Interview: The Duke Spirit on the new album, fried eggs, and Live at Leeds

We caught up with The Duke Spirit's vivacious front woman Leila to talk about the band's third album, songs that make you want to do 'rude stuff', and how 2011 is like a fried egg.

Jayne Robinson

Last updated: 26th Apr 2011.
Originally published: 19th Apr 2011

Saturday 30th April sees Leeds taken over by some of the finest musical acts in the country, as 11 of the city's music venues throw open their doors and stages to Live at Leeds 2011

One of the acts appearing on the day is London based four-piece The Duke Spirit, fronted by the vivacious Liela Moss. 

We caught up with Liela to talk about the band's third album, songs that make you want to do 'rude stuff', and how 2011 is like a fried egg. 

Hi Liela! Where do we find you today and what are you up to? 

I'm looking at the work in a Gallery called The Approach in London. I've just borrowed a computer in their office to finish some important showbiz emails. 

How is 2011 going so far for The Duke Spirit? 

If I may use the popular fried-egg analogy, then the very heart of the yoke has been very busy; recording extra tracks as b-sides and curiosities at our studio and another one in Oxford, cover versions for a film soundtrack, some remixes. However, the white bit on the outer edge is fairly quiet. So far we have only done a little tour, in February, but are now getting rehearsed for the summer when we begin an extensive UK tour with some festival dates here and in Europe. At that point, we're busy and so… the all-day breakfast, if you will.

You’re set to release your third LP Bruiser soon. Tell us a bit about it. 

It's fucking ace. I'm really into it. It gets very dark at the midway point… super intense… but beautiful. It's a good trip on headphones. There's definitely a track you can dance to. And one you can have a right old cry to. And a couple where you may find yourself wanting to do really rude stuff.

 

It’s been three years since your last full length album. How have you progressed as a band in that time? Will fans notice a big difference in sound or style? 

I think people will hear and feel the difference. Our line-up is different now so that has played its part in producing different idiosyncrasies, different melodies and mannerisms.  We built songs up in a different way this time, chopped and changed rhythms with more abandon and took stuff apart in order to put it back together, if you know what I mean. 

How does your songwriting process work? Does one person take more responsibility or do you all collaborate together? 

Most arrangements start with either Toby or Luke, they write on guitar at home. Toby will sometimes just have a bass riff, and things fall into place around that.  I'll then work on melody and words either alone or with one of them, and a bit more as Olly starts to sort his drum patterns. Occasionally I'll write on a piano and sketch something out. I love to sing and play piano to myself, create melody first and add real words later. For a while everything is 'blaaaah eeeeeooooo uuuhh'.  This album is unique in that Olly and I wrote a track too which was cool. 

What gives you a bigger buzz; writing a brilliant song, recording it in the studio, or performing it live?  

That changes all the time... After a long tour I'd say that the best feeling is to lay a performance down in the studio. But then too long off the road, and you want to climb out the window of the studio and just play to people!

You’re renowned for your high energy live performances, and especially for your powerful stage presence. Is live performance something that has always come naturally to you as a band or have you had to work at it? 

Energetic was fairly easy, but we've had to work at being energetic and actually good!

You’ve been together since 2003. What changes have you noticed in the music industry in the past 8 years, and how have they affected you as a band

Oh god, what a question. Err, well you don't count on selling real albums or CDs, that's for sure. Pressing up vinyl has remained a good thing actually, but more as something you sell on tour, not in the shops. Being somehow 'in the record industry' really translates as "get some free stuff off brands and sell it on ebay quick, cos you wont make any real money''. Ha, I joke. Kind of.

You’ll be performing at Live at Leeds at the end of this month. What can fans expect from your performance? Anything special planned? 

I'm taking an open university short course on the history of Leeds and the impact of the industrial revolution, so I may share some lecture notes with the audience.

How does the rest of 2011 look for The Duke Spirit? 

Hot and heavy!

Thank you for your time, see you in Leeds!

Interview by: Jayne Robinson

Visit www.thedukespirit.com for a full list of the band's 2011 tour dates.

See the full Live at Leeds 2011 line up here.

Tickets for Live at Leeds 2011 are available below. 

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