The impact of the last 18 months on our social and domestic lives has been well-documented: burnt banana bread, crap virtual parties and a return to musical comforts. But for Metronomy’s Joe Mount, he used the pause to set off on a voyage of discovery. Not only has he been working on a new album – which he describes as “quite grown-up” – he used the lull to reach out to a new generation of musicians for his first full collaborative project.
“The new Metronomy album was something quite obvious of its time,” he tells NME on the eve of ‘Posse EP Vol.1’ release. “As a contrast to that I thought it’d be quite nice to do something that embraced the positive new music that’s happened lately. Some of the formative albums I listened to growing up were guest-studded, so it’s always been something I’ve been interested in. The problem that I’ve grappled with is where it fits with what I do and what has become quite a personal project.”
He continued his work in the studio, and earmarked certain tracks he thought could benefit from a new addition. Following advice from friends, industry folk and fans, he amassed a stellar crew of Radar favourites, including Biig Piig, Spill Tab, Pinty, Folly Group, Brian Nasty, as well as rising indie heroes like Sorry for the five-track EP.
“The idea of it being an EP and one that is dedicated to a sole idea, means that it’s separated in a way from an album. It was always about working out the right way to handle it and it was important to be letting go of the work and letting other people be involved – I’m very controlling about what I do,” he says. “In the nicest possible way, I would never have the wherewithal to approach those kinds of people. It’s collaborating mentally with people. This project gave me a brilliant reason to engage with stuff that was new to me.”
With ‘Posse EP Vol.1’ out now on Because Music, and plenty of new names to discover, Mount gives us an insight into the collaborative process with the project’s soon-to-be superstars.
Who: Peckham MC’s dispatches pay homage to his beloved locality, and has a fan in collaborator King Krule
Key moment: His bars weave effortlessly with Mount’s electronic patchwork; like the first sip of cold one, Pinty’s appearance is bubbly, fresh and carries a delectable prospect of mischief.
What Joe says: “He sent his parts back so quickly and he found something in the track that he really connected with. I didn’t know who he was beforehand, but I’m now his biggest fan. He definitely slotted into that ‘Metronomy’ world really easily; he’s a great fit and a really funny, charming young man.”
Who: An essential new voice in the global pop scene, Jess Smyth is using her time spent in Spain, Ireland and Los Angeles to solidify her artistry.
Key moment: Smyth’s lovelorn chorus is devastating and catchy in equal measures: ‘’Cause I ran off in the wrong direction/Looking for love when you were stood right there”, she sighs.
What Joe says: “The song clicked with this feeling she’d had lately and the atmosphere of the track really worked with that. That kind of skill is a really rare thing to happen; we weren’t in the same physical space when we wrote the song and it touched something in there. I was genuinely blown away by what she’d done.
“It’s a sentiment in a song that I haven’t heard before, or heard articulated in such a nice way. The project was already going well and it was interesting and I got back from Jess and I thought it was just so brilliant; I never imagined it would be so good.”
Who: The California-based newcomer has used her time in the industry – merch seller to star in her own right – to build a vivid world of indie-leaning pop magic.
Key moment: The shuffling beat, slinky bassline and the track’s general wooziness offer a fine example of why this project succeeds; both artists are pushed into new terrain and come out of it remarkably well.
What Joe says: “She’s really great. Young artists like spill tab at the start of their career, you have to be really careful about how you set yourself up and control your image. I was probably a bit more chilled out about what I’d done with their vocals and that’s when I got a reply asking for it to be tweaked; it’s important for them to do that.
“Being formative for someone else is now something I have to grapple with now. There’s all these bright and up and coming artists who want to do something with me because of that, it is really cheering, especially when I’m about to put out a new record and that’s a bit more ‘grown-up’ – it’s nice to feel like you’ve still got some relevance.”
Who: London disruptors whose debut ‘925’ was one of 2020’s finest and most inventive albums.
Key moment: The connection between Metronomy’s darker instrumental moments – as heard most frequently on last album ‘Metronomy Forever’ – and Sorry’s Asha Lorenz’ vocals is felt strongest in the song’s stellar second half.
What Joe says: “They did stuff on everything that I sent, which was amazing. I was surprised by people’s willingness to dive into it. This project is something that I’ll be doing again, and it’s interesting to see what sparks people’s imagination and the ones that weren’t really touched. Sorry are just so much cooler than I ever was at their age – they’re a bit more free-form and I was a bit too uptight. Asha’s voice has that ‘effortless’ nature to it, but it’s very straight-forward and catchy.
Who: A thoroughly modern rockstar who looks – and sounds like – the business.
Key moment: Nasty’s breathtaking couplet in the song’s refrain: “you remind me of all the things I hate about myself” and “I find it hard to talk sometimes let alone ask for help”. His lyrics are already affecting, vulnerable and memorable.
What Joe says: “He’s such a cool rapper. I think I would like to do more with Brian. He had so many more ideas with that song, but you could do a whole record with him; he’s a future star. He has that great delivery style, similar to Sorry with that effortlessness, but he also sounds super British in that way, which I can really relate to as well.”
Who: Spectacularly inventive four-piece that Mount jokingly dubs “Peckham’s Rage Against The Machine”.
Key moment: The band’s menacing playing – that chugging guitar – both haunts the track and encourages Nasty to match the anguish in his vocal take. Superb stuff.
What Joe says: “I think they’re such a cool and exciting young band. Me and the rest of Metronomy went to go see them at the Old Blue Last in London not too long ago and everyone just loved them – it was a bit like being at the Old Blue in 2006 and catching something really angsty and exciting.”
Metronomy’s ‘Posse EP Vol.1’ is out now