2 Bears

Raf Daddy from cuddly, feel good house duo the 2 Bears gives us the skinny on new album, The Night Is Young...

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 16 Oct 2014
  • min read
‘I was telling my mum I’m now a singer in a band. My mum was like, you’re 35 for fuck’s sake…‘

The 2 Bears’ Raf Daddy is finding his new found ‘pop star’ look one slightly hard to handle. Or at least his mum is.

But it’s something he and his fellow bear (Hot Chip's Joe Goddard) should get used to if the duo’s new LP - The Night Is Young - is anything to go by. Rammed with pop, house bangers and more reflective moments of mid-thirties melancholy, it’s a step forward for the bears both in terms of songwriting ambition and acumen. It’s looks set to bring their music to a whole new set of ears, acting as a more reflective, more polished follow up to debut Be Strong.

Fatherhood may have happened for both bears in between records but it's hardly slowed them down. Summer saw them playing at Glastonbury and Bestival to rammed crowds while their XOYO residency bringing the noise to Shoreditch's biggest club for 12 consecutive weeks. We interrogated Raf on the new album and the transition to bona fide pop star…

How do you feel about the new album?

I’m really happy to get the record out. You finish things a while before release so it’s just great to share it with people at last. The way things are, we’re both busy doing other things, with our young families and other musical projects. It took us a while for us to be happy with it and ensure it was a strong enough collection of work.

Is the record a step forward in terms of songwriting?

I think the first one was about people, music and a love of partying. Just to keep it interesting for yourself you can’t just recycle the same thing. It probably says a lot more, but is more oblique and poetic lyrically. It’s very easy with hindsight to say we started to make a manifesto about this, but of course, the tunes fall out as they fall out. Usually you do a few interviews with some smart journalists and they tell you what it’s about.

Do you now feel more confident as a songwriter?

I still feel like a real novice but I guess I was buoyed by how well the first one went. Be Strong was written without any real clue that anyone was going to hear it. The Night Is Young was born in a similar way; some of it was showing up with a lyric, sample or an idea at Joe’s studio. Or him having a beat that he showed me. Whoever has something that feels right, we take it from there.

Where did you make it?

Mostly at Joe’s place in his house. He’s also got a new studio, and he’s been writing all sorts of amazing stuff up there. We spent a long time experimenting on this gear. That was fun although there did come a point when we were like, we should stop making these 17 minute weird industrial odysseys.

We were keen to make something different. We worked in a studio in Hackney and used a bass marimba which is a bit like a wooden 808. It’s the bass on Run Run Run. You have to stand on a bench to play it with these wooden mallets. We’ve got lots of musical friends we can call on to work with. We also did a session in South Africa. We did a couple of gigs over there – Cape Town, Johannesburg with a couple of studio sessions out there too. Those were really amazing. Trips like that put a lot of perspective on things in terms of how we make music. It helps you wear it all a bit lighter. Music should be an uplifting experience, at least some times, it’s easy to forget that when you worry about what FACT are going to say about your record.

What’s next?

We’re doing some live dates round the UK playing. Then Europe and some DJ dates in the South America at the end of November. We’re taking the Sink the Pink trannies [from their music video see below] out on the road which will be well funny. Amy from that gang says it’s like out reach work for straight people, taking the tranny vibe out there in the hope it will free their minds.

Are you comfortable now as a front man with your live show?

I don’t know just yet. I’m a bit in the headlights of it all still. I’m more comfortable than I thought as long as the music sounds all right on stage. It’s a laugh innit, fucking hell. I find it a bit ridiculous but why not. Everyone wants to be a singer in the band. Of course they do. That’s the way I’m viewing it.

Who are your favourite new artists?

Good question. I loved the Blood Relations LP which came out last year. The guy from Elmore Judd, Bullion. They made a record together and I loved that. I like the old bodds, Cajmere. The Black Madonna productions. That’s really good. I love the Running Back stuff on that label.

How was your summer residency at XOYO?

It was great, mostly positive. Although it was exhausting having that every week. The last weekend nearly killed us. We had Glasto, then the last parties at XOYO. We went and ate a really rich steak and bottle of wine before. That was absolutely mental. But our stomachs settled down eventually and it was fun.

What are your top tips for new producers?

Be strong. Have fun. Do your thing. When I did A&R, people would think sending it would work. When we politely said no, they would be like what we’re doing wrong. Everyone has just to get on with it and do their own things. If you’ve got a good idea, then be true to it…

Visit the 2 Bears website for more information. The Night is Young is out now.

Check out the video for recent single Not This Time featuring Sink the Pink.