An interview with Young Fathers
Definitely one of our favourite music discoveries of 2015, Young Fathers from Edinburgh have been blowing festival audiences away this summer with their energetic performance and refreshing sound. We met Kayus, Graham and Alloysious at NOS Alive 2015 in Lisbon and quickly learned they weren’t just a bunch of pretty faces. Find out how we ended our chat more inspired than ever.
Tune Munch: You’re a three piece isn’t it?
Graham Hastings: We’re a three piece in the studio, we’re four on stage when our drummer performs with us.
TM: We read that you said that you’re two black guys and two white guys..
GH: .. and that we’re purple on stage
TM: The title of your album is “White Men Are Black Men Too”, what’s the background?
GH: I think it’s an important thing to talk about, racism is something a lot of people like to sweep under a rug and pretend it’s not happening. Whereas we like to address it. Where we grew up in Scotland, how we grew up, the fact that we even know each other.. it kind of affected out mentality as a group. The guys have their own issues but when I was younger Scotland was so white I used to get taunted for even having a tan after coming back from a holiday. Scotland was a very white place to grow up and that affects our core. It’s a lot better now but it affects out mentality.
“If it was just “Black and white, unite!” no one would have reacted to that.”
The world is a very unequal place and a lot of people rather not talk about these issues and prefer avoiding it. We want to talk about it, without being confrontational. We try to look at it from all angles, in the most positive way first. It’s hard but with the album we knew we wanted something that would get a reaction. If it was just “Black and white, unite!” no one would have reacted to that. It’s not interesting enough. Whereas “White men are black men too” is not confrontational and it’s not negative or positive. It’s something that makes people think. We asked a bunch of people and some people thought it was great and some hated it. That’s kind of the reason why we went with it. Everybody talked about it and what it meant to them. That’s the most important thing to achieve with any kind of issue, that people talk rather than fight. I think the title does that.
TM: What is the difference from the first album
GH: The first one was called “Dead”. It was an album we made a few years ago. You want every album to be something completely different. We still perform songs from it but it’s in the past now. We like to do new things. We love what we done but we’re more excited about what else we can do.
TM: What is the most exciting thing you’ve done so far?
GH: Being in this band is a different world than the one I grew up in. The fact that I can go on stage and express myself in a way that I could never have done when I was younger without getting severely battered (TM:beaten up). It’s definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.
“If we were just a band who idolised another band (…) you’ll always be second best to your heroes.”
TM: Do you all have a similar style?
GH: No, we’re very different from each other and that’s what makes it what it is. We’re not like-minded people, we sometimes agree on things, sometimes.
TH: Is it hard to get to a point that you actually have a song?
GH: It’s a struggle but that’s the thing, everybody understands there is a struggle and that’s what makes it good. It makes it original and it’s the struggle that makes it different from anything else. If we were just a band who idolised another band or a sound and we met through that, like “Post-punk music, yeah let’s make a post-punk band” you just end up sounding like a post-punk band and you’ll always be second best to your heroes. For us, we all have our individual heroes, we have our own kinds of music that we listen to and the fact that we fight against each other makes the sound that a lot of people couldn’t make. That plus our backgrounds, you couldn’t really make it up. That’s why there will never be another Young Fathers.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about the origin of the name of the band?
GH: We all have our father’s names, so we’re all Juniors. That’s the easy answer. It’s not true. That we have the same name as our fathers is true though.
“I want mainstream radio to play our songs and mainstream TV to address us.”
TH: What’s the true answer? Give us the scoop.
GH: We thought it sounded good. Later on we realised we all had our dads names. It was just a coincidence.
TH: You guys are becoming really big with this new album
GH: It’s alright. We are getting bigger but it’s still not as much as what we want or deserve.
TH: What do you want?
GH: I want people to know who we are. I want people to know we exist. I want mainstream radio to play our songs and mainstream TV to address us.
TH: Where do you want to play?
GH: Everywhere, anywhere where there’s a lot of people. You want to be involved in the pop industry, be part of that. You don’t want to be these underground outsiders, strange and weird. We are strange and weird but we believe that pop music should be. We don’t think we should be kept to one side and be this cool, élite thing. The underground and the hipster cool élite music is just as traditional. Some people think that the cooler music is better. You can see right through it. There’s some pop music that is just as original as any other music and the other way about. We just want to be involved on that scale, we believe it’s our duty to society. Right now pop music is very safe. If you have pop music on the one side, everything else on the other and it doesn’t cross people don’t mix. People who go see us probably wouldn’t go see Ed Sheeran, and that’s not right.
GH: Exactly! I just think people shouldn’t be so divided.
TM: So the video of “Shame”
GH: It’s not me.
TM: We thought it was you.
GM: I don’t even know who it is. I never met him. It’s the first video where we let someone else do it, usually we make our own videos.
TM: It’s was pretty tough to watch, because you feel something bad will happen.
GM: We were on tour so we couldn’t make the video, our mate Jeremy said “Let me do this video for you in a day”. He sent it and we were like “F*%$ing hell, that’s good”. The guy in the video kind of summed up the people who I grew up with. And the dancing end is phenomenal. We’re really happy with it and we wanted a simple video but one that had an effect, a meaning and a story that wouldn’t be too cliché, and it worked. People keep saying “I love you in the Shame video, why don’t you dance like that on stage” but it’s not me. I can’t.
“Nestle asked us to make a song for one of their adverts (…) we thought “What if we made a song about breastfeeding”?”
TM: If people don’t know you, which song should they listen to?
GH: “Get Started”
TH: One of the Tune Munch team members has proposed “Nest” for a friend’s wedding video. Are you ok with this?
GH: That’s a lovely wedding song! I’ll tell you the story of the song. So the company Nestle asked us to make a song for one of their adverts. Nestle has been responsible for the death of babies across Africa in the 70s. (TM: read about it HERE). We didn’t want to make a song for them but we thought “What if we made a song about breastfeeding”? We say the word “baby” about 150 times. The whole song is about how good breast milk is. The lyrics are online so you can see for yourself.
If you didn’t know about Young Fathers yet, go to your room without pudding and listen to this:
And if you want to have a glimpse of what Young Fathers are like live, you’re going to want to check out their performance at Glastonbury 2015 and you’re going to want to be there.