Liam Hennessy – aka DROPS – is a bright young thing from Northern (ish) England. He’s making his debut with the honest-to-gosh lovely “Believe You Me EP” on Heat Death Records and I like him already.
The one-man-band produces fanciful not-post-rock ditties for the (hopefully imminent) ‘getting kinda bored of electronics now’ hipster wave. He specialises in loops and layers and all the other buzzwords you might associate with genuinely good instrumental music with an indie leaning.
Liam was able to stop finger tapping long enough to talk with GoldFlakePaint at these earliest of days.
What’s the deal? Tell the people who you are.
Hello people, my name’s Liam Hennessy and I’m the man behind Drops. I can usually be found drinking tea or staring out of windows.
Could you describe your music, again, for the people? Did I mention that you only have four words to do so?
Music 2 make you smile. That’s 4 words and 1 number so that counts, right?
You’ve a lovely dreamy sound, focused in the instrumental. Vocals do appear but more so as a further instrumental layer. Was there a method to your madness or is this just how things have materialised?
It’s mostly just madness. Originally all the songs were intended to be purely instrumental. I would sing a melody if a nice tune popped into my head and I recorded it so I didn’t forget it. The plan was then to transpose the vocal melody onto a guitar, but then I just decided that the vocals worked quite well with the instrumentation, so left them in. Also a lot of my songs have layers upon layer of guitar so I think it’s quite nice to hear a voice alongside them to add a bit of contrast.
You split your time between Sheffield and Nottingham, do you feel that you fit into a specific scene in these areas? Does anyone else stand out to you?
I only began Drops in March of this year so I’m a fairly new artist and haven’t had time to get involved in any scenes as such. I am massively influenced by local music though. For instance a good friend of mine writes music under the moniker of Umber. He’s the chap who introduced me to alternative guitar tunings and loop pedals in the first place, so I owe a lot to him really. Plus he make incredibly beautiful ambient music which was a strong influence to me while writing my EP.
You proudly display your many multi-pedal setup online, is this complicated array of loops and claps a hard show to take on the road?
Haha, it’s not as complicated as it looks – one of my pedals is just a guitar tuner so it’s cheating a bit really! All the songs were originally written using just a loop pedal and some delay here and there. But during the recording process I’ve added extra layers and they’ve morphed into different creations. At the moment I’m working out how to recreate the songs live. They will be altered a little bit for playing live and I’m really keen to have a bit of improvisation in the set to make each show different and unique.
Is the live circuit important to you? I imagine your sound needs to be taken door-to-door in order to spread the good word – not an easy thing to sell to the masses with a 6Music spot-play or stray MP3 on Soundcloud?
Yes definitely. I’m a massive fan of live music and I’m really excited about the idea of playing Drops in a live environment. Once the EP is released the next step for me will be working on a live set. Improvisation will play a big role in my sound, as I mentioned before. I really like the idea of creating something completely different, or subtly changing my songs in a live setting.
Lately Darren Hayman has been talking about whether or not wordless music can truly be about something. Do your songs have a meaning or a narrative?
Ooh what a question – I’m a true believer that instrumental songs can hold meanings and narratives. My song ‘Autumn Walks’ is an audio story of my time spent wandering around Sheffield. I’m lucky enough to be living really close to some beautiful countryside and the Peak District is really close to my house. The looped guitar line that runs throughout the song was meant to represent the repetition of walking, while all the additional layers were meant to illustrate the changing scenery as you wander around. The recorded sample of rain against the trees outside my window was meant to ‘set the scene’ as being a rainy English autumn. Hopefully that comes across in the recording, but I would also love listener to take their own meaning or representation away from my songs.
So, Drops…what are the best and worst things you’ve ever dropped?
Ha, well I’d say the best thing I ever dropped was my first ever phone – Nokia 3210! That thing was indestructible. The worst thing is definitely my guitar. I think any guitarist will agree that the hearing your favourite guitar dropping to the floor is not fun.
Has there been much feedback on the EP yet? I imagine that it might be an odd thing for an artist to have to suffer a complete stranger’s analysis on their work? Hello, by the way.
Oh yes it’s such an odd feeling being reviewed. This is the first solo musical venture that I’ve ever done, so it was weird hearing what people had to say about it. Until very recently I had only ever shared my songs with close friends or family. The night before my first ever review, which was featured in Sheffield based magazine Now then, I actually woke up at 5am worrying if they were going to completely slate my tunes hah. Luckily they said some very kind words and all the feedback I’ve had so far has been really positive, which means a lot to me. Fingers crossed it stays that way.
How has working with Heat Death Records been? And how did it come about?
Ah it’s been great. It was actually surprisingly easy to get them on-board. I just sent a late night, rambling e mail with a few songs attached. I had a reply about 10 minutes later saying they’d release it for me which I was really chuffed about. They hooked me up with Message to Bears and Clem Leek who have provided excellent remixes of my songs for the EP. It was so interesting to hear another artists’s interpretation of my songs and I think they’re a great addition to the EP.
What do you plan on doing next, champ? The world is watching.
Well my debut EP will be coming out on June 28th, which I’m really excited about. It’ll be available from my Bandcamp page for £2 (http://drops1.bandcamp.com). My Facebook page will also have regular updates and general rambles, which can be found here: www.facebook.com/dropsmusicuk.
Then after that – London’s calling. I’ll be moving to the big smoke in September. So, London, prepare yourself for a man and his loop pedal.
Interview by Jamie Hallaman