Music Q&A:
Eliza and the Bear

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Best recognised for providing the backing track to everything from Blumer’s adverts to Masterchef finals and Olympics coverage, Eliza and the Bear are about as upbeat as they come. But after struggling to focus in London the band decamped to Nashville and, as songwriter James Kallegher faced mental and physical health problems, returned with some more melancholy tracks on their eponymous debut album. They play Manchester Academy 3, 1 Oct.

What does it mean to finally release your debut album?
It feels like everything we’ve been doing since we started this band culminating at this point. We’ve been working towards this for years – it’s great to finally be able to hold our album in our hands

Your music videos tend to be bold and beautiful. Who comes up with the ideas?

We are rubbish with ideas. I mean really rubbish. But we know something good when it comes to us. Directors will pitch their ideas to us, and we will then work with the director tweaking it to make it perfect. We’ve been really lucky and worked with some amazing people.

Can you explain the video to your new single Lion’s Heart?
When the treatment for Lion’s Heart came across, it stood out immediately. We wanted something grander than us playing in a warehouse. Something a bit weird. The video shows a mother leading a daughter around what essentially is her own mind. She introduces her to all these mental characters that are personifications of her personality. The maze represents the fact that you can sometimes get lost in your own head and you need someone you love to help you find your way out.

How has decamping to Nashville influenced you as a band?

Nashville is music city. To be able to live and work surrounded by such talent was influential enough – then the people we worked with directly had a massive impact on this record, be it the producer all the way down to the girl who got me some mental medicine when I was sick.

More and more Nashville bands are making waves in the UK – what was your reverse experience?
I’d love to play in Nashville. Every single bar you enter has the most amazing band you’ve ever seen in your entire life. We really wanted to go out and play one night.

Your music was once described as being “force-fed euphoria”. Do you have space in your repertoire for something less joyous?
Haha, force-fed euphoria! I’m not force-feeding anyone. Just making fun music. On the album we have quite a few songs that have a darker edge, a bit less “nice”. More like force-fed melancholy.

Which song from that album best defines you as a band and why?

There are many sides to this band – I think the album as a whole defines us. There are tracks that may surprise you – a few down-tempo tracks that don’t follow the usual “Eliza” formula.

You’ve been quoted saying that playing music eases the pain of your arthritis. Do you think you ease the pain of your listeners?
Ah, this is actually a misquote. Some of our earlier songs were about me dealing with arthritis, and somehow that got turned into playing music eases my pain. It doesn’t – a nice hot bath does though. I hope that our music can help people. That’s what music is for: it makes you feel something. I quite like the idea of people having their own interpretations on what my lyrics are about, and using that in their own lives.

Joe Whitwell

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Eliza and the Bear

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