Last month, Maddie North, Sam McCarthy, and Aaron Short of The Naked and Famous released Still, their debut album as Space Above. Compared to the subdued, spacey sound of the trio, North's synth-driven solo project So Below has a harsher sound, albeit one that doesn't at all lack the emotive slowness that runs through the music of Space Above. Garnering over 250,000 listens on her Soundcloud and 800,000 on Spotify, the Kiwi chanteuse just wrapped a successful tour of the U.K. that ended with a free headlining show in London. Riding high off of gnashing new single "Hard," accompanied by a shadowy video that sees North vagabonding through a deep forest, North's sound and image deal with the dark, the light, and everything in between.
Popdust spoke with North about "Hard," her musical influences, and where she hopes to take So Below as it continues to gain attention.
Random, but is your name at all derived from the Hermetic magical concept of "as above, so below?"
To be honest, I wrote maybe 3 pages of potential names and liked So Below cos it rhymed. [Laugh]
Tell me about the inspiration behind "Hard."
It was about those situations when you're mad at someone you really don't want to be mad at, and how uncomfortable you feel.
What's the concept behind the video?I really wanted to do something with nature, as that ties in with a lot of my aesthetic. Susie [Francis] the director did a great job and I'm really stoked with it.
Well, before working with Aaron [Short] and Sam [McCarthy], I had only been writing by myself. I think collaborating with them really helped me to grow as a songwriter. I feel my confidence has improved so much over the past few years.
How has your work with Space Above influenced your solo work?
Who was your most important musical influence?
I'm a massive Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails fan.
Does your solo work inform the rest of your projects?
I suppose in a way it does? I definitely try to cater to the vibe of the other projects and make it more of a collaborative thing. With my stuff, I drive the direction.
Speaking of, is anything new already in the works?
I have a new song called "Ruin" that should be coming out in a few weeks, which is pretty cool if I do say so myself!
Where do you hope to take So Below as it gains traction?
I'd love to play festivals, and do a tour of Europe for sure.