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“In the past I had an anxiety to make everything as immediate and explosive as possible, which I think is cool but being fearless in what you do and having courage in your convictions is way cooler”, says emerging Brighton-based star Nancy.
The psych-pop talent is making an impact on the scene with his kaleidoscopic, Bowie-esque rock ’n’ roll that’s perfectly captured in new EP Happy Oddities.
Released via B3SCI Records, it’s a five-track journey recorded in lockdown that’s inspired by Devo, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, and, of course, Bowie himself, with songs ranging from the fuzzy foot stomping joy of Call Me on Your Telephone to the cascading, melodic melancholy of Orange Yellow Orange.
Art also plays a bit output with the Sunderland native, with the works of Rothko and Rauschenberg triggering a flow of creativity within Happy Oddities’ writing process.
Nancy’s unwavering knack at penning pop brilliance has earned praise from the likes of Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq and Iggy Pop, further reaffirming his profile as an artist you need firmly on your radar.
What’s next? There’s a double EP on the way called 7ft Tall Post Suicidal Feel Good Blues as he continues to write his debut album – English Leather – in the meantime.
Daily Star Online caught up with Nancy to find out more about his career so far, Happy Oddities, his vast array of influences, Brighton’s music scene, and what the future has in store.
Hi Nancy, how have you navigated these past few months in lockdown?
“It's been scary! I'm a DJ by trade so all that work has completely dried up for the foreseeable future. Luckily I had quite a lot of writing work to be getting on with.
“My label hit me up asking for a lockdown EP as soon as I possible could get one and so, Happy Oddities was born.”
You’re an enigmatic figure. How would you describe Nancy?
“Nancy is the name I’ve given myself, an alter-ego. It’s something that people used to shout at me back home in Sunderland (‘Nancy-boy’ etc), I guess for not adhering to their masculine norms or something, and I derive a lot of strength from reclaiming the word and attaching something positive to it.
“On the flip side, it’s also a nod to one of my biggest inspirations, Nancy Sinatra.”
You’re just about to release your new EP Happy Oddities – a kaleidoscopic journey of psychedelia and scuzzy rock ’n’ roll. What was its writing and recording process like?
“It was quite somber. Like I said it was a release written entirely in self isolation, for the self isolated. It has more melancholic moments than my previous releases.
“A lot more piano driven and reflective, of course songs like 'Call Me on Your Telephone' appeal to my more ludicrous side and I suppose represent the madcap stir crazy side of lockdown over but across the board I think this release is my most reflective yet.”
Was it inspired by anything or influenced by anyone?
“I was listening to a lot of Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed at the time. It's no secret that I was going for a Scary Monsters-esque thing on CMOYT – I don't shy away from things like that, I think a good song is a good song, I just let it come out.
“The other songs in the tracklist were more inspired by Sebastian Tellier, maybe a bit of Al Green and probably some Zombies.
"Trying to find inspiration for the EP I ripped all of the pages out of a modern art book I have and covered my walls with the pictures, it looked psychotic but it helped me feel things and gave me inspiration.
"So I was in my flat just staring at these modern art images, Rothko, Rauschenburg, Morellet, Arman. I know it sounds so pretentious but they really inspired me and they brought out feelings I hadn't expressed before.
“It was the inspo i need to create another body of work. In the past I was always anxious to make Nancy songs super explosive and as immediate as possible but as Frank Zappa said: 'Necessity is the mother of invention'.
"With that sentiment I threw caution to the wind. Now, I feel calm enough to just let it flow. Be at peace with whichever way my self expression comes out. I probably am pretentious, but I guess i jus' don' give a f*** anymore. That's Happy Oddities.”
What made you want to cast your own spell on the iconic Happy Days theme tune for the EP’s closing track?
“I think under the current circumstances a song like 'Happy Days' takes on a whole new meaning, and starts to sound really really sinister.
“Given that 2020 hasn't been the most forgiving year so far it seemed an essential inclusion to an EP attempting to soundtrack a global pandemic.”
Happy Oddities is a fitting name for the EP. How did you come up with it?
“It's a small nod to Space Oddities, I guess, I’m an immense Bowie fan and get so much inspiration from his albums that I thought it fitting to leave a breadcrumb trail back to him.”
Do you have a favourite track from the EP? The Bowie-tinged swagger of Call Me On Your Telephone is an obvious stand out.
“Yeah I think the world needs more Berlin-era Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads and just new wave in general. It's a magical starting point that I think more artists need to explore.
"It was so fun programming all the synth parts and just layering it with samples and claps and cowbell, filling every possible space, leaning into the weird. I had so much fun writing and recording it.”
On its release, you said you “feel calm enough to just let it flow” and “be at peace with whichever way my self expression comes out.” Would you say this mentality has helped you make your best material so far?
“I would like to think so. In the past I had an anxiety to make everything as immediate and explosive as possible, which I think is cool but, being fearless in what you do and, having courage in your convictions is way cooler. I think this way I can let the essence of who I am come through more. No filter.”
You’re a Brighton-based artist. How has the city moulded and developed your output? What’s the scene like there at the moment?
“Brighton has always been known to produce great music. It seems to be this place that weirdos and castaways flock to from all corners of the country to escape their home towns, there is an outsider mentality that I find is great for creativity.
“It's also full of working musicians. It wouldn't be out of the ordinary to be served by someone in a pub who's just come back from an arena tour, for example.”
What made you want to get into music? Did you have a favourite band/artist? Is there anyone impressing you right now?
“The first time my mam played me 'Life on Mars' by Bowie was a total game changer. That song spoke to me in such a powerful and direct way. I’ve never really looked back since.
“I am really obsessive about the history of music and was really studious as a guitarist when I was younger. I had the fortune of a good music teacher who would get me out of lessons at school to come practice in the music department.
"Right now I am living for Squid, and highly enjoying the new Chelsea Wolfe collab called 'Mrs P*ss' – which wins best band name of all time.”
What’s next for Nancy? What do the next 12 months ahead have in store for you?
" I have a double EP coming out really soon called '7ft Tall Post Suicidal Feel Good Blues' that was written way before Happy Oddities which I’m really excited to release.
"I am currently writing my debut album called 'English Leather' which will hopefully be out next year. Then once the touring circuit opens back up I’ll be causing chaos on tour no doubt.”
Nancy's Happy Oddities EP is out now via B3SCI Records
Follow Nancy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
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