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Feature: GNE Artist Focus 2020 - Motel Carnation - Gigs North East


Feature: GNE Artist Focus 2020 – Motel Carnation


At Gigs North East, we’re kicking off 2020 by shining a light on the North East’s emerging talent. In the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring artists who have caught our attention with their distinctive sounds and who we’re excited to see progress in the coming year…

Electronic indie three-piece Motel Carnation may be fresh on the North East music scene, but you’ve probably seen their faces before. The band are actually a fusion of notable members from well-loved North East bands including Casual Threats, Coquin Migale and Scalesia. 

Although they currently only have two singles under their belts, Motel Carnation have caught the attention of both BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Music, which has helped propel the group into the local music scene. Alongside new music, the trio have just announced their first headline show of 2020 at Think Tank? Underground in March. We caught up with Motel Carnation’s drummer Conor to learn more about their plans for the new year. 

Can you describe your sound in three words?

Dark, sultry, anthemic. 

Who or what has influenced your sound the most?

Before Motel Carnation, we all came from what we’d say were “traditional” guitar bands. When we formed Motel we stepped a lot more into the electronic and experimental side of things. It’s really helped us explore and push the parameters of what we wanted our own sound to be. Conor’s taken a lot of inspiration from bands that use this approach like The 1975, The Japanese House and Glass Animals. Whereas Austin has looked more at music from Banks, Billie Eilish and Grimes. 

Alex is currently listening to more alternative takes on traditional genres that are breaking the mainstream like Brockhampton. We think that listening to such a wide variety of traditionally “non-indie” music and yet producing what people would describe as “indie rock” keeps us constantly writing, trying new ideas and pushing our own capabilities. 

What is your favourite song to play live at the moment?

With only two songs online right now, we’ve really been enjoying surprising people with unreleased material. We have a new song in the works called ‘Sweet Separation’ which has a lot of the aforementioned “experimental” parts to it. It seems to get a good reaction. There’s a lot of groove in the choruses that the crowd can respond to. It’s always amazing hearing just how in tune with us the crowd are when we play ‘Westside’ live. It’s really proven itself to be a crowd favourite. 

What are you most excited for in 2020? 

We can’t wait to release new music. There has been a bit of a wait but we’ve been working with some pretty incredible people behind the scenes to pull together our next single, ‘Baby You’re A Nightmare’. It’s been produced by Bramwell Bronte who’s responsible for the masterpiece that is Sam Fender’s ‘Hypersonic Missiles’.

The video for the song is something we’re really looking forward to putting out there. The guys from Kraken Cinematic have really done a number on it and it’s proving difficult to keep that a secret. 

Hit the North is definitely a big one for us after attending previous years. It’s amazing to get the call to jump on the bill. We’ve got a couple of London dates which are always massive, as well as our own hometown show on the 7th of March which we want to be as big as possible.

What is the most memorable gig you’ve ever played?

This is a tough one so we’re going to give two answers. Our debut headline show,  which was also the first time playing together live as a three-piece. Over a hundred people in a sold-out sweaty little downstairs room at the Head of Steam full of our mates was always going to be memorable.

We were also pretty stunned to get the call from the FEVA boys who had us open for their sold-out show at Riverside. It was such a massive stage for our third gig and it was incredible to see so many people down early to see us. We also got to meet Broken Hands who might be some of the nicest guys in the industry.

Who are your favourite artists from the North East at the moment?

Mt. Misery dropped us a message out of the blue prior to our debut show, and we had to have them support us. We’ve been really close ever since. Honourable mention to the FEVA boys who have had our backs from the start. We’ve all been massive fans of the lads in The Pale WhitePlaza and Avalanche Party since they exploded onto the North East scene. 

photos: daniel stark

interviewer: Nina Burrell

Motel Carnation will be heading down to play this year’s Hit The North. Grab your tickets sooner rather than later!



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