Interview: Native People

After a quick shoot in the cold, enough to turn our noses pink, Spindle caught up with Folkestone band Native People over a cuppa tea topped up with almond milk and cake. This indie-dance quartet release their debut EP this May and are about to embark on a string on headline shows. 

We get to hear about how Native People almost missed a gig at London’s infamous KOKO as Connor was at work, how they’ve upped their Google game and about their excitement for the EP Launch at Camden’s Barfly. Oh and they put together an exclusive playlist for us too, which you can listen to here. PS. It was Luke that added the One Direction…

How does it feel that your first single ‘Calm Forever’ got such a good reaction? I mean BBC Introducing has helped some amazing artists.

Reuben: I remember the first night we got played on it, it came up on my separate email I was like “this is great”. I sat there listening to the whole programme waiting for that moment.
Connor: So was I.
Luke: It was nice to have that brand on board, because a lot of bands upload their music to BBC Introducing but there are a lot of bands out there that don’t get played by it. Especially in Kent at the moment, there are loads of bands in Kent that are writing music and not all of them get played. They only do an hour show every week, so it’s nice to be a part of it.

‘One’ had a pretty good reaction too.

Reuben: Luckily both songs got ‘Record of the week’ as well, and since then our local presenter Abbie, she’s been helping us out a lot. She DJed at our first headline show at The Garage. She then forwarded us onto 6 Music, where we were then put into a mix tape and got a little shout out. Those little things get you a bit more a buzz and bit more a buzz. Introducing has been a massive help to us so far. Hopefully it’ll continue to do so.
Luke: Abbie put us forward to the Independent Venue Week gig, where she helps with the lineup. That will be a good show.
We actually went to a Independent Venues Week show last year, me and Reuben went to see The Propellers. We went to that gig last year thinking that we want to do this next year.

Does the fact that you’re on the younger side of spectrum affect you guys?

Reuben: It does with gigs, there’s been a few gigs where it’s been 18+. We were just about to play once at one of our first London gigs and the guy just looked at Connor and said “nah, not happening”.
Connor: I was like “can I speak to the promoter, he can prove it”. And he just wouldn’t let me in. Reuben had to go in and get the promoter so he could talk to the doorman.
Me and Hudd just got kicked out. There was this group of girls that somehow knew who we were, we sat there for an hour and a half.
Luke: Luckily everyone’s 18 now. That was the only problem we’ve ever had though.

Can you imagine if they didn’t let you play because of that?

Luke: I literally thought that was going to happen that day.
Connor: Me too.
Reuben: That was such a stressful car journey up. We had a little car crash on London Bridge as well.
Connor: You say car crash, we nudged into the back of someone.
Reuben: It was enough for the guy to get out.
Luke: You know the Bus Wankers thing and geezer comes up and grabs him by the neck? I thought that was going to happen.
Connor: As soon as he got out the car all the locks went down.
Luke: I was like locks down, only roll down the window a little bit so I could be like “look I’m sorry”.

The debut EP is out in May… What kind of stage is it at?

Luke: We’re in the last stages on demoing this week. It’s pretty much there (the guys were at this stage when we spoke to them in Feb).
Reuben: Tracks before have all been done collectively recording and mixed all in one day. So these tracks are hopefully going to come out five times better because we’re going to do guitars for a whole day, drums for a whole day. Try and get it down to a point.
Luke: It’s our first time properly producing a track, well three tracks.
Connor: That wasn’t the sound we were going for. When we first started we were proper band-y.

Is it different from the stuff you’ve already released?

Reuben: More upbeat. We wanted to bring in something a bit chilled, a little bit different, and then hit people hard with danceable songs. A bit more suitable for live music too.
Luke: The production is a lot different as well, so overall, it’s still going to be Native People, but it’s going to be different to what we’ve released in the past.

Why the name Native People? 

Reuben: I’d been trying to think of a name for ages. Names are horrible. I had Natives but there’s already a band called Natives, and the word had been used a lot.
Connor: It was pretty much your Dad though really.
Reuben: My Dad said add ‘people’ to end of it.
It was mainly from this singer from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis, his autobiography ‘Scar Tissue’. He had this section where he talks about natives and the whole idea of the native concept and American-Indians. I looked into it, I wanted to take it onboard. And the ‘People’ just makes it a bit more universal.
Luke: There is actually a little bit of a story to this.
Reuben: I know there are a few bands, like Local Natives and another band called Natives. But, I was listening to a radio interview and alt-J used to be called Films and it was just too generic. So they rebranded it all as alt-J, which you wouldn’t of heard before.
Luke: That’s the problem, if you type Native People on YouTube or something, then stuff about Native Americans comes up.
Reuben: We’re working our way up. We used to be about ten pages back, and I think we’re maybe on page three now.

