2016 Artist Survey: James Chapman and Polly Scattergood of onDeadWaves | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2016 Artist Survey: James Chapman and Polly Scattergood of onDeadWaves

Chapman and Scattergood on Trump, Scary Movies, Friends, and the Zombie Apocalypse

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For Under the Radar‘s 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from James Chapman (who also records as Maps) and Polly Scattergood of onDeadWaves. Their self-titled debut album came out in 2016 via Mute.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016’s deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn’t have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.

Pick up or download Under the Radar’s Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat’s Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.

Top 10 Albums of 2016

1. Morgan Delt: Phase Zero
2. Angel Olsen: MY WOMAN
3. Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
4. Juliana Barwick: Will
5. William Tyler: Modern Country
6. Cavern of Anti-Matter: Void Beats/Invocation Trex
7. Bibio: A Mineral Love
8. Amanda Bergman: Docks
9. Goat: Requiem
10. Silver Apples: Clinging to a Dream

2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?

Yeah it’s been a pretty crazy one hasn’t it, but as a band it’s actually been a really good year for us, as it was the year we released our album and enjoyed taking it on the road and playing some crazy amazing shows. I think it was also a sad year as we lost a lot of really talented musicians and artists.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?

It is certainly interesting. 2016 has been a year which has turned everything on its head in a really depressing way. Strange times.

Let’s discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?

We believe in love, freedom, kindness, compassion, and equal rights. We have always made music that reflects that and also as a means of escape, both for ourselves and for our listeners. 2016 has needed that escapism more than ever. So we will continue to do our job.

What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?

None of them. They are on a reality TV shows for a reason!

If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

Um, world peace? No, we would just try to heal some of the divisions that are arising at the moment; we would have no room for hatred of any kind. Our presidency would be all about love and peace, man. We would also introduce compulsory sleep-ins when the sun isn’t shining!

What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?

It’s hard not to see a parallel between the two. There is obviously a lot of anger out there at the moment, but in our opinion anger is an ugly thing, and it can only be fixed with love, and it’s up to our generation to start that. In terms of Brexit, I don’t think anyone really completely knows what it’s going to all mean, least of all our government.

We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?

It’s obviously extremely sad. We are great admirers of all three of those artists. Our hearts have broken this year but their music will live on. David Bowie: Low. Leonard Cohen: Songs From a Room. Prince: 1999.

What do you think Prince and Bowie’s afterlife project sounds like?

Awesome!!! All the analogue synths that could fit in the sky. What a great thought.

Which Friends character are you most like?

James Chapman: Chandler.

Polly Scattergood: I’m definitely Phoebe. “The one where Phoebe gets a cold.”

What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how’d you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?

James: I saw Superman III when I was really young (not a horror movie I know), but there is a bit at the end where one of the lady villains gets turned into a robot. I was terrified. But, no, it doesn’t scare me now, if I keep the lights on.

Polly: I saw The Fly when I was about 10. My older cousin was babysitting me and my brother and we all stayed up to watch it. It did scare me for a substantial amount of time. I don’t watch horrors anymore; my mind is dark enough without adding to it!

Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?

Yeah, bring it on! We want self-driving jet packs!

Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.

We have a fan that literally travels across countries to watch us. It is very humbling to hear about it, and to meet him at the shows. It means a lot to us. We also had a fan that gave us a very sentimental book which he had spent a lot of time adding press cuttings that he had collected, that was pretty special. But also every time people come to our gigs or buy our merch from our store we feel so lucky. It’s the fans that keep us going.

Tell us about your first kiss.

We’ve never kissed each other.

Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?

Things have changed a great deal over those years. When we started out the Internet was just a word, and iPods didn’t exist. We have seen a huge change in how people consume music over the years. It is great that it is so easy to find new music now, but it is also a lot harder for new bands to make it because of the sheer amount of music out there. Things have certainly changed. It’ll be interesting to see how the next 15 years go. Hopefully they won’t invent automated robot-songwriters; otherwise we’ll be screwed!

What deli menu item could you buy with your 2016 Spotify earnings?

Depends what part of the world we are in! Do they still sell 1p sweets in delis or have they gone up with inflation?

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

The silent treatment.

Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Explain.

We would survive. The mornings after we have played a gig are generally a bit like a zombie apocalypse…especially if our drummer Matt Kelly is involved!

What rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle cliché is truest?

Everything in excess.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

Polly: I’d like my coffin to be in the shape of a rocket and as I make my final exit I’d like the coffin to fire some pyrotechnics and then fly off into the sky to Bowie’s “Starman.”

James: I think I’d like to go out to the theme tune from Happy Days.


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