Your Weekend Playlist Courtesy of Metronomy
Joseph Mount is a busy guy. In between hosting a karaoke night at Sid’s Gold Request Room, and deejaying for The Lot Radio, the Metronomy frontman stopped by Milk Studios NY to chat about their upcoming record, Metronomy Forever, why Salted Caramel is a proper flavor, and what we can expect from their upcoming tour. (All while providing us with the perfect soundtrack for one of the last weekends of summer.) *sigh*
You’re deejaying at The Lot later today – How do you prepare yourself for a DJ set?
It’s weird. I think I feel quite comfortable doing something on the radio because I’m not a very good DJ…I’m not a club DJ. I figure it’s mid-afternoon, I’m gonna play some slightly self-indulgent music. I prepared what I think is interesting stuff to listen to.
Did you ever have any other DJ names besides Metronomy?
I thought it was really clever when I was a teenager. I called myself this, but no one ever knew. I was calling myself “DJ Au” — it’s sort of the phonetical spelling of “Joe” and it’s also the symbol for gold on the periodic table.
Do you want to talk about your new album Metronomy Forever? It’s coming out soon!
Exactly, yeah. It’s the sixth album and it’s the best one. I feel like it’s the first album that sort of takes something from all of the albums that have gone before; it’s a quite relaxed proposition, I guess. Since Nights Out, every time I made a record, I was always trying to learn about a new way of recording or a new way of working. So there was always a technical concept behind the other records. This one is the sound of a guy in his mid-thirties; quite relaxed and content.
Do you have a favorite song on this record?
I’ve got a number of favorite songs, but when I made the first draft of the record, it was much shorter. I was trying to make a pop record; something that was very instant and pop-sounding. I did that and it was cool, but it wasn’t very fulfilling. Artistically, it didn’t really say anything about me or how I felt. There were 10 tracks, and I got rid of four of them. I started recording again and making new songs. And so, there’s a song on the record called “Forever Is A Long Time” and then another song called “Whitsand Bay.” Those two songs are kind of the first songs that sort of kick-started the second version of the album. They’re definitely quite significant.
It’s been three years since your last Metronomy record was released — what new space and knowledge are you bringing into this journey after taking some time off?
The last album that came out, we didn’t tour because we’ve basically been a touring group now for 15 years or something like that. For the previous eight years, we hadn’t had a Summer off. I’ve got two children, and Olugbenga [Adelekan], who’s in the band, he’s now got kids as well. You realize you only have one chance to spend time with your child from zero to three. And so that’s what I did, I was a dad.
Well, that was the intention, at least, to be with my family, but I was also making the Robyn album. That became this very huge part of my life, which I didn’t necessarily expect it to become. I learned about making records for other people. I learned about being a dad, that kind of stuff. I moved from Paris to the countryside, back to England, and became much more in touch with nature. In the last three years, I feel like I’ve kind of grown-up more than I ever have, especially in such a short space of time.
It’s crazy how much you can learn from people that are so tiny. What did you like about Paris?
I’ll tell you what I think is amazing about Paris, I think the funny thing is that the perception of the French is that they’re kind of rude, and then you go to Paris, and you realize that all they care about is socializing. As soon as the sun is out you can go on a terrace, and you just spend four hours having dinner.
After already having a two-hour lunch earlier that day.
Exactly, there’s no other country in the world, apart from maybe Spain, and maybe some other European countries have a similar theme, but it’s such a sociable place. It’s the RAISON-D’ÊTRE — to enjoy life. I find that really amazing. But there is no greenery and its shit for children. I live in Kent now.
What was the timeline of this record?
I was making it alongside the Robyn album which took like four years. The whole time I was making that record, I was thinking to myself, “Okay, once this is done…I can get on to my own stuff.” So I was always chipping away at it. I spent six months on my own record and realized it wasn’t very good. And then, I spent another six months, just having fun making the music. It was kind of a year-long process, but it was proceeded by this very long period.
The Robyn record is this very personal thing; when it first started, it was a break-up record, but by the time it was finished, they had got back together. It was going through this whole rollercoaster of stuff, and it’s quite interesting when you do something like that, and you’re involved as a producer in someone else’s work. You become super involved, and it takes over your life, and certainly your creative life.
And then when it was finished, I was like “Oh shit, I got to do my own thing. What have I got going on?” Because I put so much into her record, I had already had some kind of like a cathartic thing. I guess it’s even more curious when I wanted to find something that I wanted to make a record about, or something that I felt like was reflective of me now.
What do you think this record reflects?
Being a musician, and now having had a career of almost 14 years since the very first album. You kind of have this just amazing golden age when you were young, and then what happens after that, it can vary from your band breaking up, to you going back to some regular job, or if you’re lucky, you keep building on it. And if you’re super lucky, you get huge. And I think, for me, this realization of like, “You are this thing; Metronomy is your life now.” When I was making my most urgent music, that was 10 years ago, but I still feel like I’m relevant and that I’m a valuable person in music.
I just tried to make something that reflected what I was listening to, and how I listen to music, and just what I like. I feel like I’ve lived through lots of different lifespans of social media and formats and stuff; I’ve seen it all. I listen to Spotify and kind of endless playlists of stuff, and I wanted to make something that reflected that and was a bit more indulgent, I guess.
I think it’s so awesome because I saw you at Field Day London and at a show at The Observatory in Santa Ana in 2014, and then just yesterday, a friend of mine was dying to show me a ‘new song’ and he put on “The Bay.” Your work definitely sticks. I still listen to the first record, and none of it sounds dated. It feels like it could be made now.
That’s the curious thing as well…it’s taken me six records to realize that I have a sound and I have a thing. On the first record, there is a song called “You Could Easily Have Me” which was the first Metronomy single. I remember hearing it; there’s this club that Erol Alkan used to have called Trash in London, and I ended up going there and he played it over a club sound system. And I just thought, “This sounds shit.” Every time I’ve heard my music on the radio or anywhere, I’ve always thought, “This doesn’t sound right.” And now I realize that’s my sound. Now I’m quite at ease with what it is that I do, and what it is that I sound like.
What can we expect from the next couple of months of Metronomy latest rollout?
We’ve got a new stage, show, outfits. I’m trying to bring in more of the atmosphere from the album artwork. But it’s funny because before we’ve done it very literally, you know, like you just blow up a bit of the artwork and you have it on the stage. This time around it’s a bit more atmospheric because we’re playing music from six different albums, so the atmosphere will change throughout the gig anyways. If you have a picture of a lizard or something, it would be incongruous, I guess.
Last question, why “Salted Caramel Ice Cream”? Is it your favorite flavor?
It’s cool. It’s not my favorite flavor, no. There are certain things that you feel like, if I don’t do it, then someone else is going to do it.
It’s a flavor with a cult following.
It’s fucking everything. Everything is salted caramel. When you read The Book of Flavors, it’s a proper flavor… that’s what the later period is all about. You know it’s all about Burrata or Hummus. Remember when that was a thing?
I feel like Chorizo had its moment in London a few years back.
Just fucking fries, back to basics.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Weekend Playlists.