Ahead of the release of his new EP this Saturday we caught up with Aberdeen-based singer, songwriter and producer Between City Lights.
Since emerging in 2019 the solo artist has released five tracks melding together his passion for inventive production and intimate songwriting often anchored around his gigantic hooks.
We talk what he wanted to be when he was little, differing influences and the emotion his music is most rooted in amongst more!
What did you want to be when you were little?
That’s pretty difficult to answer to be honest, I was never really sure. All I know is I spent a hell of a lot of time with those Lego blocks and Kinect knockoffs to know that I wanted to do something creative.
Do you recall the songwriter you resonated with most growing up? Can you see influence from them in the music you create today and if so how?
When I was younger I was into the old heavy rock, you know; like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, but when I grew out of that phase I moved into more classic rock like The Doors and such; however I feel like the music i listened to those days have no influence in what I produce – I feel it’s more about what I listen to now and what’s happening now. I don’t listen to much music; but if I was to narrow it down, it would be LCD Soundsystem and Fredrik – they have both heavily influenced how I look and both produce music.
What do you feel are the main advantages of being a sole writer?
I have complete control. Don’t get me wrong, I could be horrendously wrong, but I love being in control of all aspects of the mix – how wide it sounds, how dynamic it is and how loud it is. The other point is how perfect I want everything to sound – I know a lot of music these days is pitch perfect and radio ready; my music isn’t, and it isn’t by a long shot and that’s by design. I spend a lot of my time working on my music however it’s always been for something that’s made me rush it – and I can’t wait for the day where it’s perfect and it’s ready; with my own timescale and my preferences.
How much of where you take inspiration from is conscious and how much is subconscious?
That’s impossible to answer, how am I to know what’s subconscious or not? Joking aside, music is one of those funny subjects where all subjective matter is subconscious and all objective matter – to the listener -is up for interpretation. From where I take inspiration is hard to talk about, my main inspirations are of course LCD Soundsystem to as far as Tame Impala; but I feel the main themes I resonate with would be losing someone or trying to be content with what you have.
Do you feel the influences you have for production and songwriting are quite different?
Yes, completely, for songwriting you are more thinking about how this will impact the listener. You want to make the biggest impact you possibly can with just lyrics and chord changes – creating the environment and atmosphere in which you deliver them from. With influences such as Tame Impala – although obvious – their meanings are hidden within the songwriting which means the listener will have to really dig deep into the musical content – whereas the job I take on as a producer is to make sure that this song sounds as good as possible, possibly using certain effects to emphasise lyrics or just creating an atmosphere best suited to the song.
How big an influence do you feel pop has on your music?
Its impacted me a lot, I’m not going for a pop vibe; you know with the software synthesisers based melodies and such, I’m focusing on what to me sounds like real music, something that doesn’t stray too far from its organic components – something sounds far from its counterparts, but something that still resonates with its short structure and delivery.
How important is structure to the music you make?
This can be different for different songs of course; for short pop songs that have a simple meaning; it’s pretty easy just to convey that message in the chorus and continue the story in the verses; however in lesser pop songs; it’s important to convey the message in the verses, and use the chorus to emphasise the points I’m trying to make. So it changes from song to song, if I want to make a pretty serious point, the music would be focused on choruses but if I wanted to tell a story, the verses would be longer and the choruses shorter.
What would you say is the main driver for change in the evolution of your music?
Influences. I don’t care what anyone says, but if you have a boring pop song and then switch to a banger; then your mood instantly changes. So too with music writing, you can spend forever writing on something that inspired you as a kid, but latter on you have to move on. I’m not someone that listens to a large library of music, in fact it’s very restricted, but I listened a small range of music that is vastly different from each another – ranging from 80’s pop to modern music. What I would say is the main driver in the change in my music would be my personal experiences in life. Different experiences make you feel different emotions, and these different emotions have different sounds – and that’s really what makes my music evolve into different sound.
What emotion do you feel your music is most rooted in and why?
I don’t know. Some of it’s sad and some of it is actually happy – but sounds sad, like I said it’s up to interpretation, where I see sadness, some others may find joy.
What’s been the most positive musical experience you’ve had to date and why?
The most positive experience for me would be Shadows reaching 1000 listens. I know for a lot of people that may mean nothing, but for something that I’ve built up from the ground myself, learned all the techniques of producing and just putting myself out there, it’s something I’m extremely proud of. I can’t thank everyone enough for listening because it means so much.