Behind the bustling cargo shipyard and cultural city of Southampton is the 60s psych-rock artist Darling Darling making inroads across the south of England. Already one year into his smoothly sardonic and enthusiastically empathetic project, mastermind Matt Bisgrove has released three singles including his latest ‘Strangers’.
It’s one of Bisgroves’ most mature pieces of work yet. The twinkling sounds, vocal layers and soaring atmospherics are stylistically embedded like you’re playing it on a vintage record player. Incorporating a lick of modern R&B from Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, ‘Strangers’ is a tasteful play on love, heartbreak, pity and pain all at once.
“The truth is I wanted to write a break-up song the way a love song sounds. No scratch that, I wanted to conduct a beautiful heartbroken crescendo,” comments Bisgrove. “One that elicits the true and unique feeling of falling out of love with someone; a kiss, a moment and a day at a time. It may not all happen at once, but it crumbles over time and the person next to you starts to become a stranger. Nothing prepares you to feel nothing, but it hits hard all the same.”
Darling Darling has always been an expressive project from the get-go as influences of 70s Hollywood and 50s French horror make you pause and wonder ‘how do these genres mash together?’ Well, by carefully planning every release and tinkering away with different melodies is key and in turn, the payoff can be incredibly rewarding on the stage as Bisgrove explains.
“I think the fact that with this project we get a full take on pure artistic expression. If it doesn’t feel right we don’t do it and that honestly is the easiest thing we have. Whether it be a line in a song, a colour scheme on a social media post, a snare sound, a live show and whatever else, everything we do is based on instinct and the inherent context we have within the project. Playing live is a wonderful thing too.
“The live version of the project is fun too as the visual element is ever-changing, but keeps to the same core idea. Watching people engage us and sing the songs back is an insanely unique feeling. One that I personally always treasure.”
From his early days as a kid Matt has always been interested in music, from banging on anything he could get his hands on to playing in bands as a teen, what he discovered was the beat is the key to a great song.
“Honestly I was going to say guitar, but that would be a flat out lie. It’s drums, easily,” says Bisgrove as he shares an insight into how he creates music. “Drums are just honestly the pillar of everything important in the best songs. The way you groove to the rhythm of something when it gets a hold of your spine is just *chefs kiss*.
“Even going back to playing Rockband with my friends, I’d pull rank on the fact that the game and drums were mine and play them all the time. When I’d play in bands even as a kid I’d be enamoured by drum grooves and how they facilitate the rest of the song to be a bit bloody good. We play close attention to the way every drum section sounds against the backdrop of our tracks. Brad (drummer, producer) does this intently and to aplomb too.”
This logic is essentially embedded into all of the great artists’ minds as they strive to create the next best sound. So what songs would Matt wish he wrote if they never existed?
“I think I definitely wish that I had written ‘Careless Whisper’ by George Michael, ‘Still D.R.E’ by Dr. Dre, ‘Fooled Around’ and ‘Fell in Love’ by Elvin Bishop or ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ by Tame Impala, but in terms of lyricism and lines I wish I had written a few different ones like ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’ by [David] Bowie, ‘The Adventure’ by Angels and ‘Airwaves’ and even ‘You Only Live Twice’ by Nancy Sinatra. All of these songs I’ve mentioned hold a special place in my heart whether it be through inspiration or just sheer adoration. Either way they’re something I aspire to create in many different ways. I’d love to wake up and be proud of something like that that I had created.”
Once Matt is in the creative brainstorming stage of writing music, it all comes down to letting his thoughts do the talking and write down everything that comes into his head. “It has to be natural” comments Matt as it might seem like stating the obvious, however you’ll know when the song is right. There’s that instant gut feeling when you know you’ve completed something truly wonderful.
“I can go months and months without a hint of inspiration which can be tough upon reflection, but I think again when it feels right it most likely is,” adds Bisgrove. “Even if something feels like an inch or a hair out of place, it needs to be left alone and something else needs to be explored. Saying that is far easier than actually committing to it though and the obvious habits of working on an idea until you’ve gone as far with it as you can see super important too.