You’re going on a little tour soon! What is your fave thing about playing live?

Connor: The buzz off the crowd. Like at Koko. (Which the guys played back before Christmas)
Luke: So sick.
Reuben: That was the last of last minute gigs. Basically, a German electro band came to England to play a few shows, including a headline show at Club NME. Unfortunately their van got broken in to the night before, awful for them that they’ve come all this way. I saw it happen, so I emailed a DJ at Club NME. I had a nice chat with her, she liked our songs and she gave me to email of the booker at KOKO. I emailed him and that was on Thursday night, and on Friday, the day of the gig, I was at work checking my email and nothing came about. So I put it to bed. When I got home at 5 o’clock, I’d forgotten about it. Then I got a phone call saying if you can get down here, the gigs yours.
Connor: I was at work.

Have to be like “soz, I’ve got to go”.

Connor: Basically. It was a nightmare. I was supposed to working until like 10 o’clock that night. I said “right, I’m gonna go” and they say I couldn’t. I was just like “no, I really need to go”. I had to speak to loads of people and they said I had to start at seven the next morning. I got home at half six, I ran in, got clothes and ran out.
Luke: Obviously because it was a club night, we played quite late. And it was such an amazing venue that we didn’t want to leave, so we stayed until three/four in the morning or something. Then we left and I had to drive back but I was knackered, so I had to park up and have a kip. We got back to Folkestone at half six in the morning and Connor had work at seven. He had to get his shirt on and get going.
Connor: Seven until half five. It was so good though, I was buzzing.
Reuben: Luckily my Dad brought up all the drum kit.
There had been a gig on before which had finished about ten before it switched to Club NME. As we pulled up there was a Swedish soft metal band who had all their tour bus, we pulled up in Luke’s Corsa, with a little wave.
We came into the venue through the side entrance, only Connor had been there before, as we walked in I thought the stage was the venue. I thought that was massive. There was a sheet up, and through the side you could see.
Luke: We didn’t have enough time to think about things.
Reuben: I didn’t know if it was going to be busy. I saw about 20 people out there to begin with, thinking “oh god, well it’ll be a laugh anyway”. Luckily it was kicking enough when the shutter came up and it was a buzz. And people were happy enough to clap along and make noises if I shouted at them.
That was five times the size of anything we’ve ever played. To be able to play to a thousand and however many people was amazing.
Luke: With each gig there’s different things that you enjoy about playing live. That gig was just the buzz of playing to so many people, but you don’t have a relationship with any of the people you play to. They obviously get involved, but you don’t really have people coming up to you afterwards. But when you play a small, intimate show, a lot of people come up to you afterwards. It’s usually the crowd interaction bit that is different, sometimes it’ll be everyone getting involved and clapping like at KOKO or at a smaller gig it might be people coming up to you and saying how much they enjoyed it. Different venues give you different positives about playing live.

So after that, Koko or smaller venues?

Reuben: It’s totally different.
Connor: A combination of people coming to see you and playing KOKO.
Reuben: If you could fit all the people from Koko in a hundred capacity…
Luke: On a big scale, KOKO is a small venue isn’t it? If that was our headline gig, that would be the dream. It would be a small, intimate venue on a bigger scale of things.
Reuben: At KOKO, on the walls you’ve got balconies, so you’re surrounded by people. The fact that wherever you look there’s people. you’re embraced and you have to deal with that. At smaller gigs, you can turn around if you need a couple of seconds to yourself. On that kind of scale, you’ve got to be performing all the time.
Connor: I can’t turn around I’m playing drums. Everyone’s looking at me.
Luke: We didn’t even have to time to think in that situation. It just happened.
Reuben: We had a show next to it at The Cavern in December. That was really great. It was a long drive for us. There was a tiny, smelly dressing room and a guy brought in a massive bucket of beers.

That’s all you want really.

Reuben: It was a mix club night and headline gig. We didn’t know how busy it was going to be, for the support act it was us and the promoters standing there, we thought “we’ve driven 8 hours for this”. Luckily just before we played, they said give it ten minutes, and half the venue turned up and everyone was up for a dance and it was great.
Luke: You say beers and everything, but for me it’s a cup of tea because I’m always driving.

Are you always the designated driver?!

Luke: Well me and Hudd drive, but the problem is we usually take my car. Hes got a mini, so we cant really take an gear in his car.

You did that on purpose, didn’t you Hudd.

[Laughs].

Do you know what I’ve always wondered, when it’s a bigger crowd, do you still look at specific people?

