Stockport five-piece bring shimmering synth-pop to the masses.
For decades, the likes of London, Manchester and Liverpool have been regarded as the creative hearts of British music. However, in recent years artists have become more outspoken about their origins, refusing to fall under the bracket of the big music cities. Once a town in the shadow of the monolithic city of Manchester, Stockport’s ascendency into the hearts and minds of music fans has seen the town stamped as a hub of creativity. Whilst Blossoms sparked rejuvenation into the town four years ago, a new band have started to form on the lips of many around the country. Fuzzy Sun have brought layers of skilled, carefully crafted instrumentation to conjure a textured sound rich in ingenuity. Consisting of Kyle Ross (vocals, guitar), Daisy Valentine (keys, synths, vocals), Raffaele Pani (guitar), Lewis Jobson (bass) and Mitch Bancroft (drums), Fuzzy Sun are an enticing prospect for 2019.
Growing up in Stockport, Ross’ musical career was always going to be shaped by the intricate network of relationships he built whilst growing up. Best mates with Blossoms’ Tom Ogden since the pair were thirteen, both frontmen grew up playing in bands. ‘Me and Tom played in a band together and then I played in loads of other bands,’ Ross says. ‘I’ve always been influenced by artists that are more folk, blues and jazz oriented. John Martin, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, a lot of those artists were the first few people that got me into music and songwriting at that level. How to craft a song and how to channel raw emotion and convey it into a song, they’re the big influences from a personal perspective. I suppose when you move to the band side of things I really got into Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan, just bands that musically have a lot going on, rather than it just being four chords and a melody over the time.’
Always a creative mind, Ross found himself at a conjunction when alongside an acoustic project and a few bands, he realised he had songs that ‘didn’t really fit the vibe for any of the projects I was doing at the time’. These tracks would become the foundation of Fuzzy Sun’s early material and caused Ross to hunt for band members. ‘I knew Daisy and had played with her before so knew she was a keys player and I asked if she wanted to start a band,’ he says. ‘I was working at a pub at the time with Mitch the drummer and knew he played drums. So I knew had a basis here to push on from and drafted those two in and then jumped online to look for other members and found Lewis through a really illusive message he put on a website. He just said “I’m a bass player” and listed five bands he liked and I just thought that he’d fit the vibe. I messaged him and funnily enough he was moving down to Manchester from Middlesbrough the day I messaged him so I asked if he’d turn up for rehearsal and he agreed and fit in really well.’
'As a debut EP, Want Love is an impressive display of the band’s textured dream pop with a flair for nostalgic bliss.'
Despite the relative ease of finding three band members, Ross declares that finding a guitarist was strangely the one difficult prospect. ‘I thought it would be dead easy to find a guitarist, there’s so many guitarists but it was the hardest thing to find. We asked and asked and asked around and we found Raffi through a friend of a friend. We had a gig two weeks away and he had the set nailed down straight away.’
With a full band and songs to work on, Fuzzy Sun were had strong foundations from the very beginning of their now-blooming career. Their debut EP Want Love was met with instantaneous joy from Blossoms fans and music fans alike, given the multi-faceted nature to their melodic and melancholic sound. Speaking of the EP, Ross says ‘That came out of the initial songs that I started writing and I remember Tom [Ogden] and Joe [Donovan, Blossoms’ drummer] asking me what I was doing and they wanted to hear them. They pushed me to release an EP with the band. Tom helped record the EP. I had one song down and then as we demoed that, I realised that this project had legs and so we put an EP together. We already had a few songs written at the time, that was probably around September 2017. We recorded the first EP in January 2018.’
'A deft slice of synth-driven melancholia, the smouldering [Sad] is an enchanting single.
As a debut EP, Want Love is an impressive display of the band’s textured dream pop with a flair for nostalgic bliss. The title track is a single of exquisite quality, as a combination of seductive synths and gleaming guitars create the perfect atmosphere for hazy summer evenings. Woozy synth lines from Daisy Valentine caress the underbelly of Sad, a delicate and desperate post-breakup single. A deft slice of synth-driven melancholia, the smouldering piece is an enchanting single. EP closer Come Take A Bite sees delicate guitar arpeggios paving the way for Ross’ pure vocals to climax into a wall of sound, whilst After All This Time’s jangling drum beat and longing call and response trade-off between the frontman and Valentine highlight a band destined for big things.
Having grown up with Tom Ogden, it’s only natural that Fuzzy Sun and Blossoms have a textured maelstrom of sounds combining to make noticeably blissful music, and it’s a sound that now seems firmly rooted in the town both bands grew up in. ‘Most of my songs are about being sad and getting my heart broken,’ Ross declares. ‘If I hadn’t lived in Stockport, I wouldn’t have met those girls! I think just by the nature of how I write songs through personal experience, so these songs have to come from me being here, they go hand in hand unmistakably.’
As the first band to sign on to Blossoms’ own Very Clever Records, Ross is clearly elated with how his best friend’s band has grown in the last four years. Now one of the thoroughbred bands in the UK, Blossoms’ status looks to be helping both Fuzzy Sun, and the town of Stockport. ‘It’s great, it’s fantastic, there’s nothing better than seeing your mates doing amazingly well,’ Ross remarks. ‘It’s been class seeing everything that they’ve done. It makes it seem accessible to achieve. Being close to them is really good because we have friends in the industry that can advise you on certain things. Seeing them do well has been great and has given us a big boost to go out there and grab a bit.’
