CLT DRP Jamie Macmillan

INTERVIEW: Brighton’s electro-punk powerhouse trio CLT DRP

One of the innumerable heartbreaks of the UK’s lockdown is the temporary suspension of live music, the beating heart of Brighton. The music industry is predominantly survived by gigs, festivals and tours, intrinsically connecting audiences to live experiences. Typically located in a sweaty venue somewhere in the city, electro-punk trio CLT DRP is not letting lockdown hamper their success.

The members of CLT DRP have established themselves as flagrantly honest and unpretentious both through words and sound. Their frontwoman Annie delivers emotionally-charged lyrics unafraid of biting back against patriarchal norms and fuses sweet vocals with unapologetic moments of tantalising rage. This paired with Scott’s organic recreation of EDM pumped through an electric guitar and Daphne’s fierce, crashing percussion moves you to the core.

Pronounce their name however you deem fit, but the radio edit is C-L-T D-R-P. The band has met regular support and airwave time from Radio X and Radio 6 Music, spinning new tracks ‘Worth It’ remixed by AKDK and ‘Where The Boys Are’. Despite postponing their debut album from May to August, CLT DRP has thrilled fans with tasters from the record, most recently with ‘Like Father’.

The band has conceived something unintentionally provocative and unique within the fabric of Brighton’s scene. Annie, Daphne and Scott offer insight into their forthcoming record and how they recreate their onstage vigour into the recording studio.

Hello! Tell us how you are – what are you doing to avoid lockdown insanity, what do you miss about ‘normal’ life?

Scott: Cooking has been keeping me sane! My passion has grown again immensely. LOVE the extra time to do everything homemade. Favourites so far are corn chowder and South African sweet potato stew. I really miss the pub. Just seeing people and catching up in person. OH and band practice, can’t wait for us to get back writing tunes together.

Daphne: Working out and playing music is keeping my mind from completely losing it aha. Miss socialising a lot and of course, being in a room with these two gems creating music again!

Annie: I just want to hug my friends.

What were your first impressions of each other when you met at university almost five years ago?

Scott: Daphne and I met at the start of uni at a rehearsal for a songwriter. I was blown away instantly with her inner clock/sense of time and just how committed her playing was. I remember saying to my wife, I definitely want to start a band with her at some point.

CLT DRP © Stewart Gardiner
CLT DRP © Stewart Gardiner

It wasn’t until 2nd year until I properly got to know Annie. I used to see her front a punk band called Witchshark. You could tell from those early days that owning the stage and scaring the shit out of the audience was something that came naturally to her. Daph and I also saw Annie play her solo stuff in class and were completely blown away by this other beautiful, sensitive yet still strong side to her she has.

As frontrunners of Brighton electro-punk, what initially attracted you all to this sound?

Scott: Although I play guitar, it’s always been electronic music that has inspired me most. I was like 10 when Fat of the Land came out and I think that set a blueprint very early on for the kinda music I would hope to create. As I got older, acts like Chemical Brothers, Digitalism, Mr Oizo, Boys Noize all started pricking my ears into how I wanted my guitar to sound. What is healthy with us is that we all have different influences.

Daphne: I’ve always liked EDM music but I’d never thought it’d be possible to recreate that kind of sound within a band. Scott’s approach of turning his guitar into a synth in combination with heavy riffs was my proper introduction to this electro-punk sound. I was so keen to challenge myself to follow those crazy sounding guitar parts with appropriate drum parts.

Annie:  Honestly, Scott & Daph make the sounds and set the atmosphere. I just get to come in and yell over it at the end. We all have really different music tastes and influences so it’s been and still is a process finding our sound. I think we all like rebellious music in some form or another so that’s what ties it together.

You all bring such palpable energy to your live shows. What were your experiences of performing live before CLT DRP?

Scott: Before CLT DRP I played in an instrumental two-piece band (Science of Eight Limbs) for eight years so I kinda got used to taking the role as a front person within that project which forced me to be more energetic. I like not having that pressure with this project where I have Annie and Daphne.

Daphne: I have always been a performer. I love being on stage and music is such a strong force that as soon as I’m on there I can’t control my body, facial expressions etc. so it always came naturally to me.

