Imagine being paired up at your local chess club, and within a few years you’re on the road together, playing some of the biggest music festivals in the world.
That’s what happened when Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny were introduced at Ealing Chess Club. Charlie explains: “There’s this owner called Sue, very nice lady – she paired us up because she knew we shared a similar interest for music.”
He continues: “Jules and I played chess together for a couple of months. I was doing a lot of production, so I got Jules round to this quite shit studio – aka my Gran’s front-room. We made some songs. Then we started playing in other bands for two years while writing on the side. Then after two years we realised we had written about 60 songs, so decided to do something with them and see what happens. By July 2018 we were signed!”
Despite signing a major record deal, APRE ensured they kept full creative control over their artistic project. The duo smartly set up their own label, Beach91, which goes through Polydor and allows them to keep full creative control.
Charlie tells me: “The thing I love about this project is that it’s authentic – it all came from my Gran’s front room. It’s all us. It’s not trying to be this slick operation. When we signed, we said it was important that we finished our EPs. That had been our year plan. And they [the label] were totally cool with our vision.”
After releasing their first songs to the world, everything happened really quickly for APRE. “We actually got on The Great Escape before we’d even done a gig last year (2018). Charlie had never sung before in front of anyone! So he was thrown in the deep end.” Explains Jules.
Lucky for Charlie, it all came pretty naturally. Fast forward a year to The Great Escape 2019, where APRE draw in one of the biggest crowds of the festival for their late-night set at Komedia Studio Bar.
Charlie reflects: “This year felt different. Some people know who we are now, so that’s nice to have that reaction where you get a bit back from the crowd. I really enjoyed it. It was our first time playing in suits. We’ve gone from the red jackets to the suits.”
The jackets and suits are all part of APRE’s overall aesthetic. “When you get lots of people involved it can take away the honesty and become a big budget overdone project, which kind of zaps the life out of it. You’ve got to keep creative control. You’ve got to care about every aspect, not just the songs.”
The duo recently shared new single ‘Come Down’. Talking about the obscure music video for the song, Charlie explains: “We worked with Will Hooper, who directed on Rex Orange County’s Loving Is Easy. The idea behind our video was for everything to be a bit flipped upside down. ‘Come Down’ is a song about pulling someone back down to earth who’s been a bit up their arse. Whether it’s through changes in their lives, or they just got lost, or whatever.”
Jules adds “There’s a lyric in the song that says ‘I’m a walking paradox lost in this mess’, and I think the video really plays off that lyric.”
The song-writing process still comes easily. Charlie explains: “A lot of the time, we start with the music. ‘All Yours’ was a complete instrumental before any words, the words just fell out of the sky. It’s not necessarily based on personal experience, but I think anyone can easily relate to the lyrics. Most of our songs take about two or three hours to write/record/mix, we all play, so it’s just quick.”
APRE have a busy summer on the road, including a stop at Glastonbury where they’ll make their debut on the BBC Introducing Stage. After that, it’s straight onto their headline tour and debut album project. Do they still make time for chess? Obviously. Charlie smiles: “We actually have a portable chess board on the tour bus.”