"Most of my songs are about being sad and getting my heart broken." Kyle Ross
The frontman continues by saying ‘Blossoms did a lot for the town, especially backing it as hard as they did which was great because I suppose you just fall into the Manchester bracket before that which is a bigger place. I think the ethos between Manchester and Stockport music is similar. You do get a lot of Manchester bands that get the backing of the city like Oasis and Stone Roses. Before that you’re stuck in a much bigger pool in the Manchester scene but I suppose you can say that about anywhere. You probably get bands from Blackburn saying they’re a Manchester band. I think it’s nice now to be a bit more colloquial and proud with being from Stockport. A lot of your music stems from where you grow up.’
The presence of Ross’ best friend and Blossoms is practically hidden in plain sight such is the similarity between both bands’ blends of gorgeous synth-driven rock music. The pioneering blend of melancholic dream pop reaches new heights on the Fuzzy Sun’s second EP, Warm Evening / Cold Morning. From the offset with Eve, there’s a noticeable expansion from the debut EP. A driven, hulking beast of a single, the combination of lush, Johnny Marr-esque guitars and shuffling drums prove impossible not to dance to, whilst an insatiably addictive synth line weaves its own unique narrative around the track. From the moment that lyrics “I’m enticed by your kiss and the taste of your lips” chime from Ross’ mouth, the sultry tone of the band lures you into a gorgeously inescapable haven of passion, seduction and desire.
"I think it’s nice now to be a bit more colloquial and proud with being from Stockport." Kyle Ross
A fervent example of Ross’ ability to tug at the right emotional heartstrings, I’ll Be The Man manages to break down all barriers, enticing the listener in with a remarkable charm offensive, whilst Heavy, a desirable and dreamy fast-paced indie-pop thrill is a testament to the five-piece’s ability in creating lush soundscapes impossible to ignore. Yet despite their ability to contrast melodic verses with bold shimmering synth-pop that pleases the masses, it’s closing single December that engraves Fuzzy Sun’s name on the list of rising stars to watch out for. A serene ballad projecting an emotional turmoil unseen on the band’s previous tracks, December is a stripped back narration of being alone as nights start to wind in. A poignant statement of raw emotion at work, the track highlights the band’s songwriting prowess as it distorts and changes shape halfway through, with an impassioned resurgence of instrumentation lifting the piece, and the EP, to a lofty, cinematic conclusion.
'The pioneering blend of melancholic dream pop reaches new heights on the Fuzzy Sun’s second EP, Warm Evening / Cold Morning.'
Speaking of the EP, Ross says ‘As an EP I suppose, the whole idea with the warm evening and the cold morning, is that there’s two songs on there about the hope of being with someone, and two songs about losing someone. The arc was basically sort of going after something that you really want and then it sort of falling apart and moving away from you.’ Having had time to gel with his bandmates, Ross is clear that the latest EP is a product of increased band integration. ‘For us, it’s mainly me and Lewis the bass player who are the songwriters,’ Ross says. ‘We’ll come up with the basis of the tune and then we’ll build on it as a band. But also, it can happen where we’ll go in with nothing and come out with something as a band. I think with that EP [Warm Evening / Cold Morning], and I think you’ll probably see it more with the new tunes, it got a little bit more guitar-oriented and I think that was through introducing Raffi as well. Raffi is a great guitarist and it would be a shame to sideline his talents. I think that EP for me had a more cohesive sound. A lot of the songs were written at a similar time as well. I think a lot of the subject matter was similar, so I would say that it felt more cohesive as a body of work, both musically and thematically.’
Asked whether he ever considered progressing with his acoustic material, Ross is resolute once more, highlighting his need for performing with people. ‘I did start playing acoustic stuff on my own but just the camaraderie and everything, I love performing on stage and it’s nowhere near as fun playing on your own,’ he says. ‘It’s always amazing to have your band mates to bounce off and the whole writing process is more fun when you have outside perspective with five people’s ideas coming in and you can bounce off each other. For me, working in a band is ten times better.’
'The band’s warming melodies ought to reside from an idyllic paradise, such is the sun-drenched nature to the two EP’s released so far.'
Luckily for Ross and the band, the next few months will see the Fuzzy Sun live machine embark on their first headline tour, before playing sizeable slots at Y Not Festival, Community Festival, Edgeley Park (supporting Blossoms), Castlefield Bowl (supporting The Wombats) alongside many more. Speaking of the tour, Ross is clearly excited. ‘The tour is a big one because it’s our first headline tour so we’re absolutely buzzing about that, like proper excited, that’s just the thing that we wanted to do for ages. Since we started it’s been the first thing we’ve talked about. We’ll be playing most of the tunes from the old EP’s, but also we are going to throw a fair few new tunes in there as well, just to trial a few new songs and see how they go down with an audience. Before you release anything, it’s hard to gauge what an audience will think of the tunes. Expect good times, come and have a dance with us.’
With Kyle Ross as the commander-in-chief, Fuzzy Sun have laid down the mantle for what looks set to be a huge year for the band. Ross’ ability to ignite a passionate spark into his band’s music is vital. Collating lyrics of yearning and seduction, Ross provides a breath of fresh air onto a rock scene so desperate for originality. The band’s warming melodies ought to reside from an idyllic paradise, such is the sun-drenched nature to the two EP’s released so far and whilst comparisons to their contemporaries Blossoms will always occur, Fuzzy Sun are managing to pave a way for themselves in the quagmire of developing new artists and look to be expanding their fanbase exponentially in the coming months.