Dreaming of times long gone when we took going for a pint down the pub, hugging our friends and family, and the rush hour tube ride for granted? So are North London duo Canteen, comprised of Chris and Dave, who recently released another chill tune, Yesterday. Take a listen…
Yesterday is lofi, and that’s where the charm lies. The band themselves, who are self-confessed bedroom musicians, have said the song came along by “complete accident”. With a simple but engaging hook – “yesterday I felt okay, yesterday is gone away” – it’s easy on the ear and delivering on the relatability front! Open to interpretation, one half of the band said they see the song as talking about how ones mood can change without warning from one day to the next, something I’m sure everyone can relate to – especially in these anxiety-ridden, surreal times.
We got chatting to the North-London lads about their latest single, their dreams, their lives, and got some chill tunes to listen to…
Hi neighbours! Good to have some N8 locals popping by for a chat! How are you finding this weird isolation situation?
Dave : Yes definitely crazy times! Certainly missing going to gigs with friends and seeing family! We are spending more time on our music at the moment which is one positive thing I guess. We have also had many a zoom chat over a drink, going through some new song ideas which we’re very excited about.
Zoom seems to be a life-saver right now! We’ve been having a listen to your latest release Yesterday – where’d the song come from? (origin/meaning etc)
Dave: We’re glad you’ve checked that song out. Chris wrote the music for this song and I instantly connected with it. For me it’s about how one’s mood and outlook can change in the course of a day, and not always knowing the reason why. It went through a good few stages to get it to where it is. We both use ableton, so we are easily able to send it back and forth, adding any new ideas. The lyrics and melody may feel downbeat but we liked the contrast to the music which leaves it feeling more of a positive and hopeful song (I hope).
Chris: Like pretty much everything I do, it came about by complete accident. I was showing a friend how to use Garageband to record ideas and I layered up a couple of random synth parts. After I added a bass part it started to feel a bit like a song, so I kept on chipping away at it and sent it to Dave to see if he also thought it sounded a bit like a song.
Well, what a happy accident! I must admit, the lo-fi sound is where the charm lies, love it! How does the bedroom recording process work for you guys?
Dave: We’ve spent a lot of time searching for the right plugins and drum sounds to get that final sound you hear in songs like Yesterday. I use an SM57 to record all my vocals, which was meant to be temporary but I ended up liking the sound so kept using it. I’ve since learnt there are a few artists that record with this mic. Chris is responsible for the lo-fi guitar and bass sounds, so over to you Chris…
Chris: Bedroom recording is great. You can record a guitar part out of time a thousand times, but you only need to get it (roughly) in time once and you can just about get away with it. Lionel Richie once said ‘I’m not always on time, but I’m always in time.’ I’m the exact opposite of Lionel. I’m never late for a rehearsal, but I will ruin it when I play.
Well, we can’t all be Lionel! So you started releasing music in 2018 – when/how did the band form?
Dave: We started with a group of us going to a rehearsal studio in Homerton to play a few covers. It was good fun but Chris and I both love to create our own music. We started messing around with an Arcade Fire song then we drifted into writing our own first song together. It was meant to be a bit of fun but we both have become obsessed with writing new music. Every song we do we feel like we learn something new. We are definitely starting to find our sound now which feels great. We also have about 40 song ideas to go through as we struggle to finish ideas!!
Chris: For me, the band formed after I had a curry at Dave’s flat. I recorded a few really derivative guitar parts (probably out of time) and a few days later Dave sent me a finished song. That’s when the band started in my head, even if Dave didn’t realise we were in a band at that point.
Tricked into a band ‘ey Dave? And you can never have too many songs or ideas, so keep going! Some love this question, others would rather the answer remain a mystery… but I’ll ask anyway! Where did the name Canteen come from?
Dave: I thought that question might come up! Do you know what, I’m struggling to remember exactly how. I think one of us saw a sign at work and we were doing our usual 500 texts a day about the band and the name came up.
Chris: Dave text me and said ‘How about Canteen?’. I think he said he’d just walked by a canteen. We’re both very creative like that.
Inspired! I know gigs and festivals are off the cards for quite a while, but what’s next for you guys? More singles, maybe an EP or album?
Dave: We haven’t actually performed any shows yet and we had a rehearsal room booked just before the lock down happened. We would love to get the songs into a live set when we can but in the meantime we have a lot of material to finish off and are putting all our energy into that. Definitely releasing another single in May and aim to have an album by the end of the year.
Brilliant stuff, we can’t wait to hear more. When you’re not creating “bangers and smash (hits)” (stole that from your Spotify bio, couldn’t resist the pun!) what do you guys do?
Dave: I program lights in new offices in the city. I have a pottery studio in my shed, so that’s another way I unwind from the boring day job.
Chris: Mainly texting Dave about Canteen. Or listening to Canteen.
3 dreams and 3 answers. 1. Dream festival? 2. Dream collab? 3. Dream venue?
- For me it’s Best Kept Secret. I went for two years running and absolutely loved it! I have never been to Glastonbury, as I think it seems too big, but I obviously would love to play there one day!
- That’s a tough one..Maybe Wolf Alice for me would be great, or Sharon Van Etten.
- I’ve always enjoyed gigs at Brixton Academy and the Roundhouse Camden. So I would say those two. Although playing a small set in Rough Trade East would be great too.
- The Cure, Belle & Sebastian, Bon Iver or The National – any of those, I’m not picky
- Ally Pally or the Roundhouse
We were also hoping you’d help keep our readers inspired and listening to some great music! Would you both give us a couple of songs you love and tell us why you’ve chosen them?
- Singularity, John Hopkins: “When I saw him play live it completely blew my mind! John Hopkins’ music has always inspired me to write music although I’ve never been able to work out how he creates such incredible drum beats that sound disjointed and distorted but smooth at the same time.”
- Seventeen, Sharon Van Etten: “I love the way this song builds and the meaning behind it. Her voice seems to hold so much emotion. I have been listening to Sharon Van Etten a lot lately and she is another artist that really inspires me at the moment.”
- Bad Feeling, Muzz: “A new one I stumbled across the other day and loved it! (sorry you only asked for 2 but couldn’t resist).”
Chris: Seventeen would be one of mine too, so here are a couple of others…
- Today, The Smashing Pumpkins: “I love the lo-fi sound. And the lead guitar part is so simple even I can play it.”
- Pleasure, Baxter Dury: “It just goes to show that you don’t need to throw loads of complicated guitar solos or jazzy drum fills to make a great song.”
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us! I’m sure once we’re all released from captivity we’ll see you at Crouch End Studios… or down The Harringay Arms for a pint *cries*. Take care!
Dave: We will definitely pop in to say hi and go for a long awaited pint! God I miss those days! Thanks for questions and for having us.
Chris: Cheers. Thanks for the support. See you soon. x
Find Canteen on Spotify here, and follow the guys below: