Gengahr unassumingly dropped their honey-sweet debut album just a couple of years ago. It was a rare type of pop music that pulled you straight into their dreamy world. After a significant chunk of time away, the band are now back with follow-up, Where Wildness Grows. I caught up with frontman Felix Bushe ahead of the release, to see how it all came together.
“I guess I’m probably a little more apprehensive than last time,” says Felix about the release process, “after seeing how it all works I’m a bit more aware of how things come about.” But judging from the singles there’s very little to be concerned about. The band do believe in the record they’ve created though: “I’m pretty confident in the music we’ve made, I think that’s the most important thing. But I’m also aware that it takes a bit more than that to help your music filter out across the world.” From here it feels like something of a waiting game, as Felix continues, “I feel like I’ve done my bit now and I’m just excited to see what happens with everybody else, how they take it on board and whether they like it or not.”
While the sound hasn’t shifted dramatically, it’s clear that the band haven’t made the same record twice. “You’ve got to be aware that you don’t want to rely on tricks that have worked in the past. We didn’t want to feel like we were retreading old ground.” With this said, it’s still unmistakably Gengahr. “It’s really important to have your own sound,” continues Felix. “It’s crucial in a way. I think creating our own sound was something of an effort at the beginning but once you feel certain about what you should be doing it begins to feel natural quite quickly.”
The developments this time around came quite organically to the band. “There was no real clear-cut idea about what we wanted to change. I think it was very much a natural thing that came from playing live and writing more songs.” And it’s been a very collaborative process, too. “When you have actively creative members, naturally you’re always going to change as you develop and play more. So you’re going to instinctively find new paths to walk down. We didn’t really think about it too much. We didn’t write ‘She’s A Witch’ again and we didn’t try to. It’s the nature of being an artist and musician, you’re always drawn toward doing new things.”
“Once you feel certain about what you should be doing, it begins to feel natural quite quickly.”
Playing live has also made a big impact on the direction of the band. “The important thing for us has always been the live show.” Felix continues, “The first album was very much a case of what four people could achieve playing at the same time. The new one was also recorded in a very live state to capture that energy.” In a sense, there’s no hiding behind studio tricks here. “I think when it comes to the production of the records we’ve made, there’s never been a huge emphasis on changing things afterwards, because we do a lot of work with the effects and so on as we’re playing them.”
Now the band are just excited to get back out there on the road. We’re lucky here in Bristol, as they happen to be playing twice in the coming months, at both Rough Trade and Thekla. Felix says, “It’s great to connect and see the people who buy the record and tickets because they keep it going. We do our best to make these nights really memorable and special. We’re looking forward to getting back into the clubs again, getting sweaty and loud.”
Gengahr play Rough Trade on 13th March and Thekla on 28th April, with Where Wildness Grows out this month.