Clean Cut Kid are one of many hand-picked emerging acts playing this year’s Barn on the Farm festival— one of our favourite festivals, with a finger firmly on the pulse of tomorrow’s music.
Mike Halls, Evelyn Halls, Saul Godman and Ross Higginson are a quartet from Liverpool who make inventive and exhilarating art-pop, described as: soulful pop ballads, washed in Mersey water.
We caught up with the fun-loving band to chat about their latest feel-good jam Pick Me Up, festival anthems, and Emus.
Why ‘Clean Cut Kid’? What inspired the band’s name?
It’s a Bob Dylan song and it came about when Mike switched over from playing acoustic and writing folk tunes to playing electric and getting way more experimental. His brother suggested he pick a song from the Dylan goes electric era.
What was it like musically for you, growing up in Liverpool?
You were just constantly surrounded by music, half of your family either played an instrument or were in bands.
What’s the inspiration behind the super fun video for new single ‘Pick Me Up’?
We had a loose idea of being in someones imagination and being in the corner of the screen whilst they were doing a load of mad shit, and we wanted to be performing in some capacity without it being a ‘performance video’. The director Joe Conner came along and had this idea of the guy cleaning with us in his headphones and it all came together. There were loads of influences for the look and feel of it too: Wes Anderson, Napoleon Dynamite, Risky Business, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off– that kinda thing.
What’s your favourite ‘pick me up’ when you’re feeling down or having a bad day?
At the moment it’s each other. We spend all our time together and sometimes it’s so tough on the road, so we’ve gotta look out for each other.
This will be your first year playing Barn on the Farm. What are you expecting?
We’ve been before in other bands and it’s honestly one of our favourite festivals we’ve ever played. There’s such a nice vibe there and it just feels so small and intimate. The emus are boss too. We hope they’re still there…
What can we expect from your set? Will there be dancing?
There’ll be dancing for daaaaaaaaays! We’ll definitely be trying out some of the album tracks too.
Who else are you hoping to catch perform while you’re at BOTF 2016?
The two headliners and so far from the acts announced we’d like to catch Flyte and Isaac Gracie.
There’s a festival anthem vibe to your sound. What are your favourite mass sing-a-long festival anthems?
Gotta be MGMT Kids, when everyone sings along that synth part at the beginning. Or Springsteen Born In The USA…we love Springsteen so much.
If you were organising your own festival, who would you choose to headline & why?
Springsteen coz we love him, Arcade Fire coz they’re untouchable and St Vincent coz she’s so progressive. Like a female Bowie.
Tell us everything you possibly can about your experience at SXSW!?
Best week ever. It’s the buzziest city festival we’ve ever been to. Live music blasting from every bar, little make shift stages set up on the street with bands busking, free bars, free food, free tattoos and everyone’s happy. It was amazing. Our shows were rough and crazy and we had no sound check and things broke and it was hot and hard work but it was so good. We can’t wait to go back.
Have you collaborated with any other artists on the upcoming album?
Nope, it’s pure unadulterated Clean Cut Kid.
Sad lyrics set to euphoric music. Is that always intentional? – Do you find it easier to write sad or happy lyrics?
Sad lyrics seem to pour out easier, and we say the more sad we go lyrically, the more upbeat we go with arrangement. You can’t go miserable on miserable, it’s too heavy.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To always embrace your limitations.