Exposure: The Vegan Leather
Scottish art-pop quartet's latest single is a dark and punchy earworm
Glasgow art-pop quartet The Vegan Leather are quickly establishing themselves as one of the leading lights of Scotland's music scene. With their new single 'French Exit' out now, we speak to them about the new track, the road ahead and their dream of one day rubbing shoulders with a Krankie.
How long have you been together?
Marie and Gian: We formed properly at the end of 2014 after playing in a few bands together throughout our teenage years. We used to be in each other's folk and dubstep bands, and so the styles seemed to merge together to produce the art-pop nightmare that is The Vegan Leather.
Where does the name come from?
Gian: The name came from a pair of fake leather trousers from my first wage when I left school. It had 'Vegan Leather' stitched onto the label and I thought it had a beautiful ring to it. I also hate meat.
The new single is great, can you tell me a bit about the meaning? It has a darkness to it, that contrasts with the punchy, upbeat music (I especially like the line 'this night has gone see through').
Marie: We first heard the term 'French Exit' used by one of our pals who told us it meant disappearing from all your friends on a night out without saying bye. This idea really resonated with us as a lot of our songs explore themes of mental health. We got thinking about the reasons behind making a French Exit.
Exploring themes of social anxiety led us to making the instrumentation mimic ideas of panic. As the song progresses, we added more rhythmic and dissonant synths into the background, almost to mimic heart palpitations. We added the repetitive vocal loop to mirror the idea of different voices in your head telling you conflicting things. 'This night has gone see through' was to explain the moment where you realise things have lost their substance. That the dancing, chatting, smoking, drinking etc is trivial and although fun, sometimes a bit pointless. The line is said at the apex of the song when there's a realisation that everything on your 'night out' is hollow and 'see through' and that you need to just boost.
Can you tell me about the video for this song? Where was it shot and who directed it?
Gian: We worked with some very talented filmmakers Eric Liddle and Kasparas Vidunas from Humble Film Productions and filmed in Firewater in Glasgow! We wanted to capture four stages of a night out and each of us would be the main antagonist in each scene.
Marie: We had social pressure/dancing with Marie and the rollerblades, smoking with Matt smoking his first real cigar, vanity with Gian's mirror, and drinking with Duncan looking like a weird scientist making weird potion-cocktails. We bought a wardrobe from IKEA for our protagonist to run through and make his 'French Exit' to each scene. The guys at Humble Film really made our vision a reality!
You spent a lot of last year recording in Chem19 studio, how was it recording in a place with that much history?
Marie: It was a total dream come true. A lot of our favourite bands recorded there such as Franz Ferdinand, Arab Strap, and The Twilight Sad. We worked with the legendary Paul Savage who was incredible to work with. Being in a studio with so much history was a real creative driving force for us, and we felt privileged to be in a space where so many of our favourite songs had been produced.
Do you see yourself in any kind of lineage of Scottish bands?
Marie: I think we have a lot of work ahead of us before we can truly consider ourselves part of any Scottish lineage like the incredible roster of bands that have came through Chem19.
Gian: However, we do feel we could reach the upper echelons of Scottish pop culture and rub shoulders with formidable acts such as Lulu, Jimmy Krankie and The Singing Kettle.
You have got a great live reputation, how important are the live shows to what you do?
Gian: The live aspect has always been incredibly important for us and was how we first made a reputation for ourselves as a band in our local scene. We started putting on our own club nights and would perform at midnight and loved the interaction and response from the crowd.
When listening, I really hear each member of the band. Do you write your music collaboratively?
Marie: When we write and record our ears are always on each other's parts as much as our own. We all have distinct tastes and styles and we hope that comes through in the music and performance.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Gian: A lot more music, live shows and club nights are on the cards.
I saw you guys support Phoenix at The Barrowlands last year, how was that? I know that you have cited them as one of your influences.
Marie: It was definitely a dream come true for us to support Phoenix. Their song 'Too Young' was how me and Gian first bonded. It was in a film called Shallow Hal and I immediately sent it to Gian to listen to. Supporting them felt like we'd come on a really cool journey from listening to them in our bedrooms to performing alongside one of our biggest influences.
After Phoenix, are there are any other bands you would like to play with?
Gian: Phoenix was a massive deal for us, I think it could only be topped by performing with the legends aforementioned; Lulu, Jimmy Krankie or The Singing Kettle. Or any combination of them.
Marie: That would be Fan-dabi-dozi.
Keep up with tour dates at facebook.com/TheVeganLeather/