The elusive musician, Night Works, aka Gabriel Stebbing (formerly of Metronomy), is finally coming out of his shell. Night Works popped up out of the blue earlier this year with teaser track ‘I Tried So Hard’ - a mellow yet sorrowful piano melody engulfed in an entrancing bass line.
Stebbing is finally set to debut his live show at the Sebright Arms later this month, and unleash his second single ‘Modern European’ soon after. So, to get you in the mood he’s put together an exclusive mix.
Dazed Digital: When you first released your debut single ‘I Tried So Hard’ there was a shroud of mystery around your real identity. Was that a way to separate yourself from previous musical ventures as part of Metronomy/Your Twenties? Why did you decide to end that?
Night Works: I wanted people to take ‘I Tried So Hard’ purely on face value. Does it appeal to the ear? You know, to just slow down and listen for a few minutes. Having been in a couple of bands previously I didn't want listeners to bring any assumptions or expectations to this music, at least for the first few plays. And it was kind of fun. Smoke and mirrors! The ruse only lasted for about 45 minutes anyway.
DD: Okay, so what’s…
…Influenced your sound and how would you sum it up?
Some days, I think I was quite consciously trying to recreate how certain points of certain songs by certain artists make me feel - the strings in ‘Raspberry Beret’, the first horn entry in ‘Gaucho’ - not the instruments themselves, but the moments. Hairs on the back of the neck standing up - Stendhal syndrome. Other days, I think that years spent listening to Capital Radio as a small child in the 80s just percolated through in a completely subliminal way. To sum it up, I wanted to make music for the last dance. Literally for the last dance ever.
…The new single ‘Modern European’ all about and when is it dropping?
Modern European is about euphoria, the kind of skin-prickly rush and optimism I feel when I'm on foreign soil. It’s specifically about meeting a lover in another city, specifically Paris. It's about feeling excited on behalf of someone else, too. Joseph Mount, my old friend and Metronomy colleague, who produced several tracks on the Night Works album, was at the forefront of my mind when I wrote it. He'd recently moved to Paris. Living vicariously through others is a great inspiration for me, plus it saves on the air fare. It's the most straightforwardly up, pop song on the album.
…The best way to describe your forthcoming album?
It's about people losing their money and losing their minds, set to an infectious rhumba. Bopping through the downturn!
…It take to be a ‘songwriting don’?
Ha, I wouldn't know! Ask Burt Bacharach/Neil Young/Cathy Dennis. I am not fit to even carry the luggage of any true songwriters. I'm just starting out. If I ever wrote a song that had even half a verse, which was a quarter as good as one line of 'I Say A Little Prayer', I'll retire a happy man.
…Your dream music collaboration and why?
That's easy! I want to work with Nile Rodgers. Even just sit in while he's in the studio, make tea and listen. If we could actually work on a song, that would be unbelievable. I think he's the most spectacular, inspirational genius.
…Your favourite song lyric and why?
'I'm porous with travel fever/But you know I'm so glad to be on my own…'
- Joni Mitchell, ‘Hejira’ (from the album of the same name)
That song, that whole album is just so moving. Everything from the lyrics, the playing, the production - it's like you can't separate anything out, it's so effortless and haunting. I think that's my desert island album.
…Your worst fashion secret?
Too many to mention! It'd be easy to rip the piss out of my 13-year-old self. It was such a traumatic, awkward age - the Ninja Turtle knitted sweaters, NHS glasses, stonewashed jeans, but then that's just picking on a small boy. And in any case, that's how most people in E8 dress now. I’m always a trailblazer!
…Currently on rotation on your iPod?
I'm listening to a mix a friend has sent, which has loads of stuff I feel I've missed out on a bit recently like Mount Kimbie, Flying Lotus and Joy Orbison - space and bass. I really like the new How To Dress Well track, great finger snaps. John Talabot remixes. There is so much good music around at the moment, and I'm playing catch up. If left to my own devices I tend to just listen to Joni Mitchell.
…The top three on your shitlist?
Tories in power. Lib Dems 'in power'. Boris.