Experimental trio Pozi deliver a smorgasbord of delights on new album Smiling Pools. We chatted to them about the making of the record, their desert island discs, and upcoming tour dates.
Hey, how are you all? What can you see from where you are in the world right now and what’s coming up for you?
Rosa: Right now, looking at the wood pigeon outside my window bending a branch with its weight and dominating garden life.
We’re going on a UK tour in 2 weeks, then doing some independent travelling / getting back into the studio in summer to make some big hits, and then a couple of European dates in Autumn. We are ecstatic to have had Help Musicians helping to fund our tour which means we can bring sound engineer Katie Dermody-Palmer with us. This makes everything so much more enjoyable because she’s great at what she does!
Your set at The Great Escape went down really well – did you get to see much of the festival whilst you were in Brighton?
Rosa: Sadly no because of the train strikes! We had to drive there and back the same night. I did stumble into Alice Longyu Gao’s performance of her song Believe The Hype in the Komedia basement just before we performed though – she had a frenetic infectious energy – an exciting new music discovery for me!
If you could curate your own festival – apart from you, who’s on the line up?
Louis Moholo Moholo, Holiday Ghosts, Panic Shack, Alice Longyu Gao, Keg, Derya Yildrim & Grup Şimşek, Kaputt, BEAK>.
Your new album Smiling Pools came out on Friday, it feels like there are lots of different elements in there that cross genres and influences – what have you drawn on to put it all together?
Tom: Quite a few of the songs on Smiling Pools were created very organically from jamming sessions together and to pinpoint our musical influences is kind of tricky. A number of the songs are based around themes and ideas. Sometimes they’re linked to personal situations and sometimes they’re making a comment on an issue we feel strongly about. As a band we all listen to a wide range of music. Obviously Post-Punk is a huge influence on us and our sound. However, it’s not the only genre that we take inspiration from. A lot of the tunes have a slower pace on this album… I think at the time my mate George was playing me a lot of Spiritualised whenever we hung out so maybe that bled into the jams a little bit – who knows!
There have obviously been some big global events since you released your last album, has that impacted on how you make music?
Toby: Fortunately I don’t think our process has been impacted by Covid, we now share a studio we can write and record in which is really helpful.
You’ve covered some pretty big subjects across the new songs like relationships and ageing, alongside musings about the M6 and Edinburgh pubs – tell us the story behind one of the tracks.
Toby: The track Shut Up was written through a jam at PRAH studios in Margate, Rosa decided to lay her violin flat and play it with sticks – we got into a trance and it was very fun to play. The song is about battling with the negative voices in your head.
There are obviously strong production levels on Smiling Pools, when you’re writing are you thinking about how things will sound recorded and/or how you can recreate that live?
Toby: I think when writing, we focus on the songs and core parts, the production usually comes later – in this album, engineer Shuta Shinoda had a big part to play creating lots of the modulated effects. We also did some production after, but it’s nice to start with the core elements and see what’s needed rather than throw too much in from the off.
The last track on the album is a cover – did you purposely place it at the end of the tracklist as a kind of addition, or do you see it very much as part of the whole piece of work?
Rosa: This album is in memory of Tom Prentice, who was my dad’s best friend. He sadly died during lockdown, in the Scottish borders. He was a very talented Edinburgh viola player and an incredible individual with a very dry wit. Tom played in orchestras, as well as punk electric viola under the name Johnny Colon. He wrote Walk in the Park between 1980-81 and I grew up listening to it on cassette, blissfully unaware that the song is actually about suicide. At the end of our cover of it on Smiling Pools, I added a VHS audio recording of Tom playing electric viola at my 5th birthday party. My sister Maddy says, “It’s all finished” at the end of the clip, so it made sense to end the album on that: looking back over several pasts and kind of tying everything up with a cheerful but wistful reminder of mortality. It’s a salute to Tom and his commitment to and love of music.
Who deserves a shout out for helping you get to where you are now as a band?
Tom: There’s so many people who’ve helped us out. We’ll have to cheat a bit on this question and name more than one person! Stephen Bass from PRAH has been a massive help and majorly supportive. Our Manager Caroline has done loads for us as well and we’d like to give her a massive shout out. Also, none of us drive! We’d like to give a huge thank you to all the friends and family who’ve driven us across the country to gigs and festivals over the years.
Mini desert island discs question – one album, one film, one book; what do you choose?
Rosa: Moon Safari by Air, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant by Fassbinder, and The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
Tom: The book I’d take would be White Teeth by Zadie Smith which I’ve revisited on numerous occasions and always love. My film would be The Last Detail which is an underrated classic from the 1970s packed with counter-cultural energy. I think my album would be Rastaman Vibration by Bob Marley and the Wailers. I’ve been listening to it since I was little and I never get tired of it. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you put it on.
And what’s next, what are your plans for the rest of 2023?
Tom: We’re going on tour at the end of May so that will be fun. Hopefully we’ll play some festivals as well and then work on some new music. We’ve always got lots of ideas.
You can find Pozi here – Smiling Pools is available via PRAH Recordings now on Bandcamp and at your favourite record shop.
UK tour dates:
31 May – Hidden Door, Edinburgh
02 – Hug & Pint, Glasgow
07 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
08 – Jimmy’s, Liverpool
09 – YES, Manchester
10 – Headrow House, Leeds
14 – 100 Club, London
15 – Lost Horizon, Bristol
16 – The Joiners, Southampton
17 – The Moon, Cardiff
Interview by Siobhan
22nd May 2023