Sincere Deceivers – Autumnal Dreams EP (Review & Interview)

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I recently had a lovely blast from the past pop into my inbox. Sincere Deceivers‘ Matt and I go way back to the days of my old music blog, and he reached out to share not only the exciting news that the boys have released a new EP, but also that they have undergone a bit of an expansion! I was super excited to hear from an old pal, and to review their absolutely stunning EP.

Now I have always been a Sincere Deceivers fan, their debut EP ‘Once More Unto’, was a beautifully put together set of tracks with soft guitar undertones that complimented Matt’s raw, folky vocals. It was the perfect starter for Matt and Tim; a solid representation of the sound they sought to create, but with a sense of vulnerability through deep, honest lyrics. ‘Miss the Days’ is still one of my favourite tracks to this day, I still listen to it often.

Autumnal Dreams though…this EP is absolute dream to listen to. It’s a beautiful 3-tracker that more than anything, demonstrates the evolution of Sincere Deceivers. Its mature, its wise, its mellow and it’s  full bodied across the board,  from Matt’s organically strong vocals and the soft harmonies, to the production and quality of the EP. It’s a sign of growth and development. ‘For Himself’ hits a nerve, undoubtedly the most powerful and intense track of the EP, with three-part layered vocals towards the end of the song. But each track brings a different story to the mini-record, making it an all-rounded stunner. I think the permanent arrival of cellist and vocalist Dom was such a clever move. If there ever was a missing element, Dom was it. Autumnal Dreams feels like it’s the product of Sincere Deceivers really finding their feet in terms of the sound they want to produce, and the band they want to be. I’m so incredibly proud and excited, and just can’t wait to hear more. It’s an EP for all seasons, and for anyone who appreciates great sounds and musicianship.

I had a chat with Matt, here’s what he had to say! Why not have a listen to the gorgeous EP while you read?

 

Well hello, this is somewhat of a reunion! How are we doing chaps? I believe the last time we had the pleasure of chatting was on my old music blog. How have you been?

Hello! We’ve been well thanks. Everything and nothing has changed. Yes, we missed your initial migration to Meander, but we’re happy to be reunited. We hope you liked our new musical offering.

As am I, super happy. You seem to have been quite busy over the last year…when we last spoke, Sincere Deceivers were a duo, and now, you have a new band member! How did the come about? Did you both feel as though you were ready to evolve your sound by adding an extra set of vocals and a cello?

Yeah. Matt and Tim had been playing together in London for a couple of years already. Dom and Matt are friends from Uni and Dom was roped in to add some cello to a couple of tracks on our last EP, Once More Unto. We’d also got him involved on vocals when we gathered everybody in the room round one mic to put some harmonies on Arches.   He’s good musician and it also was great fun having him play with us, and so we managed to put in a few shows together, initially with him on vocals. We’d hired a cello for him to use during the recording, so once he’d dug his out of his parent’s loft, we got him involved on both. Over time we worked on arrangements for all of the existing tracks and then finally we started working together on new material, at which point his addition felt permanent. There’s no turning back now for Dom….  We’ve always been open to the idea of expanding, but it just ended up happening very naturally on this occasion.

Huge congrats on the launch of your lovely new EP ‘Autmnal Dreams’. How was it to launch it at such a beautiful, intimate venue (St Pancras Old Church)? Was it well received?

Awesome. It’s such a stunning space, both visually and the acoustics. We were a little nervous, because we’d been working on the tracks and artwork since the end of 2014 and it all came together quite quickly in May/June, with us deciding to launch in July. We looked at a few venues and when we found out St Pancras was available, we just went for it. It worked out really well though and to pretty much fill it out was amazing. We had awesome support from Izzie Yardley and Richard Maule – two great singer-songwriters that we’ve bumped into on our travels.  It was a special evening, probably our favourite show so far.

Where did the title of the EP come from? It sounds like it’s an ‘all-season’ friendly mini record to me!

Of course! Great all year round. It’s taken from the opening track on the EP, Autumnal Dreams, which is actually a kind of part 2. The original revolved around only two chords, which feature again in the chorus. The original Autumnal Dreams was one of the first songs Matt and Tim wrote together; a song about potential and the possibilities that lay ahead. This part 2 is a bit of revisit. Older, wiser, more accomplished? We’re not sure.

How do you feel ‘Autumnal Dreams’ really differs to your earlier music? 

The sound has kept changing, but not always consciously. Tim swapped his acoustic guitar for an electric during the writing for the previous EP, which added a bit more space and texture. The addition of Dom on cello and vocals has allowed us to add another layer and write with it in mind.

What were the creative processes behind the making of the EP? Was it fun to make?

It was fun in the main! At the outset we weren’t exactly sure how many tracks would be on the EP and we had thought about adding a live version of one or two older ones. We recorded at Butcher Row Studios with Leaf Troup, initially with some sessions in late 2014 to work on Autumnal Dreams and Don’t Mistake Me. In the New Year, we spoke with an artist, Anna Connor, who created the EP artwork, which we love. We were trying to decide what else to put on the EP, when we wrote ‘For Himself’ in January. It just felt right for it to sit with the other two, so we headed back into the studio in March. We’d done a first mix of Autumnal Dreams and Don’t Mistake Me in January with Bruce McLaren, who has done all the mixing on both our EPs, but when we came to mix For Himself it seemed to change the whole feel and we ended up remixing both the others!

Who writes the lyrics? And where does inspiration stem from?

Matt writes the lyrics mostly, but sometimes arrives with half-finished lyrics, or we’ll discuss the stories and themes that we’re trying to roll into a song. Tim and Dom are mainly on quality control! Inspiration comes in many forms, but we usually take snippets of the world around us and blow them up, magnify or dramatise them. If we run out of external influence, we can always turn to our own flawed attempts at being humans…

Would you say that your folk driven sound is a reflection of where you’re from, the rolling hills of Yorkshire?

It might be an accident! We’ve moved a little further away from that over time, though the melodies still incorporate a lot of the kind of inflections you might find in folk music. Nature and places obviously have a strong home in traditional folk music, which have always snuck into our writing.  Tim and Matt have listened to a lot of music with folk influence and it does have a local tradition with contemporary folk singers like Kate Rusby, so maybe.

One thing I’ve always loved about Sincere Deceivers is your ability to tell stories through your music – do you fit the music around the stories you tell and use it more as a soundtrack to that story, or do you work the other way around?

Tricky to pinpoint, but it happens both ways!  We’re always listing potential new subjects for writing, or unattached couplets might spring to mind and get scribbled down. Occasionally a specific event happens, which naturally lends itself to writing. Those songs are normally the fastest to get finished.  Sometimes we’ll just be working around some new chord progression that Matt or Tim has arrived at, which brings a certain mood with it, and then lyrics and melodies get added later. The cello parts are now on our minds early on in the process too.  There’s often a lot of toing and froing in there before songs get finished.

As we know you’ve had a hugely busy year – what do you guys do when you’re not gigging, writing or recording?

Day jobs! Dom’s a medicine student. Tim got married this summer! Matt quite likes playing cricket.

Oh congrats Tim!! For those who aren’t so familiar with your music, describe what people can expect from ‘Autumnal Dream’s in three words. 

“A decent effort”.

Way too modest, come on now. What’s coming up next for you? An album? A UK tour?

All of these things would be great. Getting the EP out and about. We’d like to head further afield than London and we’re discussing a potential new video. Dom gets back from two months away in late September, so we’re busy plotting ahead of his return.

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