Delta Heavy will release their second album on March 22 2019.
Entitled Only In Dreams, the album lands via Ram Records exactly three years since their debut album Paradise Lost and marks a new chapter in their dramatic, cinematic, multi-genre bass sound.
Featuring collaborations with Muzzy, Zeds Dead, Modestep, KUURO and Everyone You Know, the album launches in February with a full tour that runs until May and takes in Europe, Russia and North America and it follows a string of massive singles such as White Flag, Gravity and S.T.A.Y, their powerful tribute to one of their biggest influences Hans Zimmer.
The product of an ambitious deadline to create the album last year, Only In Dreams is the sound of Si James and Ben Hall honing the sound and signature they’ve been crafting over the last 10 years and playing to their strengths. As a result, each track is written with their incendiary live shows in mind. As Si explains in this interview, “tracks truly live on when you can play them out for them to be enjoyed. That’s how you connect with your audience directly.”
With weeks left to connect with their new album, we called up Si to find out more…
Congratulations on Only In Dreams. Any ‘difficult second album’ clichés?
No none at all, really. I guess that’s because we’ve released a lot of music since the first album. We put out eight singles since then, so it’s been more of a continuation. It’s not like when bands disappear for a few years, we’ve kept the ship steady and know what we want to do and not think too hard about it really. We didn’t want to conceptualise it too much or overthink the music.
That’s interesting because the album has a very natural and considered feel to it…
It’s interesting you see it like that. We’ve been working on our sound for so long, we know what we do and want to sound like. There was no thought on concept or track order until we’d made the tracks. When we thought about how we were going to present it the track order took me five minutes to lay out and Ben said ‘yep, that works’. It came together so easily.
So the difficult album was Paradise Lost by the sounds of things?
With that album there was a lot of growth. We were in a weird place before Paradise Lost. We’d had a period of quite of lot of releases but got stuck and ended up experimenting and doing all kinds of things. We tried random stuff like 80s ballads and deep house and all sorts. It got to that point we didn’t know where it was going or what the point of it was. So we had a big journey going into that album and working out our sound and the energy and seeing now how that has resonated in our shows. Through that we really began to understand the type of tracks we want to write and how to enjoy them in a live environment and the second album continues that theme.
I was wondering how live shows have influenced the tracks on Only In Dreams
It’s everything. It’s all good writing things for listening, but tracks truly live on when you can play them out for them to be enjoyed. That’s how you connect with your audience directly. We wanted to make sure whatever we did could have the ability to be played in our sets. We knew we wanted different genres and tempos but we didn’t have any specifics in mind other than writing a variety of music that has a journey.
Yeah that journey vibe can really be felt in the album intro track Into Dreams. That Delta Heavy cinematic signature…
That’s always been something we’ve wanted to play with. Tension and drama that you can imagine in a live context. There’s nothing better than that feeling of going to a show with lots of anticipation and when the act plays that first tune. That rush and energy is something we wanted to capture on that intro. I also think the cinematic factor comes from the films we’re into; sci fi and space travel. We love that otherworldly, ‘beyond the horizon’ feel to the music.
Cue your Hans Zimmer tribute!
Exactly. The hilarious thing about this track is that I’d been going to sleep listening to the Interstellar soundtrack. I sat down in the studio one day and came up with some chords and a little melody. I played it to Ben and said ‘what do you think?’ He said it was cool, although it was the Interstellar theme tune. I was like ‘oh wow… Yeah it is!’
You’d soaked it up in your dreams!
Yeah totally subliminal. But once we had that we thought we’d run with it and develop it into an actual tribute. That was an amazing feeling and a lot of fun to do and add to that track’s narrative.
I like the word fun. It kinda feels like a lot of artists are having fun again now and not worrying so much about what else is going on. You feeling that?
Personally, absolutely. We just stopped worrying about anything else going on entirely and just focussed on what we want to do. Luckily, we’ve found a sound we can work in and it gives us the confidence to do what you want within it. I think the acceptance of different styles is better. I’ve certainly found playing D&B shows all over Europe no one ever complains when we play a little bit of different tempos. It’s a bit of a relief, a break in the energy.
Peaks and troughs!
Yes, it’s more about the energy than BPM. We can switch between tempos regularly but it doesn’t have to feel like it, you don’t know what you’re dancing to, there’s just an energy and journey to it. That’s exactly how it is on the album, too.
