Interview: Sticky Blood
After what can be described as a lull during the post-niche era, the Sheffield urban scene is back on the rise. Big time. Two people in particular who are pushing for the city to embrace new genres and artists are producers Jamie Shield and Andy Nicolson, who form Sticky Blood and half of hip-hop outfit Clubs and Spades. Jordan Foster caught up with the duo to discuss projects, their new material and the shifting landscape of South Yorkshire music.
Sticky Blood. Does the name mean anything? Or is it just a random phrase?
SB: It is a bit random I guess. But basically the reason it’s called Sticky Blood is ‘cos we’ve got a friend who we used to call Squidgy Black; we were once drinking Red Bull in the studio, and he said, ‘you shouldn’t drink that – it gives you sticky blood’. We though Sticky Blood could be squidgy black’s tag team partner! But nobody really cares about a name. It’s very rare you get a good band name for anything.
I guess you can over-think it. I mean, what actually defines a good band name? Take Coldplay for example – to me that sounds garbage, but now they are such a dynasty it just sounds right.
SB: Exactly! Oasis – a drink or small pool? If you need a name, just pick one. Because you end up getting to the stage where people just end up writing pages and pages of bullshit names.
So Andy, people who are familiar with you on a national basis might associate you with the indie-rock scene but Sticky Blood is a completely different setup. How would you describe the transition from your old roots to Sticky Blood?
SB: To be honest, I initially moved from the stuff that I’m doing now to band stuff in the first place. So it’s more the other way around. It was more about moving away from music that I grew up listening to, which was hip hop for me, to guitar band stuff. So basically I’ve come full circle. Guitars were easier to come across when we were young, rather than the stuff we do now. Now, for me, rapping and producing is more accessible.
You were both also involved with the hip-hop project Clubs & Spades. Plenty of Sheffielders enjoyed listening to locally sourced hip-hop as a change from the usual genres. Is anything on the cards with that project?
SB: Cutting edge pun! Yeah, we’re working on new stuff to follow up what we’ve previously had out. Watch this space.
I was recently speaking to Sheffield MC Coco, one of your collaborators, and he was saying that grime and dance music has never been in a better position than it is now. There’s plenty of northern MC’s breaking through, despite grime usually being seen as a ‘London thing’. Dance-wise, this year’s Tramlines featured lots of northern bass and synth heavy acts, with atmospheric danceable bands like Jagaara, Polo and Errors also included; although people would usually expect a Sheffield music festival to be dominated by guitar bands. Would you agree we are seeing large-scale genre shifts?
SB: The days are gone for four lads and guitars. I mean, they’ll come back of course. Everything comes back. But it is nice to see a bit of change and to see what you can do these days. Even the mainstream charts have changed: pop music is not the cheesy pop music we used to get. You’ll never hear Steps again. Pop is no longer a dirty word and has become the most variant genre going.
We like to see people embracing new equipment and we try to do that all the time in here. If there’s something new out and it’s got flashing lights – we want it. We wanna see what it does and what it sounds like. We’ve always got a ton of ideas flying around.
I’m guessing that’s why you have a few projects on the go, so you can separate your ideas and creative flow?
SB: That’s it. And that’s what our thinking is with our recent stuff: we wanna do things that we’re not allowed to do whilst working with other people. We just want to go a bit mad…
Well you’d like to think that if you create, say, 100 mad tracks, and 99 of them are garbage, then 1 of them could be a revelation…
SB: That’s it, exactly.
So your new single, ‘Professional’, is out and sounding great. Tell us a bit about how that came about?
SB: We just messed about with our pal Hekky [featured vocalist] and one thing lead to another. For me, Hekky is a ready-made urban pop star. He’s amazing and probably one of the best in the city for what he does. We’re gonna do a lot more work with him.
I saw the music video for the single as well. It’s quite ambiguous, hazy and trippy at times – does it aim to convey any particular message?
SB: When I used to see bands do a music video on an empty field it annoyed me, and I didn’t think it was very creative so we wanted to stay away from that. But I think in this instance it painted the picture of what we were trying to do really well.
So what can we expect from Sticky Blood in the future?
SB: There’s another video out this month from our new EP, ‘I.D’, and there are two new songs on it. We are looking to make Sticky Blood sustain itself for long enough to be considered something influential as opposed to an up-and-coming thing.
But we’ll definitely still look to make our own music through working with other people. For instance next week we have a week in a studio to collaborate on an EP, and then we’ll be working with some bands. We like to just go with the flow and see what happens…
Follow the latest updates from Sticky Blood on Twitter @StickyBloodUK. ‘Professional’ and latest track ‘I.D.’ can both be heard at soundcloud.com/stickyblood