Planning The Next Chapter: Metronomy In Conversation

Joe Mount on the group's ever-evolving creativity...

Metronomy have been a mainstay on the indie scene since releasing their debut album in 2005, launched into the mainstream with the success of ‘The English Riviera’ – and breakout single ‘The Look’ – in 2011. 

Ever-evolving, lead creative force Joe Mount sat down with CLASH to discuss his latest project under the umbrella ‘Posse EP Vol 2’. Joe discussed plans for future studio projects, shifting record labels in his 40s and celebrating 25 years of making music under the Metronomy name, in addition to the collaborative process for the EP and how it differs from other projects he has worked on. 

Have you always had these types of collaborations in mind for Metronomy? 

Joe Mount: I guess I had never thought about it like that. I never necessarily thought it was something I would always end up doing but it’s certainly the kind of thing when I started making music that I thought I would be doing. In a way, it seems, or certainly would have seemed more foreign an idea back then that Metronomy would become so me-oriented as a vocalist. When I started making music all of the things that I was into, were basically, producers and rappers or singers. 

It is something I’ve always wanted to do and I, and I suppose, I think the way that it came about happening is, slightly serendipitous because nowadays there is such a huge sort of focus on, collaborations. I feel very aware of named collabs,  between people who you’ve heard of already, and you think oh God, was this going to sound like these are two hyped people? Then you listen to it and there’s nothing that exciting. 

What I used to love about the kind of those producer records was I basically never knew who any of the artists were. So for me, it was like, you know, something, I knew that a label would be open to me doing collaboration stuff.  I realised that I could do it in a way, which was quite exciting, not just finding people who you’ve already heard, but doing it with people that no one’s heard of or not so many people have heard of. 

In terms of the roster of artists you’ve worked with, on these these two EPs. How do you come across the artists you work with? Are they people who’ve been on your radar for a while?

Joe Mount: It completely depends. Faux Real, for example, we’ve toured with them and I know those guys. Then there’s someone like Nyima, who I hadn’t heard of at all but have some mutual friends and that kind of thing. I think for me, probably the biggest surprise was Nourished by Time who I hadn’t heard of but were suggested, I can’t even remember who by. It’s quite nice, because you can rely on other people’s opinions and suggestions. So a lot of it is people I have not heard of before. So it’s quite the kind of a voyage of discovery for everyone.

You’ve done some production work with more well-known artists. So it must be quite exciting to go from working with the likes of, Jessie Ware, or Robyn to artists that are more under the radar?

Joe Mount: There’s such a different levels. I guess the thing about the EPs is that  I’ve yet to actually be in the room with any other people. It’s all done in quite a remote modern way and that in itself is quite I guess, quite telling of how people make music and in 2024, because people are able to record comfortably at home and send me really good stuff. The other thing I was thinking about the other day is how people end up recording. When you’re recording on your own you become quite isolated. The idea of recording with people or in front of other people is actually quite nerve-wracking and daunting. So I think it’s quite comfortable for a lot of collaborators to do it this way. Whereas when you’re working with a more known artist, there’s so much more professionalism. In terms of that level of doing things, you can tell a difference in,  people who have been in studios with hundreds of different writers and producers. So it’s nice to be there at an earlier point, I think in people’s careers.

How long have you been working on this particular set of collaborations? 

Joe Mount: It all comes together really quickly. It would have been the last four to six months of last year that it kind of came together. I’ve not really been sitting on them. We’ve always known this plan to release them, I guess it was all sort of completed last autumn.

Are you planning more Metronomy studio albums?

Joe Mount: It’s funny because I was looking at some of the comments, after the Instagram posts I’ve done and people were like, what’s going on? Anyone who’s been a fan of Metronomy from the beginning or the second album or after kind of knows the deal. Metronomy exists in this sort of weird in-between place of being a band and a production project, and me. For the past 15 years, it’s been, like a touring band. The other guys have been involved in the albums to various levels. At the same time, I’ve done the production stuff with other people and the previous EP which was out not so long ago. 

