A mere six months into their reinvention from Pope Joan, Black Black Hills pressed all the right buttons with our writers, steaming to the top of our 2011 Writers’ Chart (see page 32). We spoke to singer Samuel Aaron about their brief-but-bright history to date, and plans for 2012.
Firstly, congratulations on winning SOURCE’s track of the year.
Thanks very much, and thanks to the writers for voting for us.
How did the name change come about?
The idea to change the band was probably about six months before it actually happened – in some ways it was quite an organic process, it just took a bit longer than it should have done. We got to a point where we thought, these new songs sound so different to what we’ve done prior to this, it’s pretty much a new project. It’s just a new band really, which happens to be the same people. We’re playing different things – I don’t play guitar live anymore so it’s much more synth-based and sonic textures with lots of percussion.
You’ve put two singles out now by yourselves – are you purposely avoiding the record label model?
I think we’ve got to the point where we decided it’s not healthy to just put out single after single, so we’ve drawn a line under that for now to concentrate on getting an album done. We’ve written four more songs in the last week, so once we’ve got about 10 songs all sounding great we might start shopping around.
The videos got massive viewing figures online – they can’t have been cheap to make?
We were lucky really, we were going to do some work with a friend of a friend and it never materialised. They got back in touch wanting to do something and it just coincided with ‘A Celebration’. I got involved in storyboarding it with them, I was keen on having a narrative running alongside the song. We were going to be in it ourselves but I thought our presence would kind of ruin it as a piece in its own right. The production company, Blac Ionica, had just done some TV adverts, so they could afford to spend some money on us, which was lucky.
What happened after Radio 1 playlisted ‘A Drowning’?
In some ways it’s opened some doors for us, I know they’re quite keen to know what we’re doing next. It was thanks to Phil Jackson (BBC Sussex) who put us forward for that with BBC Introducing. It was good exposure but I’m not sure we’re really a Radio 1-sounding band – it’s not a perfect home for us but I’m happy wherever it gets played.
What are your highlights of 2011 and plans for the new year?
Probably establishing exactly what we want to do for the first time, I think Pope Joan was about trial and error. We played in France which was really good and we’ve been invited back there to do some more shows next year. We’ve been playing Brighton and London gigs but I think we really need to shut down for a bit to finish this body of work; I don’t feel like we can really do anything further until we reach that point really.
What can we expect from your SOURCE New Music gig?
Some new songs, probably half the set is new. I mean, apart from one song everything is from the last six months. After seeing Abi Wade the other day I’m really exciting about what she’s doing so I’m looking forward to seeing her too.
WORDS BY NICK COQUET