Introducing our new band of the week: Nieves. Glasgow’s answer to the perfect Sunday roast.
Yes, that’s right. According to singer Brendan:
“Folk music can be more like a Sunday roast in that it can take a bit longer to get what you want, but when you get it right it’s magnificent.”
Following in the footsteps of bands like Admiral Fallow, Frightened Rabbit and Three Blind Wolves, Nieves are a new indie folk four-piece from Glasgow. And judging by their sell out King Tuts show earlier this year, before they had even released an album, it seems they could be destined for big things.
Nieves began life as the project of Brendan Dafters (vocals/guitar) and Herre de Leur (keys) when they started playing together in December 2013. They released their self-titled EP in November 2014, quickly cementing their local reputation as specialists in deeply emotive alt-folk music.
Taking their inspiration all the way from Mogwai to Tyler, the Creator, Nieves have since added two members to their ranks: Martin Murray (guitar) and Ross Forsyth (drums), with wonderful results.
Currently on the road in Scotland, we spoke to the band ahead of their forthcoming second EP MATRIARCH, which will be released on 2 October.
Hi Nieves! Can you describe your sound for anyone who hasn’t yet heard your music. Why should they listen?
Herre: “This is always a tricky one to answer. I guess piano driven alt-folk? I feel like the keys give us a wee edge and make us a bit different to the other bands in our genre.”
Which artists do you take your main influences from?
Ross: “My influences range from all of the best Scottish artists; Mogwai, Twilight Sad, Admiral Fallow and so on, all the way to some American hip hop artists. I wouldn’t say I’m a hip hop fan in that I don’t really sit and listen to album after album. But I love the way the drum beats are crafted in a lot of Tyler, The Creators songs, Chief Keef and the Glasgow trap guys like Hudson Mohawk. I think those influences probably make their way into Nieves songs, which is weird, but it seems to work.”
You began as a two piece (vocals/guitars and keyboard) and later added another guitar and some drums to your line up. Why did you decide to make this move?
Brendan: “We loved what we did as a two piece but we felt slightly stunted in the writing process. We had ideas that we couldn’t quite bring to life without the other instruments. It was fate as well because we were adamant that we wouldn’t just add members for the sake of it. Ross and Marty were the perfect fit and what should have been a tough decision was a no brainer.”
How would you say this move has this changed your sound as a band?
Herre: “It’s definitely changed our sound, but for the better we think. Everything just sounds bigger. Ross is really creative with his drum parts and Marty writes perfect parts for the songs – I couldn’t imagine Nieves without those boys now.”
How do you guys approach the song writing and recording process?
Marty: “We’re fortunate that the writing really flows for us. We’re always sending each other ideas and it’s all hands on deck working the songs into the finished article. We go into the studio with finished, well rehearsed tracks and lay them down. The truth is that bands without deals can’t afford the luxury of working on stuff in the studio- time is fucking money!
“We recorded at Chem19 which has put out so many seminal Scottish artists. Jamie who produced the EP has a ridiculous ear and he’s brutally honest with us, which is exactly what you want.”
What can we expect from the new EP?
Brendan: “You can expect to hear our first real steps as a four piece. It will be great to get it out because as proud as we are of the old EP, it just doesn’t represent who we are any more. We love a hook, so in essence there’s 4 very different pop songs on the record.”
The video for your new single Legs and Arms shows a half-dressed girl, wandering in the woods. What does it all mean?!
Brendan: “The video is basically about rebirth. The forest provides the perspective and shows how insignificant the human experience is in the grand scheme of things. And the girl is essentially picking up the pieces of her life and starting again.”
You’ve had a rollercoaster year. What is the most exciting thing to have happened so far?
Ross: “The online response generally has been amazing. We surpassed 160,000 plays on Soundcloud a while back and it continues to grow. As an unsigned it’s amazing to think that people in Bolivia are listening to your tunes!”
Your first headline Scottish tour is about to kick off. Are you looking forward to it?
Marty: “The whole thing will be amazing. We love playing shows and to do it back to back will be a lot of fun. The Friday night at the Loopallu fringe is the one I’m really excited about. We got a great slot and it should be a very crowded, very sweaty, very drunk room!”
Nieves played their first King Tuts headline show earlier this year – and sold it out. Being from Glasgow, how did it feel to sell out such a legendary venue, so early on in your career?
Brendan: “It was a pretty humbling experience to be honest. When I looked out at the crowd when we first went on it hit me like a sledgehammer, but a nice friendly sledgehammer! It was a shock to have sold out at such an early stage in our career, we were just wondering who these people were that bought all those tickets! We’re glad they did though…”
What’s your thoughts on the Glasgow music scene at the moment? Why do you think there’s less alternative folk acts like yourself, than say indie garage bands?
Brendan: “I think the nature of folk music is that sometimes people can write it off when they hear it’s ‘folk’, but I think it can be one of the most powerful genres when people see the depth of the lyrics intertwined with the music. I think these days, everything in our culture needs to be instant and handed to you in a nice microwaveable package. I think folk music can be more like a Sunday roast in that it can take a bit longer to get what you want, but when you get it right it’s magnificent.”
Apart from you guys, obviously, which Glasgow bands should we be listening to?
Marty: ” I was really impressed with Bloodlines, when we caught them at Belladrum. We have also played with Foreignfox, who are a really great live band to catch.”
Finally, what does the future hold for Nieves?
Herre: “We’re already writing again and getting excited about the next recording. We’re not going to rest on our laurels, you can expect plenty of shows and plenty of tunes. Also, if someone could please sign us so we can quit our day jobs that would be grand. Cheers!”
Nieves are currently touring with South Wales duo Into the Ark.
Catch them on the following dates:
MATRIARCH is released on 2 October.