There was a point 10 years ago, or so, where I thought to myself, okay, I feel a bit conflicted in how I want to be, how I want the rest of my life to be. My life is going to be defined by music, I’m a musician, and that’s what I will be known for. If I’m known for anything, it will be that and that’s how I will die. I was thinking about this several years ago, well you want to do all these different kinds of things. Doesn’t it just confuse things if you do it under different names or in different ways? Surely a real kind of artist would just stick to the name, stick to the same thing and you plough that furrow. If anyone is looking for what you’ve done it will always be the same thing. I decided well, that’s how it’s going be and people might find it a little bit confusing, but there’s way more confusing things out there.

With these two EPs, has there been a shift in how you write music and the process of making it?

Joe Mount: There’s a huge difference as well as an expectation Metronomy albums proper, an expectation of charts or radio play. They do put some pressure on you and suck a little of the joy from it. With an EP like this, and when you’re working with other people, and you’re sort of the reason for doing it is quite different, then it means that you’re not at all thinking of the same thing. So it comes from a way more relaxed place. I think that’s what makes it sound as nice as it does in a way. I feel very stressed when I make it whereas all the Metronomy stuff is super stressful and I’m sure you can hear it just full of stress riddled with stress.

You’ve been making material as Metronomy since 1999 – 25 years! Do you have any plans to commemorate that?

Joe Mount: It creeps up on you. It’s odd I suppose you reach that point  it’s a bit like what I was saying earlier, you kind of realise that’s how you’re going to be defined. A milestone for me is getting to this point where you’re able to reflect on a career. I think that’s something I only really realised, not so long ago, when I re-signed when I got a new record deal. Oh, wow I’m coming out of a record deal in my early 40s, it kind of mirrors people in jobs switching careers. I’m not going to switch careers but there was something that felt quite grown up about it. It’s one of those things where you feel like the music industry is so fickle. That the whole time you’re in the trenches you’re scared to take a break because you see that if you do you’ll just be forgotten and trampled on. I’m trying to shoehorn a war metaphor in for it. So when I got to the end of the record deal, it was the first time that I was actually looking around and being like, wow, I’m sort of older and that was a career and, and I can choose if I want to keep going or not really. So I think that’s probably the biggest milestone. 

What made you want to shift labels at this stage in your career?

Joe Mount: I have no reason to be to be rude about the old label and I don’t want to be at all, but it’s a bit like a marriage or relationship that you become a bit complacent. I’d worked with them for so long, for 20 years or so. I just think it’s nice to see what it’s like, somewhere else to get an idea of how to react because I’ve never had anything to compare it to really. It was a nice soft way of doing it with an EP and there’ll be more EPs.  So it’s not like, it doesn’t mean I’m not going go back and work with Because in the slightest, it just means I’ve got some kind of alternative to compare it to basically.

I think I mentioned in one of the press releases Ninja Tune is this label which I find is a bit of a mirror to my own career in a way, they’ve been going for a really long time and they’re not going anywhere. They’re just kind of becoming more and more important. If you’d asked me who I wanted to get a record deal with when I was 17, I would have mentioned them so the fact that I can do it now. It’s great.

Is there anything you still feel you need to achieve with Metronomy? 

Joe Mount: There was this kind of moment with ‘The English Riviera’ and specifically with ‘The Look’ that has come to define Metronomy a bit. I know every other band or musician in the world would say it, but I feel like I’ve done other things, which are equal to it but with that one so many things happened at the same time that worked perfectly. So, I’d love to be defined by another thing as well I’d love to have something else that kind of reached people in the same way. I think if you’re lucky, you have a second act as an artist and there’s loads of people that I can think of that have had that. So I think it’s a case of working out what, what I want to be as I move on and what I want to be next.

Have you lined up who you’d like to collaborate with, on the next set of EPS?

Joe Mount: There’s a few people I’ve thought of that I’m interested in. I quite like the idea of doing stuff with like, some German musicians. I like the idea of doing some foreign language material, so some German acts and South America.

A world music flavour?

Joe Mount: Absolutely. If that if that section still exists in record shops. That’s where I want to be.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about this EP?

Joe Mount: I suppose that the thing about it is and this is quite a funny thing that you’re having to talk to the new record label about, it’s really not about me. Like I said, I don’t really want pictures of me  I don’t want to be in the videos, it’s not about me. It’s kind of me as a  bit of a vehicle for the newer acts. They’re the people that make it as exciting as I think it is.

‘Posse EP Vol. 2’ is out on July 12th via Ninja Tune.

Words: Christopher Connor
Photo Credit: Lewis Kahn 

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