Welcome to a new series of guest-curated playlists from a host of new-music tastemakers. We like to think we’re pretty clued up on indie bands and the like, but there’s so much more out there so we decided to get some friends to help fill us in!
First up: Andy Backhouse
No stranger to being behind the decks at the likes of Leeds Festival, Latitude and now Beyond The Woods, DJ Andy Backhouse has curated a playlist of of left-field pop. Perfect for when night takes over and you just wanna dance!
We caught up with Andy to find out about festivals, his favourite artists aright now and his love of all things odd-ball pop!
Hey Andy, tell us about how you got into DJing and some of your experiences playing at some of the country’s biggest festivals?
Hello Beyond the Woods gang. My first go was getting hold of some CDJ turntables at my youth club. If you can do that as a kid that’s like gold dust, and they were always fair game in the evenings after school. We even had a tutor for a few weeks. His background was in Eurodance and Happy Hardcore, but he very patiently sat with me as I had a go at mixing folky campfire tracks like Emilíana Torrini into electropop like Casiokids or Bicep.
I hosted as many shows locally as I could, set up the student radio station, then this fantastic experience came up at uni when I won a student radio competition from The Selector, and the prize was the fly out with the British Council to Mexico City, hosting shows on the country’s biggest new music station. It was called Ibero 90.9 FM, essentially Mexico’s answer to Radio 1 or 6 Music. It was basically students running the asylum, playing exciting new records from The Avalanches and SBTRKT to people sitting in traffic jams. There’s so many brilliantly talented DJs on that station, like Tskuanda Sierra, Davo Peñaloza, Vale Estrada, and Alan Luna. We’d spend the evenings going to gigs, getting stuck into the local scene and DJing downtown at a club called El Imperial, and I had such a brilliant time I flew back over the holidays to work at the station and do it all over again.
Festivals are what we do best in this country. I could wax lyrical all day about Visions Festival, an expertly-curated city festival from the Rockfeedback team. Latitude is like a whole wonderland in itself. It was my first DJ gig in 2013, thanks to the legend Huw Stephens, and I’ve been lucky to DJ the Lake Stage every year since. There’s something so special about that place.
Every August bank holiday since 2012 I’ve been at Leeds Festival, and for the last couple of years hosting the Festival Republic Stage. I started out picking up my GCSE results and now I’m the curmudgeonly old caretaker who won’t give you your ball back.
It’s easy to mythologise and rose tint the posters of any festival’s past, but I think festivals should always be reflecting the music of the time – opening the door for the future stage headliners to come through – and none do it better than Reading and Leeds. The Japanese House, No Rome and Black Honey really made their stamp on the stage last summer, and it’ll be interesting to see them climb the ranks over the next few years.
Then there’s End of the Road. God, what can you say about End of the Road. It’s the sunsetter for the festival season in Dorset, and I love DJing the beautiful Garden Stage every year as an excuse to get in. 2018 was a vintage year, seeing A-list indie headliners like Vampire Weekend and Feist play intimate shows (there are about 500 each) on the Woods Stage. But it’s the surprises that make End of the Road what is it: speculating who’s playing the secret sets in the Tipi, or discovering Bill Ryder Jones in the woods casually improv-ing on a piano. Just last year Ariel Pink whipped the crowd into a frenzy: part of a Sunday night wigout run that always seems to be a natural fit for the festival, they delivered something of a masterclass in danceified psychedelia. It’s one of the best curated festivals going – I’d recommend it to anyone.
We’re all gutted that festivals have mostly had to be cancelled this year, have you found ways to get out and about?
Getting to broadcast on Base Camp FM this year was a genuine privilege, and a reason to leave the house for a bit. It was set up by the Deer Shed Festival crew in the weekend the festival was supposed to be, which was a wonderful thing for the community, and it might turn out to be a very innovative idea: a socially distanced campsite with the festival vibes provided over the in house radio station. Well loved and very new bands from across Yorkshire like Mt Misery, The Howl and the Hum and Shadowlark came down to record live sessions for us, soundtracking the families’ socially distanced campfires and tinnies.
You know the bands that play Deer Shed are having as much fun as the crowd. We had Fran from Melbourne’s brilliant Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on the radio show (they headlined Deer Shed last summer), and he was more than happy to wax lyrical about the festival: he remembers bracingly stepping out into Yorkshire’s suitably Withnail & I stormy weather to the seminal classic, “If you like piña coladas, And getting caught in the rain”, then proceeded to serve out members of the crowd with the cocktails. Brighton’s Dream Wife too are good friends of the festival, and proved a real hit with the younger members of our audience. They remembered performing some PG-rated versions from their back catalogue, like ‘F.U.U.’, with an army of kids chanting back “bad, bad witches”.
