Manchester’s Whyte Horses have ambitiously re-recorded their debut album Pop or Not – one of Big Issue North music critic Richard Smirke’s standout records of the year – with the talented children of St Bartholomew’s School Choir taking over vocals. Dom from the band talks about floating between the everyday and fantasy, timid A&R men and weak competition.
What informs your music and songwriting?
Experience, melodies and intuition are fundamental to every Whyte Horses song. It’s usually thinking about the everyday with a touch of fantasy. I like to float between the two really. The music we make is very personal to us and I suppose the challenge of trying to express yourself truly in musical form is what we’re really striving for.
How has the band evolved over the years?
Writing songs is a new career for me. Before Whyte Horses I was always on the lookout for inspiring music or making edits and mixes – that sort of thing. That helped me to focus on the difference between what music I liked and what I loved. Initially Whyte Horses was a concept of what a perfect record could sound like with no actual band. Now it’s become a reality. When I was relying on finding other people’s music it drove me mad because I’d always be critiquing the songs, thinking parts should be moved about or have different chord changes or a different drum sound. I now know I was a frustrated writer but it took me quite a while to figure that out.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We’ve been writing the next record with a view to release in 2017. It’s based on a rough concept like the first album. There’s an idea to make a short film with the next album – we’ll have to see how far the budgets stretch to see if it’s possible. We’re putting on another event of our own in London around spring and we’ve just re-recorded the whole of our debut album Pop or Not with Saint Bartholomews School Choir from Haslemere in Surrey, which was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever worked on. Next year we want to be as prolific as possible in writing but we’ll really consider when to go out on the road and not adhere to what’s generally expected of a band.
What’s it like to operate in the music industry today?
The music industry is so fragmented and uncertain. It’s still mainly controlled by the major labels, then the rest is made up from independents and self-releases. It’s become diluted on all levels at the moment. I think there’s too much music out there. I’m all for progress but perhaps we’re being swamped with music that wouldn’t have seen the light of day in a bygone era. Everyone you know has got a friend in a band. It seems like in this age of possibility everyone is having a go when maybe they should leave it to people with a bit of talent. The good stuff rises to the top generally but the newly hyped bands are way off the mark in my opinion. It seems there needs to be hype every month but there hasn’t been any artist that’s come along since the Arctic Monkeys that’s really made an impact on culture and had the tunes to back it up. The independents are very cautious now as there’s a lot less money floating around. The main problem is that people are scared to have a punt on things. I‘ve seen respected A&R men miss out on decent signings because they seem to want to ask everyone else’s opinion and maybe not trust their own instinct and just take a chance. It’s a good time for us though. I reckon we’re off on our own trip and we’re not part of any scene and the competition is pretty weak, so I suppose we should be happy.
What’s on your rider?
We only do one gig a year at the moment so this question doesn’t really count for us.
Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Answering banal questions in interviews.
What’s your worst lyric?
That’s more for the listener to answer, I reckon – probably something on The Snowfalls if I was forced to choose.