Liverpool-based Electro Pop trio Stealing Sheep are known for their fresh, experimental approach, eclectic use of artistic influences and slick vocal blends. Following their two, more abstract records released during lockdown, the trio have been working hard on their next proper studio album which will see them turn back towards their infectious Pop sensibilities. A recent trip to Liverpool's Nan's House Studios confirmed their glorious return! So, we had a quick chat about their latest studio experience and what this could indicate about their new album...
Photos by Marieke Macklon
Q. What made you feel it was time to get back in the studio?
A. "During lockdown we released two albums, 'Fantastic Planet' which was a sci-fi soundtrack in collaboration with the Radiophonic Workshop, and the other was a concept album 'Wow Machine', which was designed to celebrate women in electronic music such as Delia Derbyshire. We had started craving a more straight up pop record after that and started writing our 4th studio album to follow up from Diamond Sun, Not Real & Big Wows".
Q. How did this recording process feel different to previous records?
A. "We made most of this new album in the studio at Nans House in the Invisible Wind Factory with our producer Joe Wills. Most tracks started with a loop or lyrical intention and we worked together to fully form the songs in the studio writing additional parts, lyrics and melodies together in a kind of jam style and then edited the relevant parts together to make what sound like pretty weirdo pop / dance tracks. It has been a really fun process but not without it's dark moments and a dash of creative confidence crisis. We've been working with Joe on Sheep stuff for years - since our first release! So he's like another member of the band in some senses, he's super creative and brings a lot to the process and keeps us on our toes".
Q. Did your current personal situations impact this recording experience ?
A. "Haha, I'm guessing you mean pregnancy! Yeah, it was a bit of a shock to discover that I got pregnant a few months into recording! We had just finished doing our Eurovision Welcome ceremony show so it definitely felt a little bit derailing at first but we have been really supported and worked together to make it work. I think in a strange way some of best work has happened during this time so it must also have had a good influence in many ways too. I don't want to pretend that it's easy to work while you're feeling nauseous and tired but it's certainly possible when you have an amazing team around you. We've been doing music together since 2011, so we've all learnt how to make time for real life stuff around music so that we have the right balance, something we're always learning and striving to achieve!".
Q. How have you developed both musically and as people since your first album?
A. "We were all really young when we did the first album so we're basically different people now! Musically, I'd say we're more skilled at the songwriting craft and at our instruments and production. The first album has a naive beauty and captures instinct in a way hat we could never recreate and there's a lot of value in that too. Now we're way more intentional and conscious of what we're trying to create, but essentially the same chase for a 'feeling' is still the aim of the game and we're all just learning how to get better at expressing ourselves through music.
Q. How did you find the environment of Nan's House to record in and do you feel the recording environment makes an impact on the sound?
A. "The concept of Nans came from Joe & Barney who run the studio...the whole place is thematically emdorosed by the 'Nan' muse. It's super cosy and you can sit by the electric fire and suck on a worthers original while writing your lyrics and sipping on a coffee with a broad selection of biscuits. Barney is a big synth collector so that was super appealing to us, although theres been several comical moments of us tracking crappy midi presets and preferring them over the super vintage analog gear- generally though, you can't beat having all these amazing options around you and it's very sonically rich and exciting".
Q. How can fans expect this new album to differ from your previous three?
A. "In general it feels darker and more bass driven - we've drawn more from dance music arrangements than typically song structures. Mr Oizo, Todd Terje, Basement Jax vibes..and then our signature three part vocals in the mix. It's designed for a big stage with dancers, orchestral and marching band arrangements and for festival crowds and ravers. So it's very high octane and stimulating".
Q. What was your favourite moment of these recent recording sessions?
A. "During the sessions we ended up performing the first three tracks we made live at the Eurovision Opening show, it's super unusual for us to have this kind of live experiment with the tracks midflow and it was extremely energising - it was kinda like someone giving you a mirror into the future of the tunes that showed a reality where all your dreams had come together and we caught a glimpse of what could be possible for the whole album anc the future of the band.
This was euphoric and has been a great chance for the rest of the writing to hinge around our live vision and the audience experience. Aside from that revelation, I think watching Emily record selephane whilst rapping through an old school telephone could also be my highlight".
Q. What was the hardest moment of these recent recording sessions?
A. "Letting go, relinquishing control, loosing pride, being cringe, Brixton hix, forgiving crappy ideas, loosening up and giving in to the spirit of Nan!".