Esben & The Witch Talk New EP, Label

Plus! Ace gig Wednesday

Last week, Brighton trio Esben & The Witch unveiled their new EP, Hexagons. The excellent release features six songs all as movements under the name of said five-sided shape, with each movement having a suffix – so ‘Hexagons I’ is "The Flight", ‘Hexagons V’ "The Cast" and so on. It is emblematic of the rare and dangerous dance that Esben & The Witch choose to undertake, making the effort to go beyond the customary ‘whack out some jamz’ approach taken by most or many of their contemporaries of a similar age. Musically Hexagons builds on their debut Violet Cries, all Eric Ravilious South Downs mist and slopes rendered in neon, and topped with chancel voices from a time half-remembered. The cover artwork is great too, taking children’s photographs but twisting them in a kaleidoscope to sinister effect. This Wednesday, Esben & The Witch are curating a brilliant line-up at Corsica Studios that features support slots from The Haxan Cloak and Blood Music, along with the Quietus playing something nasty on the gramophone. We got in touch with Esben & The Witch to find out more about the EP and the new record label run by Esben man Daniel Copeman. While we’re at it, tickets and more for Wednesday’s gig can be found here.

What was the thinking behind the Hexagons EP?

The concept for the EP emerged around the same time we were working on Violet Cries. We had ideas for tracks that seemed different to the record, that felt like they needed a life of their own as it were. ‘Hexagons IV’ felt like it could work within the feeling and mood of Violet Cries hence its inclusion but the intention to release a seperate EP was in place at that time. I think you were one of the few publications to ask us why the track was called ‘Hexagons IV’ in fact.

Why Hexagons, in six movements? Are all the tracks connected?

It’s intended as a linear narrative, a hypothetical series of events, an imagined future in a way. We have always been inspired by literature and landscapes and with this EP we essentially tried to create a story of our own and then a landscape to set it against. It feels much more cohesive and fully formed in many ways than Violet Cries. It has a more considered atmosphere I think.

There seems to be a lot more electronic input, which we like a great deal. Has that been a conscious inclusion?

The coldness of the electronics seemed befitting of the concept. The electronic side of what we do has sometimes been almost frustratingly overlooked while people became preoccupied by comparisons and descriptions which focused solely on the vocals and guitars. The electronic side of what we do is very important to us, particularly in this day and age with the technology available it seems absurd not to embrace it.

What were the lyrical inspirations on the new EP?

The whole EP has this linear narrative which the lyrics are focused on. It’s not something we want to break down for people in any great detail as we feel its important for people to attach their own emotion and experience to. The story is there if people are interested.

Daniel Copeman, you have just started a record label (Love Thy Neighbour) and are releasing a track by one Abi Wade (listen below) why on earth would you decide to start a record label in these bleak times?

It seemed as good a time as any. If my limited knowledge of independent labels is correct its never been something you get into to make money out of, you do it because you have a passion for it. The idea had been kicking around between myself, Andy and Ben for a while and then we found Abi (Wade, the first signing on the imprint) and we felt we had to. The label is going to be (ideally) a launch pad for little known artists we really like and we are aiming to help these artists out as much as we can with exposure and gigs and advice wherever possible. Andy is a promoter by trade and Ben is music lawyer and having been through the process of being a new band myself I realised having good advice is essential. Hopefully we can help some people out the way some good eggs helped us. In these bleak times as you put it you need something to keep you busy and buoyant don’t you?

Tell us about your first release

Abi Wade – Stability by WorkItMedia

Well Abi is a multi instrumentalist but this EP is focused on the cello and intriguing ways of approaching it as an instrument. The songs are hinged on the percussive elements that cello allows and on Abi’s voice. I am really proud of it, it’s a really great collection of songs. I remember the first time I saw Abi and I was immediately drawn to the idea of releasing her stuff. I am not going to try describe it because I will get it wrong and subsequently get in trouble. The EP is called ‘and blood and air’ and is out on the 28th of November (she has a London gig at the Old Blue Last that day with Hooray for Planet Earth too) but plugging over, it’s great. Everyone should buy it.

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