TRACK: Stats – ‘Old Flames’: what do you tell each other about the past?

Nicole Robson and Ed Seed of Stats survey the land

STATS, the synth-pop project of London-based, Welsh-raised Ed Seed, are set to release an album on Memphis Industries exploring the landscape and life of Ed’s childhood next month, entitled Powys 1999.

And today they’re releasing a second single, “Old Flames”, a graceful synthpop two-hander about revealing your romantic past. It follows the irresistibly funky tale of a country boy encountering the city, “Naturalise Me”, which Ed unleashed on the world last month.

“There’s no smoke without old flames,” he sings in consort with pianist and cellist Nicole Robson, trading the equivocations and anxieties couples often feel about each other’s former lives and lovers: “If I came to you without a past … could you trust such an untried heart?”

Ed says: “When you’re pledging your future together with someone, what do you do with the past you don’t share – do you tell each other everything, or do you just agree not to talk about it? And what if there’s one ex you’re just not sure is completely ex?

“I guess your romantic past stands in here for your whole lives before you met each other – there’s so much you both went through to become these people who want to be with each other; but you wouldn’t want them to know every little thing … would you?”.

The new single was worked up from a single live take and was inspired, says Ed, by Donny Hathaway’s live version of “Jealous Guy”, and Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He To You)”.

“It was [producer Tom Andrews’] idea to do call-and-response vocals, a bit like “Young Americans”.

“Nicole and I sing a lot of duets on this album, and this was the first. She sings completely direct and without ornament, her voice is so moving.”

Ed took his band back to Powys, where he grew up, for the recording of the album, which explores his fascination with an area to which people downshift in pursuit of particular dreams – including his parents.

“People came [to Powys] to take their drugs in peace, to retire, to live in harmony with nature or shoot bits of it, to raise children or chickens, to ride motorbikes at incredible speed or to rave in the forest, build a commune, prepare for the apocalypse or open a restaurant – you name it,” he says.

But: “It’s not nostalgic,” he says. “It’s about the past but also the future.

“Living another way doesn’t seem so possible now for technological and financial reasons – and I was seeking inspiration from the people I knew who tried to do that.”

Stats’ Powys 1999 will be released on digital, CD, trad black and pink vinyl formats by Memphis Industries on November 13th. Pre-order yours here.

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