meet manchester's new imaginary outsider girl group whyte horses

Originally conceived as an imaginary band, Mancunian record collector and label owner Dom Thomas dreamed up the idea of an outsider girl group playing in a Mexican church. Recruiting a few musically-inclined friends, Whyte Horses was born.

by Francesca Dunn
Oct 15 2014, 10:50am

The dream team headed to the Italian countryside to find their sound, settling on a sort of psychedelic desert pop that makes our minds float away to distant summers of peace, love, and hazy times. Their debut single, The Snowfalls, has been playing on repeat on our speakers and in our heads since we first stumbled across it online, and is keeping us going until their first UK show later this month. Strongly believing that their music will make the world a better place, i-D are very pleased to present the premiere of Whyte Horses' second ever offering, Morning Clouds. Hit play, soundtrack your day, and get to know your new favourite band...

Tell us about the band...
We recorded most of the album in Italy; writing the songs together and producing it ourselves. There were some late night sessions where Jez Williams and Ian Parton visited to help out and Chris Geddes did some keys with us. As the live unit I play guitar, Julie sings (and plays guitar), Ali plays bass, Owen's on drums and we've just got these two girls from Liverpool who are backing us also with percussion and vibes.

How did you all meet?
I met Julie whilst DJing a few years back, we had a laugh and kept in touch, it wasn't til the idea came for Whyte Horses that we really started connecting again. She was in Bordeaux and I was in Manchester so we just talked over skype and email. In 2012 Julie came over here for New Year to start writing and the songs started to come really naturally. We're completely ready for this project, it's the culmination of years of trial and error. Neither of us could have made an album like this ten years ago, I hadn't written a song until three years ago. I knew Ali as being this great bass player from around Liverpool and Manchester, had met him a few years back and just reconnected, he introduced us to Owen who he'd known for years and is an amazing jazz drummer.

Where did the name Whyte Horses come from?
An organic choice, it came very naturally, it wasn't supposed to be a reference to White Horses the TV show, which incidentally is one of our favourite theme tunes. I suppose it was always the name we were going to choose and we just managed to stumble across it.

Why did you go looking for your sound in Italy?
It seemed to be the obvious thing to do at the time, somewhere to reconnect with childhood memories, a place where the colour of the sky could infiltrate the music.

What was the mood like there and how did it lead to this sound?
It was tranquil and hot, the region we stayed in has vegetation and desert forms, maybe it's these paradoxical elements that fed into the music. Part of the mountain ranges look like a still from Jodorowsky's El Topo. Some of that film made its way into our mindset, fighting against our natural pop instincts.

Did you set out making music with a particular aim?
We want to be able to sound like a lot of things at once, the album is going to be called Pop or Not. Putting a drone instrumental using just one chord next to a three minute pop song and making it work is what excites us. Taking the same fearless mentality Arthur Russell had, going with what you love, as opposed to what is safe. We've no interest in making things easy for music journalists to pigeonhole us into one of their neatly named genres.

What are your main influences?
I've always tried to listen to a lot of music, even the terrible pop on the radio,  because there's influences to be soaked up in all music. The stuff we love and listen to on repeat does end up coming out in the songs in a round about way, I remember Frankie Knuckles talking about that in an interview and can really relate to that now. The Stone Roses were my favourite band growing up along with The Beatles. They're the two groups the whole band can agree on as our favourite acts, as obvious as that might sound. They are probably our biggest influence because they shaped us at an impressionable age.

If you could recruit an extra band member who would you pick?
Sergio Dias from Os Mutantes without a doubt - incredible guitar player, composer, writer. I don't think there's any contemporary figure who can compare to him in his hey day.

What is the music scene like in Manchester?

Describe Morning Clouds in three words…
Anxious, tired, hopeful.

What's your favourite musical discovery?
If you mean weird old records I'd say Basil Bennet, he's a totally underrated folk singer much in the same vein as Terry Callier, pretty close to Nick Drake, that sort of thing. Finding Tropicalia was a very important step for me personally, the ideas behind the songs and the bigger picture, it wasn't just about the music, there was more going on than meets the eye.

What do Whyte Horses dream about?
We'd all be in vastly different spheres of dream state I imagine, but we love colour and imagery from Japanese sixties cinema.

What do you think about love?
I know what it is now.

What makes something Finders Keepers/Twisted Nerve-worthy?
Rare or new.

What sort of night will people be in for at your single launch on 25th?
We're playing some tracks from the forthcoming album, with our film director working on the visuals. We've got Chris Geddes and Ian Parton DJing too, the live show is a different beast to the record, we strip it all down and recreate it in the way we see fit.

Which three tracks do people need to know about?
Milton Nascimento - Tudo Que Podia Ser
Ann Bogus - Don't Ask me to Love Again
Sevil and Ayla - Bebek 


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