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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

introducing : horsebeach

photo: bandcamp

Horsebeach is the creation of Manchester-born-and-bred Ryan Kennedy. Recording in his flat and self-releasing the debut album earlier this year, his aim was not to sell thousands of records but to put out something he was proud of, for the world to hear - and proud he should be. The album is dream-filled and dazzling, whilst remaining dappled with Manchester's never-shifting drizzle. It's perfect for fans of anything released on Captured Tracks. 

I caught up with Ryan himself to find out more about this still largely secretive project of his, which - just to warn you - won't be a secret for much longer once people catch a glimpse of the album's sheer beauty from start to finish.

I've got to ask you about the name.. Your music definitely falls into in the same bracket as that of Beach Fossils / Real Estate / Wild Nothing who all have a 'beachy' vibe. So did your sound play a part in choosing an appropriate name for the band?

I think our sound at the beginning definitely influenced the name... right at the start I wanted to have a more surfy sound but yes, we also listened to Beach Fossils, Beach House..that sort of thing, so it seemed right to have 'beach' in the name. The 'horse' part just came out of nowhere, but I guess if you say a band name enough it starts to sound right no matter what it is. Horsebeach just stuck.

Rather than me continuing to speculate about influences, how would you describe your sound?

It's difficult for me to describe my own sound without explaining the influence behind it but I'll have a go. It's a distorted reflection of all the American, sunny-guitar/dream-pop, but instead of chiming through the streets of Brooklyn it echoes through the rainy, red-bricked alleyways of Manchester, which brings a slight morbidness.  

What inspired you to start the band, or to start making music in the first place?
I started messing about with making music when I was around 14. Me and a few school mates got together, wrote some songs and played them to our friends for a while. We had a few gigs, nothing big, but it was fun. I didn't write anything for a long time after that. I carried on playing my guitar and joining bands but didn't really take it seriously. As time went on I started getting interested in recording music and the whole recording process, so I ended up building up a little system using a cassette recorder where I could layer up the guitar and create repetitive loops. The point where I decided to start writing Horsebeach material was when I stumbled across Ducktails' album 'S/T' and thought "wow, this is great, and this guy is just doing it on a small four track or something, so maybe I should try that". As I was writing the songs I would send them over to Matt, who wasn't the drummer at this point, and he would let me know what he thought of them. Matt suggested I try doing it live, so that's how we ended up forming the band. Matt recruited his brother Dan for guitar and I enlisted our school friend Tom to play bass. I showed everybody which parts they needed to play, and Horsebeach finally materialised.

Releasing your debut LP earlier this summer was a pretty brave move for a band that are still very much 'under-the-radar', but what made you do it?

I've always enjoyed the whole do-it-yourself ethos, and from the beginning I kept myself as independent as I could. I think being a part of an album from writing the songs, to the cover design, allows you to stay 100% genuine. I was just writing stuff and releasing it off my own back. We had two singles to start out with; the first one sold out straight away, and the second started to gather some interest, so I just decided I would get an album out before the year was over. I was doing this all for personal reasons anyway, I didn't think about whether there was enough promo, or whether it was the right time, I just wanted to capture this particular moment of my songwriting. So I re-recorded it all properly in my flat and got it pressed. I was happy just selling records in Manchester and never expected it to get very far, so it's great that people have started to pick up on it, and word seems to be spreading. I'm so happy with the reception it's had and people's feedback so far!

Whilst the majority of your material sounds as though it's been created in the (sunnier) States, there are definitely elements of your music that could only come from a band out of Manchester. Do you think location plays a part on the way a band sounds? 

I guess it does, yes. The sunny side comes from listening to all the American guitar bands, but I never intended on giving the music a Manchester tinge, it seems to have crept in there on it's own. Maybe it's a combination of the weather, the people and the heritage. I did grow up listening to The Smiths after all.

And finally, what's next for Horsebeach?

We've got a few shows coming up to finish the year with; we're supporting Lust For Youth on 27th September at Soup Kitchen (Manchester) and we're playing Primavera Club in Barcelona on 2nd November, which I'm excited about. As far as releases go, I'm already working on new stuff for the next album and I'm looking at getting a new single out at the beginning of next year.

Horsebeach's self-titled debut album is out now. 

Visit their bandcamp page to download it. 

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