Brooding London dance collective ponder the triviality of existence with spacious disco-pop and a heap of nonsensical whimsy
On a quest to tackle the banality of life through absurdist office funk, Stats are a band rich with authenticity and the key to unleashing your inner child. Emerging in 2014 with EP Where Is The Money, Stats’ social commentary on the obscenity and hilarity of day-to-day life draws comparisons to the likes of Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, with the pleasant assurance that each track will have an intoxicating groove-heavy quality to ignite a surrealist excitement.
Consisting of Ed Seed (vocals), Duncan Brown (guitar), Stu Barter (bass), Nicole Robson (keyboard), Iso Waller-Bridge (keyboard) and John Barrett (drums), the band are incapable of ignoring the unoriginal characteristics of our lives. Musically, Stats are very much a collective, yet it’s clear that the project is the brainchild of Seed. Using his experience in banal office jobs, Seed, like every great storyteller, taps into the basic psyche of humankind, conveying tales relatable to the masses. Yet Seed’s musical journey has been a remarkable influence for Stats, one that the average office worker can’t relate to.
Seed was asked to join La Roux on tour before going on to be the guitarist for British pop sensation Dua Lipa. Both experiences proved to be invaluable, but his time with La Roux sparked the realisation that he could create contemporary DIY art-pop that embraces the theatrics and glamour of the 1980s. This creative template runs through the core of Stats’ latest single, The Family Tree, a delightfully sarcastic and infectious 80s synth-pop track that follows an exaggeratory wedding fight.
As Dua Lipa’s guitarist, Seed toured the world playing an array of shows, living a contrasting lifestyle to one surrounded by four office walls. While touring, Seed became a father and his world drastically changed. The disparity between working for pop stars and waking in the dead of night to comfort a child could not be more surreal, but this return to domesticity inspired Seed and co. to write debut record Other People’s Lives.
The unpredictable and sometimes fear-inducing nature of reality prompted Seed to take a step back and reflect on where he stood in relation to others, which subsequently helped the creation of Other People’s Lives. ‘The world encourages me to experience my life as a narrative, a story in which I am the lead character, going on a journey, moving towards the discovery and realisation of an authentic self’, he confesses. ‘Other people’s lives are presented to me as coherent, relatable stories, full of passion and travel and wonder. But my story makes no sense. It is full of contradictions and formless subplots, and I barely feel like the same actor from one day to the next, let alone find any meaning in it.’
The recording process was a staggered affair, primarily due to the singer’s intensive touring responsibilities. Almost two years ago to this day, Stats seized a gap in Dua Lipa’s touring schedule for a two-day session at RAK Studios in London. The six-piece embraced spontaneity, launching into a series of lengthy, unstructured live jams that would form the raw material of the record. ‘We picked a tempo, and sometimes a simple starting idea, and played off the top of our heads for ten to thirty minutes,’ says Seed. ‘Later I listened to the full recordings, cut out the best moments, and structured them loosely into songs.’ Seed explains that the cut-and-paste style enabled them to capture the moment of inspiration, ‘the special energy of six people losing themselves in what they’re doing, and somehow synchronising into something unplanned.’
Stats’ two days of jamming resulted in around twenty songs. As Seed returned to touring, he started breaking his bands’ sessions down before stitching tracks back together, weaving a narrative between each section. This gathering process took around a year to complete, with certain tracks coming together at different speeds. Whilst the basics of Lost It took under an hour to finesse, I Am An Animal took around a year.
‘Other people’s lives are presented to me as coherent, relatable stories, full of passion and travel and wonder. But my story makes no sense. It is full of contradictions and formless subplots.
Other People’s Lives is a compelling reflection of humanity, domesticity, routine, love, loss and fatherhood, an album Seed states is ‘about realising that my life story is full of holes.’ However, for something that mimics and picks apart the events in our lives, the record itself is bursting with life. The tongue-in-cheek dancefloor hit Raft is an electric stomp, rejecting the desire to be in control. Both escapist and instantly sobering, it completely contrasts the cult-like presence of Rhythm Of The Heart, a stalking single emblazoned with ominous chanting vocals. With similarities to Hot Chip, it is a striking example of Stats’ cut-and-paste production. The technique also flows through the glitchy, funk-filled There Is A Story I Tell About My Life, an ode to the 90s rave scene. Expressing post-modern thoughts of the self, the single follows Seed on a winding path of self-destruction atop an electronic beat and synth line that glisten with ecstasy.
The recording process appears to have been a calming influence for Seed, an escape to somewhere more freeing. ‘I find meaning when I lose myself,’ he states. ’In the moment, it dissolves into unity with those other people: lying in bed with the person I love, dancing, caring for a baby, standing in a stadium crowd, drinking, reading, and playing music in this band. Dance music is unity music, music you can rely on and lose yourself in, for all those situations.’ Luckily for Stats, they can make brilliant dance music. The title track of Other People’s Lives is psychedelic yet blissfully primal, reigniting the rave culture of Groove Armada and The Chemical Brothers.
The emotion that Seed is trying to relay towards dance music is ever-so-apparent in Stats’ standout single Lose It, a thumping and addictive pop hit that builds to staggering heights, with an infectious chorus and a killer synth line for the finale. A single for the rave fanatics, it maintains a sincere connection to the band’s DIY roots, and the humdrum observations of modern life’s mundane characteristics are sharp and witty. The shimmering synth lines, glistening melodies and skipping beat project a euphoria that looks back towards David Byrne’s absurdist lyricism. A wry smirk in Seed’s vocals caresses his desire to ignite joy amongst the masses in a surefire anthem.
Although there is a clear comparison between Stats and the likes of LCD Soundsystem, there remains a compelling contrast. Whilst James Murphy religiously obsesses on making serious yet expansive indie-dance anthems, Seed’s primal desire is to create something joyous for the everyday worker. Describing the record as ‘a trippy experience for grownups’ the band’s ability to capture the disconnect between reality and fantasy is applaudable. I Am An Animal drags this disconnect to an absurd extreme. A return to childlike simplicity, it captures the moment of domestic sublimity, spotting yourself naked in the middle of the night whilst being hit by the sheer unlikelihood of it. Leaning towards the ridiculous, it remains oddly addictive with its primal chant-like vocal delivery and pulsating synth line.
Once you get into the groove of Stats’ music, there is no coming out. Their addictive sound borders on the obscene, a quality heard recently in the likes of Parcels and Jungle. On occasion, they travel back to times less complicated, when music was made solely to be enjoyed. Yet at its core lies a very intelligent mind in Seed, who has engineered each track to perfection. The music rewires your brain on each listen, embedding itself until it is impossible to ignore.
Stats are a modern band, capturing the very essence of the now, the fleeting, the fickle and the forgotten, yet they find themselves stuck in the present day, refusing to be trapped and left behind in the past.
Stats' debut album, Other People’s Lives, will be released through Memphis Industries on February 15th 2019.