The end of summer is just around the corner, which means sweater weather, pumpkin spice everything and the release of end-of-summer jams. So get ready to charge up your Apple AirPods (or find your regular earbuds if you’re a peasant like me) for the debut album from new British indie band Afterhere.
I got a chance to speak with lead singer Berenice Scott about Afterhere and how it all got started.
Glenn [Gregory] and I began to think about working together a couple of years into my playing with Heaven 17. We didn’t really know what we would do, we just kind of knew that we wanted to somehow work together, Glenn would occasionally ping ideas my way, things he was working on for his other film/tv composing projects, or maybe new H17 tracks that he’s been working on, things like that. But it wasn’t until we were touring together with Holy Holy that we began to formulate our ideas and decide that what we really wanted to do was write songs together and that’s what we did. In fact, I remember standing in the corridor of a rehearsal studio in London called The Joint, guitars blaring out David Bowie and both of us deciding on the name Afterhere. So I guess that’s the exact moment that it happened, and became real.
The other half of Afterhere, Glenn Gregory, is no stranger to being in the limelight, having first gained notoriety with his band Heaven 17, Berenice usually takes backup vocals, but for Afterhere’s debut album, Addict, they’ve switched roles. Berenie takes the mic for most of the songs on the album, and I wondered if she was excited for her new role.
We didn’t really talk about who would end up singing the songs, like everything we do, it just happens very naturally, I do sing most of the songs on this album, but who knows, maybe Glenn will end up singing more on the next Afterhere album, oh my goodness! That’s the first time I’ve ever thought about another Afterhere album, how exciting, I’m calling Glenn now!
Addict, which officially drops August 24th, has a very sultry feel, something you can listen to with friends, when you need a good cathartic moment or to set the mood when you have someone over.
I think that some of our biggest influences not only come from the music we’ve listened to through our lives, but also from movies. That may be because we also score for television and film, or it could just be that we are incredibly inspired by certain films and the feelings they give us. I’m very happy with you using the ‘sultry’ as we both definitely intended the album to have those kind of vibes! Music, movies, sex and love, what better combination is there.
Every song on Addict creates a story, you can close your eyes and play a movie of the words in your mind. As a listener it’s extremely clear that there is human connection behind each lyric, every chord.
Overall, I think what stands out the most about writing and recording this album is the connection that Glenn and I have developed, and to be honest it developed very quickly, there is a connect that we have when we are in the flow of composing that is really quite magical, we effortlessly change position and control as we write, the ebb and flow of our ideas seem so in sync that as one of us seems to maybe begin to lose fade with direction or idea, the other just seamlessly fills the space and carries on, it’s such a joy and is something I have never really come across before, It’s about trust and belief, I think. It’s been an edifying and hugely enjoyable process; one that I think will have a very long life.
Another exciting note: a single from the album, a cover of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s iconic song, All Along the Watchtower, is being used for the title sequence of the new ITV drama Vanity Fair – premiering September 2nd.
It’s amazing to think that it’s finally going to happen. We started talking about ideas for the series because we were working with the director James Strong on a TV series called Liar, he was starting to prepare for his next directing job, which was a new adaptation of Vanity Fair, and he came into the studio to talk about musical direction for the program.
We work very closely with directors when we can, and try to get involved as early as possible in the whole creative process. James knew that he wanted to open with something that was totally unexpected – that even potentially jarred with the pictures on the screen. We had thrown around quite a few ideas, some completely crazy ones, but one of them seemed to take hold and hook into our minds and that was All Along The Watchtower, it just felt like it could do what we all wanted it to do, kind of strange and on the face of it “wrong” but also weirdly perfect, as well.
I began with piano -as always- searching for chords that were both fitting to the original but different enough to give our version a new feel and also to reflect the feeling and mood of the pictures we knew James had in mind for the opening shots. Once we had the rhythm track down Glenn did some work on the sound and guitars and to be honest it came together quickly, one of those fantastic moments when you think, shit, that’s it, that’s exactly what we were trying to do… we sent it to James who loved it, now all we had to do was hope that approximately ten thousand TV executives, producers, editors, assistant producers, heads of drama, favourite aunts, girlfriends, boyfriends, dogs and Bob Dylan all liked it too. We got there in the end.
We were so proud to go to the BAFTA screening of the first two episodes with all the stars of the series and the great and good from the TV world, just to see them all bobbing their heads to our version of All Along the Watchtower really made us both smile.
If, like me, you live in America and don’t have immediate access to ITV, fear not.
We are going to be shooting a video for the song, in fact James Strong, the series Director is going to direct the video, so we are very excited by that. It’s going to hopefully reflect some of the aspects of the program as well as the cover of the new album…. but no Napoleonic wars, our budget didn’t run to that.
If the name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, Berenice Scott was the baby on the cover of the 1979 New Wave hit “Pop Muzik” by “M” – I wanted to know if that influenced her love for music, or drove her to create it as an adult.
Well, it’s just always been around me. There was a constant slew of artists and musicians coming in and out of our house wherever we lived when I was growing up. Of course I thought it was the same for everyone when I was little! Strangely I never considered making it a career until my late teens although my whole school life was based around music lessons, singing competitions, recitals, school concerts and the Pop/Art world my parents inhabited… My parents definitely instilled a strong work ethic in me, and I guess that’s been the biggest influence I’ve taken away with me.
So being a famous baby definitely planted the bug, but the love of music is really what drives Berenice to create.
When you hit those chords, that melody or lyrical phrase that feels magic and the rest follows naturally. That will always be for me the most exciting thing about creating music. Being able to share that creatively as a band with Glenn multiplies that excitement a thousand times over.
With two such talented artists, one might think it would be a lot of time fitting big egos in through the doors, but Afterhere works as a team at all times, and the chemistry they have comes through loud and clear throughout Addict.
We both had an amazing time writing this album, you never know when you start to work creatively with someone for the first time if its going to work, if there will be a spark, if you are on a similar wavelength.
It turned out that we have nothing to worry about at all, there is a closeness and affinity when we write together, an unspoken easy connection that not only helps the way we write but actually makes it so enjoyable and easy. In fact we laughed so much in the studio whilst working on this album my cheeks would constantly ache. Because we are both singers you might think that we would each try and get on the mic, but it’s just the opposite, I like to hear Glenn sing and he’s always saying: “you sing this one, I love your voice”. We sit glued to our chairs saying: “you sing it!” “no you sing it.” Then we go to the pub; ten we come back and start the whole ‘you sing it’ argument again. Sometimes we both sing then decide which way we will go, and occasionally we do both sing together, I really love the sound of our two voices together, perfect.
If you love music, if enthralling lyrics and sultry melodies interest you in any way, you will love Addict. And if you’re someone who likes to feel intellectual while enjoying your music, or if you simply love all thing French, there’s a fun treat for you on the horizon as well.
We recorded a French version of ‘Worship’ one of the tracks on the album. It’s French title is ‘Je t’aimerai’ and we’re currently working on another French version of a different album track. We both felt it was important to touch on my roots and my French mother Brigitte helped get the translation side of things perfect.
Once again, if you’re in the UK, don’t forget to check out the new ITV drama Vanity Faire, which will feature Afterhere’s cover of All Along the Watchtower (I assure you, it is an amazing version of the classic song.) And for everyone else in the world, including me, Afterhere’s debut album Addict drops on August 24th, available for digital purchase worldwide.
Follow Berenice on Instagram here!