Art-pop. Nah, we're not talking about that Lady Gaga phase a few years ago - "art-pop" is the way this next band we're about to introduce to you are commonly described, and let us tell ya - it suits 'em down to thr ground.
Tessera Skies make atmospheric moody pop, layered with beautiful melodies, dream-like soundscapes, and a sense of escapism that very few artists have ever given us. When we heard Out of Sight, we just had to find out more about these guys, and luckily, they were willing to answer a few questions...
Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Popshade. Why don't you start by telling us a bit about who you are and what you do?
Matt: We're three guys from Newcastle, who have known each other quite a long time. I play drums, Ben's the guitarist, and Mark sings and plays keys/synths. We got together post-University to form the band and have spent a couple of years mostly writing and recording in our studio up here. Somehow we stumbled upon this great place we turned into our DIY studio; a big white room on the top floor of a 1950's boarding school near the city centre. Our producer Mick Ross has a room downstairs from us so it’s a great setup, the only downside being the three flights of stairs we have to lug our gear up and down!
If you could sum up your music in three words, what would they be?
Ben: Ambient. Alternative. Pop.
You've got quite an interesting name, how'd that come about?
Mark: Tessera is a material used in mosaic-making. We liked Tessera Skies because you picture a mosaic sky - a little bit like an artist's impression. The lyrics in our songs sometimes appear to be surrealist but they are actually all based on an impression or a reaction to something very real. I think that by leaving the context open-ended, to a certain degree, you leave the lyrics open to interpretation. The band name is like a reminder that the music and lyric is just one perspective/voice of the whole.
You've already had coverage from some pretty sick media outlets (The Line of Best Fit, Q etc.), but are there any specific ones you'd love the attention of?
Matt: I'm not really on the pulse when it comes to online media but I do think The Quietus is a blog that holds a lot of weight with people and I trust them to give a totally honest review of something, whether good or bad.
Similar question, but on a more music-focussed vibe, you've worked with some ace producers (Pink Floyd's Nick Mason etc), but is there anyone out there you'd love to work with?
Matt: I should add our producer Mick Ross to the list of ace producers. We've worked with him for years and he's helped turn us into the band we are now, plus we get on so well. Mick has some of the best ears when it comes to vocals in particular and in that sense he's really helped us hone our songwriting.
We were lucky enough to spend a couple of days at Air Studios working with Guy Massey as part of Ajimal and that was a great experience. We got on so well with him and went from being initially overwhelmed to totally comfortable within the space of a few hours. He totally understood our thought processes and was always open to creative suggestions. So, I'd say Guy is someone I'd love to work with at some point on Tessera stuff.
Ben: I mean, right up there would be Jonny Greenwood for me. He’s composed some stunning film soundtracks and done magnificent work as the composer-in-residence for the BBC Concert Orchestra. It would be an amazing experience to work on orchestral arrangements, among other things, with him
Out of Sight - sweet tune, but what's it about?
Mark: THANKS. I was reading a poem by Mary Oliver called 'Sometimes' whilst I was writing the lyrics to Out of Sight. It's a wonderful and fleeting poem that is well worth checking out. I loved the lines "Instructions for living a life: / Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it." which made me think about the way that we are saturated with so much digital content that sort of arrives at our fingertips and how we can end up living through a lens and missing the stuff all around us. Sometimes we even exaggerate how good our lives really are with Instagram filters and Oscar-award-ceromony-speeches on Facebook. Out of Sight is about the person that basks in their digital imprint without really looking up and (indirectly) if that's something people are happy with?
What's next after the single release?
Matt: Firstly we'll be getting out on the road to play some live shows after being cooped up in the studio for a while. We've also got a load of material recorded that we'll be looking to share soon.
What can peeps expect from one of your live shows?
Ben: While we feel the music speaks for itself, we’re constantly looking at new ways of making the visual side of the show as interesting as possible for an audience. We recently worked with a stunning lighting designer, Neil Colebeck, for a show at the Sage Gateshead. He really helped show us just how variable lighting can be in creating different moods or landscapes that transport you to another place. His style strongly complemented both what the audience was hearing and what was happening on stage. We’ll certainly be thinking about continuing this as much as we can for future shows.
With the music side of things, we have two multitalented musicians who join us on stage to really make the live sound come alive. Matt Forshaw joins us on bass guitar while Mark’s brother, Josh Broughton, plays keys, percussion and drum pads. Since bringing in the lads to play live with us, we’ve started to feel much more of a freedom on stage. We can actually enjoy what we’re doing now rather than making the show a formula that doesn’t have variation.
Now the big, broad, hard to answer, but neccesary question - who are your biggest influences?
Mark: Musically, I love the Guillemots' first record Through the Window Pane. Lyrically, I'm a fan of anything that sounds honest and believable, which is loads of stuff but let's mention... Future Islands. Gastronomically, peanut butter gets me through life. Sorry everyone.
Anything else you'd like to shout about?
Matt: I've got Beach House and Wild Nothing on repeat at the moment. I can't recommend The War On Drug's latest record, Lost In The Dream, enough and I can't wait for our good friend Ajimal to release his mini album. Also, I'm about a year behind but I've just finished Utopia, the Channel 4 series, and have to shout about it. Absolutely mind-boggling and is up there with the Black Mirror series.
Where can peeps find you?
Ben: On the 27th June we’ll be playing the Cluny 1 in Newcastle as part of the Epilepsy Charity Fundraiser. You can get tickets now from HERE. It’s for a great cause and we’re really looking forward to seeing all the other folks who are playing. It’s a feast of North East talent! You can also find all other links to our social media on our official website at www.tesseraskies.com, or, alternatively, see below…
We'd like to thank the band for taking the time to answer these questions!
Well, there you have it. Hopefully you understand what we were banging on about with the whole "art-pop" thing. Since we first heard Out of Sight we'd been hooked, and it's always ince to see when the artist are super passionate about what they do. We personally cannot wait to see where these guys go next, and that live show they're talking about, well, it sounds pretty damn exciting to us!