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For The Record: Egyptian Blue, 'Our record collection corner has become sacred'
From limited edition Joy Division pressings to Jim Reeves Christmas albums, Skiddle talks to Luke from the rising post-punk quartet about the band's prized collection, favourite new releases and musical guilty pleasures
Last updated: 31st Mar 2020
The revival of post-punk in the U.K. shouldn't really come as much of a surprise, given the recent socio-political situation. From the likes of revivalist figureheads IDLES to The Murder Capital, Shame and Fontaines D.C., there's a growing line of young and frankly pissed off musicians coming together, eager to share their frustrations with a rapt and receptive audience.
Step up Brighton's latest and most intriguing post-punk outfit, Egyptian Blue. Bursting onto the scene in 2019 following the release of their gritty debut EP, Collateral Damage, via ex-Maccabee Felix White's esteemed label, Yala! Records (Yak, FEET, Talk Show), the quartet have been busy gaining notable fans, including BBC tastemakers Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Gang of Four, Foals and Squid, the foursome have become renowned for their intense live performances and skilful song crafting, effortlessly blending elements of groove, angst and passion. Stabbing guitar hooks, poignant lyrical content displaying an animosity for modern life, and an anxiously delivered rhythm section contribute to the band's ambitious sound, evident on latest single, 'Nylon wire'.
Skiddle recently caught up Egyptian Blue's bassist Luke Phelps to chat about record collections, recent releases and musical guilty pleasures.
Luke said: “The record collection in our house has become a bit of a sacred corner. The genres are spread pretty widely, going from Primal Scream to George Benson to Mozart. Some of which we cherish, some of which we don’t. As a whole though, it’s an integral part of being a music fan to own a decent record collection. It’s a format that has been rekindled and we want to ensure it doesn't die out - we're trying to do our bit”
Is there a record you can't stop playing right now?
“Holograms debut. It’s a fair few years old now but certainly not outdated. It acts as such an emotive courier, so much passion and anger and pain within twelve songs. It's an album we all like, which is unusual for us as a band. Also, 'Shadow on Everything' by Bambara is an album on heavy repeat at the moment. It works as such a unit and feels so cohesive, as an album should sound.”
How many records do you personally own?
“A few of us live together so combined probably about 50 or 60. Most we've picked up abandoned on Brighton streets. Beethoven and Bach classics only.”
What’s the weirdest, rarest or most expensive record you own?
“Leith (guitar and vocals) has The White Album, a pretty old pressing too. It’s far gone past its shelf life by now though. Got a pretty old limited edition of Still by Joy Division, acquired from my mum in my teenage years. I’ve got a small collection of Jim Reeves records I’ve never listened to, just thought he had an interesting image, so collected some of his Christmas albums in the charity shops of Ipswich. That’s pretty weird init.”
If you could play only one record for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“At one point in my life I would’ve said Screamadelica; an endless pit of ecstasy with enough variation to not outgrow me. Yet it has. That’s why this question is pretty tricky. In Rainbows has stuck with me since its release and I listen to it regularly so I’d probably say that. Either way I’ll probably end up going insane.”
Give us your top 3 recent releases:
“There’s a new band from Manchester called Document. I heard a song last week by them called 'Pity', can’t escape it, had it on repeat ever since. It has such potent vocal phrasing. Our old friends from Brighton HappyCouple with their track 'Feel Better'. Everyone should hear this tune. So vicious and so much passion in a track. We played with a band called The Goa Express in Halifax, they’ve got a recent-ish tune called 'The Day' which I rate.”
Which new artist/band/DJ should we be listening to right now?
“Public Body from Brighton. They recently released a track called 'Presenteeism' which is a banger and I’ve heard some of the other stuff they’ve got in the locker - it’s class. Such a tight live band too. Proper hard. Theo, who produces our stuff, is in the band and he produces all their stuff too. Get to know if you don’t already.”
Do you have a musical guilty pleasure?
“I guess it’s not that guilty, but not many people would know I like Asian instrumentation like the Guzheng. If only I had the bottle to buy one. We also listen to a lot of grime in the van which no one could probably guess (courtesy of our drummer Isaac). Think it’s starting to rub off on me. Could be a potential musical direction for us in the future…”
Best live performance you’ve ever seen?
“Saw Radiohead in Milan, shocking sound system but still trumps any other gig I’ve been to. In 2011, a couple of us saw Foals at Latitude which was our local festival at the time. That was insane. Tent rammed to the back, the sheer amount of people was nuts. It was a pretty intense show, especially at our age back then.”
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
“I think an Egyptian Blue - Django Reinhardt collaboration could be interesting. He’s a seminal guitarist, it’d be a struggle not to be in awe. He could show us a thing or two that’s for sure. The outcome could be quite barbaric but surely someone might be into it, no?”