The Horn The Hunt

Mike Hughes 08/11/2010

Leeds based duo The Horn The Hunt have just this week released the first single 'Raptor' from their second album, which is expected to drop in the New Year. GIITTV's Mike Hughes was pretty damn smitten with 'Raptor' and was therefore chuffed to be able to ask them a few questions. He found some difference of opinion on whether you spell it Witch House or Haus, and either way, the band deny that it's a genre that they're part of. Apparently one of them is a dog, and the other is a cat…

Hi there The Horn The Hunt, do you want to introduce yourselves?

Good day!
I'm Clare, I sing and write songs in the band. Over there is Joe, he also writes parts of the songs, plays everything so it sounds in time and records it so it sounds good. We're both from West Yorkshire- born in Huddersfield.

Where did the THTH name come from? Do you think drag hunting is an acceptable alternative?

Drag hunting sounds like a good idea but I've never tried it. I'm not against hunting for food, but our band name's got nothing to do with it. It just means 'the thing' and 'trying to get it'. Like 'I need to wash the dishes' and 'currently washing up'.

What is your relationship to each other? (You don't have to answer that one if you don't want to.)

Cat & dog. I'm the dog by the way.

You make a point that Clare is a visual artist, what does that mean and how does that impact the music? And if that's Clare's 'thing', does Joseph need a 'super power' in return?

I doubt I've made a point about it. I 'trained' as a visual artist and I've painted for many years, then came to music on my own. Always wanted to sing and perform but never had the balls. I doubt this has any impact on the music, only that making it is like layering things visually to me. And I'm fairly new to performing.

Joe's super power is being a bassist- and being able to use technology exceedingly well.

The single is out this week. Excited? What's it been like promoting it?

Yes of course, it's a great feeling! I haven't been promoting it, our label have been doing all that hard graft.

I've read about your travels. What were you looking for from Greenland? What it was like there? Were you living in a fisherman's hut, or was it really the local Holiday Inn?

We were living in a former cooperage, a wooden house built in the mid 1800's, in Upernavik, an island 600 miles north of the arctic circle. No Holiday Inns up there mate. No hotels in fact. No bars, no restaurants, no cinema. No roads anywhere. You have to crap in a bag because there's no sewerage system either- pipes would be frozen all year round- but they have a museum where I exhibited some paintings I made there. We were looking for a different way of life for a bit. It's a magnificent place.

You've travelled a lot? If that's something that's necessary for the creative process, it seems like both a blessing and a curse? And is Leeds the natural place to end up after all that?

Yes we've travelled and lived in different countries but no, it's not necessary to travel in order to be creative! Travel can often distract you from being creative, but that's good down time, to inhale. For me being creative is just making stuff, good or bad. Leeds is not a natural place to end up, just a familiar stepping stone.

In fact Leeds is not a place I know much about apart from the odd dash across the M62 to catch bands - what's it like to be there as a performer? Is there a strong local live scene? Or is that just lazy thinking on my part? (I'm from Wales and it seems like you can't be a Welsh musician without automatic comparisons to either Cerys Matthews or the Manics)

I've never liked Leeds- it's a temporary stop for us to refuel and write another album after 3 years living out of a suitcase. We're both country bumpkins, so we went to uni in Leeds. It's like our hometown. It's got a good DIY scene if you fit in it. There's plenty of bands and venues, always the feeling that there's lots going on for music- whether or not it's true is another matter. People can be quite aloof in the crowd though, like there's some sort of great expectation going on that stops people relaxing. This may very well not be unique to Leeds though.

So tell us about the writing process then - I am completely non-musical in a singing or performing sense, and I think as a consequence of that, I am fascinated by how it gets put together.

I usually come up with a vocal melody first, then record it and get an instrument and play a riff or melody to work with it. Then I'll sketch out a rough idea of the song, hand it to Joe and he brings flesh to the bones- transforms parts the way he thinks most interesting, plays it all and programmes stuff. Lyrics come last, once I know what kind of a beast it is that we've made. There are no rules though, that's just the usual pattern.

The single (which I love BTW) seems to have evolved to a different place than the previous stuff I've heard - how did / do you go about finding your voice as a band?

Thank you very much! I've only just started this journey as a singer-songwriter so I don't have that kind of perspective yet. We explore different things in each song we write. Our debut album was just us realising we'd written a load of songs together that worked. Joe had been playing in punk rock bands and then started writing electro-acoustic stuff on his own. In 2005 I started writing acoustic pop songs but never thought they were any good. Both of us wanted to make something more aggressive, bolder and pop-like that combined all our favourite flavours in music. So I think our music will always be changing but there'll be this aggressive folk core to everything we do.

The second album is out early next year? Is it all in the can? Is there a point where it's difficult to think - 'that's it, it's finished, leave it alone' - or do you find that's a line that draws itself? Tell us about what to expect.

It can be hard to know when songs are finished on record, but a song has a life of it's own and you can rework it or play it differently live and that's the beauty of music. But on record- with all this technology and just 2 people- you have to be firm and just stop somewhere.

The next album is all pretty much in the can. I think it's very different to the debut - far less electro and more organic in places. It has a definite formal quality to it, which I think our debut doesn't possess. There are lots of different emotions and textures in the songs, it's quite colourful.

You seem to have landed at the right moment to be cast as part of a genre called 'witch house'. What is all that about? And is it a good thing or a dangerous thing to be part of the definition of a movement (as you seem to be)?

We're not witchaus, it's just a genre that we've been somewhat lazily lumped into. To me witchaus is Salem and White Ring and Zola Jesus- proper dark electronica with wailing and smoke. Purity in that feeling and sound. Whereas we're a pop band with big booty basslines and lots of different elements coming together. I think just because a woman is touching on some darker feelings in music and is not singing along to an acoustic guitar or some retro sound, indie manrock or manufactured pop junk then she's labelled a witch. Sure, some of our songs might evoke dark electronica but that's just one small element of our music. I'm sure our next album will change people's perceptions and the genre that we must be allocated.

What was it like getting signed? Did it affect anything or everything?

To have people behind you that believe in your music is an immense feeling. We feel very lucky to have the support.

What's the most fun thing that music has done has done for you? And what is the most ridiculous thing you have done for music?

I'll have to be boring and say the fun is just writing a song you really enjoy playing- it doesn't get much more fun than that for me! But I haven't been doing it long, so yet to go on tour, etc... Joe has fallen off the stage a few times.

Are there any questions I didn't ask that you would like to answer?

My favourite food is Turkish. Joe's is Indian.

And anything else you'd like to tell the readers of God Is In The TV while you have them in your sights?

Thanks for reading this.