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Music |

Interview: Syd Arthur @ Hackney Wonderland

Friday 21 October 2016

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Four-piece Syd Arthur are a band unlike another. Difficult to pin-point stylistically on the map, their sounds verges from psychedelic to easy listening rock with electronic currents, yet a track like ‘No Peace’ has an undeniable funk element travelling through. Exercising a dislike of shoeboxing their sound into one genre, Syd Arthur essentially just sound like Syd Arthur. Made up of Raven Bush and three brothers Liam, Josh and Joel Magill, the outfit have been jamming together for years. Through family connections and linking up at school when they were 18, they’ve been in effortless sync without each other ever since. With their third album Apricity out today (21st October) with label Communion, the four offer a natural progression from their previous work. The album was inspired by their time last year spent in a forested park on the edge of Los Angeles. High in the mountains but totally isolated, the summer sun offered little heat, inspiring the lyrics on the new release, “longing for apricity”.

Catching them last weekend at Hackney Wonderland at London Fields’s Mangle and Wringer venue, we caught up with Liam and Raven about about their inspirations, their sound and their highlights so far as Syd Arthur.


Congrats on the set! Have you been to Hackney Wonderland before?

Raven: First time for us, first time here and first time playing. Everything we’ve seen so far seems great!

Are you catching anyone else while you’re here?

Raven: Mystery Jets DJ set, that’s gonna be cool.

Liam: The guys that played before us, Paves, they were pretty cool.

Would you describe yourself as a psychedelic band?

Raven: It’s a really good question. I hate genres so it’s really hard to describe but psychedelic in nature for sure, but it’s like rock music, there’s some electronic in there… a bunch of stuff in there. Would would you say?

I would have said the same thing.

Raven: Cool. Good answer. I wouldn’t say we’re psych-rock, but maybe high-tech-psych or something…

Liam: Nu-psych!

Raven: Post-Psych? Post-Nu-Psych?


The psychedelic music scene has been making quite a comeback lately. Have you noticed a growth in the bands that represent that sound? Are there any other psychedelic bands you’re listening to at the minute?

Liam: Definitely, I’ve noticed it a lot. Bands coming out and doing some interesting things, wigging it out as it were, sonically speaking. I’ve noticed that for sure. For instance, the big name is Tame Impala and the way they’ve opened the door to that sort of stuff, because they’ve blown up so it’s like open doors.

Raven: Yeah and then you’ve got Temples, and loads of stuff that’s been on the boil that’s getting the recognition that it should do. Which is great.

Who first inspired you to pick up the guitar?

Liam: I mean maybe Paul Weller, he’s a guy that we know. And he’s someone I’ve grown up listening to and I saw his shows as a kid.

Raven: I was so into Michael Jackson as a kid. I was well into him, big time. It’s all music though you know, I think that’s why genres grade me a bit, when you get down to it, it’s all the same shit. We like to put it into different compartments but it’s all part of the same thing. It’s the truth.

And who are you listening to a lot at the minute? Has anyone been inspiring your sound lately?

Liam: Hiatus Kaiyote. Love those guys.

Raven: I don’t know, I’ve been getting into Sonic Youth a lot again, sort of reliving a lot of that stuff. I’m personally really into Arthur Russell. So much stuff. I like a lot of electronic stuff really; dance music, so I’m really into Clark, I’m really into Zombie, obviously Burial, Carabou, Four Tet. Floating Points – he’s killing it at the minute with the DJ thing but also the live band. It’s a great time for music I think.


What’s the best live performance you guys have ever played that stands out?

Raven: We had an amazing show in Italy, about 5 years ago, that was amazing. It was in this village as part of a festival and the whole village was there. All the neighbouring villages brought up their chairs and we were the only band playing that evening – it was just magical. Totally magically.

Liam: Yeah I’d say Hype Park last summer. We opened for The Strokes and Beck, and there was Syd Arthur on the main stage in Hyde Park so that was pretty amazing. Memorable gig.

Raven: Roundhouse on Tuesday was pretty dope, with White Denim. It was wicked to see them, we toured with them a couple of years ago and they are mates of ours, so to see them sell out the Roundhouse was a pretty proud moment for us.

What’s coming up for you now?

Liam: Our record is coming out!

What can we expect from the new record?

Raven: It’s our best record yet, buy it. It’s really good. [Laughs] It sounds like us but in 2016.

Liam: It sounds like Syd Arthur.

Syd Arthur’s new album Apricity is out today. Stream and download it here.