Dark Dark Horse | Interview


By Fabiana Giovanetti

Being part of the MTV generation was great fun. I was raised with gritty punk rock, crossover and questionable emocore (no comments required), before landing in more neighbor-friendly territories. Electronic music had never been my thing though (Prodigy aside) with the only band who opened my mind towards the electronically-infused being Maybeshewill. But from that to worshipping it was a really short step.

The idea of producer Jamie Ward (bass guitarist in the band) working on a side project called Dark Dark Horse, aroused curiosity, so I got hold of him, to ask him a round questions.

Dark Dark Horse is the marriage of Jamie’s electronica experimentation and James Stafford’s (Kids in Cars) vocals, and like the best relationships, it was love at first sight: “Kids in Cars had booked in to record with me, I’d heard their previous EP and was very excited about the project but hadn’t seen them live yet. While we were setting up drums James started playing one of the songs acoustically and it just really caught me, a hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck type moment. It was a little while after that when I started doing my own electronica but was thrilled when James agreed to have a go at singing on one of my tracks.”

Since then things evolved, and the duo managed to get in contact with the Japanese label Rallye, who was soon grabbed by unique blend of the duo: “they offered to put out a record before we even had a band name. Having that to aim for was cool, so me and James just kept writing and before too long we had a record. If I had to do things over, I probably would start a little slower and put out some singles in the UK first, rather than just diving in at the deep end the other side of the world.”

And so ‘Centuries’ was born. The debut record, out via Function Records, is an engaging journey into another world, leaping from addictive, fast-paced chugging beats (‘Ethics’) to intimate, dream-like synth-y ballads and the sparse feel of piano (‘Midnight Mass’). The highly evocative vocals are supported by a rich digital tapestry, confirming again the adaptability of electronica, which grabbed Jamie due to its “freedom to shape the timbre of the music, and the cultural connotations you can play with by manipulating this.”

Manipulation seems to have become another of Jamie’s projects, remixing songs by bands such as Tall Ships, LITE (Japan), Fossil Collective, Maybeshewill and Rose Elinor Dougal (Mark Ronson/ex Pipettes): “Having all that raw material to play with makes it very easy to be creative. Occasionally you’ll do one and the artist won’t like it which is understandable as they’re probably very close to that song but usually people get a kick out of hearing their material reinterpreted.”

In its simplicity, ‘Centuries’ strips electronica from its ‘bumping’ nature, and shaping it into a blissful ambience that reflects a sense of intimacy that digital has never reached before. Not too bad for a journey that started in the back of a van, touring across Spain: “ I was pretty hungover, and it was sort of blindingly bright, but I remember feeling really good just sitting in the back of a van working on these quite lush shimmering tunes, tearing across the cracked Spanish countryside”.