Interview: Natives talk influences, their upcoming concept album, and more

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Natives are described as a ‘tribal pop quartet’ hailing from the New Forest in the U.K. After releasing their debut album ‘Indoor War’ back in 2014 Andy, Greg, Jack and Jim are back with their new track ‘Stop The Rain’, taken from their forthcoming 20-track concept album. We caught up with them to delve deeper into their influences, upcoming concept album, and more.

Your music video for ‘Stop the Rain’ was filmed in some beautiful settings in Morocco, can you tell us a bit about that experience?

It was incredible, we got to experience a completely new culture. We learned so much about rhythm, percussion and communication. The Moroccan people are so welcoming, often inviting us into their homes and always keen to play music together. We fell in love with the country and how they use music to share stories.

The reaction has been amazing with over 30,000 views in less than 24 hours, what’s it like having such a dedicated fanbase?

We’re very grateful to have such a dedicated fanbase. We’ve always been unsure of our band’s place in the world but we’ve grown extremely close with The Tribe and want to build something special. We want our shows to be a place where people who think that they don’t fit in can feel at home. The video surpassed 100,000 views in a week, which is amazing.

We think ‘Stop the Rain’ deserves to be chanted in arenas, any plans for some live shows in the pipeline?

Thank you! The album was very consciously a studio project – we didn’t want any concerns about performing live to dumb down the creativity. The knock on effect is that it’s taken us a fair while to work out live arrangements of the songs, but we’re almost ready now. We’re headlining an event at London Cargo on August 17th and head out on tour with MOTHXR in September.

You’re a very hands on and creative band, even releasing the stem files for ‘Chasing Lions’ so anyone could remix it, or just listen to the process. Did you hear anyone’s remixes?

We did, and we loved hearing them. It’s so good to see what other people do with your music when given the chance. We think collaboration is a key process, be that letting other people into the inner workings of our tracks to remix them or working with other artists on their songs, or working as producers. It all inspires us and helps push our creative boundaries which in turn means we make the best music we can. I think people are too quick to frown upon working with other musicians or letting them into their own inner circle, but we’ve found it to be a really enlightening and satisfying experience.

Speaking about ‘Chasing Lions’ it’s a different direction to your first album ‘Indoor War’, what were the influences behind that?

We certainly didn’t set out to make something which sounds different for the sake of it. I think it ended up where it is sonically because of our approach to the writing – we were intent on making music which made us happy and was un-compromised. The only rule was that if we all liked the sound of something, we’d go with it. We wanted to make something which if it was the last thing we ever did (it won’t be) that we could look back on and know that we’d made no compromises to please anyone but ourselves.

Regarding specific influences in the sound we wanted to explore merging electronic sounds with acoustic percussion from all over the world, I think that idea, coupled with the story we wanted to tell, are the main influences, rather than other artists.

You’re gearing up for the release of your second album, which is a 20-track concept album, can you tell us anything about that?

Before we wrote any music we had a story which we wanted to tell, it’s about community, humanity and self-discovery. It’s about finding a place for all the people who feel that they don’t fit in. We wrote out a storyboard, and then composed the music to specific parts of the narrative, a bit like writing a musical, or soundtracking a film. The 20 tracks follow the story chronologically and it’s much more than just a rough lyrical concept – every musical detail in every song is there to paint a picture of what’s going on in the story.

The new album is also going to be accompanied by a novel, which is really unusual. Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind releasing a book alongside the album?

Sure! As I said before, we had a storyboard and were making good progress with the music, but soon realised that it was going to be impossible to describe the story in as much detail as we wanted with just songs. I suggested that I turn the story into an accompanying novel, for ourselves, and so that people could get completely lost in the world and understand all of the deeper, more subtle connections between the music and the narrative.

What books would you recommend us to read on this scorching hot day?

For those interested in the music industry – ‘How Music Got Free’ by Stephen Witt is a fascinating look at the rise of music piracy.

For those who want the best fictional storytelling on the planet, and the ultimate tale of good vs evil – ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King.

For those who want to learn about a hidden culture, and the incredible potential of the human body – ‘Born To Run’ by Christopher McDougall

What advice would you give to a band starting out and wanting to get noticed?

Make sure the music you’re creating is the absolute best it can be at that moment in time. Myself and Andy were co-writing with an artist recently and she said she was “proud enough of the song to play it to her worst enemy”. I think that’s a good target to set for yourself when writing music. People won’t see potential in demos and don’t want things explained to them, make sure the music does all the talking.

Don’t obsess about what other artists are doing, more time spent worrying about others is less time spend focussing on yourself. Don’t try to be anything you’re not, embrace who you are and be proud of it, people see though a fake image.

Engage with your fanbase online but more importantly, communicate with them face to face, favouriting a tweet will get you so far, but nothing will earn you more respect taking the time to talk to people who support your music.

Make music which makes you happy, it’s the most satisfying way.

Buy ‘Stop The Rain’ on iTunes, here.

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