English father/son duo Two Circles are set to release their sublime debut album The Underworld & You on August 31st via Unravelling Recordings, which is their first collaborative effort. Although Nick and Noah de Grunwald have worked on the same music projects together for years.
Nick and Noah spoke with The Fountain about working together on the album and the influence behind the album title.
TF: A new single release, how exciting, what can we expect?
The single’s called Lodestar, which is actually the first song we wrote together, many years ago in 2012 on holiday in France, while staring out at the lonely sight of a pitch-black country valley at night! It’s based around a minor-key fingerpicking guitar part that Noah had, an impressionistic Bon Iver-esque lyric that we painstakingly co-wrote, and some sparing ambient sonic embellishment from our co-producer, Tim Wills. The track has already been played on the radio several times, courtesy of the brilliant Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music – who most kindly described it as ‘Gorgeous!’ We’re also bringing out a lyric video to accompany the single release, with some simple visuals and scenery that will hopefully take the viewer to an appropriately desolate emotional place.
TF: And you have an LP out soon, are you going to be promoting that with a tour?
At the moment we’re playing one gig in Brighton on Friday August 24th, and there is a London date planned, but not confirmed. Radio 2 are discussing a live session in September.
TF: What can we look forward to with the LP?
It’s nine songs, a couple of which we’re releasing as singles, but it’s not a ‘singles’ album really: it’s meant to be a complete work, a satisfying musical journey that you can lose yourself in for a short-and-sweet thirty-three minutes. The songs take you through various places and moods – from an existential hymn about leaving behind youth set in a snow-covered London, to a joyful rocker about driving across America to find a lost love – but always with our father-son harmonies as the bedrock. The sound of the album has very flatteringly been compared to Low, Bill Callahan, and Simon & Garfunkel. We can’t wait for people to hear it in full!
TF: And did you find with being of two different generations that there were many clashes working together on this record, an eclectic array of influences?
We did squabble a bit while making the album, but it wasn’t necessarily generational or to do with influences, as our tastes in music overlap quite a lot! It was more to do with the nitty-gritty of production if anything: when recording, Nick lives and dies by feel, and likes things looser, while Noah is perhaps more of a perfectionist, who leans toward precision and doing things the same every time. So that did lead to a few disputes in terms of how certain parts were played or sung! In the end, though, we feel we reached a pretty good compromise making the album sound polished and beautiful, while still keeping a lot of humanity and vulnerability in there.
TF: What inspired the title, The Underworld & You?
It’s taken from a lyric in the song Sunshine Girl, which is about falling in love while still feeling weighed down by the past – the full line goes ‘I’m tearing in two / Between the underworld and you.’ We realised that that conflict, between the personal and something mythical and haunting, could apply to other songs on the album too – in many of the tracks, the thoughts of our narrators drift between the present and other times, other places: things lost and out of reach, that still obsess them. Besides, we just liked the look of the phrase when written out, especially with the ampersand!
The Underworld & You is out on 31st August 2018 via Unravelling Recordings.