Egyptian Blue on “A Living Commodity” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Egyptian Blue on “A Living Commodity”

The hotly tipped outfit's long-awaited debut album finally came out last month

Nov 20, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Meet Egyptian Blue, the Brighton-based outfit who’ve been tipped for greatness ever since debut EP Collateral landed in 2019. Initially formed around the middle of the decade in their hometown of Colchester by core members Andy Buss, Leith Ambrose and Luke Phelps. It wasn’t long before Egyptian Blue became one of the most coveted new bands in the UK, culminating in tour support slots with Idles and Foals. Unfortunately, as with many artists, the Covid-19 pandemic halted their progress somewhat which eventually turned out to be a blessing. As Egyptian Blue went back to the drawing board, moving away from the customary post-punk stylings that initially got them noticed and instead, drawing on a host of other ideas and inspirations.

The results can be heard on A Living Commodity, their long-awaited debut album which finally came out last month (October) on former Maccabee Felix White’s YALA! label. Having just completed an extensive headline tour of the UK, Egyptian Blue hit the road again at the end of this month for six shows in France.

In the meantime, Under the Radar sat down with singer, guitarist and co-songwriter Andy Buss to talk about the album, touring, and future plans for Egyptian Blue.

Dom Gourlay (Under The Radar): When did A Living Commodity start coming together?

Andy Buss: The writing process happened quite a long time ago. The record deal was already in place before Covid so we had the core base of the songs that we wanted to be on the record quite early on. It evolved over time and we were able to develop our craft a little bit so it’s taken on many different forms ever since. I think there’s been around thirty songs in total that were written for the record. I have distant memories of me picking eleven songs and thinking this is the record, and none of them have ended up on the album! It’s been a long process, more about developing ourselves and developing the songs then working out what’s going to be right for an album.

That’s really interesting, especially as some of your earliest compositions “Nylon Wire” and “Contain It” made it onto the album. Was that re-recorded for A Living Commodity?

It was, mainly because a lot of the songs on those EPs (Collateral and Body Of Itch) were written then recorded straight after. I don’t think a song is fully developed until you start touring with it, and it changed a lot between then and now. We’d always intended for a song like “Nylon Wire” to be on the album, but not the version that was on that EP three years ago. We actually built the album around it. For me, the new recordings are so much better. They sound more human.

What was the turning point, discovery or inspiration that proved to be the catalyst in that happening?

It probably sounds quite cliched but I’d say the pandemic. All of our struggles became real and they lived inside our homes at that point. When I write, I focus very closely on emotions that I’m feeling in my life and the pandemic had a really big effect on that. It matured the sound and the lyrics. I was thinking about things more carefully and had more time to think. So, I’d say that was a turning point. There were a few songs that were a trigger into that as well. When “Geisha” was written, it felt like a trigger into a newer sound. We hadn’t been looking to seek out a new sound, it just came naturally.

There’s so many bands who’ve said similar things about their experiences during the pandemic, and I think you can hear it in their music. Almost as if it gave you an opportunity to reflect, hone your songwriting then take it into different places.

Oh, absolutely.

You’ve been together for the best part of a decade and developed your sound organically over time. Do you think having that long-standing camaraderie from playing together all this time has been instrumental in that happening?

Although we have technically been together for that long, it doesn’t really feel like that. We’ve had line-up changes and moved cities a couple of times. We’ve been in different scenes and written different kinds of music as well but done it all under the same name. So, I don’t know? It’s an interesting one. We haven’t always worked in the same way. We’re working very differently now to how we have done previously.

You’ve previously toured with and supported Foals, Idles and The Murder Capital among others. Did you learn and take anything from those experiences which you’ve since put into practice with Egyptian Blue?

100%. The first tour we ever did was with The Murder Capital. Up to that point we’d only played shows in Brighton and London. So, it gave us an insight into how the touring situation is operated, particularly when it comes to funding. Obviously we learned something from that, and whenever we’ve been on tour supporting someone you get to see just how professional and well organised everything is. You take a lot away from that. The biggest one was when we went on tour with Foals. It’s a different realm, that kind of operation. They were very supportive of us. They actually said they saw themselves in us from their early days, so they gave us lots of advice on how to tour and do things properly, which was all very helpful.

We’ve already talked about the re-recorded versions of some of your earlier songs on the new album, but if you had the benefit of hindsight with anything else that’s happened since the band started, is there something you’d change or do differently?

I’d change some bar chords on another of our older songs, “Four Is The Last Four”. I often wish they’d ring out a little bit more, so I’d change the time slightly. But that’s the only thing I’d change apart from the songs we’ve already done. I know it sounds quite menial.

But I guess it’s actually quite important as that song could have taken on a whole new direction if the time changes were different?

That’s true, even for something so trivial as a time change.

You’re signed to Felix White’s label YALA! Have they been supportive throughout the time you’ve been working with them?

They have. There’s always an element of pressure with things like sales targets whenever you release a record. But I feel pretty comfortable and confident in being able to hit everything within specific timeframes or whatever it is the label ask of us. They’ve been really supportive. They’re amazing to work with and have a great team behind them, helping us in every aspect of the music industry. Because it’s so business driven and I’m not entirely adept at it.

You’ve been based in Brighton for a while now. Is the local scene quite competitive between bands?

It certainly used to be when we were a bit younger. We’re good friends with DITZ, and when we first moved here we’d be looking at what they’d achieved so constantly wanting to up our game to do the same. It’s quite nice to have that healthy, competitive thing going on with your friends. But these days, I don’t really bother with that kind of thing. I’m solely focused on what we’re doing.

Are there any other new artists you’d recommend for Under the Radar and its readers to check out?

There’s a band called Document from Manchester. They’re really amazing. There’s also our friends Alphabet from London. They’re really, really great. Those are the two that immediately come to mind.

What advice would you give to a new band just starting out?

Try and rehearse as regularly as you can. Try and rehearse nearly every day because it makes such a difference. Put the effort in and you will see the rewards come to you. I remember a long time ago when we were only practising once a week and it wasn’t being taken very seriously. I went to see King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and it was the tightest thing I’d ever seen. I was just stunned by it. I said to the boys afterwards we have to practise every day from now on. So, that’s what I’d advise any band to do from the beginning, and also make sure you have a good team around you.

Egyptian Blue play the following dates in France later this month/early next…

November 28th - La Boule Noir, Paris

November 29th - La Rodia, Besancon

November 30th - , L’Astrolabe, Orleans

December 1st - Rock School Barbey, Bordeaux

December 2nd - Le Temps Machine, Tours

December 3rd - L’Aeronef, Lille


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