Interview: The Afterdark Movement
Originally published in the Nottingham Post.
This time last year, The Afterdark Movement were riding on the crest of a wave. As champions of Future Sound of Nottingham 2012, they had the honour of opening the main stage at Splendour, and a debut EP, ADM, had just been released.
Twelve months down the line, the fresh-faced newcomers have matured into one of Nottingham’s most widely respected bands, drawing admirers from the urban scene and the live gigging circuit alike.
Released this weekend, their new EP Six Minds represents a significant progression in the Afterdark sound. Last time around, Bru-C’s raps dominated most of the tracks, but on the new material, singer Natalie steps forward and claims equal billing, exhibiting a new-found vocal confidence.
“I’m fine with that,” says Bru-C, who also runs a parallel career as a grime MC. “I think we’re more of a full band, and I don’t really see myself as the star.” The first EP was recorded not long after Natalie’s arrival turned the five-piece band into a six-piece, and so it was a case of slotting her into material that had already been written – but this time around, she had the opportunity to compose her own vocal parts.
Perhaps softened by Natalie’s soulful approach, Six Minds is also a less angry affair than its predecessor. “It’s definitely not as dark as the one before”, Bru-C admits. “We still have that dark element”, says guitarist and “chief organiser” Marty, “but Bru-C’s lyrics are trying to bring positive vibes as well”.
At the start of this week, a video was released for Days Go By. It’s the most ballad-like of the five new tracks, with a mournful quality that contrasts sharply with the full-tilt gyspy ska of Clean Lenses, the party tune that closes the EP.
The video was shot around the band’s home town of Long Eaton. “It’s a very suburban video”, says Bru-C. “It’s very groggy; just a typical day in the British life.” There’s no grand concept to the filming, which essentially lets the song speak for itself, and the same holds true for the EP as a whole.
Moving away from the tightly themed approach of ADM, which told an ever-darkening story, Six Minds is all about variety. “Every single person in the band is completely different, and I think it shows”, says Marty. “You’ve got a bit of everyone in every track. That’s why we’ve called it Six Minds, because that’s literally the message we’re putting out. It is six completely different minds.”
Although this wide spread of tastes and opinions can cause conflict during the creative process, it also represents one of Afterdark’s greatest strengths. “Everyone has their say, and it gets heated at times”, says Marty. “But if you all get along, all happy-dappy, you will not be a good band. Everyone’s got a lot of passion, and you can tell that especially when we’re live.”
Tomorrow night, there will be a chance to witness some of that passion, as the band launch their EP by headlining a seven-hour, three-stage mini-festival at The Maze. “We know and we talk to a lot of artists”, Bru-C explains. “We’ve kept in touch with people we’ve played with, right from when we started, and I’d say that at least a good 40% of the people playing are good friends of ours.”
With well over twenty acts performing, from acoustic singer-songwriters (Georgie Rose, Esther Van Leuven) to soul/r&b artists (Marita and the Peaches, Tasha Dean), and with open mic rap battles in the front bar, live graffiti art in the yard, dance DJs until late (Rubberdub , Tumble Audio) and even an acapella choir, the event represents the full spectrum of Afterdark’s musical interests and connections. The band themselves will be the last live act to perform, at around 11.30pm, before the DJs take over.
“You get certain scenes in Nottingham”, says Bru-C, “You get a scene that goes to all the live band nights, and you get a scene who go to Rubberdub, Tumble Audio, the house nights, the dubstep, the drum & bass. I’ve got a feeling that the crowd is going to change. It will be a big contrast, as it goes from eight to twelve, and then from twelve to three.”
“It’s a big contact network for people as well”, Marty adds, as we contemplate the possibilities generated by getting such a wide range of people together in the same building. “People linking in with other people; that’s what it should be like. But it’s just going to be a party. All good vibes, all good people.”