Night Works Presents The Night Works Mixtape Volume 6 by Night Works on Mixcloud
Formerly of Your Twenties and Metronomy, Gabriel Stebbing’s latest project Night Works has been creating waves for the past few months. We get in on the hype and find out a bit of pretension never killed anyone.
EXPLAIN THE CHOICE OF SONGS ON YOUR MIX TO US.
I’ve just started the writing for the next Night Works album, a process that is often quite fraught until I get on a roll, so I’ve gone for a despair-to-redemption theme, bookended with a couple of my favourite tracks of 2012, and with a cut from the Tame Impala album, one of my favourites of the year, in the middle. You go from embarrassment (track 1), through (2) self-doubt, (3) realisation that you’ve gone too far, then into panic (4), then (5) paranoia. The redemption begins with surrender, of course (6), then there’s acceptance (7), love (8), and finally companionship (9). The Blur demo in the middle is sonically a bit of a curveball, but when I’m writing I really like listening to demos, out-takes and unfinished tracks. It reminds me that writing is a process and not just an end product.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU DRAWN TO – WHAT DO YOU PUT ON WHEN YOU GET HOME?
I like listening to music that’s outside of the arena that Night Works operates in. I need an ear break when I get home. I’m listening to this record by Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder – ‘Talking Timbuktu’ – from 1994 quite a lot at the moment. And jazz – Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson trio. None of this music is what you’d call ‘out there’. There’s things you can hang on to as a listener but it all seems to be about balance and form, and performance of course. People using their instruments expressively.
WHAT WAS THE LAST RECORD YOU BOUGHT?
The last album I bought was Risque by Chic. A good friend bought me Nile Rodger’s autobiography which sent me straight back to his music. He’s such a hero.
WHO’S IMPRESSING YOU IN THE CURRENT MUSIC SCENE?
Wow, I’d find it difficult to stand here and pontificate. I find getting on with things in my tiny corner tends to take up most of my attention. I think what’s impressive is the sheer volume of material that’s being produced in so many niche areas. The digital democratisation effect takes hold. Have laptop, make blog tune. In terms of what I actually enjoy listening to, hip hop and R’n'B are rewarding at the moment, as always. The Frank Ocean, ‘Channel Orange’ record is incredible.
WHY DID YOU SHROUD YOURSELF IN MYSTERY BEFORE ‘I TRIED SO HARD’ WAS RELEASED?
It was just a way of getting people to listen to the track without too many preconceptions. I guess having been in a couple of bands beforehand, even on a small scale, there’s a bit of baggage there. I was outed after about 48 hours, anyway. It was fun while it lasted.
SOME PEOPLE SAID THAT WAS PRETENTIOUS – DO YOU AGREE?
Guilty as charged, I’m sure. The whole business of making pop music, or whatever you want to call it, is inherently pretentious – it’s dressing-up-box fun, it’s make-believe. It doesn’t matter if you’re Bryan Ferry, Beyonce or Billy Bragg, everyone’s playing a role. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean anything, it’s the opposite in fact. The most earnest, heartbreaking, heart-on-sleeve singer-songwriter is still taking a position.
DO YOU THINK IT’S NECESSARY TO DO SOMETHING EXTRA TO STAND OUT IN THE MUSIC SCENE TODAY?
That’s as true now as ever. I think that in the end it all boils down to what your music sounds like and what your photos and videos look like, which is how it’s always been. Will there be a feature on great viral marketing campaigns of the 2010s in Mojo magazine in 2053? Actually probably yes.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOUR DEBUT LP?
It’s a record about losing your mind and your money. You can just take it at face value and dance to it, though. There’s a lot of melodies. I’m not trying to be too clever. There are quite a few straight up pop tunes on there.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT MUSIC AND THE INDUSTRY FROM YOUR PREVIOUS BANDS, METRONOMY AND YOUR TWENTIES?
Always take your wallet on stage.
WHAT DIRECTION DO YOU SEE YOUR CAREER GOING IN FOLLOWING THE RELEASE OF URBAN HEAT ISLAND?
To the toppermost of the poppermost, of course. Either that or the bargain bin. It’s that black and white.