Exclusive: Radio On Interview

Kaitlin Ruether, 5 years ago
Interviews , , ,

Radio On are a London-based electro-pop band with a flair for juxtaposing honest, sometimes solemn lyrics with impossible-not-to-dance-to melodies and beats. They’ve been featured as BBC Introducing’s Single Of The Week, and played at The Great Escape Festival 2015. Radio On has already achieved success with tracks, “Don’t Wait”, “You’re Always Right”, and “Lost In The Crowd”, and they haven’t even released their debut EP yet. Talk about hype. In the midst of this success, the band found the time to answer some questions for us here at New Sick Music.

You’ve been busy with the release of  “Lost In The Crowd”, which was celebrated with a headline show at The Barfly in London on October 16th. How was that experience for you?

James: It was our biggest headline show to date, a wonderful show packed full of our family, friends and favourite people. I like any opportunity to show off in front of Sam’s dad.   

Speaking of “Lost In The Crowd”, it’s the first single off your upcoming debut EP, Coast. Can you tell us anything about the EP, or would you rather keep it top secret?

Sam: Let’s keep you guessing on that one for now. 

The suspense is palpable! Now, the name. Not only is it a good instruction for people when your music is being aired, but you chose it in homage to a 1979 European art-house film by Chris Petit with the same title. What was it about the film that spoke to you as artists?

Sam: Radio On really spoke to us because of the emotional depth and artistic merit behind the film working within an easily accessible format (a road movie). We all thought this was an ideal combination for us to explore and aspire to with our music.

I think the narrative aspect to a lot of our songs comes from the face that it’s largely films that inspire us. Radio On was the gateway to a whole sub genre of European road movies that has been a huge influence since we began.

You recently met Chris Petit! How did you find yourself in that position, and what was the experience like for you, creatively?

Sam:  I had the opportunity to curate a day of European road movies for an artist collective our friend Haroun belongs to called ‘Anomalous Visuals’. We decided we wanted to show Radio On and thought that Chris might be interested in attending the event and speaking. It took a while but finally I managed to track him down through an online interview he’d given a few years ago and amazingly he replied and said yes!

He’s a really inspiring artist with such clear ideas and integrity, but also it was just thrilling to get to talk to the person behind a piece of work which has had such a huge impact on your life and find out how it was made. Creatively – it was very encouraging to find that we have a lot of similar interests and influences. It feels a little bit now like we have his blessing…I was so nervous that I didn’t tell him until the end of the night about the band, but he seemed happy about it. We’re still in touch anyway!  

There is great intelligence and a strong sense of narrative that goes into your lyrics. What is the writing process like?

Sam: Thank you very much! It’s so rewarding to have you say that! Generally speaking, Alex writes the music and then I come in with the top line. Then we bounce the song back and forth until we get to somewhere we’re happy. It can take months, it can take a few days. But usually we like to live with our songs for a while and not rush anything. There’s normally so many songs and ideas flying about that there’s always another song you can move on to anyway. 

Do you tend towards writing from personal experience, or from a place of universal truth — that is, exploring the “human condition”, as the phrase goes?

Sam: I have a rule that I want every song to have at least one line that has some real emotional depth and displays some understanding of your experience. I like to set scenes and indulge in some word play, but I think it’s important to try and explain something you’ve learned that might possibly be of use to someone so you’re not just being self indulgent…well…too self indulgent. I guess my answer is that I try to unpack my personal experiences in order to reach a universal truth. It’s hard to answer questions like this without sounding like you take yourself far too seriously! 


What music has been inspiring you lately?

Sam: Dev Hynes has always been a band favourite, we’re always right at the front whenever he comes to London, do say hello to us at his next one. I’ve recently been revisiting John Cale’s ‘Fear’ and ‘Paris 1919’ albums a lot too. 

James: ‘1989’ has been out just over a year now and its total flawlessness still keeps me awake at night – I’m particularly obsessed with the drum programming at the moment. I’ve also been reaping rich rewards from delving deeper into the earlier highlights of Robyn’s back catalogue.

Alex: ‘Dadada ism’ by Yapoos. Exceptional synths.

What was it about each other that drew you together? In what moment did you realize that you needed to start Radio On?

James: Sam, Alex and Adam were the only three people who treated my hilarious David Hockney impression with the reception I knew it deserved.

Sam: The trousers.

Alex: It’s difficult to pinpoint a proximate cause – but trousers were definitely involved.

2016 feels so far away for those of us waiting to hear Coast. What will you guys be up to in the time before the release?

We have some really exciting announcements about videos, very intimate shows and even acoustic activity to come very soon. Keep an eye on our Facebook page.


You heard them! Check out the band’s Facebook page, SoundCloud, and website to keep up with announcements, releases and more news.

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