Followers of BBC Introducing in Manchester will be well up on indie-pop duo Darcie, who were named one of NME’s 100 Essential Artists for 2018 and performed a fine acoustic session for the station last week. They’re one of four up-and-coming acts taking to the stage at this month’s Free Vibes and we had the pleasure of chatting to them about their fellow acts, the artists that inspired them to get the group started and their single currently turning heads.
You’ve just released a new video for you stunning single Litter. Can you tell us a little about how the track and visual came together – whether there’s a theme between the two pieces – and how it has felt to read the critical praise and play the track live so far?
‘Thank you! We wrote the track in a couple of days in late March, with our usual process of creating a basic loop and building from there, adding a bridge, extra vocal parts etc. As for the video, we wanted to make something low budget, simple and fun, reflecting our sound and writing process. We’ve always worn the boiler suits to play live as it helps us take ourselves less seriously (as they’re very unflattering) and have fun on stage, so we wanted to carry this through into the video. The response to Litter has been overwhelming – we never thought that in just 7 months we would have made this much progress with our music.’
You love, and draw influence from, a number of contemporary artists: Rex Orange County and Jorja Smith amongst them. Do you feel like this is a great time for independent and alternative pop?
‘Definitely. Rex is a huge inspiration to us both, and was probably the main reason we came together as a band. His D.I.Y. approach and growing success showed us it was possible to make it in this industry as an independent artist our age, while staying true to his own sound and vision. Now is definitely a good time for independent artists, as it is now so easy to create and then distribute your music, something invaluable to artists like ourselves.’
The National and Bon Iver are in the process of launching an artist-led streaming service called People, where artists can publish unfinished work and raw ideas as well as their official releases, in the hope of sparking new collaborations. Do you think ideas like this are steps in the right direction, considering how contemporary artists create and the world in which they do so?
‘Yes, this sounds sick! The more collaborations and raw demos the better. It would let you see different writing processes which could influence your own.’
What are the biggest challenges you face as independent artists today?
‘Retaining listeners. With so much new (and old) music instantly accessible, modern listeners have more choice than ever and retaining people’s interest can be hard. However, with platforms such as BBC Introducing, Spotify’s Fresh Finds, and venue showcases, we’ve been able to spread our music to as wide an audience as possible independently, which is the positive flip-side.’
Much of the material you’ve released so far has been self-recorded and produced, yet it sounds fantastic! If you were given a lump sum tomorrow and told ‘go and get some gear to make your home studio just how you’d like it’ what would you be splashing out on?
‘We’re quite happy with our setup as it is! It’s all very basic but it seems to work for us, and has now become part of our aesthetic/sound. We would probably upgrade our microphone. And get a new laptop. And a nice rug.’
New Luna, Floral Scene and Original Design are also on the bill for Free Vibes – are they artists you’ve met or heard before? Are you looking forward to playing alongside them?
‘We’ve seen Floral Scene at a couple of gigs around Manchester, but other than that no! However, we’ve listened to all their music online and are super excited to play with them, and are so glad that Free Vibes have brought and continue to bring together local, independent artists in Manchester. Thank you!’