You’ve made this album sound like it’s come together so fluidly and naturally…
Oh it was also pretty intense at points! The first album, after three years, was pieced together and went through different phases. But this one started at the beginning of 2018. We realised we’d released an album in 2016 so should have on out in 2019 so we set about doing the album in the year. We wanted to stick to that plan and it was a very heads down year, thrashing it out which has induced mild panic and anxiety at points.
How bad did that get?
Show Me The Light was impossible for a while. We must have done about 15 different drops ideas for it. It wasn’t working and that stressed me out and I felt nothing was working at all. The whole process and how we work.
Pretty stressy then
Yeah, it was intense. We have a different way of working because Ben is in LA and I’m in London so we’ll do things autonomously and send them to each other. So there’s no instant feedback which is hard when you’re working on something as big as an album. But through all this, we’ve actually found a new way of working with each other by being online at the same time and controlling the project like we’re sat in the room together.
Yeah game changer. Given how far away we live from each other it’s completely changed the creative process. It’s like being in the same room, it’s the same vibe we had when we first sat in the studio. That’s how we both learnt; by sitting next to each other in the studio.
Does that explain the energy on the album?
Not really. It was towards the last stages of the writing process. I had that mini meltdown in October when I said ‘this has to change!’ And from then onwards we’ve had the consistent ability to collaborate in real time.
October. So this really is fresh out of the studio isn’t it?
It’s very hot off the press to be fair. Other than the ‘Show Me The Light’ vocal which was written at the end of 2017, everything else has been throughout 2018 from start to finish.
I love the immediacy of that…
Yeah it’s what we’ve always tried to do; write a track that’s to be released. We know from an early stage if a track isn’t going to work as a single or to play live and if it’s worth continuing so we can move on and write something that will work. The aim is to get things out as quickly as possible.
I was going to ask about a concept for the album, but you said you didn’t overthink it so not sure if this is an overthought question but is the idea behind the album the escapism you get from music?
You’re not wrong. Dreams and dreaming are concepts we’ve used a lot in lyric ideas. It feeds into the cinematic feeling; concepts from dreams feed into writing music which then feeds back into the experience of listening or dancing to it. It can mean something different to anyone who’s listening to it; wherever it takes you, that’s your place. Because it can’t be seen, it’s something you decode very privately.
Yeah it totally is. So how often do you and Ben get to decode together if you’re on other sides of the planet?
We get together to thrash things out in the studio a few times a year, vibing and creating music together. We don’t perform much together, Ben does US and I do Europe and we take Australia and Asia in turns because you want to play as many shows as possible and take the music to as many different places as you can.
Reuniting in the studio is much better than gigs anyway, right? This is where it’s all started for you both…
Exactly. Ben’s been over here for a month and that was essential for the last push of the album and getting on the same page. There’s no substitution for that dynamic, sitting in the room and making tunes, remembering why you fell in love with this music in the first place…
Delta Heavy Only In Dreams is out March 22 on Ram Records. Catch them on tour:
Feb 01 – Echos, Loughborough UK
Feb 08 – Heinz Gaul, Cologne GERMANY
Feb 22 – Oval Space, London UK
Feb 23 – MAAG, Zurich SWITZERLAND
Feb 23 – Cition Hall, Moscow RUSSIA
Mar 01 – Arena, Mayhorfen AUSTRIA
Mar 02 – Arena, Vienna AUSTRIA
Mar 09 – B3 Glorieta Comunidad Autonoma de Aragon, Seville SPAIN
Mar 14 – Fat Controller, Adelaide AUSTRALIA
Mar 16 – Villa, Perth AUSTRALIA
Mar 17 – TBC Club, Brisbane AUSTRALIA
Mar 21 – The Grand, Wellington NEW ZEALAND
Mar 22 – Winnie Bagoes, Christchurch NEW ZEALAND
Mar 23 – The Studio, Auckland NEW ZEALAND
Mar 23 – Poppodium, Tilburg THE NETHERLANDS
Apr 05 – Reithalle, Dresden GERMANY
Apr 06 – Conrad Sohn, Dornbirn AUSTRIA
Apr 12 – Club Hollywood, Tallinn ESTONIA
Apr 19 – Le Bikini, Toulouse FRANCE
May 03 – Union Hall, Edmonton CANADA
May 04 – The Palace Theatre, Calgary CANADA
May 10 – IDL Ballroom, Tulsa USA
May 25 – TBA, Vancouver CANADA
Jun 26 – Lush, San Antonio USA
Jun 27 – Stereo Live, Houston USA