BBC Sound of 2013: Chvrches

 

Chvrches' Iain, Martin and Lauren visit their favourite pub in Glasgow

Glasgow electro-pop trio Chvrches have come fifth in the BBC's Sound Of 2013 new music list.

The list, compiled using tips from more than 210 tastemakers - made up of music critics, editors, broadcasters and bloggers - aims to highlight some of the most exciting emerging artists.

We are revealing one artist from the top five in reverse order every day until Friday, when the winner will be announced.

Musical polygamy is everywhere.

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Discover the top five acts

Watch the top 15 acts on the Sound of 2013 site

How the list is compiled

Sixteen of this year's number one singles had a featured artist. Calvin Harris and David Guetta collect guest singers like Top Trump cards. Flo Rida it seems has appeared on roughly 1,300 songs in the last 12 months (you do wonder whether he's heard them all).

Collaborations are now so commonplace, it's easy to forget what it must be like for the singer.

You walk up to a studio door, swallow hard, and enter another musician's world. Presented with a song they've been working on for days, you've got to deliver the goods in a measly afternoon.

Lauren Mayberry knows the feeling only too well.

Last October, she was called away from her band Blue Sky Archives to sing on a couple of demos by her producer Iain Cook and his friend Martin Doherty.

"My fear initially was that I was going to go in there and it would be two guys who had written the stuff and they just wanted me to sing it," she recalls.

Chvrches At 25, singer Lauren Mayberry is the baby of the group. Martin Doherty is 30, while Iain Cook is 38

"But it wasn't like that at all, and that was definitely a relief."

In fact, the sessions went so well, they ditched the demos and formed a new band. It was christened Chvrches, using a Roman "v" so Google wouldn't confuse the group with actual churches.

"We were really fortunate that each of our strengths matched up to make this easy," Mayberry says.

Anonymous

All three members of Chvrches had played in bands before. Doherty toured the world with brooding noise terrorists The Twilight Sad, while Cook was a member of Aereogramme and supplemented his income by writing music for film and TV.

"Lots of adverts and a couple of children's TV series," he says, adding mysteriously: "The names will remain a secret."

When the trio began writing in earnest last winter, the songs came thick and fast.

"There was something really exciting about that time," says Doherty. "There was no attention on the band, no-one knew who we were. We were doing it all behind the scenes."

The Mother We Share, one of two singles that tickled the armpits of the internet last year, took just 48 hours to write and record from start to finish.

In lesser hands, it would be a catchy, but unremarkable, pop tune. Chvrches shove it face-first in the dirt, roughing up a pretty "woah-oh" chorus with corrugated synths and distorted samples.

Prince Prince is a big influence - but the band also cite Depeche Mode, Eliot Smith and Kate Bush as inspirations

"My vocals are kind of quite sweet," says Mayberry. "If the music was produced in a certain way, it could be horribly saccharine and awful.

"The fact we have that sweetness in the vocals means you can go a bit further - making it a bit darker, a bit dirtier."

Mayberry's vulnerable delivery is the band's secret weapon. Raw and untrained, her voice cuts through the clattering synths with an unexpected emotional resonance. And it's all delivered in her soft, Glaswegian accent.

"It's not put on, or anything," she protests.

In fact, she can't understand the fuss that's being made of her Scottish twang.

"I don't think singing in your accent should be a badge of honour," she says. "I also don't think it's something you have to bury so your band will be more acceptable on radio. That's twisted."

Mayberry mentions she recently started taking lessons in an effort to build up her vocal strength.

"I'm pretty sure if I had done that before, I wouldn't have the horrible vowel sounds that I do!"

Tour terror

By September, Chvrches' first two songs had earned them hundreds of eager converts online. Among them were US indie darlings Passion Pit, who invited the trio on their recent UK tour.

For a group who had only played nine shows in total, the first night - playing to a sold-out crowd at Dublin's Olympia - was a "terrifying experience".

"I certainly felt for Lauren," says Cook. "In all her previous projects, she has had something to hide behind. She played drums in a couple of bands and then she was behind a keyboard. Now she's the singer."

"She is good with a tambourine but you can't hide behind a tambourine," he laughs. "Although I suppose you can channel the spectre of Stevie Nicks..."

Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches performs at London's Electrowerkz club (photo courtesy of Abi Dainton) The band survived their first major gigs with "only a few" technical hiccups

"We're still finding our feet in terms of the live shows," concedes the eyelinered singer. But, aside from a few technical wobbles, "the response has been good".

The band celebrated the end of the tour with a smaller headline show in London's Electrowerkz - a venue so small that Mayberry "could see into the toilets from the stage".

She serenaded the sinks with a cover of Prince's I Would Die 4 U - a song which has rapidly become a staple of their live set.