Connor: That’s what we were talking about actually.
Reuben: That’s the thing that’s different a hundred capacity, where you feel someone breathing on you or spit their beer on you, and when there’s a gap of a couple of feet there is that separation. At festivals nowadays there’s yards between. It’s like how far away do you want to feel. You have to make sure people can still feel they can get into it enough.
Connor: KOKO has got a good balance.
Reuben: The whole venue is like towering over you. The most amazing thing is being able to see the people’s faces on the floor and then on the balcony you can’t even see their facial expressions. I had to make sure to ask “how’s everyone doing up there and over there and down here” trying to get everyone involved.

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What are you most excited about for the upcoming shows? Maybe venue wise? 

Luke: I think it’s got to be the Barfly. It’s our EP launch and it’s a venue we’ve loved ever since we’ve been into music and finding out about it. To headline our own show there… We’ve played it before and it was probably one of our best shows. The people there were really nice, the sound engineer was really nice and the show was so cool even though we were only the support band. To actually go there and do our own headline show and for it be our EP launch as well…
Connor: That’s what I’m looking forward to most, to see how the new music is received. We know what to do expect working with creatives, but to everyone else it’s going to be completely different.
Reuben: I think naturally, Camden has that music scene where people are up for going out. If it’s a couple of quid, you may as well go and see a band. It’s very accessible from the main high street and it’s got the name.
When I first got into the whole band idea, researching venues, I saw Slaves, friends of our band, were playing a support gig there. I thought wow, they’re playing there. I built up a mental image that these venues are massive. When we played there I just remember saying it would be great to play our own gig here when we’re ready for it. To make it a proper performance, a show.
Luke: Having it as our own headline show, we’ve got the freedom to make it a show rather than just a gig. Sometimes when you’re supporting, or it’s not your show, you just turn up and play some songs.
Reuben: The headline band that we played with last time had a small confetti canon, so we are thinking of doing that. Timed in the perfect song, the perfect moment, just to make everyone go “oh that’s nice”. Someone’s face should be in front of it.

Where was your first gig? What was that like?

Reuben: It was at a skate competition in our hometown. It was literally just my mum, my mum’s mate and about two of our friends standing there. It was just a bit of a laugh; we didn’t really know what was going on.
Then we had to rush off from there to go and play a last minute show in a really small pub called The House of Wolf in Islington. It was a tiny little place; we got there a little bit late and made really good friends with the sound engineer. And he came down to the Koko show we did, which was lovely.
We were the first band on and the second band turned up and the headline band and them had some sort of falling out. As we were sound checking there was a fight kicking off, and this was on our first gig, we were scared and London was scary as it was. I introduced myself to both bands and tried to make some kind of peace.

Group hug.

Reuben: It was good to learn the ropes and good to learn what makes a whole evening
Luke: At the end of the day, we’re not a well known band nationally, so you go to gigs and you won’t play to many people but there might be the right people there… It’s making the best of any gig no matter how many people you play to.
Reuben: I guess it’s about meeting new people and getting people involved then as much as it is now. We’ve got a few more songs and know what we’re doing a little bit more.

Building blocks.

Luke: Really excited to get the EP out.
Reuben: Even if people come to see you live, knowing two songs isn’t that much. So once you have released more, five songs people will feel like “I like all of these songs, I’ll take a punt in going to the gig”.
Luke: Although we have released a few songs before, this feels like our first proper release. One because production wise it’s a lot better and two, we’ve never really done a campaign before, a build up, a release date, it’s cool to have that where we can really push it out and get to as many people as possible before it’s actually released.
The plan is to hopefully make a mark on the new music scene in the UK and hopefully people take our stuff a bit more seriously. This is what we wanna do, we’re not just a band from Folkestone who do this as a hobby.
Connor: We’ve discovered our sound as well, it isn’t really out there at the moment, that’s what we were going for then and now there’s been a natural progression.
Luke: It’s showing you have that ability to write more than one song that fits nicely. It’s not an album, but it’s the next best thing.

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And finally… Would you rather festivals or indoor gigs?

Reuben: At the moment, going off performing wise, we’ve performed more gigs so we’d be more comfortable. When you’re outdoors, I guess if you’re in a tent it’s probably going to be great because even when it’s raining everyone crowds in.
Connor: Indoors at a festival.
Reuben: That’s a both!
Connor: Do I get bonus points?

Would you rather have hiccups for a year or sneeze every time the phone rang?

Luke: Is the sneezing forever?
Reuben: Anyone’s phone or your phone?

Sneezing forever and any phone I’d say…

Reuben: Sneezing is quite refreshing.
Luke: I’d probably go a sneeze cause I love a good sneeze.

Would you rather have fingers for toes or toes for fingers?

Connor: Fingers for toes.
Luke: Yeah, definitely. We wouldn’t be able to be a band if we had toes for fingers. And you could also do things with your feet.

Like pick stuff up.

Luke: Yeah definitely. That would be sick.