Since releasing their debut EP back in 2015, Meadowlark have been gaining a dedicated following with their catchy, but intelligent, synth-led songs.
As the duo prepare to release their first full-length album, ‘Postcards’, on 30 June, Kate McGill tells us about recording in a church, long walks in he woods, why she and bandmate Dan Broadley work so well together, the album’s that’s influenced them most, wanting to sing like Ariana Grande, and her favourite biscuits.
What do you have in common – musically or otherwise – that you bonded over when you first formed Meadowlark?
Food and alcohol. And music. And that’s still all we have in common, ha! Specifically white wine and Sainsbury’s Own chocolate digestives.
More importantly, what do you disagree on – musically or otherwise – and how do you think that influences your music?
We can disagree when writing quite a bit. We’re both quite headstrong when it comes to melodies, and we both like to think we know best. We also disagree on ways to implement our future, but we always know that we have the same goal so it’s alright.
As people – rather than musicians – what do each of you bring to Meadowlark?
Dan brings endless amounts of creative inspiration and happiness, and I like to think I bring some depth and wisdom. Is that big headed?
And what do you two bring out of each other that you don’t get working with others?
To be honest, I struggle quite a bit to work with anyone that isn’t Dan. We just get each other musically and it works. I bring weird as hell melodies to the table, and Dan brings weird as hell lyrics. When they marry, it’s quite special.
Could you pick one album, song, or artist that changed your life? And how has that influenced what you do in Meadowlark?
Polyenso’s album ‘Pure In The Plastic’ has influenced us as a band hugely. Just everything about it. The melodies, lyrics, time structures, subjects etc. It’s just so fucking good. We can’t not be inspired when listening to it.
You released your first EP back in 2015 and a few singles last year. Is there anything you learnt while writing and recording those songs that you applied to making the ‘Postcards’ album?
We’ve learned a lot about ourselves as people and as musicians over the last four years. We were a bit more weathered when recording ‘Postcards’, but we both knew exactly what we wanted at that point. In the early stages, we were pretty malleable – now, not so much. I also learnt where my voice sounds best. I’ve always wished I could sing like Ariana Grande but the fact is, my voice suits quiet and subtle songs. We just knew not to force things out of selfishness, and the music be what it needs to be.
Did you re-record/tweak/mess with any of the previously released songs, like ‘Headlights’, to fit in with the newly written material, or did you retain the versions people fell in love with in the first place?
We kept them all as they were! With regards to ‘Eyes Wide’, ‘Fly’, ‘Headlights’ etc, they’re all Meadowlark. Just some of them are different eras. But they are our melodies and our choice of words. We didn’t feel it to be right to change it to suit the ‘sound’ of our album, because the whole body of work is us. And this album encompasses all that we are and have been over the years.
You wrote the ‘Postcards’ album during various retreats. Do you find the distractions of everyday life get in the way of the creative process sometimes?
I personally do, yeah! It’s hard to feel inspired in your own house, walking around the same streets and same shops. When we go away, we can let everything go and forget social media exists. We go for long two-hour walks with a bottle of wine and talk about life. It’s very therapeutic and inspiring.
What did the album’s producer, JJ Mitchell, bring to the songs?
We couldn’t get over his talent. He’s such a whizz with the computer and an insane drummer too! He just took everything from one to 100. We tend to write our songs with acoustic instruments, quite stripped back. But he knew the exact electronic layers to bring to the songs. They just came to life at his fingertips, it was amazing!
And what did Spike Stent add?
Spike is a household name, and I’m still shocked that he came on board to mix the record! Hearing the songs before they were mixed and after was like night and day. I’m in awe of anyone who can do what he does! He just made everything sound so incredible. I can’t put my finger on it because I’m just not that talented technically – but whatever he did, I worship him for it.
Do you think recording in an old church in any way influenced how the album sounds?
The Chapel had a huge effect on the sound of the album. We’d walk around and find where the best reverb was to record certain things. And with somewhere like that, you’re spoilt for choice! The atmosphere there is amazing; it’s impossible not to feel inspired and creative.
What was particularly difficult about the recording process?
I guess a lot of the time, we had demo-itus. We’d listened to them so much before re-recording them, that it made changing and renewing them that much more difficult. Sometimes we’d be too reluctant to let go of a certain sound, or a certain melody for example. But we knew that to get the best out of the songs, they needed to grow! It was a daily struggle but we got there in the end!
And is there one song on ‘Postcards’ that best sums up what Meadowlark is all about?
I’d have to say the title track, ‘Postcards’. It was written in about five minutes, and it came about so organically. It’s simple but beautiful. It’s not technically amazing, but its message is clear and moving. I think that sums us up as a band pretty well.
- Meadowlark play The Waiting Room on 10 May. Tickets are available here.