I’m stumbling over my choice of words, (writes Andy Wood) deleting numerous opening lines and struggling to express what Naked mean to me. The name of the band suggests something stripped down, unadorned, free even of artifice. Yet in music that is usually a short term for ‘authenticity’, a term ultimately loaded with meaning. Art and music are both parts honesty and artifice, imagining and dreaming up new things and ideas while expressing a range of truths and falsehoods.
Who are Naked? Do we really need to go into history, names, places and details? I guess we could. There are three of them, they are based in Edinburgh, they make beautiful, engaging, dreamy music, full of darkness and light and all the shades in between. Their debut single was released last year as a limited edition white vinyl 7”. Virginal, pure, but worldly and world-wise. As an artefact it is beautiful, minimal and as perfect a debut as you would wish for.
The two songs, ‘Lie Follows Lie’ and ‘In Heaven’ are gorgeous. They evoke an outsiders view of music, of other cultures while focussing coolly on the world at hand. They describe their music as ‘night time’ music and ‘Lie Follows Lie’ evokes neon advertising signs, urban hubris and the loneliness of crowds. The song has a starkness, driven on by a drum machine yet is full of beauty, a lovely tune full of sweet melodies and the vocals which soar and swoop. The words ethereal and elegiac have been overused but really, they are so appropriate. Naked truly are making dream music, imagistic and tough, poetic and sweet. ‘In Heaven’ begins all stripped down, just guitars and voice before the pace picks up. It’s a wonderful song which gets better with each listen and really shows the quality of song writing in Naked.
There’s a new single due out this month, ‘Tell Me What Is Not Yet Said’ and it’s as strong as that fantastic debut. The elegant, expansive instrumental introduction gives way to a subtle, understated verse, full of longing and loss before the chorus chimes in and sends shivers down your back.
On stage, Naked are equally as fine. I had the privilege of witnessing their first ever live show and as a statement of intention it was pretty unforgettable. Any first show nerves were kept well under wraps and the sound was so intense and enveloping I scarcely remembered to breathe at points and my focus was firmly on the band, on the moment. Naked create such an atmosphere, musically and visually and grab hold of you making you forget time and distractions and focus only on the band, the music and the feelings they create.
Who are Naked? Please introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about how you came to be, as it were, Naked.
Origin stories are the most boring legacy of western civilisation. I think every Marvel comic book and film reinforces this proposition. We have given up the pretence of creating ever more increasingly erratic and diverse faux genesis narratives but it’s simpler to say that we are what we are. That is why we chose the name: it is a stark and bare truth. There is no reinvention or appropriation.
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Our non-musical influences were geographic. We started by exploring our own vision of Japan, looking at it with the eyes of outsiders and then thinking about how other cultures and other historical eras have perceived it. With this in mind we created a dreamscape of a Japan which doesn’t and indeed has never existed. This wasn’t cheap cultural appropriation or a clichéd reading of a mystical orient but a genuine desire to explore the notion and energy of what the concept of a `Japan` might be; viewed as a signifier of a post-industrial, post-millennial outlier from within which we could explore ideas around the interaction of human-kind and technology, a discourse which is also reflected in our music.
You released your debut single ‘Lie becomes Lie’ last year on Song By Toad Records. Can you tell us a little bit about that and the response to it?
`Lie follows lie like the beads on a rosary, over and above the body of Christ. `
The response was very positive. We had hoped it would provide a monumental schism that would usher in a new and better culture. It goes without saying that we were gravely disappointed when this didn’t come to pass.
If my mind isn’t playing tricks on me wasn’t your single launch at Sneaky Pete’s also your debut gig as Naked? How did that come about?
We wanted a degree of moral and artistic authority behind our hand when we first swung that hammer.
What motivates you all to be in a band? Isn’t it just lots of grief and hard work for little reward?
The motivation is in creating something so perfect and so true that is transcends your class, your nationhood, your era. We have laid idea upon idea, upon idea, upon idea, until we have forged a diamond. A piece of art as pure and as strong and as shining as anything hanging in any gallery or played in any concert hall in the world. It is this secret knowledge that is our reward.
How would you describe Naked to someone who has yet to hear you?
Heavy-lidded, Light footed, Topographical, night time pop.
What would you like to achieve as a Naked?
In one way we have achieved what we set out to do. We have created in seamless isolation a perfect representation of the band and of its world. We want to look beyond borders and the banal pre-ordained `career-paths` of Scottish bands. We are internationalists, we want to take the world in hands, kiss it on the mouth and whisper a tune in its ear.
You made a video for ‘Lie becomes Lie’ and onstage have used visuals. How important is the presentation of a band to you?
We want to command all of the senses.
I believe you have a new single coming out?
`Tell Me What Is Not Yet Said` is due out in April. It’s available on 7” with packaging created in close association with the North American Space Agency (NASA). The design of this release again references the fractious relationship between the human (in this case the vinyl) and the artificial (the futuristic packaging). Musically it distils the main themes of the album into a tightly focussed laser beam of white light and instant noise. It is unashamedly a pop record. A set text. Something that beams across gender, age, class and genre.
When will we see an album from Naked? Are there any plans as yet for one?
The album is finished, we are working with various artists to create videos for each of the songs and carefully preparing a new live show which will assail and seduce all of the senses – sound, touch, vision, taste and smell.
Anything else that you would like to add?
‘Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.’
Naked play their debut Dundee gig on Saturday 12th April along with Vladimir and Waiting On Jack at The Cool Cat Club, Beat Generator Live, Dundee. More info here.
They will also be playing on 11th May with Vladimir and Everyquest at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh.
Live Naked photo by Rich Ferguson