Having formed officially in Brighton back in 2014, Our Girl have spent the last four years honing and perfecting their craft as a contemplative yet progressive entity of sound.
Made up of guitarist/vocalist Soph Nathan, bassist Josh Tyler and drummer Lauren Wilson, this has culminated with their debut album ‘Stranger Today’; a record that encapsulates their journey and arrives at a time that couldn’t be more perfect – “the songs were ready to be recorded,” Soph notes.
Spending just over twelve days in the studio, the band recruited the talents of producer/composer/general ‘guitar genius’ Bill Ryder-Jones as an honouree fourth member and his presence played an important part in the overall shaping of the album, his style and sound being noticeable on a number of tracks.
“I hadn’t anticipated that,” Soph ponders. “I was so used to it just being the three of us and knowing what we wanted, but he was perfect for it, and added so much.”
This is clear on songs such as ‘Josephine’, where an outro, originally intended to be relatively short, evolved into a three-minute soundscape, with Bill and the band layering guitars upon guitars to create an ending fitting of its construction.
Similarly, it was by exploring these avenues that Our Girl were able to apply the finishing touches to their unique style. Sleeping in the studio each night, the focus was always there and allowed the band to take an organic approach to the recording process, not to mention being able to maintain a constant ‘Our Girl Zone’.
“It was great as we could come in at any point in the day, like ‘really’ late and have that freedom – it made a big difference to the experience,” Soph adds. “It was so all-consuming; it tired me out in a way that was cool but intense – I’d never felt like that before.”
Taking off on a headline tour in October, the band are travelling around the UK to showcase the new album, with a few tracks - in particular, ‘Sub Rosa’ and ‘I Wish It Was Sunday’ - getting their first proper run out.
This is in contrast to others on the album with some dating back to the band’s formation in 2014. One of these is the song ‘Our Girl’ which, along with being the first thing they ever played together as a trio, has gone on to become an almost centrepiece to the band, opening not only the album but also a number of their shows.
Moreover, following its relatively recent release as an ‘official’ single, it has acquired a whole new range of fans.
“It’s great,” says Lauren. “When we released some of the older tracks like ‘Our Girl’, a whole new group of people heard it and now when we play it at gigs, people are singing along so passionately. That sort of gives it a new lease of life cause you look out at the crowd and realise just how much they’re enjoying it; that automatically transfers to the stage.”
“Lauren’s right,” Soph continues. “Even if we’re putting a song out there that may be old for us, it’s new for those people, and you get a different reaction each time – it may be a cliché, but no two shows feel the same.”
A feeling of togetherness spreads throughout the stories they recall, whether it’s simply deciding on a name for the band and album, all the way to getting stuck in a snowstorm on tour (“We thought we were going to die in Bradford!”). Although Josh and Soph both have commitments in other bands (Breathe Panel and The Big Moon respectively), it is clear that it hasn’t affected the group’s relationship.
“They’re very different in my mind,” Soph says in reference to The Big Moon. “It just feels like a whole separate thing. I never really think much about how fast things have happened in the other band [e.g. the Mercury Prize nomination]; it’s always just been about moving forward, doing what we feel is right for us.”
Nevertheless, Our Girl still make an effort to support each other in their various side projects, embracing the creativity they acquire in their different roles.
“I think Josh’s band are actually going to play some shows with us on our tour if they can,” Lauren enthuses. “He’ll be doing a double whammy!”
As for a Big Moon, Our Girl, Breathe Panel joint tour, we may have to wait a bit longer. “Maybe one day,” Josh teases.
For the time being though, Our Girl have more important things to focus on, one being the ‘slightly’ important deal of releasing their debut album out into the world.
“It’s funny as although it’s what you might expect, people do start asking you about it as soon as it’s announced,” says Soph. “They refer to it by name, and you’re like ‘oh that sounds weird’, that’s our album!”
In typical Our Girl fashion, the three of them actually held a listening party for the record with the event being a strictly invite-only occasion limited exclusively to, erm, individuals lucky enough to be in Our Girl.
“We drank some prosecco, ate some snacks – it was a nice evening,” Lauren says.
“I had been very nervous to listen to it to be honest,” adds Soph. “I think I had lost my mind a bit with the mixers and hadn’t heard any of the tracks properly through good speakers since that whole period – but it felt great. It was like we were listening to an actual record rather than getting that feeling you have in the studio of overthinking a mix – we were just enjoying it.”
“I’m really proud of it,” continues Lauren. “I guess debut albums are always going to be special, since it’s the first time we’ve ever done this whole process altogether as a three, but I think it’s a really cool snapshot of where we are at the moment.”
Soph agrees: “I’m so happy we’re at the point we are now, I just feel like, ‘Yeah c’mon, I’m ready!’”
This is an attitude that is shared throughout the band and as ‘Stranger Today’ begins to find itself in the hands of a whole new wave of fans, it won’t be long before the name ‘Our Girl’ is one that’s most commonly associated with their music and not with the TV show of the same name…
“We often find ourselves trending on Twitter when ‘we’re’ actually not,” Soph jokes. “The problem is that we’re not that Googleable; hopefully when the record comes out, we’ll move a bit higher up the search results.”
Whether or not Our Girl make the crossover to the world of TV is yet to be seen, however like many other bands releasing their debut album, talk of new music is hard to avoid - not that it phases them.
“We’ve always done stuff quite organically,” Lauren agrees. “It’s a big part of how we are as a band. Obviously, with a second album, people might be expecting a bit more from us, but I don’t think we’d ever be pressured into doing something that we weren’t completely happy with ourselves. It may not sound wildly different, but then again anything could happen – we might decide to go all jazz-synth.”
As the band imagine what this would be like, the conversation moves on to the endless possibilities of merchandise with the ideas not merely being limited to a jazz-synth inspired tour.
“I’ve been brainstorming actually,” says Soph. “Some of them may be pushing it a little far, but I’d quite like to do something a bit different, maybe like little matchboxes.”
Lauren lights up at the idea [Lol - Ed]. “Matches are handy as well – I need some at the moment!”
Soph laughs: “We’ll have to make some just for you then.”
It’s clear by this stage that a wave of inspiration has completely consumed Our Girl.
“We could have yoga mats with our faces on them!” Lauren muses.
“Or we could have our whole bodies so when you roll it out, it’s us lying, doing the different poses,” Soph adds. “We should start a crowdfunding thing.”
“Yeah, let’s do it,” Lauren says excitedly. “Who knows, there might be a whole market out there we don’t know about.”
While this may be a rather niche audience for them to aim for, there is with no doubt a ready-made market for Our Girl themselves, and it is one that is growing bigger every day.
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Order a copy below. Our Girl’s debut album ‘Stranger Today’ is out 17th August.
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