I often use the term placenta when describing girls with their wet hair in the rain, sticking to their face like a gooey piece of kelp from the sea. If you were at Treasure Island Music Festival you would know exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. Right before Young Thug was about to perform – this forceful monsoon came. It was sideways rain. It was maybe sleet. It was windy as shit. But you know what? People were still vibing. Most had ponchos, some didn’t. Some looked like the dripping placenta and some were incredibly dry and you wondered how they were raised and what kind of guidelines they followed to be so prepared for the wetness. Now let me discuss drier times.
The tightest (and driest) part of the festival for myself personally was interviewing Glass Animals. Sure I’m a hip-hop writer – so it may have shocked everyone involved that I chose to chop it up with them. But Dave Bayley has been vocal about growing up listening to hip-hop, so I wasn’t completely out of my mind. So I made myself tequila on ice, pitched my creative direction for the Gooey Rework music video while they played me some Turkish Funk. While sitting down with Dave and Joe Seaward, we discussed hip-hop’s influence on other genres, the narrative of both their albums and how they use weird shit as instruments.
So I may be bias, but I swear I hear a hip-hop rhythm when I listen to the Glass Animals. So I asked the boys what they thought other genres could take from hip-hop, whether it be rhythm or lyrical. Dave gave me some personal insight on the matter.
“There are a couple things I think people can take from hip-hop. There is amazing rhythmic freedom in hip-hop and I think people are using their voices in really amazing ways around a beat. You can hear the way rhythms fall over a beat.”
Further, Dave describes specific artists that he thinks has mastered this rhythmic artistry.
"Kanye does an amazing job with that. Nate Dogg as well – he slides right behind the beat. There are these little amazing rhythmic beats that don’t really happen in other genres. A lot of the time it’s hyper quantized and stuck into a grid. I absolutely love that. They are always pushing boundaries in hip-hop."
Obviously Kanye and Nate Dogg are OGs in the game, no matter what genre you create music under. But we also discussed the progressiveness of new producers on the scene like Sango & Djemba Djemba. I even banged on the wall of their trailer trying to describing sounds in Sango's music. But the boys aren't shy to the progressive sound themselves. Dave responds the percussion of my pen on the wall saying he's done a similar thing.
"You know that’s practically how we made our record. I was mic’ed at all times so sometimes I would just pick up the nearest thing that would make noise for our production."
They also goes on to describe the narrative of both their albums and how judging a book (album) by it's cover is a very real thing.
"For Zaba we created a tropical feel to take you to another dimension – if you’re on the bus in the city or at work – Zaba acts as an escape. To help you get away for a little bit”
The storyline for How To Be A Human Being is quite the opposite. It's all very raw view on the characters of society – instead of taking the listener on an escape, it forces you to dive deeper into reality.
"How To Be A Human Being is meant to be all about People. Each song is a different story about a different character, which is shown on the album cover. We were meeting so many people on tour. We hear all these stories and recorded each and every one of them. So we listen back and we’ve picked up on how people tell stories – what they exaggerate & what they leave out which tells a lot about them as a person and their life and then what their life says about the world. It’s all layers. It’s a way to talk about what you think about the world but hide it behind people."
Plus, Dave is no stranger to that art of peeling back the layers of fascinating people. The British singer had originally been studying neurological science at Oxford before deciding to say fuck it and take the more creative route of pursuing music. He told me, "I really like trying to help people see the world through other people's lives." We even discussed how it's impossible to totally put yourself in someone else's shoes. No matter how many miles you walk in another's shoes – you can chose to take those shoes off at any moment. However, for one hot second, I put myself in their boots and decided to pitch my creative direction for a music video for the "Gooey Rework".
So I was like, "Yo, Glass Animals. I realize I’m a lunatic but you guys are just have to flow with me on this – follow my imagination. So, I imagine Chester tip toeing in the forest with some slow motion crazy shit but also some rewind and fast forward filters. After his intro, he then reaches these huge palm leaves which act as massive doors to a tropic warehouse in the middle of the jungle. He peers open the leaves as a gold light pierces him in the eye. As he expands the leaves further, he is welcomed by a warehouse stage in the middle of said jungle with you guys playing a live show for a bunch of golden, glowing avatars." They told me, "you should direct music videos" and I said, "tots in my next life".
But my video imagery is sort of exactly on point for their performance. The rain had stopped and the dedicated fans that were left standing, were likely soaked from the hours they encountered before. The Glass Animals took the stage like warriors – playing lil bit of old & a lil bit of new. But the huge difference in their performance? They thanked the crowd in the middle of their set for sticking through the weather conditions. Cause. That. Weather. Was. Whack. But also out of everyone's control. There is this sort of camaraderie that builds within the crowd. As if music wasn't like magic itself – the wizardry was contagious in the concert. The Glass Animals allured the alternative-indie-trip-hop fans into a mesmerizing madness as they danced along in the mud forgetting that they all looked like placentas after all.
Keep an ear out for Glass Animals rock-hop album coming soon! No just kidding, that's not coming soon. But I did try and force them into making that, so Dave & Joe – if you're reading – will you? will you make that album? Please & thank you!