Meet DUO, the new band by Luke Pritchard and Ellie Rose
Husband and wife musicians Ellie and Luke present a new musical entity, created during lockdown, which vividly expresses much of the escapism we all need right now...
You’ll already know Luke Pritchard from The Kooks, and may well know Ellie Rose as a rising singer-songwriter making a mark, and you may even know that they are married. What you won’t know is that during lockdown they have been working together on an album of cinematic Euro-noir that plays upon Sixties pop and Seventies sleaze to create the perfect vehicle for dreamy escape. OK, you may have known that, if you follow music news, but still, now the album is coming out you can appreciate the concoction shaken and stirred by the duo known as, well, DUO. We spoke to Luke and Ellie over Zoom partly to have a nosey at where they live but also to find out more about how they created this album together as a couple, without splitting up…because, well, many of us can’t make lunch together as a couple…
How did your musical collaboration start?
Luke: When we first started going out I thought it’d a fun night out to book a studio. We were on the Isle of Wight where we were staying with my granny – I was introducing Ellie to her. So I booked it and we enjoyed it. It was natural. And I guess the music came out of old films really. We share a love for old movies and we went to try and rewrite Moon River basically
Ellie: That didn’t happen, unfortunately.
L: No, so close. I just thought it was a good date
E: It wasn’t really a date, we were together. Although his gran made us sleep in separate beds.
L: She did. But that’s how we started , although we didn’t start the record until lockdown. We’d done bits and pieces, two or three songs but during lockdown we had time to finish the album.
How did that work practically speaking in the house – was it part of your daily routine?
E: The moment lockdown was announced we said, ‘let’s write some songs.’ I think the first night we stayed up really late, did a song, and then we got into staying up all night and sleeping in the day – it wasn’t a sensible routine, but it was a routine. And then we just watched movies and played chess and listened to records and wrote more.
L: You can see our place it’s a bit of a warehouse, and we turned it into a studio basically
It’s an atmospheric record – did that come from recording at night and immersing yourself in that world?
L: Yeah 100%. It’s nocturnal, with a lot of tired vocals. Which I think makes it really dreamy. I wouldn’t say it was super intentional, but we wanted to make a cinematic record. We wanted the songs to be warm and dream-like but in terms of recording it was just because of the way we were living at the time.
E: You get into that bubble when you’re not interacting with that many people. It got weirder and weirder, which was good.
Presumably it gave you time to experiment with no pressure – you could do what you wanted?
E: And no outside input which was cool, and a bit different for both of us. I’d never worked like that before.
L: I’d never made a record like that. It was just the two of us all the time so we could be very focused about what we wanted to do and we didn’t have any outside input apart from one of our managers. And it was done in a very short period of time. Sometimes with albums you make them over a year and a half and then you put them together at the end. We’d written maybe 3 songs and then everything else we could build around those songs. It was a cool process.
E: Pretty much everything we recorded went on the album. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing but everything made it!
L: We are very efficient! That should be our motto.
How about writing the songs – were you swapping duties?
E: We had departments
L: I was the complaints department
E: Before we worked together we’d have little arguments about the best way to approach writing a song because we approach it differently. I’m very into the words and concepts
L: I’m more haphazard.
E: You’re so strong on melodies
L: I think generally though Ellie has a very clear imagination and so the concept of the songs would be mainly from her and then I’d do most of the music. I’d write backing tracks and melodies.
E: And I’d do the words but we did swap duties and departments.
L: We’d sculpt it together. It worked quite well
E: We didn’t have any arguments either.
L: Maybe because we didn’t have any pressure but we worked well together
E: We didn’t know we were going to release anything so we let things slide that now are so cool. To have the roughness is so rare in recordings nowadays. At the time we thought we didn’t have to worry about making it perfect.
L: We were reviving the Jack White philosophy of ‘keep it raw’. It was very refreshing to do that. Leaving in the mistakes is nice.
It’s good that it brought you together. A lot of couples wouldn’t have survived that process. It’d be the end.
E: I know and it’s nice the respect we have for each other. I’ve dated musicians before and I could never have done this with any of them – although none of them were very good!
L: I didn’t want to say… No, I feel like its made us closer. I think its great to work with your partners. Everyone would say to us you’re crazy, why would you do this? And if we went on tour or something maybe that would be true, but music is such a bonding thing, a spiritual thing, it’s really nice. I think everyone if they can should try to work with their partner.
