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An Interview with: Breathe Panel

By Eva James and Ania Busiakiewicz

Breathe Panel are a soft-rock, lo-fi delight. Meeting in Brighton, the band formed during their time at Uni. There they cultivated their sound that would come to fruition as their debut album ‘Breathe Panel’. Now they are avidly touring across the country.

Clinging onto the edge of the notable Leeds student hub, Hyde Park, sits the live music, performance and art space, Hyde Park Book Club. This idyllic and intimate venue held Breath Panel’s show on February 20th.

Support came from Leeds based band Uncle Buzzard, who own a synth driven sound with vocals dipped in reverb and slap back delay, slightly psychedelic and entirely melodically captivating.

Breathe Panel follow bathed in a glow of magenta lighting with a set that confronts the audience with a wall of beach appropriate sound. The shimmering guitar riffs recall dappled light through trees or the sun reflecting off the sea; it is dreamy, easy to get lost in, with a subtle snap back to reality when the set ends.

The band live up to the feel of their music – they are incredibly relaxed, and as we get chatting it is clear that they operate at a kind of different pace. They liked being vague but that’s okay, because their answers were outside the box and you can tell they’re just really into their music.

Welcome to Leeds, is this your first time here? First impressions? Have you explored the city much?

Josh: Yeah we’ve been here quite a lot before actually. We came up here on three different stints to record an album. One of the longest was two weeks, so we’ve spent quite a lot of time here in this kind of area, the Hyde Park Book Club area. It has quite a nice feel to it, always stuff going on.

Nick: We were lucky enough to make friends on the first visit and then meet up with them every time we came and they showed us around.

Ania: Have you been to this venue before as its kind of new?

Josh: Yeah, we had a lot of days off which was kind of nice when there’s a bit of a void like “what do we do?”, which is quite nice in a city you don’t know because you can go and mess about and one day we just came up here and sat outside. It was very nice, but its changed since we were last here.

Could each of you describe your sound/breathe panel in one word?

Josh: Glide

Ben: Skies, because I think it’s a range of tones like the sky, like a cast over or sunny blue day.

Nick: My word is Colour.

Alex: Gradient. A change in colour I guess

Eva: This is definitely the most visual we’ve had!

Josh: They all also sound like team names on the apprentice.

Tell us about some artists who have inspired your music?

Ben: I would say first of all, as individual musicians I think we’ve all had different artists that we’ve not necessarily connected to but the music does something and then we’ve grown as artists through that. So we’ve all individually got a basis of who we like and then that’s fed into the overall sound. It feels like it’s very much a grown sound when all four of us have got together

Josh: I guess the main thing that influenced the band were clean lo-fi guitar bands originally but now everyone kind of moved on, diverged quite a lot, but I think there is consistent theme of what we like hearing. And then leaving that and making our own.

Ben: I think there’s artists that we all really like. A more modern one would be Chris Cohen on Captured Tracks who we really love for numerous reasons and Deer Hunter.

You said of your debut album that it is “a memory of a significant section of our lives”, could you tell us a little bit more about that?

Nick: We all used to live in Brighton, I met Josh at Uni and we met Benji and then through that Alex, and it was about two years before we recorded. It’s just a really vague album about experiences we had during then, going around and enjoying the area, going for walks, some bad stuff and some good stuff. It’s basically a musical representation of our lives at that time, but no specific times or moments.

You guys formed in Brighton which is known for a great thriving indie scene and supporters of emerging talent – what’s your favourite venue? Are there any emerging bands from Brighton that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Josh: The Green Door Store

Benji: I’d say the Prince Albert is quite a nice venue

Nick: Brighton bands: Porridge Radio. I think they’ve got a record coming out soon.

Alex: Ethan Barton – my house mate, he’s gonna pop out a record at some point.

Do you think there’s something about the relaxed Brighton vibe, being by the sea, that influences your sound?

Josh: I think it’s hard not to take influence from your surroundings, particularly when you’re in a place like Brighton.

Benji: It’s such a nice corner, you’ve got the south downs, you’ve got the sea, you’ve got the city – but you are split off from everything via the south downs which is quite a nice little cove.

Nick: But we live in London now, so that’s quite a different feel.

What music defined you as a teenager?

Josh: Kings of Leon, Baby Shambles. Going mad at Babyshambles gigs – I was one of those.

