Bastille are a band from South London, comprising of four members and melodies that swoop and soar interchangeably between them on stage. Yet this has not always been the case, as until fairly recently Bastille was merely a moniker for Dan Smith, himself a singer-songwriter who used to write these beautifully composed intricacies in his bedroom and perform alone. But Bastille has grown, and as well as expanding in terms of size, the rippling melodies and tunes that flow through all Bastille's songs show a renewed confidence and maturity, a change that has seen the band go from strength to strength this year alone.
From slots at Glastonbury, Isle Of Wight and Blissfield festivals to the recent release of their debut 7" this month, things are deservedly on the up for Bastille. Here founding member and vocalist Dan chats to Gigwise about how Bastille became a fully-fledged band, how the foursome began working with Young And Lost Club and how to avoid getting into trouble with YouTube…
What can you tell me about Bastille and your formation?
Dan: I’ve been writing songs for the last couple of years and then about halfway through last year I decided that I didn’t really want to be a singer-songwriter anymore, and that I wanted to be in a band. I wanted it to be more of a project. So I started Bastille and we put a few songs online and got together with some friends and started rehearsing the songs and it’s just grown from there. I guess with Bastille they’re my songs and I’ve written them, but then when I introduced them to a friend of mine they really came to life and it gradually became a band. Now there are four of us, and I really enjoy Bastille as a band.
So it was very much a natural progression from being a solo project to a full band?
Dan: Yeah, but I guess it’s also a bit of an odd one because there are songs that I’ve written that I produced in my bedroom then taken to someone else to make them sound a bit better, so it’s not as though we wrote all the songs together as a band, and they’ll just play them live. And that’s something that I very much enjoy now, it’s much nicer having other people there and having a joint ownership of the songs is really nice. Although hopefully in the long term we’ll end up spending a lot more time gigging than we will in the studio!
How did Glastonbury and Blissfield Festival go over the last few weeks?
Dan: Glastonbury was really amazing, we played quite a few of the smaller stages so I wasn’t expecting massive crowds or anything, but we were quite lucky and when we played at the Rabbit Hole stage the tent was really full and that was really surprising. There were all the things that come along with being at a festival, the sound not being amazing and not having a sound check, those are all issues, but they were all really fun shows and we tried to have as much fun with those as possible. The Strummerville gig that we did in the evening at Glastonbury was amazing, there were loads of people, and we were in fancy dress and they’d just lit the campfire and the atmosphere was amazing. We also played Blissfields a few weeks ago, just before Alex Clare, who was awesome. And then we played Isle Of Wight a couple of weeks ago and that was a wicked festival! It was pissing it down with rain so the tent was packed, and full of drunk, wet and depressed people, but for us it turned out to be an awesome show.
What can you tell me about your single that came out earlier this month?
Dan: It’s kind of a double A-side, one track is called ‘Flaws’ and one’s called ‘Icarus’. ‘Flaws’ is a little more electronic, and it’s one that I originally wrote in my bedroom and then it’s kind of grown from there. I made a video for it and put it online, and people seemed to quite like it, which was really nice, but it originally wasn’t a song that I’d ever considered using as a single. However loads of people seem to like it, so it has become one. ‘Icarus’ was probably more what I’d envisaged sound-wise, it’s quite rhythm-led, and it’s quite upbeat sounding without having an upbeat sentiment. It’s not dark, but I basically just wanted to make pop music that had some integrity and had some sort of brains behind it and therefore wasn’t just disposable.
And it’s been put out by Young And Lost Club, how did that collaboration come about?
Dan: That was actually our manager, which is really, really boring! But personally, having been in and around London musically for the last couple of years, I’ve been really aware of all their releases, like Everything Everything and Noah And The Whale, so when that was presented as an option I jumped on it straight away. I’m really into so much of the stuff that they’ve done, it’s so wicked to be associated with them.
You’ve made and edited all your videos, and used film footage from Terrence Malick's ‘Badlands’ in ‘Flaws’. Are you inspired by film? And are these homemade videos something that you’ll continue to create?
Dan: I’m definitely inspired by pop culture and films – I suppose that everything is inspired by the things around you and things that have happened to you. I like taking all of that and creating something from it. When I created the video for ‘Flaws’ it was the first sort of editing job that I’d ever done, so I did it just for fun. It was a happy accident that it actually worked out alright, and I was quite pleased with it. ‘Badlands’ – the film that I used the footage from – is such an amazing looking film anyway that it probably would have been quite hard to make it look bad! I’d love to continue doing that, although I think it’s pretty illegal using someone else’s films! YouTube have already been in touch and had words, so I’m not actually sure how much longer it will be up there for! I just really enjoy creating the more visual side of things, there’s something so cinematic about that film, I know that’s a really obvious thing to say, but having that associated with the songs is wicked and I’d love to continue doing that. With our song ‘Laura Palmer’, it’s quite a universal song, so I'd love to use film pieces that I love for that, and I’m sure that if I do make a video for ‘Laura Palmer’ I will probably horrifically rip off scenes and footage from ‘Twin Peaks’.
So just finally, what are your future plans for Bastille? Are there any plans to record a full-length anytime soon?
Dan: I am working on what will be the album at the moment. We’ve currently done about 11 tracks, and we’ll probably do a few more. So hopefully the album will be done by the end of the summer, and we’re looking at releasing it next year. We’ll be putting out another single in September or October, and just see how things go from there. That’s where Bastille are at the moment!
'Flaws/Icarus' is out now via Young And Lost Club.