GIITTV Introduces WAP WAP WOW
Wap Wap Wow are our first 'Introducing The Band' picks, beating off competition from over 20 other submissions made by GIITTV staff...they have the floor for July, starting with this interview with our scribe Tiffany Daniels.
Rose Dagul formed the Peckham based band Wap Wap Wow after a "week of solitary isolation in a cottage in Angelsey" last year. Composed of a staggering nine members, including Rose, violinists Benji Jeffery and Penny Klein, vocalists Chloe Bonfield, Ed Parkinson and Laura Vent, drummer Duncan Thornley, ukelelian James Carwright and cellist Kate Burn, their music is incredibly concise and their motivations razor sharp; they're here to play good music, in whatever capacity and using whatever instrument they can. Not bad for a project that started out as a mock-nineties dance group and went on to contribute to Rose's art degree.
In this introductory interview, the frontwoman and cellist Rose talks to God Is in the TV's Tiffany Daniels about Wap Wap Wow's formation, their recording style, life in a choir and their plans for the near future. Everything you need to know to initiate our love for one of 2010's best new finds!
How did you all meet and get into music?
It all happened pretty organically really. I first started seriously writing music around April last year after a bit of a freak out and week of solitary isolation in a cottage in Anglesey. I wanted to perform the songs I'd written so I asked my friends if they fancied meeting up and helping me make these songs a live experience. James is one of my oldest and closest friends from school and I met Laura and Ed through James. I met Duncan and Kate at separate parties in Peckham, Penny at a private view, worked with Chloe and got to know Benji in New York. We'd all spoken separately of how we'd like to make some music: I think Ed, Laura and Laura's sister Sophie had an idea about making a Peckham-based choir; and Penny, Kate, Benji and I were thinking about becoming a string quartet to make a bit of money. It was just a matter of bringing all of that together. We all met up and rehearsed in an empty gallery in Peckham with no real plan of being a band as such, it just kind of happened. I was actually using it as a project for my art degree! It's kind of amazing really; it all seemed to click into place. A friend of mine asked us to do a gig in December and we did it. It was kind of terrible - we were a bag of nerves and it showed - but we did it. And then we got more offers and more gigs and before we knew it we were actually in demand as a proper band.
Why did you choose the name 'Wap Wap Wow'?
When I was eighteen my friend Katie and I made really bad mock-nineties dance music under that name. I'm not exactly sure where it came from - I think we thought it sounded like the kind of name a mock-nineties dance act should have. When I wrote all the new stuff, I put in our old Myspace under that name with the intention of changing it when I came up with something more appropriate. It stuck because we all ended up loving the name. It's onomatopoeic and fun and people keep getting it wrong! We've been called all sorts: Wat Wat Wow, Wap Wap Wowow, Wapwap (no wow) and my personal favourite, Wap Wap War, which carries completely different connotations with it.
What has inspired you to veer towards a cappella and less instrumentation?
I couldn't really imagine it being performed any other way. The majority of the music currently on our MySpace is stuff that I recorded before we formed the band and I guess I just stuck to what I knew: singing and playing the 'cello. Before forming the band as it is now, Duncan, Chloe and I, along with Duncan's flatmate Jack (who's an amazing guitarist), had a bit of an attempt at performing the songs using lots of pedals, a guitar, bass and drums. It just didn't work. So I had a bit of epiphany and realised that all I needed was a choir, some string players and a drummer. There's such a huge amount you can do with…that. The human voice is such an extraordinary instrument as it is. It's really exciting because there's still so much we can experiment and explore sonically with this line-up.
Who do you consider your peers? Who do you frequently play alongside and whom do you respect as fellow musicians?
Ah! There are so many musicians I respect! Our friend Martin, who plays under the name of The Train Chronicles, is a lovely songwriter. Beaty Heart, another Peckham based band, are a trio making tribal, Animal Collective-esque sounds. Really brilliant to see live. We played a gig recently with Sam Sally, who is a master of the loop pedal and has a beautiful voice. I love her songs. Chad Valley, which is Hugo Manuel from Jonquil's solo project, is another one. His stuff's very exciting. Hugo actually co-produced a couple of tracks of mine with Yannis Philippakis of Foals back in February. They're still not finished! Although a very rough version of 'The Round' is up on our MySpace.
Who do you consider your seniors? Whose footsteps are you following?
I'm a massive fan of Tune-Yards. She's amazing and lovely. Similarly Julianna Barwick, whom I met in New York last summer, is a brilliant musician. I'm a huge fan of female singers using loop pedals, clearly. I admire women who can use their voices in such a raw way. Another band, who are untouchably good, are Dirty Projectors. The Getty Address is one of my favourite albums. It's a prime example of orchestral instruments being used in… can I call it pop music? However you'd classify them, they're a band we all love and admire collectively as a band. We saw them at Glastonbury and missed the beginning of Stevie Wonder because of it… that's dedication!
Are you DIY/not-for-profit, or are you happy to embrace the music industry as it is at the moment? Is there a part of the industry you would particularly like to avoid?
I think that I will keep with the, perhaps slightly naive, belief that as long as we are loving what we're doing and creating the rest of it doesn't matter. However, saying that, I think we'd be happy to embrace the music industry. What's left of it anyway. It's an uncertain time for record labels and musicians at the moment and I think we're going to see quite a change in how music is distributed for profit in the near future. Artists are beginning to need to be a bit more creative in how they release their music.
You're playing Glastonbury this year - how did that come about? [This interview was conducted before Glastonbury]
We were approached by someone who knew someone who ran The Tadpole stage in Green Fields. They said they had put our name forward to play there. Typical example of 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' really. The guys who ran the stage loved our music and the rest is history…
If you could play one festival in the entire world, running or extinct, which would you choose?
Glastonbury was pretty much a dream come true. It was my first time there and probably the best 5 days of my life. So, Glastonbury again!
You seem to record when and where you can - is that deliberate or necessary?
I wouldn't call it deliberate because it's not as if I've made a conscious decision to work like that. It wouldn't call it necessary either - I'd probably call it convenient. Like I said, the majority of the recordings on our MySpace are just me, on my laptop, using the in-built microphone and Garageband. I wanted to make some music and that's all I had access to at the time. The recording we did with Yannis and Hugo in Oxford was an amazing opportunity that I had to grab. Only now are we beginning to record tracks as a full band and making conscious decisions on how we'd like them to sound.
Where is your ideal location to record?
Anglesey. I'm going there in September to do just that. Although it's not the most glamorous location, all the best ideas seem to pop into my head while I'm up there, so I can't think of anywhere else more ideal.
Have you got any plans for an official release?
We're currently in the process of compiling an EP of our stuff and finally getting some recordings as a full band. Hopefully we'll be releasing that ourselves this summer.
What's your ideal record label?
I'm a big fan of 4AD. Who isn't? Bella Union as well. Am I allowed two?
Next gig: Catch Bar, Shoreditch August 3rd
Wap Wap Wow's Myspace