Benji: I’d say quite the opposite from Josh’s one. Me and Alex were brought near a place called Totnes in South Devon, and that was a place were a lot of artists came from, like Metronomy, but also Ben Howard and so I feel like we’ve always had a connection with Ben Howards music. We love John Martyn too.

Alex: The first gig I ever went to was Bombay Bicycle Club so that’s been one that has kind of stuck around with me.

Ania: Yeah, they’re headlining Wilderness Festival this year, which hopefully means a tour!

Nick: Mines pretty much the same. Kings of Leon.

Benji: Paramore did sneak in there.

Nick: Shane Ward when I was really young. I like Dido.

Eva & Ania: That’s what we’re looking for, guilty pleasures! Stop being so cool...

And nowadays, how do you guys listen to your music? Are you fans of vinyl or do you stream? Do you think music streaming services like Spotify liberates or constrains listeners?

Nick: We all collect vinyl so a bit of a bias opinion. We’re all really into that, and we’ve released on vinyl as well…

Josh: …which is a bit of a dream I guess. And it’s nice because if people do collect it, they can buy it. But I definitely do stream all the music I listen to.

Nick: You kind of have to. It’s so handy and it’s also good for artists to release on streaming platforms because a lot more people can hear you, a lot more people use it.

Josh: It is a bit sickening in terms of how much you get paid from it, but also it’s easier to forget about that and I just think “the hell, all these people listen to this song, it’s great, who cares”. But you also have to have your head on. It is tough. But we do find so much music on streaming, with Discover and the artist radio, you find new music so easily.

Benji: In terms of the vinyl aspect, I think the biggest musical growth me and Alex had living in South Devon was just going to the record shop and digging, having no idea what something sounded like, seeing an artwork that you never thought would be an artwork like “what is that?”, take a photo, listen to it. Or ask Jenny at Drift Records – and she’d just stick it on!

Eva: Yeh I get a bit worried about the personalisation of everything. It’s even getting harder to get lost in the weird bits of Youtube now.

What advice would you give to bands just starting out?

Nick: Play loads, record loads, don’t put all your stuff online at one point

Benji: Maybe see if there’s a community about where you’re living. Go to gigs, go to shows, and meet some people because it’s only through feeding off your friends that everything starts to work.

Ania: That’s how fanbases work isn’t it, it all starts with your mates.

Josh: the industry can seem like a scary weird abstract place but if you just talk to other bands and get gigs and play all that stuff kind of exists, but it comes in and out – but just to start with just don’t worry about it.

Nick: But also don’t listen to any of the above because we don’t know what we’re talking about.

Benji: So true.

Plans for 2019?

Josh: We’ve got another tour and a mini thing coming up. Two shows supporting a Korean band. And then another tour and some more gigs. And working on some new music.

Nick: The tour in April is with a band called Swimming Tapes, they’re really good. They sound like Real Estate? We’re doing loads more UK shows in cities we’ve never played in before which is nice.

Josh: pretty much every main city in the first four months of the year – it’s lovely!

Who or what are you fangirling at the moment?

Josh: I’m fangirling an author called Robert Macfarlane who writes books about walking and landscape

Benji: Mines absolutely classic. I just got into Friends, season 5 by accident.

Ania: You’d never seen it before?

Benji: Not really. I’m enjoying it.

Alex: You keep quoting it.

Benji: Do I?! I hadn’t even noticed.

Alex: [laughter] “ah remember when Ross from friends does that thing”

Benji: Ooh yeh that has happened a couple times… it shapes you a bit doesn’t it, it’s a bit bad.

Nick: I’m having a relapse fangirl for Breaking Bad at the moment. For some reason started it again and it’s just consumed my life for the past month.

Eva: I’ve never seen it.

Josh: it’s a hideous whirlwind of television

Nick: Yeh you feel a lot more calm in your own life. I’m almost done though, so I can have my life back again.

Josh: You never get it back after breaking bad… What about you Alex?

Alex: I’m liking this shirt a lot.

Ania: Can you describe the shirt for us?

Alex: it’s a nice grey, feels a bit like a towel, it’s got three buttons on it. It’s from a charity shop I think. Just a nice grey long sleeve shirt. I’ll be sporting it onstage.

Catch Alex’s nice shirt onstage on Breath Panel’s upcoming tour with Swimming Tapes in April:https://www.facebook.com/pg/breathepanel/events/?ref=page_internal

Image Credit: Breathe Panel Facebook