We talked to The Duke Spirit guitarist Toby Butler about his intriguing dark wave project called IYEARA. They have collaborated with Mark Lanegan on a remix of his entire album Somebody’s Knocking – retitled Another Knock At The Door. Lifted from the album this is Playing Nero….You are welcome!
Hi IYEARA how are you?
Doing alright thanks. Locked down in Somerset where I live, which I’ve been massively thankful for
Your new single ’Playing Nero’ is a remix of the Mark Lanegan original, how did that come about?
I’ve known Mark a long time. My other band, The Duke Spirit, did one of our first tours opening for him way back in 2004. He’s sung on a few TDS songs over the years. Last year, when he released Somebody’s Knocking, I was talking to him about my new band, and how we were doing lots of remixes, and he said he’d always loved the idea of someone remixing the whole of one of his albums. I loved the idea too, so we did it. As Mark is so prolific he’s put another album and a book out in the time between.
How does the creative process work when remixing other artists?
Once we have the parts to the song, we’ll usually isolate the vocal, sometimes find something in one of the instruments that interest us to loop or mess with, then start to build a new track under it. As it’s a remix you’re almost encouraged to not follow traditional structures. It’s about taking the Vocal on a journey and exploring the feel lurking beneath.
Does the current climate, both musically and politically, impact upon what and how you create art?
With remixing, those things don’t impact us much, other than remixes have almost been regulated to Social media ‘content,’ now, which is sad. The fact that Mark wanted to release this album properly is testament to how cool he is. With our own music, it’s almost impossible to not be affected by the political situation in the world right now. Climate change, and the ridiculous situation we are in with regards to prime ministers and presidents does massively inform lyrics…. as it should.
You all come from different backgrounds and bands, how was IYEARA first conceived?
Malcolm and I have collaborated a lot over the past few years. He’s co-written a few Duke Spirit songs with me, and co-wrote a couple of songs on the last Liela Moss album I produced. We’d been looking for a project to do together and when he suggested he get his friend Paul (O’Keeffe) in to sing on some ideas we had knocking around, the band was kind of born. We were doing remixes for people right from the start, so that really told us which direction we were going in.
How has the music industry changed since you began performing?
The first Duke Spirit EP came out in 2003. I don’t even think MySpace had started then. You found out about new music on the radio and magazines. Music felt mysterious, and otherworldly. Bands were almost untouchable. I miss that. Now we have access to everything instantly. Being able to access any music you desire when you want is amazing. Bands can create their own worlds and find their own audiences. That’s pretty wicked. Obviously things are changing again now. How live music is going to find its way out of this mess is worrying. I’m sure it will though.
You generally create quite a dark sound, stylistically where do yo think your music fits in today?
It fits in the cracks and the spaces between. We’re working on a full album right now which is hopefully exploring more places than just being dark, although there’s always something more alluring about sounds in the shadows.
If you were stranded on a desert island which three albums would you choose to have with you?
This changes all the time, and could be any 3 of hundreds! I’d wanna keep it upbeat: All Things Must Pass – George Harrison, London Calling – The Clash, Let’s Dance – David Bowie.
With live performances on hold for the moment, do you have any plans to record sessions or play any online style festivals?
The visual side of the band is important to us. So far we’ve made some pretty great looking videos to the tracks we’ve released, which are essentially short films. So, yeah, once we’ve finished our album we’ll be looking to do some interesting live things online. Watch this space, not MySpace.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
To finish our record. Plus we have a bunch more exciting remixes of some great artists coming out.