Annie: I’ve always done various music projects and performances of some kind. I still get very nervous before performing but I feel most comfortable in CLT DRP because it gives me a platform to speak my mind, which I don’t have the luxury of doing in my everyday life. I guess that’s where that empowering energy comes from really, plus I’m just generally a big ham.  

Scott on Annie: “[O]wning the stage and scaring the shit out of the audience was something that came naturally to her.”

Your debut Without the Eyes has been rescheduled for 28th August. What was the writing and recording procedure like for your record?

Scott: It’s been quite a mad journey, the recording of this album. Three of the tracks, ‘Speak To My’, ‘Where The Boys Are’ and ‘Like Father’, we did with Toby May at Metway Studios and the rest we did with Joe Caple at Small Pond. Both amazing and unique with their approaches. Hopefully, it will add depth to the album as a whole, having different production styles on there.

Daphne: I think this album is very special to all of us. We have had most of the tunes written and performed live for quite some time but being in the studio challenged us to rethink how we wanted them to sound through a pair of speakers/headphones. The difference from the very first singles we released is that we finally managed to recreate our live show’s sound, energy and impact onto a record.  

‘Where The Boys Are’ rightly suggests the second-wave feminists have had their day. Which feminist figures do you admire today?

Scott: Phoebe Waller-Bridge! Fleabag is incredible. When people can highlight important issues tastefully with humour, I always think it resonates well.

Annie: Munroe Bergdorf is great, I like the way she speaks and carries herself. She’s educated me a lot on trans-issues and racism within the feminist community. Also, I recently finished Roxanne Gay’s Difficult Women, and she is hands down one of my favourite writers. Highly recommended.

Did you consciously create a social commentary in your music from the beginning? 

Annie: The content sort of came from what I mentioned earlier about having a platform where people were compelled to listen. All the things I held back from saying, finally came out. It sort of just built from there. Some songs are still personal and self-indulgent, others are meant to empower the people around me.

Some singles from the new album draw upon paternal/maternal influences (‘Like Father’, ‘Speak to My’). Have parental figures been important to your music?

CLT DRP © Chris Patmore
CLT DRP © Chris Patmore

Daphne: My dad taught me my very first drum groove when I was about nine years old. I remember us listening to all of his vinyl collection of classic and progressive rock, metal bands. He definitely was the one that first influenced my music taste and my drumming.

Annie: I’d say my parents definitely influenced me musically when I was younger, but not so much now. We might send each other songs here and there, but my taste in music is definitely a little too wild for them sometimes. Lyrically though, I reference my parents a lot, you don’t realize how much they shape you until you get older. I’m starting to be a lot more grateful for the good qualities I learned from them, not to mention the opportunities they created for me growing up.  

With the live music scene grinding to a halt for the next foreseeable months, how is this affecting the band? Do you miss being on tour?

Scott: Yes, really I miss gigging and not being able to practice is a real bummer too. Breaks are healthy though, so I’m sure we will be hungrier than ever to write when we’re back in a rehearsal room.

Daphne: Oh I miss it so much. I would give anything to be loading in and out of venues and performing on stage right now. But I agree with Scott, I’m sure this break will make us crave writing new tunes even more than before when all this is over.

Do you have concerns for the music industry when society starts to recover from the pandemic? What are the solutions for healing Brighton’s scene, in particular?

Scott: 100%. I don’t think anyone can tell you right now how things are going to be in the future. It could be a long time until lockdown measures have eased that will allow 150 sweaty people in a room together. You’d like to think that people will be gagging to get out to see live music when able to.

Annie: It’s alarming and dismal watching the music scene in Brighton slowly fall apart. I think venue owners, labels and musicians are doing a good job at trying to stay afloat. You can see the community trying to support each other in any way they know how to. I couldn’t tell you what the healing power is for when life starts to return to ‘normal’. I’m just hoping that our society as a whole will change for the better and COVID brings an opening for a new, more progressive normal.

Finally, please share your ‘go-to’ uplifting track or album during Coronavirus isolation…

Scott: Politicians In My Eyes’ – DEATH

Daphne: Now, Not Yet’ – Half Alive

Annie: Buy My Own Drinks’ – Runaway June

Without the Eyes by CLT DRP is out on Fri 28 Aug released by Small Pond. Featured image by Jamie Macmillan.

Support CLT DRP and Small Pond by tuning in to Annie’s lockdown live stream gig on Wed 29 Apr on Facebook.

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