Angus Bayley


It feels like ages ago now, but it wasn’t so long ago that we were pining for one last herculean effort from Three Trapped Tigers, who just announced a string of gigs to denote their farewell.

For some, hearing this may have pushed hope into their minds regarding a somewhat related project called Strobes – both projects heavily feature Matthew Calvert, who is a celebrated production and guitar specialist. The latter also features Joshua Blackmore, a futurist jazz guru in his own right responsible for much of the group’s loose, yet iron-gripped handle on syncopated percussion.

That being said, hopes for a Strobes reunion are at an all time low, with the group all but confirmed as defunct – but however much this may sadden you, a formidable solution does exist: enter Angus Bayley.

Bayley’s recent debut single “Connect” turned heads immediately with both its familiar, progressive jazz verve as well as its fresh production. If you haven’t heard it already, check it out below:

The single was coupled with the announcement of an upcoming EP titled Everything’s Dangerous – we don’t have a concrete release date yet, but still, we like that sound of that. That was roughly a month ago, and already last week Bayley released a followup single, the groovy, go-cart friendly “Cyriak.” But how about an introduction, eh? We’ve got some questions for this sensational cat, and luckily enough, he was willing to answer a few of them below:

FB: It’s not everyday you get to make a record with your musical heroes – how did you get in touch with Joshua Blackmore? What is it about his style that you gravitate towards?

Angus: I’d met Josh a few times over the years going to his gigs, so he knew of me for a while before. It was when I showed the music to Matt and suggested Josh as the drummer that Matt leapt at it and said yes Josh is obviously the person for this. I sort of was unsure if I was “adequately qualified” to work with Josh, me having admired him for so long, but Matt’s response to me validated it all and he immediately reached out to Josh, who was into the music and we took it from there.

FB: Did the songs change drastically as they shifted from their “prettier” draft versions to their “maximalist” selves?

Angus: Yeah I’d say some did. Matt pushed hard for consistency with the “Connect” sound world, and that meant taking other songs away from their original sound world. Sometimes they’d not feel right after the transition, in which case they were shelved. But others shone in a new way.

FB: How has Matt Calvert helped shape the record?

Angus: I had all of these songs set up as demos in Ableton but they sounded quite thin with placeholder sampled drums – proof of concept really. I needed help doing the “final render”. Matt came in and had a clear idea for each tune how to do that, so he gave it his treatment and that gave all the tracks an aesthetic that was more fully realised and in your face. He also helped with shaping the tracks, in terms of how intensity should build and release over time. A good example is with “Connect.” In the original demo I had some placeholder ways of stepping up the intensity of the 2nd chorus, and I had some separate ideas for how we could move around the riff in unexpected ways, but it was Matt that glued all this together. Now in the 2nd chorus there’s that awesome “kick” moment where the distortion comes in and the riff goes off script for half a second and throws everything into disarray, but then somehow all of a sudden it’s back where it’s supposed to be, just at a higher energy level. That’s a masterful way to step up the energy in that moment. Matt was really important in making moments like that happen.

FB: How would you say “Cyriak” differs from “Connect?”

Angus: “Connect” had undertones of frustration about modern work – the thinness and fakeness of connection with others around you and the work itself, if you’re stuck in a knowledge work job that doesn’t give your mind room to “play” like it wants to. “Cyriak” is the companion piece: looking out of the office window to the possibilities outside. It’s a sort of testament to the solo creator, the amount of possibility inherent in all of us if instead of sitting here in this office, we had the courage to follow our own ideas to their end. I was inspired by the animator Cyriak Harris for many years – he created work that seemed beyond possibility, because he followed his own personal ideas all the way to their conclusion. It’s so hopeful seeing someone in their element like that. This song is like a letter of appreciation to those people who, by taking their ideas to their conclusion, remind us how much more is possible than we imagine when we’re sitting still.Musically, its a grooving, broken-but-still-together funk. Mathsy Wayne Krantz syncopation, screeching synth riffs, shout choruses abound. Music for a racing video game in a future world.

FB: When were these songs written? Was there one that specifically came first? Was there a song that stood out early on as an inspiration or guide?

Angus: “Connect” was one of the last songs I wrote, but conceptually it was the first song of the project. When I wrote I just immediately realised… this is the new direction. At that point I’d got a whole album’s worth of much gentler songs I’d already written which I was about to record, but suddenly that all seemed like the past – especially when I started speaking to Matt. I shelved all the songs that just couldn’t live in Connect’s higher energy world and took the ones that could be recontextualised to live in it and we got to work.

FB: Do you have an established means of composition that you utilize every time or do bits and pieces come to you organically?

Angus: The initial idea is usually pretty organic. But then I have a lot of compositional tricks in the bag that I fall back on to develop the initial idea. So it’s usually a mix.

FB: Not that genre inherently matters, but how would you describe your music? What does it mean “to do something new with music?”

Angus: I remember lots of times when I was 5-10 years old playing with my toys and thinking “ugh I’ve discovered everything, I’ve played with these toys all the ways they are supposed to be played with, this is boring now”. And the boredom would feel like being trapped, as if there was nothing to explore any more and no other ways to have fun left. But then eventually a new toy would show up and it would show me how naive I was and how much there was left to discover. Any sufficiently creative music gives me that same experience now. It shows me a new way to do something with music and makes me realise how small my brain was before. That’s what “doing something new with music” means to me. Pushing at the boundaries of the known play area to open up a new space for play.