down with my tunes, it was easy. The second album will be the test. We will test it live and do little gigs to see what goes down well. For the moment I’m satisfied being listed on playlists with Smashing Pumpkins in Spain!
Are you influenced by other music or are you trying to create something completely original? Who has affected you and what music do you love the most?
What I write is what I want to write. At the same time those that influence me include the Beatles, Grandaddy and Sparklehorse. I love Alt Country but I don’t want to try to sound American as some English bands do. Live my sound is more like Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. Now I just play, I don’t try to be anything other than myself. It’s amazing how many sounds and techniques that come from playing one acoustic guitar!