Many bands fantasise about the moment they get the call that whisks them from busking a London tube station to a recording studio in Berlin. Ten Fé would tell them to have faith. “We moved from our bedrooms, dreaming of making an album, to the reality of it.” Under the Ten Fé moniker, Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan are the latest band on the brink of hitting the big time. The debut album Hit the Light, released in early February, has already received recognition from the Guardian and NME and doesn’t show signs of stopping as their European tour begins.
Described as an alternative indie pop duo with an electronic undercurrent, it’s clear this band will not be caged into one genre. The album is a catalogue of diversity. Each song stands independently: Elodie has an alt-pop feel, Turn is more soulful and In The Air displays the band’s Americana influences. “We wrote these songs for everyone, it’s not niche, it’s not underground, it’s supposed to be for everyone”, Leo says. Rather than clashing, they form together to offer something varied but balanced.
They have a unique writing style that mimics their personality differences. Moorhouse is a more sombre character, contrasting Duncan’s enthusiastic impulsiveness. You can feel this difference as they speak but they also offer the sense they level each other out. During the song writing process, each begin by writing their own song before later coming together to fine tune the other’s work collaboratively. They then take lead vocals on their own respective composition.
Brighton has a great deal of importance to Ten Fé. It was at The Great Escape festival that the pair signed their very first publishing deal. They signed to Budde, an independent music publisher based in Germany. Duncan says this was a great boost for the band. “If you’re any kind of artist you need people to support you, you can’t just work on your own forever. They clearly had a lot of faith in us. They gave us a lot of confidence to write a bunch of fresh songs.” Once the publishing deal was finalised, that debut album finally felt within reach. “When you’re given money, the idea of the album becomes real and you start thinking, who can we work with now? Where can we record it?”
The ‘who’s and ‘where’s followed quickly after. Moorhouse and Duncan got in touch with Ewan Pearson, an electronic music producer based in Berlin, who’s previous collaborations included The Rapture, M83 and Jagwar Ma. Moorhouse explained how they played him the songs they’d written and discussed ideas for how to record them. “It became really apparent that there was something good going on between us, he had a sensitivity to the songs that really excited us.”
With Pearson’s recording studio based in Berlin, Ten Fé made the decision to relocate. “We thought that would be great to get out of London and have a chance to totally focus on the recording process, without having any other distractions that we normally have back at home.” Four years down the line, the London pair found it was all coming together. With the album a long time in the making, it’s no surprise Duncan saw it as a relief. “We started playing these songs together a while ago so we’ve always had a great deal of faith in them. It was strange to have to wait so long for people to hear them, but it’s nice now that they are out in the world that people feel the same way,” he explains.
It doesn’t stop there for this twosome, however. They finally get to perform the material they’ve been waiting to play for so long. Their European tour kicked off in Rotterdam on Thurs 23 Feb and travels through Denmark and Germany before returning the UK. Their first English gig is in Brighton on Weds 8 March at the Green Door Store. “We can’t wait to play Brighton; we’ve had such good memories playing Brighton. We got signed at The Great Escape. Every gig we’ve done there has been brill.” It’s clear that performing the album is what it’s all about for Duncan. “The reviews and everything are really nice but what really matters is how people respond to it in the flesh.”
With a debut album and European tour under their belt, what’s the next goal? Moorhouse speaks enthusiastically about the future. “The ultimate goal is to still be doing this years down the line, we’re hungry to get onto the next stuff. I just hope that this momentum continues to build now, we just want to keep on this train.”
Ten Fé play Brighton’s Green Door Store on Weds 8 March