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Delphic interview

Jayne Robinson finds hidden depths to Manchester's band of the moment

Published on April 20th 2010.


Delphic interview

Unless you’ve been living in an Icelandic volcano for the past six months or so, you’ll need no introduction to Delphic. The smart electro-indie trio – with man-bags in hand and shirts ever so neatly pressed – have spent the past year busily reclaiming Manchester’s musical image from the lager-swiggers of lad-rock, with a top ten debut album and a non-stop touring schedule that’s taken their fresh new brand of music around the world and back.

The flat opposite on our floor has just become vacant actually, so we'll maybe squeeze the other residents on our floor out and make it the Delphic floor…”

With their debut album Acolyte already spawning a string of hits including ‘Doubt’, ‘Halcyon’ and ‘Counterpoint’, the indie-rave trio, who describe their music as “electronic music with soul”, have successfully upturned the ‘Madchester’ stereotypes to present the rest of the country – and the world – with a very different face to Manchester’s musical identity.

Not that they’ve been able to entirely escape the inevitable ‘Madchester’ comparisons of course. Indeed, the concept of a band coming out of Manchester who don’t fall into either the Peter Hook or Shaun Ryder camp is perhaps a little too much for some of the world’s press to comprehend – resulting in a stream of New Order and Joy Division comparisons. After all, they are from Manchester, right?

Well, not exactly. “You know, we're all from separate parts of the UK, some from nearer to Manchester than others,” says Wiltshire born frontman James Cook. “But it’s really where we all came together, and where we all live now. Manchester has had a huge bearing on Delphic with regard to what we don't like, and it’s really that dissatisfaction that made us form the band”.

So what of the ‘Madchester’ comparisons? Are they ever helpful? “We're obviously overwhelmed by comparisons to such legendary bands” considers James carefully. “But we tend to steer clear of what the press say, and how they may pigeon hole us. That’s the great thing about Manchester - it’s a bubble where we feel we can work without interruption, and remove ourselves from anything that could have a negative effect”.

The trio – made up of Richard Boardman on synths, Matt Cocksedge on the guitar and James Cook on vocals and bass, famously share a flat in Manchester and are regular faces on the live music and clubbing scene.

Speaking of Manchester’s musical appeal James says “It’s interesting coming into Manchester as an outsider. Personally I grew up in a sleepy Southern town, but was always fascinated and drawn to Manchester by its music scene – it’s just one of those special cities in the world where for one reason or another people have always come together to do something creative and make a relevant scene. Manchester at the moment is very inspiring and exciting.”

So what aspects of Manchester’s music scene are getting Delphic excited at the moment?

“Well, bands such as Everything Everything, Egyptian Hip Hop, Hurts and even the very new bands like Wu Lyf are showing that there is much more to Manchester than the Hacienda and Madchester. And that’s only scratching the surface. Clubs such as Sankeys have established legendary status, and nights such as the Warehouse Project only further Manchester’s dance heritage.”

It’s clear that a really passion for the city presides, and when I ask James whether there’s any sort of pressure to leave the North behind for the bright lights of the capital he seems decisive.

“We couldn't move to London, it doesn't really suit us as people. But that’s not to say we wouldn't move out to the country or even to another city such as Paris, Berlin or Stockholm. Although, the flat opposite on our floor has just become vacant actually, so we'll maybe squeeze the other residents on our floor out and make it the Delphic floor…”

It’s that understated, unaffected confidence and belief in the power of their music that’s enabled the band to keep their personal lives out of the limelight and avoid the rock n’ roll reputations that accompany so many new bands.

Describing themselves in the past as introverted characters, they often prefer to spend time together on the tourbus than staying out partying. “I’d say that the most rock and roll thing we've done is to jump into shark infested waters in Australia at 5am after a heavy night out… but most of that would be a huge exaggeration,” James dryly says of their lack of offstage debauchery.

Ever possessive of their image and identity, the band resisted offers from huge labels and set up their own, called Chimeric. “We've seen so many bands crushed by pressure and pushed into doing things that they don't want to do - whether it be adverts, videos, or TV. Setting up Chimeric was vital to us retaining the vision that we set out for Delphic from the start. Fortunately we've got the best of both worlds. Through Chimeric we have the freedom to do what we want, but in the UK we licence our records through Universal and Polydor - where we benefit from their experience and ideas.”

With a keen interest in film and visuals – particularly the work of Russian filmmaker Tarkovsky, the Delphic experience seems to be about more than just the music. “You're right” enthuses James. “These are all important to the ideology we had when we started Delphic. They all work hand in hand, and all help to make a bigger sensory experience.” The band have even started making their own videos, and I asked James whether the whispers I’d heard about them venturing into acting were true. “Haha, not sure where the acting rumour has come from,” he says, “but I suppose you can’t rule anything out. We make all of the blog videos that are on our site, and enjoy this way of getting a message across differently. We may see a Delphic film in the next few years, that’s something that excites us.”

Back onto the music, and work is already well underway on the next album. I wondered if we could expect more of the same, or something completely different. “New songs and concepts are very much underway”, he says eagerly. “It’s one of the few things that keeps us going through a heavy touring schedule. There is definitely a new direction we're actively pursuing”

Sounds intriguing. But he clearly isn’t giving much away here. So I ask him if they feel under pressure to live up to the success of Acolyte. “Not at all” he says, smiling confidently. “We know that we have a lot of work to do, but we also have a confidence in what we are doing. We'll release new material, but only when we feel it’s ready.”

Catch Delphic when they play at The Ritz on May 21st. For more information visit their myspace page at myspace.com/Delphic

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AgricolaApril 20th 2010.

Class band. Clever band. Not the usual Oasis-esque apes from the city

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