Indie Electro-pop songster The Half Earth, was kind enough to have XSNoize’s Tom Day along for a chat before his EP Launch on 29th October. Read on to find out more about “Confidence is Bliss”, songwriting, kit and touring with Lucy Rose.
XSNoize: What can you tell us about the new EP? (Confidence is Bliss)
The Half Earth: It’s sort of like, a big change for me from the last one. On the last one I didn’t have any sort of over-riding idea of what I wanted to write about, it was stuff that I’d written over the last 2 years. It was like, well I’ve got these songs, we might as well stick them on an EP. With this [latest] one, knowing there was going to be an EP I could go about it in a more structured way. I just wanted to do something way more confident and way more loud and aggressive as the last one was sort of meandering, I wanted this one to be more direct and to the point. So I just listened to a lot of pop music and took some inspiration from that, fused it with what I had and then came up with “Confidence is Bliss”.
XSNoize: Where do you write? Is there a specific place that you feel most comfortable?
The Half Earth: Yeah, I only ever write in my room, I haven’t really done any writing anywhere else. It’s just because I use my laptop and I use synths and my interface to do it. I find it difficult to just sit down with a guitar and write, it just doesn’t work for me, I need to feel like I know where a song is going in a bigger sense like, you know, the guitar is just as important as the drums or anything else for me. So I can only really do it in my room as I don’t have a portable studio, [Laughs] I wish I did!
XSNoize: How do you approach each song? Do you have a set method?
The Half Earth: No, it’s always different, even though I use the same stuff over and over again, it’s always different every time I’m recording anything. I’ll just lay down a beat or get a sound I really like that’s not necessarily musical or tonal and turn that in to a drum beat and that generally inspires me to think, well it’d be cool if the song went here and then that kinda sounds like a chorus. It’s different every time where I start, but the one thing they have in common is I always start at the computer, but that’s so versatile it could mean a number of things like a sound or something a bit more digital, synth sound or something like that. It could be anything really.
XSNoize: Why did you chose St Pancras Old Church in particular for the EP launch?
The Half Earth: I actually got asked to do it, I wasn’t even aware of it as a venue before you know. I don’t live in London, I live in Sheffield so I’m still exploring London’s venues. I thought it sounded alright, I started looking it up on the internet and I was like, Oh My God it’s beautiful and an amazing venue and loads of great acts have played there so it was sort of like, more by chance but had I been asked to hand pick a venue it might well have been this one so it worked out really, really well.
XSNoize: How hard was it for you to get off the ground in Sheffield?
The Half Earth: So easy man, so easy in Sheffield. I did my degree there and every year that I’m there , everyone’s so friendly that while I’m there you sort of get to know people really well, really quickly and your social network expands sort of like, into everyone else’s so everyone knows everyone else, it’s a really cool space. The music scene works exactly the same way so I did my first gig for Sam who I now live with and does some tour managing for me. He used to put on shows in Sheffield at pubs. I played gigs where no-one’s listening and there’s like five people there. [Then] I got booked for Bungalows and Bears, a great venue in sheffield, as support for Vondelpark who are like, really cool and signed to R&S records so immediately it was a huge step, you’ve done a gig in a pub then you’re at one of the best venues in Sheffield supporting a band that you really like. Then it suddenly was like, you’ve done three shows already and it’s easy to get around and like get a voice. I imagine it’s a bit more difficult down here! [Laughs]
XSNoize: Apart from the PC, is there an instrument you particularly favour?
The Half Earth: Yeah, I got a really cool synth last Christmas, or was it my Birthday? I can’t remember! I got an MS20 which is like, a beautiful monosynth which gives out these sort of, guttural tones. The first time I got in the studio with Rich Cooper who recorded some of my stuff for me, he had one and I’d never seen one before. I was trying to get a bass sound on my laptop that I couldn’t quite reach and he said “I think what you’re trying to do is this” and he played this MS20 and I was like, that’s the one! I’m gonna have to get one of those and I did. I don’t think I’ll ever need to use anything else for my bass sound. Once you have the right instrument I don’t think you ever have to turn away from it, it’s sort of key as well as branching out!
XSNoize: How was it supporting Lucy Rose [earlier] this year?
The Half Earth: Yeah it was wicked. Lucy’s a really good mate of mine and she just asked me to do it and I was like, yeah that’ll be really good. It was by far the biggest tour I’ve done, I mean, I didn’t really build up to this but the longest tour I’d done before was like 4 days, which I suppose you can’t really call a tour, but she was like, do you want to do this tour? It’s 18 dates in 21 days, I thought that sounds difficult but great. I was great and we didn’t really have any money to do it so we were driving around in Ben’s [Keyboards] 1999 Renault Scenic which was falling to bits, we call her Bertha, God rest her soul, she’s gone now – the tour killed her off [Laughs]. We were just staying in peoples houses you know, one of us would be on the floor, others would be on sofas and it’d be a luxury if we stayed at a family friend’s house and we’d get a double bed! It was loads of fun.
XSNoize: I really like the EP artwork, did I read that it was by your sister?
The Half Earth: Yeah. So my sister’s ben doing a lot lately like, she designed a tee-shirt for CoppaFeel (which I’ve got on) which is the Rae Morris ‘boob’ tee-shirt for raising [breast cancer] awareness. She’s off to uni now for that so I thought I’d ask her to do that and I’m really pleased how that came out. She’s a really efficient worker as-well you know, I rang her up one night and was like “Heather can you do some artwork for my new EP, I need it kinda soon so I can send it off for print” and she rang me the next day and was like “I’ve done it! Come and pick it up” and I did and it was this amazing artwork so I copied it onto the computer and added some bits and bobs around it and that was it. I’ve just seen [physical copies of] the EP tonight so they look really cool!
XSNoize: So what’s next for The Half Earth?
The Half Earth: Yeah, we’ve got the launch tonight, then the SOAK tour [as support] then a couple more London shows coming up in December. Then the idea was that I’d do 3 EPs and they’re 3 songs each then that’s a nice sort of, album length thing you have at the end. So I’ll do another EP and explore a different sound then start thinking about an album. I’ve always wanted to do that, but I imagine it’ll just be me in my bedroom again plugging away so that’s cool.
XSNoize: Cool! Well, good luck!
The Half Earth: Thanks mate!
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The Half Earth’s Confidence is Bliss EP is available now via digital download.
Fave Album: Black Holes And Revelations – Muse