Ten Fé
Cultural touchstones with the alt-pop pairing...

Ten Fé famously met while busking, a partnership that took them from London to Berlin, and then around the world.

Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan released their debut album 'Hit The Light' back in 2017, an astute piece of alt-pop with some stellar moments.

Using this experience as a way to spring forwards, Ten Fé will release their new album 'Future Perfect, Present Tense' on March 8th.

A wonderful return, it's a record informed as much by the culture it exists in as the music that got plays on the band's studio stereo.

Clash caught up with Ten Fé songwriting Leo Duncan to find more about these cultural touchstones...

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Book...

I'm reading Uncommon People: The Rise And Fall Of The Rock Stars by David Hemsworth at the moment. It's excellent. The premise is that the age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. The idea of the rock star lives on in our imaginations, but that's really all it exists as - a fantasy.

Basically as a result of digital technology and social media, mystique and wonder are being put to the sword - which are the life-force that enable rock stars to exist. I think what he says is spot on. So many people these days - footballers, celebrities, bankers - are said to act like 'rock stars'. But what does being a rock star mean? They just blitz loads of money, or wear sunglasses inside; they're not inspiring anyone to make music, or go deeper on themselves or the world around them.

So at times its a bit of a dispiriting read... but I've not lost faith! It's more complicated now, but I still believe the essential process of musicians planting a seed of wonder in someone's head still exists, otherwise I'd pack this in and go to work for Foxtons.

Film...

Cocksucker Blues. This is a film about the Rolling Stones on their 1972 Exile Tour. We've watched this a lot recently, and had it on in the background a fair bit in the studio when we were recording the album.

If you watch it in one way, it’s just one massive cliché - it's the blueprint for the whole Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll myth that, like I'm saying above doesn't exist anymore, and probably didn't exist back then either. But to me it's just wicked: a totally off-the-wall telling of a mad adventure about people driven to spread the message of their music to as many people as possible in the purest form possible.

It’s full of light and excitement, but there's so much dark and loneliness there too. I love it cos that's why I do music, that's why the people in Ten Fé do music - to spread the message and see where the adventure takes us.

Gadget...

Voice memos on my phone. I'm an evesdropper - so many of my lyrics come from snippets of conversation I've over-heard, or misheard. Not enough people take out their headphones and listen in to the world around them - we live in London, there's a million stories out there in every shop, on every tube carriage, in every Tesco.

At art college in Birmingham, I got into the habit of making sound collages from different conversations that I'd over-heard on the bus and recorded. I still do it plenty: uber drivers, screaming drunks (and good friends) in pubs, conversations between strangers on the train... I can spend hours listening back to these, unpicking the characters and the stories. I never take it for granted that you can do this at any time with your phone - I'd've killed for that as a kid - I lost a lot of dictaphones in my youth.

TV...

I watch Match Of The Day every Saturday eve, and sometimes Match of the Day 2 on Sundays. Apart from that I don't really watch TV, I'm more of a radio and voice memo man.

Music...

Amen Dunes' 'Freedom.' There's something so deep about this set of tunes. It’s a great rock 'n' roll record; for me it's got the same energy as 'Exile On Main Street', or 'Definitely Maybe' or 'Bummed', it’s part of the same lineage. And it's solid proof of what it's still possible to do : for someone to make an album with a group of musicians (I love Delicate Steve who plays guitar in Amen Dunes), to use guitars, drums and bass, to play them well and to say something real about who you are.

I often hear a scepticism towards that idea being still plausible, especially in Britain, but there's a real freedom (scuse the pun) to the way artists from the US make music at the moment. They don't seem to care about what's allowed or not... enjoy, or die!

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‘Future Perfect, Present Tense’ will be released on March 8th.

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