FAULT Future: Coves

As I sit in a coffee shop on Fleet Street waiting for Coves (Beck Wood and John Ridgard) to arrive for our interview, I am still listening to their album through my headphones. Based upon their sound- which ranges from wildly psychedelic to classic rock via the boy-girl indie-cool of duos like The Kills and The White Stripes– I expect them to make a dramatic entrance of sorts. Instead, I eventually realise they’ve been having a smoke on the other side of the glass window, discussing the fact that Ridgard has an hour before his lunch-break ends and Wood’s trip to Scotland the following day. In short, the band are refreshingly down to earth.

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Coves are a musical duo who seem somehow blissfully unaware of themselves, and they are actively refusing to give in to the hype that is slowly simmering around their upcoming debut Soft Friday, released on 31st March 2014 by Nettwerk Records. “I think we’re really uncool”, Wood laughs, minutes into our conversation. The pair met in Leamington Spa, where Wood worked in the ticket office of a music venue Ridgard was assistant managing. Combining her dreamy lyrics and breathy, Nico-infused voice with his melodies and penchant for the 1960s, their collaborative efforts were strong from the get-go, with some of their earliest work making it right onto the album (in fact, the track Honeybee was the first song they ever wrote together.) The strength of this partnership is at least partly responsible for their being so unfazed by the industry; “it’s always daunting handing your work over to other people’s opinions”, Wood plays with her coffee cup and laughs as she speaks, “but I’m excited.”

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There seems to be a real authenticity to the band’s creative process, and Ridgard acknowledges “we’ve been given a lot of freedom.” “We started writing the album three years ago, before we had a band”, he laughs almost nervously, “by the time we were signed there was nothing the label could really change- it was all finished.” The album was, and remains, a clear labour of love; and one that grew out of the band’s seclusion in ‘Castle Grayskull’, a creative haven in a converted pool hall back home in Leamington Spa which, with the help of their friends, they made into a recording studio. The space has since been taken down and changed once again, with Ridgard now having moved to East London whilst Wood remains ‘at home.’ This has added a special poignancy to the album, and Ridgard quietly describes the way in which “the album is a perfect snapshot of that period in my life.” This a clearly a very tight creative bond and Wood somewhat sheepishly admits that “if there were more people in the studio, it would be hard to really get our emotions across.” Soft Friday is intrinsically ‘them’, with Wood even designing the artwork. “I’ve always been really controlling over the music”, Ridgard confesses, yet (at the behest of the label,) the duo allowed for the album to be mixed by Brendan Lynch, who added much of the high-octane psychedelic treatment that is so central to their sound.

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As they look forward, the band is now working on putting together a live experience that matches the epic scale of their music. The live performance is their forte- in fact, they were signed off the back of their rapturous performance at Latitude 2013– and Wood asserts “we want to create a live experience where you go into the venue and you don’t come out the same person.” This is no easy task but, amidst the dream-pop lyrics and psychedelic sound, Coves’ authenticity and creative integrity will take the duo as far as they set their sights.

Words by Will Ballantyne-Reid
Images by Kurtiss Lloyd