E: Oh no I do not agree with that!
L: Even if it’s hard it’s good to have a common goal together. Give it a shot! Also she’s incredible. Everyone should work with Ellie, basically.
You recorded it in your bubble but at what stage did you think you’d have to show it to the outside world? And was that daunting?
E: Yeah it felt quite exposing. I was very scared about it. Already as a songwriter you’re putting it all out there but we’re putting our relationship out there too. For people to judge. That’s why our first single was called ‘Don’t Judge’.
L: Yeah I think it’s quite worrying for anyone nowadays – it’s a wild west out there, especially with relationships. But everything has been ok so far. And I think musically its really exciting and we just wanted to put out something we love – so from that point of view we weren’t too worried about what people thought about it. We seem to have a cool bubble of fans.
Will this experience change your working practices going forward?
L: I think definitely. I’ve learnt a lot in terms of going into the next Kooks record. Its been refreshing to keep things quite focused and tight. What I’ve taken from it is that I love making albums but it can be quite a gruelling process. And this has been more enjoyable and I’d like to take that on. You love music but then you do it so long that the pressure comes in, so it’s good to do something when you’re not thinking. And I think the song writing really improves because of that.
E: I think I learnt a lot from you about the album production, like keeping it very raw. Not over producing stuff.
L: I don’t do auto tune.
How are the releases shaping up?
E: We just put out our second EP and then the album comes out on the 18th December.
L: We have videos and visuals to the album and we also have perfume coming out. Which sounds a bit crazy but we have friend, Antonio Gardoni, who we only met remotely, but he liked the music and he put together this perfume which we’re going to put out as a sensory thing for the album. Which again is quite experimental
E: The vinyl will smell of it as well.
L: He wanted to create a bubble around all your senses at the same time, the visuals, the smells, and the music. We’ve been enjoying that process a lot. And the perfume is amazing. Olfactory things are similar to music in that they are like a time capsule – it takes you back to a certain time of life. Combining the two is a cool process, so hopefully people experience and enjoy it.
Everything is so digital at the moment, especially after this year when we’re more reliant than ever – do you think there’s going to be a swing back to more tangible experiences like you’re talking about?
E: Totally and I think it’s been something people have started to value. I know lots of people who got record players over lockdown. We set up a DJ booth with all our vinyl and the physicality is so fun.
L: I think you’re right, there’s a big swing in that direction because people are missing the organic or analogue
Do you plan to do any shows next year?
E: I’m quite shy, but we want to do a show at some point. And do it in our own way. So we just need to figure out what that is.
L: It’s such early days but if people want to see it, we’ll do it. But do it properly. With strings and a set designer, making it right. We probably wouldn’t do a club tour, we’d try to find some exciting venues.
E: So long as they have cocktails. We’ll play, we just need the people to want it first.
Have you missed being in front of an audience Luke?
L: Yeah it’s like a healthy addiction. I do miss it a lot but it’s also been quite good as we’ve been touring non-stop for 15 years. We may have taken a year or two years out anyway.
E: You had your back injury as well
L: Yeah I did have a back injury before lockdown. Now I can walk but I had a cane for ages. Which was quite cool.
E: Just after we got married Luke slipped a disk and had to cancel all touring. You were in bed for a few months. Then lockdown came! So we’ve spent a lot of time together. We’ve basically been on lockdown since we got married because of your back.
L: Yeah. And I do miss playing a lot. I’m getting itchy for it. Imagine the feeling everyone is going to have when you can do a proper gig. It’s going to be like The Smiths have reformed. People are going to lose their minds, its going to be incredible.
What have you both learned from this year?
L: Worry less about stuff. If its taught me anything its that a lot of stuff isn’t in your control. This year has been the big one where nothing can be done about it. And that’s what I’m trying to think about going forward. Just enjoy it.
E: I think I’ve learned a lot about patience. I think a lot about loss. Coping. My sister is high risk and my godmother has been ill. I’ve been learning how to cope. And to appreciate love.
Finally, what do you hope people will take from the album?
L: Good vibes man.
E: Hope and humour. It’s light hearted, I hope it makes people chuckle.
L: It’s a timeless thing to take you out of the modern world.
DUO is out today on 18th December.
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