It’s probably what makes Deer Shed so special, the fact that it’s a family festival in the realest sense, and it’s an ethos that Oliver and Kate and the team carried through into Base Camp. The kids aren’t side-lined into a children’s area – in fact they make up half of the audience every year, and they’re right in the middle of the action with their parents, discovering new bands like Rolling Blackouts, The Go Team and Dream Wife for the first time. We’re so lucky to have a festival like Deer Shed on our doorstep in North Yorkshire and this year with Base Camp doubly so. Stereolab are playing next year if all goes to plan, which is sure to be another vintage year.
How would you describe your music taste and what got you into it?
It’s probably oddball pop, a bit leftfield and a bit out there. It’s always what I’ve leaned towards really. I’ve loved every album Metronomy do. Georgia’s ‘Seeking Thrills’ is one of my favourites of the year, a love letter to Chicago House, and more than deserving of the Mercury nod.
The Late of the Pier record still feels like a miracle. It’s called ‘Fantasy Black Channel’. Produced by Erol Alkan, it’s four kids from Nottingham (including Sam who we now know as LA Priest) making bedroom electropop, which on paper, could have been of its time, but its legacy has reverberated over the years – Dave Grohl and Mike Skinner are massive fans. All the stars seemed to align for that album – it’s a real lightning in a bottle moment.
Compilations have always been a big thing for me, and I think I have almost all the early Maison Kitsuné and Late Night Tales compilations. I used to love bands like Asteroids Galaxy Tour from Copenhagen in Denmark, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Hearing Everything Everything’s first singles, and that two-punch of ‘Photoshop Handsome’ and ‘My Keys Your Boyfriend’, that was the most exciting thing, and I’m excited for people to hear their new album. I think it might be their best yet.
Huw Stephens’ late night shows on Radio 1 I used to listen to religiously. Growing up in a little town in Yorkshire, the music capital of London felt very remote. You didn’t have a laptop or an iPhone at that age, so Huw’s late night shows were a window to an outside world of music. It was surreal, when I was 15, getting asked to DJ Huw’s Lake Stage at Latitude. My first gig, playing tunes between The 1975, Loyle Carner, Bo Ningen, NZCA Lines and Wolf Alice at the very beginning.
Tell us some of your top picks from the playlist…
A good entry point to the genre:
Everything Everything are always full of brilliance and invention, and I’m excited for people to hear the album next week. It’s called ‘Re-Animator’ and I think it might be their best. John Congleton’s on board (Grammy-tier producer for St Vincent, the Killers and Chairlift) and they’ve really gone to town on this record. There’s an in-the-moment, joyous exuberance seeping out of it in a way we haven’t really seen from them before. I hope they keep making music for many years to come.
Someone who’s a legend in the scene and you can’t think of left-field pop without hearing their name:
Georgia’s brilliant, everyone knows she’s brilliant. I’ve been a fan of her music for years now. Inpsired by Keith Flint from the Prodigy, onstage she looks like she’s charging into battle: drumkits crossed over head, battering her Simmons electronic drumkit (she was inspired by footage of her heroes Depeche Mode). The record ‘Seeking Thrills’ is just as bold and rallying, and the Mercury Prize nod is a cherry on top.
Someone you’re tipping for exciting things:
God, there’s too many to name. It’ll have to be a list. ML Buch from Denmark gave us a wonderful record this summer, which seems to reveal a bit more of itself on every listen.
Junior Brother from County Derry would be perfect for Beyond the Woods one day. He’s Ronan Kealy, from County Derry, and he writes stomping, big-hearted ye olde pub singalongs. The first time I saw him was at the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival in the Netherlands and he whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
I love Busacabulla and their track ‘NTE’. They’re originally from New York (they now live in Porto Rico), sharing that distinct, laidback, laisse fare sound of ESG and Tom Tom Club before them, and it’s the move to their new home that inspires their album ‘Regressa’.
Jarami are doing something very exciting. They’re Rami Dawod and Jacob Olofsson from Stockholm – one of those production duos that everyone in the industry knows and respects (they worked on Frank Ocean’s ‘Chanel’), but now they’re stepping out front and centre with their single ‘Company’. Definitely one of the singles of the year.