Caithness may not be a name familiar to most, but for Neon Waltz it’s where they call home. A triangular slice at the most Northerly tip of the British mainland, the county is a curiously barren, often extremely beautiful place.
Singer Jordan Shearer – by his own admission – lives “in the middle of nowhere”, and this seems to produce the solace he needs to make music.
“When I write a song, I’ve got a really good view,” he says, simply. “Stuff like that does have some kind of importance to it, because it puts you in a good, chilled out mood for writing songs. Plus, there’s nothing else to do up here. If you’re in a city you can go to the cinema, you can do other things. There’s nothing else to do here except write songs.”
Returning after the freedom of university, Neon Waltz found six friends cast together in a croft outside their hometown. “We were all in the same place for the first time ever, really. So we locked ourselves away in a croft for ages before we did any gigs, to make sure we got the sound right and the songs at a level that we wanted them. That’s basically how it all came together.”
Hours, days and weeks were poured into writing, with Neon Waltz taking time to ensure the core, the song, was perfectly fine-tuned. “Once you’ve released music into the world, it’s everyone’s then,” he explains. “You want to be proud of the music if it’s going to be out for years to come. We don’t like to just settle.”
“If it works with an acoustic guitar, then you know it’s a good song,” he continues. “But if you feel like you have to have certain noises to make the song work, then it’s probably not good enough. So we always make sure we’re at that stage first.”
A band of sonic scavengers who operate from a remote northern cottage, Neon Waltz then make southern raids, heading out on tour in lengthy, lung-bursting runs. Wild psychedelic sections give way to a palatial organ wash, the rise and ebb of each song as natural as the tide. Patiently, painstakingly building up their set, the band’s graft has resulted in something truly original.
“I’ve talked about this quite a lot, as well,” the singer says. “There’s no scene up here, there’s no trend to follow. We just do our own thing. There’s no pressure on us to sound like anyone else. It’s more organic – it’s our own thing.”
– – –
– – –
WHERE: Caithness, Scotland
WHAT: Perfect songwriting with a psychedelic flourish…
GET 3 SONGS: 'Bare Wood Isles', 'Perfect Frame', 'Edwyn'
Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Ollie Groves