What more could you want in a pop song than love and art? With titles like ‘I Feel Like a Record That’s Scratched’ and ‘Mondrian in Liverpool’ we’re excited to announce the release on 7th July of ‘Bonjour’ – a unique collaboration between London-based artist Harry Pye and Teenage Fanclub drummer Francis Macdonald.
The result is 10 songs of punky, tongue-in-cheek pop combined with spoken-word pieces sound-tracked by melodic, ambient minimalism. Musical musings on life, loss, laughter, art, Lucien Freud, Mondrian and Mike Love. Ever felt like a record that’s scratched? Ever wanted to put yourself in Vincent Van Gogh’s clogs? Then these are the songs for you.
Francis Macdonald has been a stalwart of the Glasgow DIY music scene since the 80s working with BMX Bandits, Alex Chilton, Belle & Sebastian, The Pastels, Camera Obscura and The Vaselines and is the drummer for Teenage Fanclub. Teenage Fanclub songs have been the backdrop to many a devout indie kids growing up, and they releasead their first album in six years last year. Francis’s solo album “Music For String, Quartet, Piano & Celeste” (2015) was described as “Sublime, minimalist classical music” by Classic FM and “nice” by Jarvis Cocker on BBC 6music.
He’s teamed up with painter Harry Pye (“master of lo-fi British art” – The Guardian) for Bonjour. Ever understated, Harry Pye won first prize in a competition to paint a portrait of Tony Blair, judged by Gilbert & George. He edits The Rebel art webzine and has had exhibitions of his work in London, Denmark, Australia and Brazil. Collaborations with filmmaker Gordon Beswick have been screened at Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London.
Harry and Francis began collaborating when Harry was organising a group exhibition in 2013 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Elvis Presley walking into Sun Studios. Harry asked Francis to write about his favourite Elvis song. After that, Harry began sending Francis song lyrics, and they decided to have a go at writing a song together; Harry’s contributing the words and Francis the music. Within a couple of months they had a stack of demos. “Bonjour” was produced by Francis and Harry and recorded at Francis’s home studio in Glasgow, Scotland. If you want to know a bit more about how the album was made, check out the cheeky little video above!
The first single from the album, ‘I Feel Like A Record That’s Scratched’, is released next week. Pye muses on coming up with the song, “Well, I think most people I know feel like they are damaged goods at least some of the time. On my Dad’s copy of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper there’s a scratch on “With a Little Help From My Friends.” It’s the bit where Ringo sings: I just need someone to love.”
On the music, Francis Macdonald is all about scratchy vinyl too. “I wanted a circular feeling with a relentless rhythm and a repetitive guitar riff – so the music feels a little stuck along with the words.”
Also look out for the wonderfully quirky video released next week. It was made by Harry Pye and his frequent collaborators, filmmakers Gordon Beswick. Partly inspired by the Woody Allen film ‘Deconstructing Harry’, Pye dug out some old tapes from his student days to form the backbone of the piece (along with Wham!). He says, “The footage of train station late at night was made when I was an art student. My tutor wasn’t impressed and said I should slow down my film making to the extent of stopping all together. A few years after college I organised an Andrew Ridgeley themed event at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. I have no idea why I did that but it was fun at the time.”
Hope that leaves you wanting more!
Bonjour is released on Shoeshine Records on 7th July. For more on Francis Macdonald and Harry Pye’s collaboration see www.francismacdonaldandharrypye.com.