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November 2019

Milk Disco: "Playing in Frank Ocean’s live band was pretty crazy"

Wonky pop straight out of South London.
Published: 10:58 am, February 15, 2018
Milk Disco: "Playing in Frank Ocean’s live band was pretty crazy"
South London band Milk Disco have worked with the likes of Rex Orange County and Frank Ocean, and are currently exploring their very own brand of wonky pop. Matt R (vox) Dan (guitar) Matt M (drums) Gianluca (synths) and Sacha (bass) introduce their band.

When did you first realise you wanted to make music, what did you grow up listening to?
Dan: When I was 7 I discovered the Blur video ‘Coffee and TV.’ I was obsessed with it, and would search the music channels for it. I adored the song, and the video is beautiful. Until then, I saw musicians as otherworldly. At the end of the ‘Coffee and TV’ video, it cuts to a shot of the band playing in a basement. They looked so normal; I thought, “Oh, I want to do that’. Six months later I started playing guitar. 

How did you meet, and who made the first move when it came to getting together?
Matt R:
The band started with just myself and Dan initially playing around with drum machines and bass loops. We were recording some demos and put them up on SoundCloud, we played a few shows as a two-piece and met each other at different shows through our close friends, it all came together really quickly.

How has your sound developed so far?
Matt M:
Before I joined the band, Matt R and Dan had been using a drum machine for a couple of months. The songs they’d written were great, but I think the lack of live drums and bass was slightly limiting, as it makes it hard for the songs to vary structurally and dynamically. When I first joined, I tried to mimic the drum machine, which was fine but I think the natural groove of the songs was missing. However, over the past year, I feel we’ve really developed the songs Matt and Dan started out with, and they fit in well with the newer material we’ve worked on as a band. With regards to how our sound has developed, I think we are moving away from the ‘indie’ sound and towards a more ‘dancey’ aesthetic. One of our newest tracks entitled ‘I Want to Feel Close to You’ takes a lot of influence from house and disco and is unlike anything we’ve written before. 

What do you most enjoy writing about lyrically?
Matt R:
Things that make me laugh. If I'm sat in a shit mood and being mardy, I'll catch myself out and write about the tragedy within it. Things like that. Letting my mind delve deeper and deeper into one thought and tearing apart until I find one clear message. It's usually personal stuff; sometimes it's far removed. Being playful with words is a ruthless joy and makes me feel like I'm doing something for the first time again.

How did you end up in South London? What’s the best thing about being based there?
None of us are actually from South London, funnily enough. Gianluca and Matt Merriman are from West London, our singer Matt is from Nottingham, Dan is from Surrey, and I'm from Australia. When we initially formed as a full band, our first few shows were supporting our friends' bands at venues such as The Montague Arms in Peckham and The Windmill in Brixton. We all love playing The Windmill especially, and really feel at home there, thanks in particular to Tim Perry, their resident promoter.

What’ve been your highlights from musician life so far?
Matt R:
Playing in part of Frank Ocean’s live band this year was pretty crazy. Dan and I played in Sweden and Helsinki as part of a guitar orchestra he was doing for the shows, he was incredible (obviously) and it was an amazing experience.
Gianluca: Producing Rex Orange County's 'bcos u will never b free'; being given the opportunity to work as a producer for Jade Bird in real studios for her demos in 2016; working with and playing guitar for Cosmo Pyke since we were 16 or whatever; being 'called up' by my boy Matt to come and make some noise with the rest of the Milky lads which has really helped me grow up and understand the music world/business and giving me a lot of practice and live experience.

What’s the absolute pinnacle of what you’d like to achieve with Milk Disco - stadium shows, Number 1s, not having to have a ‘proper’ job?
I’d like to be able to play on bills alongside musicians I really look up to, so I can learn from them and see them for free, haha! But I just want us to keep being able to keep getting these opportunities to play and record our music, that's what I care about.

What are you guys working on at the mo, do you have big plans for the year ahead? 
At the moment we are mainly focused on making our live shows as dynamic and exciting as possible, and continuing to write songs that we're really proud of. Continuing to push ourselves creatively to write the best music we can is what really drives us as a band, so that's always going to be at the top of our agenda. Next year we're planning on playing a lot of shows and hopefully releasing some more music. We also want to continue to put on our own shows and play with our friends’ bands, as we know a lot of very talented people who make fantastic music. 

Music aside, what do you all do for fun?
Matt M:
I’m still a student unlike the other old men in the band (excluding Gianluca), so that takes up most of my time. I say that, but I’m an art student, so it’s hardly like I’m writing an essay every day! When I’m not in uni, I tend to be lying in bed watching Alan Partridge with a pack of Aldi digestives and a cold glass of squash.

Recommend us some other new bands?
Matt M:
I used to spend hours on SoundCloud, looking up new bands in the NME Radar section but these days my search for new music is slacking. They’re not that new, but in terms of exciting bands, I’m really into Palm. They’re math-y and noisy but still manage to make really catchy pop songs. I also think their drummer is amazing. I’ve been listening to a lot more electronic music recently, and I’ve really gotten into disco/afro house. Orange Tree Edits always releases that dancefloor fire and each of the Tony Allen and Africa 70 Disco Afro re-edit Series have been amazing. I love the label Tasty Morsels who always manage to put out really interesting music. The album 'Advanced Myth' by Dialect is a personal favourite. Similarly, the newish label Warm Laundry have also been putting out some low-key bangers, so I’m looking forward to hearing what they’re going to release next.

Milk Disco’s new single ‘Weekender’ is out now. Taken from the February issue of Dork, out now.

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