"Prince is one musical touchstone that we all have," Cook says.

With the tour wrapped up, the band have retired to Glasgow to work on their debut album in Cook's basement studio.

"We have 18 songs in various states," says Cook. "We're going to try and finish all of this material by the end of January and then take February to come up with a couple more."

They keep office hours "wherever possible" ("it's good to have a regime," says Doherty). Someone has even set up a collaborative Google document for the band to suggest ideas for an album title.

At the moment, Cook says, "it's completely devoid of text".

Nonetheless, things are moving fast... Phones ring, emails demand attention, and people are hassling them for an EP.

It's already making the band nostalgic for the peace and quiet of last year.

"I sound ungrateful, and of course I'm not," says Cook. "But at the same time, it's harder to stay focussed."

Meanwhile, Chvrches have one non-believer left to convert.

"It's my mother," says Mayberry, who holds a law degree and a masters in journalism.

"She still cries herself to sleep that I didn't pursue a legal career!"

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    69.etiam si omnes ego non - "Are we meant to know who these people are?"


    Not necessarily no - but what a great opportunity to check out some new talents, as identified by various industry critics etc.

    You never know, you might like one or more of them!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    I think Lauren should grow a ginger beard. Uniformity on stage and all that.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 80.

    benbowlane@78

    "...and what are the BBC putting up for serious debate, noisy, unintelligable, untallented pop groups."


    A welcome diversion from the never-ending discussions about noisy, unintelligible, untalented politicians and their nefarious doings.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 79.

    Great music, but it's time the BBC did a feature on Gazelle Twin, because she really is the best of British musical talent, and definitely the true Sound of 2013!

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    I look forwards to this feature every year: the opportunity to hear music I otherwise might well not hear...

    ... and puzzle my 16-year-old singer daughter who is certain that she knows more about music than her mum does :)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    Have you ever used Google? If they used the traditional spelling they'd swamped by genuine 'Church' related pages and you'd never find them. Incidentally the best indie pop trio on the planet right now aren't Scottish they are infact the German 'Mikrofische' and they seem to have faced a similar dilemma. If you like Chvrches type 'Mikrofisch Mauro Farina' into Google, you wont be disappointed.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 75.

    Does anyone really believe they used a 'v' instead of a 'u' so they wouldn't get confused in search engines? Wouldn't you WANT to be spotted by as large an audience as possible? Going by their logic, Doves would be called 'Doues' and Elbow would be 'Eblow' or something. Just be honest about it, they used a 'v' to make it stand out and seem 'offbeat'. It comes across as pretentious in my opinion.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    Is it just me or is the best music I hear not on in prime time, the unsigned artists and the music played at night to me sounds better then anything in the top 40. Seems as the years pass (im only 28) the top 40 isn't worth a single public penny, it all seems like cheaply produced flush able pop, multicultural and x factor trash. The best music is never mentioned and you have to go and find it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    "duhhhh i've never heard of them!"

    seems like some people are confused about the concept of "the future"

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    @69
    No. That's the entire point. We don't know who they are now, but music insiders are tipping them as one to watch in the future. Have you not been on this site around the new year period for the past decade?

    Whilst you may think your attempt at sarcasm was clever, it really wasn't.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 69.

    Are we meant to know who these people are?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 68.

    Usually these sorts of bands seem to trigger some deep anger, not sure why. Perhaps this generation of music is finally driving me insane. But not tonight, I'm at home with a few friends and will simply be chilling out to the sound of fine ambient music. What more could I ask for?

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 66.

    I've not heard of them but will give them a listen (I am over 40 now, so not as 'in touch' as I used to be - that comment probably confirms it!). I'm all for lists like this, but why can't you put them on telly more?

    Just listened to 'We Sink' and it sounds ok, But it sounds like it could be on an advert for Scotland Holidays.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 65.

    please stop choosing our music for us to listen to , i regularly watch live bands that have more talent than anything we get forced to listen to by such as you and the x no talent crew.I feel sorry for the real talent out there that will never get the chance at success,unfortunately there around in the wrong era,an era of cheap fast food music with hand picked unoriginal singers.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 64.

    It's amazing, if you look at the taste makers who decided who these acts are, its mostly BBC employees! So they choose who they want to promote (using our licence money to do so - and in most cases it is privately educated people), and then by using their power with Radio and TV (i.e. putting these acts on their playlists) they generate successful artists, and then say "oh look how right we were"

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 63.

    Shergar@55

    I wasn't comparing Chvrches to Gary Numan in a like-for-like critical sense.
    Just that on first hearing, there were snippets of sound that 'leapt' out and reminded me of Gary Numan... that's all.
    A subliminal compliment to Gary Numan on my part, maybe?

    "Numan is a legend..."
    Have seen Numan perform many times... couldn't agree with you more.

 

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