By Jennifer Lynn
“Glasgow’s been becoming a bit of a powerhouse for really good electronic music,” says Martin Doherty, one third of Scottish electro pop band Chvrches. “It has been for years, but now people really seem to be sitting up and taking notice.”
After quietly building an online following throughout 2012, Martin and his bandmates, Lauren Mayberry and Iain Cook, exploded on to the mainstream scene with their single Recover in early 2013. “I don’t know what it was about the track that provoked such a reaction,” says Martin. “One of the good things about it was that people were passing it on from friend to friend, and it grew kind of organically, but I guess it was our first single after having a record label in place.
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“When a band builds on the internet it’s a lot to do with people commenting and posting it to each other. The BBC Sound of 2013 nod really helped too.”
Describing Chvrches music as “really loud, accessible pop,” Martin is keen to point out that there’s still an edge to the band. “It’s a wee bit more twisted than standard pop,” he says. “It’s not quite Rihanna!”
And while the band might not want to sound like the Bajan pop princess, surely the hype surrounding her is something they’d want to replicate?
“Hype is a dirty word,” laughs Martin. “I feel like we’ve made the best record that we can make, it’s been business as usual for us from day one, just focusing on our record and trying to learn to become a good live band. We don’t do much reading of our own press; I feel like the positive stuff does as much damage as the negative.
“Everyone knows the guy or the band who just get caught up in all the attention, and start to believe what everyone’s saying about them, and then they get shit, fast, and go away. I don’t want to be that band!”
Previously a session musician with indie boys The Twilight Sad, Martin’s four and a half years touring with the band made him realise how much he wanted an outlet of his own. “I was never creatively involved with The Twilight Sad,” he says. “I was watching them live their dream and I wasn’t really part of it. That’s as much of a driving force as anything else.
“You’re getting to go to these places and taste it to a certain extent, but it’s not yours, and it’s a pretty big motivator to go and get your own thing going on. “Just seeing how much fun they were having and how it was their thing, not mine, was kind of bittersweet. I was never treated like a session musician and those guys are still my best friends, but those creative decisions weren’t mine, those were for the band.”
Fresh from their UK tour, Chvrches are about to take on the festival crowds at T in the Park and Latitude, having been awarded the inaugural Grulke Prize for Developing Non-US Act at South by Southwest. “That was totally unbelievable, because to be honest we didn’t know that it existed; nobody knew that the prize existed, so we weren’t even in the mindset of thinking that we were trying to win something,” says Martin. “SXSW is just such a mess that you don’t really get a chance to stop and think about anything; we were on the go for fourteen hours a day, every day. We were so taken aback when we found out about the award.”
Other than festival season, the band have plenty of new material on the way to keep fans happy. “We’ve got a new song coming out around June,” says Martin. “But I’m scared to say anymore incase I get into trouble! We can’t wait to play at T in the Park though; we’re all really excited because it’s the 20th Anniversary. Everyone remembers their first T in the Park.”