INTERVIEW: PROJECTOR on their new single, Play Along
PROJECTOR are following up 2021’s beautifully abrasive ZERO EP with new single Play Along, ahead of their show supporting cleopatrick on the 15th of March, as well as their biggest headline yet at Camden Assembly on the 11th of May.
Driven by industrial clockwork-esque percussion, Play Along opens with a warbling desert-rock riff before knocking you sideways with its infectious up-tempo chorus. Ed's nonchalant lyrical delivery exists perfectly alongside Lucy's haunting melodies before the chorus whips right back around. The track is sumptuously infused with twinkling UFO synths throughout, giving it a mysteriously other-worldly aura. It's giving Area 51, and we're not mad about it.
Play Along showcases the band’s characteristic dual vocal and lyrical dexterity, with singer-guitarist Edward Ensbury’s deadpan exploration of "the cognitive dissonance that allows you to feel like you are god’s gift whilst simultaneously feeling like a piece of shit." Set off by dark synth soundscapes, it marries PROJECTOR’s post-punk origins with new sonic flavours. Singer-bassist Lucy Sheehan says, "We liked the idea of a PROJECTOR song that sounds like it could have been co-written with an 80s sci-fi film composer."
According to Edward, Play Along had an unusual inception: "We built this one in the studio. We usually write in the traditional process of jam, rehearse, fine tune, but arriving at the studio with the song at a more nebulous stage led to more sonic experimentation with synths, samples and found sounds." Lucy says "this song could have been anything, a rock song, a synth-pop track, we allowed ourselves to be quite wayward." Edward continues, "I still do not have a firm idea what my guitar part is or indeed what is going on the majority of the time. I like it."
Play Along signals the start of an exciting year for PROJECTOR. Following the success of their sold out Lexington show in September, the band will support our all time favs cleopatrick at Electric Ballroom, and fans can expect a string of new releases for 2022. We wanted to get all the goss, so Courtney had a chat with one third of PROJECTOR, the iconic Lucy Sheehan, to find out more!
Hello Lucy! So lovely to chat to you again - it's been 6 months since we spoke about the ZERO EP, how have you been? Hey! We’ve been holed up in the studio mostly. Around Christmas we were down at Agricultural Audio in the Sussex countryside fiddling about with this next single, then we migrated to London for a bit of writing in another studio. The common denominator of these sessions was the playing of Bananagrams.
The last time we saw you was at Scala supporting Kid Kapichi along with SNAYX, that must've been a bucket list venue to play! How did you find it? Yeah Scala was wild. In some ways, bigger shows like that don’t feel entirely real til a few songs in. I like to be quite immersed as soon as possible when we play live and walking out onto that stage I felt for a few minutes like the tiny person in my brain controlling my body. But yeah, then the adrenaline happens and you’re on a different plain. I think what was special about that evening was playing with Kid Kapichi and knowing how hard they’d worked for that night - we’ve crisscrossed the UK with them and we were proud to share the stage.
Play Along is sounding incredible - congrats! How did you find the more immediate process of writing in the studio, and do you think that's an approach you'll take again in the future? Thank you! The way I’d describe Play Along is as if we’d collaborated with an 80s sci-fi coming of age film composer. The arrangements are quite rigid, there’s only a couple of moments in the song where it lapses into freer territory and opens up, so in some ways we wrote it like an electronic song, as if it was tabbed out on midi. I like that about it...something unusual about the confluence of analogue instruments within a rigid, ‘digitalised’ structure.
I do like building a song like that, where it has to be put together with a certain amount of delicacy and it’s about the icing and the dynamics. I do however also enjoy the robust grunge bangers that just come out easily on an acoustic or in a rehearsal. Ideally, writing happens in various ways - some songs are written around a single beat, some require hours of adding and subtracting layers - there’s no right way really.
You must be excited to play this one live! How are you feeling about your upcoming support with our besties cleopatrick? SO EXCITED. I heard the song 2008 off their debut album last year and I listened to it 20 times in a row...it kind of encapsulated everything I felt at that time. ‘When you give a fuck just let me know...’ The lyrics are so eloquently simple, the best kind of lyrics in my opinion, and the melodies are almost soulful...But yeah. Getting to watch them from the side of the stage at Electric Ballroom and play to their fans is gonna be incredible. How is the setlist looking? Is there ever much discussion around that or are you both quite in sync in terms of what you wanna play? Personally (perhaps because we were recently on a support tour where you have half an hour to make an impression) I like the dynamic of starting big and ending bigger, keeping the energy up, I want to lose myself and come off stage in a bit of a sweat. Some of the best shows like that you black out a little, in that you can’t remember what happened, it’s strange. I guess it’s adrenaline. We do a cover of Tame by Pixies which I fucking love, it’s so brutal, super fast, completely primitive.
I suspect Edward has more nuanced ideas for the set. I’m sure we’ll wrestle over it.
We heard that Play Along might not be the only music coming from you this year... what can you tell us about what's to come? We’ll shortly be burrowing away again for a little while to finish making something much larger... Life and the industry moves so quickly nowadays it’s hard not to be swept up in the immediacy of dealing with social media and all that nonsense, and actually take time to submerge ourselves in writing and playing Bananagrams.
Whilst we wait for new PROJECTOR tunes, do you have any recommendations for some filthy upcoming bands we should be listening to? Yes!
For reasons I cannot currently disclose I have been privy to the debut album of DITZ, out by now I assume. It is so good, produced by our pal Ben Hampson at Agricultural Audio. I can’t quite describe...there’s a blend of emotionalism and dark dryness that is very special. It’s so brittle and then brutally large at once.
Thanks so much for talking to us again! We'll be blasting Play Along on repeat until March 15th.
See PROJECTOR live:
15 March - Electric Ballroom, London (cleopatrick support)
11 May - Camden Assembly, London
Listen to Play Along on Spotify and Apple Music
Review and interview by Courtney Myers Photography by Sam Morris