In Conversation | TELL NO FOXX on masks, gloom pop, remixes and writing one of the best songs of the year

With the pensive ‘Dust’, gloom pop outfit TELL NO FOXX have crafted one of the finest songs of 2015. It’s the kind of track that feels lived-in and burrows its way into your consciousness in a most alluring manner. They trade in gloomy atmosphere and pop sensibilities, the result a most intriguing, welcome mix. One of the highlights of this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival, the Wicklow natives continue to provoke reactions and a sense of mystery as they evolve.
The name, the masks… why this particular motif? What’s the purpose, if there is one of note?
TELL NO FOXX: We came up with the name at a time we weren’t really sure what we were about musically, but there was something interesting about using a statement rather than a name and so we have been using it ever since. For the masks, we came across a cool designer called Steve Wintercroft and bought some templates off him. We made them from gold paper and duct tape, Alec took some snaps on a foggy day in Wicklow and they wound up as our press shots.
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‘Dust’ is one of the best tracks of the year. Not to claw away mystery, but is there a story behind the song? 
Johnny had written lyrics many moons ago about a creaking relationship, but it wasn’t until we all got our hands on it that it became the ‘Dust’ we have today. We had previously produced and sang ‘Dust’ differently a number of times before we felt we got it right. Hopefully it works.
Though clearly not crafted for radio purposes, the song found a big audience. What do you attribute that to? 
The growth of the song online was quite a surprise for us. We don’t know why it took off, sometimes we get a nice email, message or a comment about the song. its nice that people connect and can relate to it.
The production is especially apparent. How much studio work goes into crafting your soundscapes?
All of our stuff is self-produced, The production is mostly Luke’s baby and he’ll often take a song down a few different avenues until we hit something we like, We try not to put ourselves under pressure to rush something, We have an ‘It’s ready when it’s ready’ sort of attitude.
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How did the Daithi remix of ‘Dust’ come about and what was your reaction to him turning a brooding pop waltz into a dancefloor-friendly stomp? (Full disclosure: I really wasn’t into it at first but it’s grown on me quite a bit). 
We got chatting to Daithi online and showed him what we were working on and he was keen to try a remix. It was strange hearing the song in a new context but we feel he kept the emotion in there which is important from our perspective. Daithi wanted to release it before his string of summer festivals. It was nice hearing a song you were part of on the radio and it drew some new ears to ‘Dust’ from people that wouldn’t normally hear it.
What interests you, from a writing perspective? 
Some new stuff we have written recently have all had a really strong story at the base of them, this is something we are still working on but for us emotion and imagery are key factors for writing songs. We have a catalog of stuff behind the scenes from love stories to mythology to some songs about film and documentaries. We try to draw inspiration from everything we consume.
You wear the ‘gloom pop’ tag well. There are moments on ‘Pure’ and ‘Boulevard’ where I’m convinced you’re actually from the 1980s and your presence here in 2015 is a weird Quantum Leap scenario… 
Thank you! Yeah, it’s hard to play gloomy synths without being tagged as an 80’s band, The ‘gloom pop’ tag came from our first review in Hot Press. We really thought it suited our style and decided to roll with it.
There’s also a cinematic quality to the music. If you could work with a particular filmmaker on a score or a soundtrack, does anyone come to mind? 
Something with a weird, unsettling tone would be amazing to work on. The name ‘David Lynch’ comes to mind. Paul Thomas Anderson, too, although competing with Jonny Greenwood would would not be an easy task.
The performance at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival felt, to these eyes and ears at least, like something of an arrival. How was it for you? 
It was a fantastic experience for us this year at HWCH. It was our first time headlining a venue for the festival, which was very exciting, It was also the first gig we played since we changed our set-up  and introduced a lot of new material, so we were very happy that it went well. We hope to start gigging the set hard and get it out to as many ears as possible.
 Is there a second EP or a debut album in the works? 
We have a very substantial catalog of material now. a few still need tightening but we’re excited about the bunch we have. there will be some long psychosis-inducing nights of production ahead! The next step is to work out our best plan.
Should we be paying more attention to the Wicklow music scene? Who else is worth checking out?
Wicklow seems to be pouring with talent recently, there are many really cool bands you should check out, there’s bands such as The Daily Howl for some folk/blues, Birds of Olympus for some analog electronic although not sure if they have any music online yet and Annie Wolf for a very eclectic songwriter with an amazingly energetic  live band, to name a few. Also, a younger band called ‘Look To The Lady‘ are showing a lot of potential, so yeah, keep an eye on Wicklow!
Finally, you have to listen to one song on repeat for 24 hours, but you can choose which. What and why? 
First of all, how dare you ask such an impossible question, but if we had to pick right now it would probably be:
Johnny:  The Zombies – ‘Time Of The Season’
Alec: Timber Timbre – ‘It’s Only Dark’
Simon: City and Color – ‘Waiting’
Luke: Radiohead – ‘Codex’
Brian: Dire Straits – ‘Romeo and Juliet’

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