I would boldly say Imperial Daze are one of the most exciting and promising bands around at the moment, possibly safeguarding the future of indie pop from the limpid rubbish that dominates the charts. Taking up the mantle from bands like The Verve, Pulp and even a touch of Stone Roses, Imperial Daze released a couple of superlative singles over the past year – psych-infused guitar-driven indie pop that is intelligent and nuanced with an extremely danceable groove. Singles ‘Always Settling’ and ‘People are Animals’ stand out for their studied cool and swagger.
These guys clearly have the chops to play live too – here’s a brilliant clip of ‘People are Animals’ live, directed by Nathan Sam Long:
With the release of their new EP, ‘Surfaces Sensibles’, which has the two singles on it (available now here), I was able to fire a few question their way. You can catch them headlining at the Victoria in London on 25 June 2019.
Who are Imperial Daze?
We’re a multicultural 4 piece Psych-Pop band based in South-London. Al sings and plays guitar, Felix plays bass, Facu plays keyboards and Tom is on the drums. We work from a giant disused freezer under a railway arch inside which we built a recording studio.
Is there any meaning behind the name?
We liked the weird contrast between the two words and it kind of described the sound of the music pretty well.
How did you guys get together?
Long story short – Al, Felix and Facu have known each other for many years and shared stages in separate bands. Eventually they started writing together as well as setting up a studio and scoring TV adverts. They finally formed Imperial Daze and after several changes of line up found Tom through an ad on Gumtree.
How do you write your songs?
It depends, sometimes someone brings in a song that could fit the style of the band and we all add parts and arrangements. Sometimes ideas come while jamming all together. We generally record everything, from jams to rehearsals and turn the ideas we like into demos in order to finish the writing.
Do you see lyrics as an adornment or critical to the song?
Both. They have to sound right phonetically and rhythmically as to be part of the instrumental arrangements but they also have to lead the story and underline the mood of the song.
Who or what are your major influences – other music, other bands, other art forms, something else altogether?
Musically there are so many… Psychedelic Rock, Funk, Pop, Electro. Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Meters, Tame Impala, Soulwax, Zero 7… on and on and on. Just not commercial soup and bad EDM anthems. Otherwise anything that carries those same ideas of contrast, opposition and balance that you can find in the name and the sound of the band.
How would you describe your sound, and how did it develop – organic or deliberate?
Both again. We made deliberate musical choices from the beginning to which we always stick to. But we also allow ourselves to grow organically by including everyone’s taste as much as possible and exploring outside the comfort zone.
In terms of describing the sound, think groovy drums, lush reverberated vintage guitars, big analog synthesizers and funky melodic bass lines. All playing pop songs lead by a crooner.
If you could do a soundtrack to a movie, which Director would you hope to work with?
Well, we are lucky to work with our very good friend and super talented director Nathan Sam Long on a regular basis. He works on all of our music videos and live sessions and we have scored his short film ‘Give Up The Ghost’ released last year. Otherwise… Terry GIlliam, Jim Jarmush, Tarantino or Gaspard Noe.
Have you ever played any covers? If so, what were they? If not, what would you like to play?
Yes. We were invited to play a Close Encounter Club Session and were asked to do a cover. We chose Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head and turned it into a psych-pop tune in space. The session should be released end of June, around the time of her Glasto performance.
What keeps you up at night?
An unfinished song, an idea with good potential but no concrete plan of action, a bad strain of marijuana.
What is the future of music – and what role has streaming played in this?
People have been trying to answer this question for so long now… it’s hard to know.
Let’s say the future of music is hopefully a fairer way of paying musicians and more social structures for artists in general, like in France or Belgium, with heavier funding from the governments, a unique artist status and pension and a better music education for everyone like in some Scandinavian countries. Streaming is just the way music is being consumed these days and the tech has probably allowed it to reach more people than ever before. The issue seem to lie in the redistribution of the money generated by the existing platforms such as Spotify or Youtube .
How important is playing live with real instruments?
To us, very important. Playing your instrument live is taking a risk. Taking a risk is kind of the definition itself of an artistic performance. The magic that happens when humans on stage take that risk and play together in time whilst performing along the music for the entertainment of the crowd will always be one of the main reason why people want to go see live concerts.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For making timeless music that inspires and elevates the mind of the listener. For releasing great sounding records.
Finally, name your top ten favourite psych tracks, and tell us why they are so great:
The Black Angels – Doves : The low heavy tribal drumming, the insane tremolo guitar sound and the rawness of one of the best Psychedelic Rock band ever.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Supersonic : The story of the song and its intro, the way Anton Newcombe spits the lyrics in a messed-up heroin-trash fashion and the main riff that sounds like a prophecy.
Tame Impala – It’s Not Meant To Be : Just casually laying down the foundations of the Neo-Psychedelic sound of this decade.
The Doors – Strange Days : Jim Morrison’s vocal and the sound effect it has on, the mesmerizing organ arpeggiated part and the wild drumming.
MGMT – The Handshake: The odd non-repetitive structure, the arpegiators, the strange lyrics. An anthem that never repeats the same part twice…
Alain Goraguer – Deshominisation (I): The soundtrack to ‘La Planete Sauvage’ by Alain Goraguer is the kind of groovy psychedelia that we love. This dystopian psychedelic journey of a film is well worth the watch. This one’s for all the Air fans out there.
Harry Nilsson – Coconut: The master at work. The hypnotic acoustic guitar riff and non-sensical lyrics will really slow down the morning for you.
Flying Lotus – Zodiac Shit: That dreamlike soft melody, the falling down the stairs broken up drum groove, the orchestral string break. You’re not on the same earth as you were before listening to this.
Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal: The dark glitchy atmosphere and hypnotic beat hints at some sort of search for an elevated state that we’ve all chased the dawn to find.
Steve Reich – Piano Phase: By the 12th minute mark this song drives you so crazy that you feel that you’ve taken very potent psychedelics.